Vendor Spotlight :: Favorite Florist :: Les Fleurs, Andover, MA

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Flowers! Wedding Flowers! Bouquets! Boutonnieres ! Centerpieces! How to choose a wedding florist? How much should wedding flowers cost? How do I know what flowers I need?


As I started to write this post I wondered where the tradition of having flowers at the wedding came from...and thanks to the power of the interweb I found out that it was traditional to have flowers and herbs at a wedding even in Ancient Greek times. Mostly as an offering to nature, a thank you to guests and to perfume the air (obviously they didn't have antiperspirant deodorant back them!). Who knew?

I'd like to introduce you to Kerianne Steele who is the Director or Weddings & Events at Les Fleurs in Andover, MA. After reading this post you should know EVERYTHING there is to know about flowers at your wedding :) Here is the wonderful Kerianne:


I first saw flowers by Les Fleurs at Alison & Matt's wedding at The Colonnade and I loved the elegant design.



And then just a few months later Les Fleurs was the florist for Hillary & Paul's wedding at Tupper Manor, I adored the lemon centerpieces and I got to see Kerianne and her colleagues hard at work with the beautiful displays. Hillary's bouquet was so classic with the trailing ivy:


Kerianne filled the huge urns with greenery:


Lemons were incorporated into the escort card display and the centerpieces:



A couple of weeks ago I stopped by the store in Andover, MA (totally worth a visit! It's like entering a lush English garden) and met with Kerianne to get the scoop on all things to consider when choosing a wedding florist.



Leah: Kerianne! It's SO nice to see you for more than 2 minutes as we pass each other at weddings and say a brief hello!
Kerianne: I know! It's always so much fun to see your pictures of our flowers on your facebook page and blog!
Leah: So tell me all about Les Fleurs?
Kerianne: Well, we actually moved to this just location 2 years ago but Les Fleurs was started by Sandra Shaheen about 20 years ago on N.Main St in Andover. Sandra's Mom was a florist and Sandra lived in Paris for a while where she really appreciated the organic feel of flowers and how seasonally specific flowers were used. In Paris it was also common to go beyond basic flowers and incorporate herbs, berries, even artichokes! At Les Fleurs we keep that kind of European style. We do mainly weddings and events, we're also a full retail florist and we even do event design and day of coordination.

Leah: And how did you find yourself here?
Kerianne: It's actually kind of a funny story. I needed a part time job in college and I got a job as a flower deliverer but I was absolutely terrible as a map reader! Luckily they took pity on me as I've been here for 6 years this month!

Leah: What to you enjoy most about your job?
Kerianne: [laughs] Oh this is so silly but I'll tell you anyway. I really like that I can throw things on the floor! So I can work on an arrangement or a bouquet and I make the BIGGEST mess and it's really fun to me everyday! Being serious though, I just love the different textures and colors of all of the flowers. I love the excitement you bring to the couple on this momentous day and seeing how happy they are when their vision is realized. I love working with couples on event design, helping them with their theme, the lighting, the linens. I love the change in seasons and how it changes what we have to work with through the year, I could go on and on...

Leah: If a couple is recently engaged, they have a venue and they're starting to think about flowers, where do they even start?
Kerianne: Thinking about your venue is a good place, sometimes there's a intrinsic theme or feeling and you don't want to fight it. At Tupper Manor for example, there's a sort of beautiful English feel to the venue, it makes me think of dahlias and peonies in cut crystal. There's also the beach on the property so it lends itself well to a coastal theme. So the venue is a good starting point, you wouldn't want super stark modern flowers in a historic building! I find that couples are usually flower-specific or color-specific if they have something in mind. Sometimes I'll get brides who are open to anything, they might say "well, the bridesmaids will be in a watermelon color, what would you suggest?"

Leah: So should a couple have an idea of what they want before they meet with you?
Kerianne: Not at all! Somtimes they do have some ideas/wishlists and other times they're completely open to suggestion. We're here to help as much or as little as they like! It's very important to work in season. We help them pick a color family, as not all flowers come in all colors! Sometimes it's helpful if we meet with couples even before they've made a firm decision on their color for stationery or dresses which are available all year round. We can advise them of colors that are available during the season they'll be getting married in and they can go from there. If they don't have an event coordinator or a wedding planner we also love recommending linens and tablescape designs.

Leah: What kind of process it is? How many times do you meet with the couple?
Kerianne: We have a couple of appointments to make sure that we cover everything. At the initial consult we'll talk about flower availability, price point, texture and colors. We'll help them on style and heights and how it affects their budget. For example at Atkinson Country Club you have very high ceilings so tall centerpieces look awesome. If they were all low they would be lost in the room! However to save money, they might want to consider doing half high and half low.

