That time has come again where I put the spotlight on those often unsung heroes, those wonderful makers, those truly fabulous service folk that hold a wedding together - wedding vendors!
For this spotlight, I spoke with Colleen Clausen (recent co-owner and talented florist) and Natalie Boyer McLain (wedding cosultant and design extraordinaire) of April's Garden right here in Durango, Colorado. Colleen, along with marketing maven, Cassandra has recently acquired the local floral and gift shop just weeks ago. You may recognize Colleen from her other floral business, Lilia Floral Design. I could not be happier that she has brought her talents, passion and enthusiasm to my long-time favorite local vendor!
As I hung out in the workshop during a rather could winter day and chatted with the best staff over coffee and tea, we focused on some questions that couples may be asking as wedding planning season hits.
Let's jump in!
A: Most weddings occur in summer and fall. What are your favorite flowers that are in season those times of year?
C: Summer and fall in Durango are lovely for flowers. You can harvest so many local blooms! Dahlias are so diverse and you can get tons of different colors and different style blooms, big ones, little ones, star shaped ones, round ones, the list goes on.
N: Dahlias and sunflowers are my favorite. Both are local and harvest in the fall. For the summer I like to use anything local!
A: If a bride has a modest budget can she still work with a florist to create something special?
C: Of course! We would love to work with her. A bride can come to us for the more “mechanical" pieces like the bridal bouquet. For all other pieces like standalone's and centerpieces we can just lead the bride into the right direction and lend technical support, we can even collect the flowers for them. A lot of brides want to do their own dining tables and leave the highly "photographable" areas like the arbor and bridal bouquet to us. And as far as the bridal bouquet, maybe the bride wants a coveted flower like the Juliette Rose, we use more budget-friendly roses in the bridesmaid bouquets. Also, consider taking the more expensive wedding garland that was on the arbor or alter ,and move it to the sweetheart table after the ceremoy. Use less expensive pieces on the other tables. We can work within her budget.
A: Can you work with an Eco-friendly/”green” wedding?
C: We love to work with the low carbon footprint bride. We will meet with the bride and discuss what flowers and colors she likes and suggest local flowers that grow during that season. We work with local farmers, so we know what is harvested and when. Depending on your look and color palette, you may need to be flexible because it can all come down to the time of year and if the harvest was a success. If the weather cooperates you can book certain flowers but, on the flip-side, you can have a crop fail, so you need to be more open on color scheme and substitutions. We work with local growers who really care for their craft. To name a few, we use Jen at James Ranch, Marje at Linnaea Farms and Lisa at Passion Flower. They are all such amazing people.
A: What are some trends you are seeing in the industry right now?
C: Trends come and go. However, greenery is really big right now and I love incorporating it in my pieces. Right now we are seeing lots of monochromatic greens and hand tied wedding garland. Lots of steel blue and navy has been used this year as well.
N: I believe that more important than trends, is personal style. Every bride is unique and her bouquet should reflect that. The most important thing you can do for a bride is listening to her. See her vision and then guide her.
A: What’s your current favorite flower?
C: I love Pieris! It's an evergreen shrub in the Pacific Northwest, where I hail from. It’s a flower and a green. It has lantern-shaped, tiny flowers an you can order it in spring and summer.
N: I’m a southern girl at heart. I love big, beautiful, lush blooms! My all-time favorite is Peony.
A: Can you offer one piece of advice to a newly engaged couple starting on their wedding planning?
N: Stay true to who you are and don’t worry about the trends. Let the professionals handle the stress. This is the most special time in your lives. My best advice for the DIY couple is hire professionals for all perishables.