We meet again 3-4 weeks before the wedding to go over the final plans. It has to be within this timeframe to make sure the flowers we've agreed on are in season. It's so important that you trust your florist, you don't want to be worried on the day! At the sample appointment we have a full mock up. Couples come through the door and they're blown away. We can get their linens and candles and try to really create what they'll see on the day of their wedding. It's awesome for them to see it all come together.

Actually, speaking of seeing your flowers before the wedding, we have a lot of clients who'll book us with more than 12 months to go and in this case we invite them to stop by the store on a Thursday or Friday in the month of their wedding (so if you book an October 2013 wedding you can go see what kind of flowers are available in October 2012). We sometimes have multiple weddings in a weekend so they have an opportunity to really see what's available in the season.

Leah: You mentioned the height of the centerpieces...
Kerianne: I know exactly what you're thinking! We ALWAYS recommend low for the table that the couple will be sitting at. Your photographer should have a clear view during toasts. I'm very realistic, the proportion is important but we know that flowers are a one day use, you have your pictures for life so spend wisely [Leah: It's at this point I was to lean across the table and kiss Kerianne! You have no idea what a nightmare it can be to try to capture a loving glance between a couple at dinner when there's a 5 foot high arrangement between them!]

Leah: I love that you recommend a low centerpiece on their tables! What other advice do you give?
Kerianne: I ask them a lot about their style. If you generally like modern and compact, you'll struggle with a rustic and organic concept.

When it comes to bouquets, proportion and weight should always be considered - how tall the bride is, size of her waist, will she be wearing heels? An experienced florist will always be looking/thinking about this. You want your guests to see you, THEN your gown, THEN your flowers! Not the other way around. If I have a very petite bride with a tiny waist I'm not going to give her a huge trailing bouquet. If I have a taller bride with a full dress, a little posy will be lost. Fun fact - the size of your head is usually in proportion with your waist! When I say this, if the groom is there he'll look over and nod!

Leah: I imagine you do a lot of weddings each year, I know from a photography point of view I am constantly striving to do something better and to keep it fresh, how does that work with flowers?
Kerianne: We want to make every client's wedding feel completely personal to them. Some florists have catalogs you pick from and we would never do that at Les Fleurs. We try to never do exact duplicates of bouquets or centerpieces. Let's say I have 15 weddings coming up with a green and white color palette the seasons would allow me to do completely different things for each one! I could do lilac, tulip and sweet pea for one. The next wedding might have calla lilies, orchids and dahlias [Leah: Kerianne gave me all sorts of examples here but I can't write that quickly and some of the flower names were really complicated ;)]
We personalize everything, from the way we wrap the bouquet to the little finishing details. We're an independent local florist so we have complete freedom in our design.

Leah: Slightly off topic but let's talk about tents. I feel like a lot of weddings are held in tents, they're not always beautiful Sperry tents or with stunning uplighting. I do my best to make them look a million dollars in pictures but sometimes a white plastic tent is just a white plastic tent!
Kerianne: There are lots of ways to dress up a tent. Strangely when couples tell me they're getting married in a tent they are often fixated on trying to disguise the poles with flowers.
Leah: How strange! Guests expect to see poles holding the tent up! Plus I can shoot around a pole!
Kerianne: Exactly. Uplighting is amazing and can turn a cold plastic white sheet wall into a warm orange or purple glowing wall. Draping with fabric can be amazing but can also be costly. However you can also choose to just accent key areas. So you can drape the area behind where the couple are sitting (as that's where everyone will be looking and the direction for the photographs) and then maybe swag the entrance with material so that the draped area doesn't look out of place.
Leah: This is an awesome idea! Obviously I have some mad photography skills ;) but if a couple are sitting with their backs to a white wall there's not much I can do with it!
Kerianne: Absolutely, we've built little mini forests with tiny trees behind the couple with twinkly lights. We've also added small trees with uplighting from the bottom so it feels like a European Courtyards. Chandeliers and paper lanterns can also bring ambience to the tent.

Leah: So tell me about some of the trends in the wedding world:
Kerianne: I feel like we had a bit of a Lily Pulitzer theme going on for the last few seasons! I've never done so many pink and green weddings. This wedding season I'm seeing a lot of apricot and gray, yellow and gray, and bright orange continues to be a hot color no matter what time of year. Eggplant purple has been popular and continues to be. I'm seeing more variations on a color palette. We just did a beautiful wedding where each of the bridesmaids wore a different dress in the blue/slate family and they each carried a white bouquet but everyone had a different type of white flower. [Leah: I am almost drooling, this sounds so awesome, all of the different textures]. We've done a lot of small bud vases on tables with different stems in each. Speaking of Trends, Pinterest has been huge! It can really help you imagine the overall look and feel. I always encourage bringing a printout of your Pinterest board! Martha Stewart, The Knot and Style Me Pretty are also great sources for inspiration. I feel like Grace Ormonde and InStyle are a little more aspirational. It's hard to explain to a couple that each individual centerpiece may be $500 when they have a budget of $2000 for a lot of tables!

Leah: Speaking of budget, I remember planning my own wedding and not having a CLUE about how much I should budget for flowers. And I'm a little embarassed to admit this to you but we definitely cut our flower budget so we could get an ice martini bar!
Kerianne: Not at all! I completely understand. Some of the biggest things to consider when planning your budget are:
1. Importance - how important are the flowers to you? Is your focus on the bouquet, boutonnieres and corsages or the centerpieces.
2. The size of your wedding party. If you have a limited budget for flowers and a huge wedding party the majority of your budget will go on flowers for the wedding party. Conversely with a smaller wedding party you'll have a lot more money available for flowers in the venue.
3. If you have a venue that needs height in your centerpieces we can do half high and half low to make it more affordable.
4. If you have 10 guests per table vs. 8 guests per table you'll have less tables and therefore will need less centerpieces (and less linens!)
At Les Fleurs we have no minimum [Leah - this is HUGE!!! There are some florists that won't even talk to you unless you plan on spending a certain amount], we won't compromise our style to do cheap flowers but we'll absolutely work with our clients to give them the best they can get. It's really important to think about what your focus is. I know I personally chose our wedding date so the flowers I wanted were in season!

We've done flowers for a very intimate event at the Lanam Club for less than $1000 and then we've done huge spectacular weddings where the flowers have been very important to the clients for over $35,000. If I had to give an average I'd say most wedding fall in the $5000 range for flowers, linens and rentals can be another $2000. The fact that we have no minimum means that we can work will all sorts of options to get a good fit.

We can rework quotes to make it fit for their budget - we might change 20 tall centerpieces to 13 tall and 7 low. The overall effect will still be there but the cost will be lower. We know a lot of venues very well so we can make suggestions. For example at Tupper Manor you don't really see the side tables in the photographs or when you enter so you can do smaller centerpieces. If you're at the Barn at Gibbett Hill you can save money by not doing tall centepieces upstairs.

Leah: Kerianne, it's been such a pleasure talking to you! You literally live and breathe flowers! I've leant so much, I know this will be incredibly helpful for many of my clients! Now tell me a little bit about what you get up to when you're not around flowers?
Kerianne: Ha! I'm always reupholstering! I'm recently married, I think I already mentioned that we chose our wedding date around the seasonality of the flowers I wanted! We live in Chelmsford with our 5 year old mini dachshund named Luka.
Leah: What??!?!? We have two mini-dachshunds!!! [just for you lovely blog readers I will now cut out the 15 minute ooohing and ahhhing over cell phone pictures of our mini dachshunds, suffice to say that mini-d's rule the dog world].
Kerianne: We're big family people. My husband and I loke to ice skate, ski and snowboard. Actually my husband is a saint because he comes antique shopping with me so I can find new upholstery projects.

Leah: Tell me about the flowers at your own wedding...

Kerianne: Well, we got married about 2 years ago and had a very English garden theme. Low cast iron urns, buttery french yellow, ivory and green colors. And roses! Roses everywhere. I actually did my own flowers out of Les Fleurs. We made the cocktail arrangements in the store on Wednesday as I was so excited! I designed everything and Yvette made the centerpieces. My hands made my own bouquet - because I wanted to! It was just perfect and so romantic!

And with that ladies and gentleman Kerianne had to get back to work:


Kerianne is incredibly knowledgeable about everything flower/design/wedding related! You should TOTALLY make an appointment to meet her if you think the European, organic, rustic style of flowers might just be what you're looking for. She's super friendly and warm AND she has a mini-dachshund!!! It doesn't get any better....
Important Information:
Les Fleurs - European Floral Design
27 Barnard Street, Andover, MA, 10810 (there's handy parking just outside, bring a few quarters)
978 475 9669
www.LesFleurs.com

Do tell me what other vendor categories would you like to hear about? I have a whole rolodex of bands, DJs, planners, calligraphers and more...

1 - view comments for this post:

Ligia Centeno said...

OMG! I love flowers, but I love these arrangements! They are simply stunning; you definitely captured the vivid colors!

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