When I set out for Winfield to visit Rachelle at her little floral shop to pick her brain and sip on some Starb’s, I wasn’t expecting a sensation overload when I walked through her doors. The smell….sigh. Its a smell that you cannot, will not, nope, never EVER get sick of! Her counters were filled with freshly cut peony’s, circus roses, snips, bridal inspiration pictures and her floors with trimmings, flower petals, and water buckets galore. I. Was. In. Heaven!! So, allow me to introduce you to Mrs. Rachelle Willows! *insert whistles and clapping here*
You can find this beauty out horseback riding, playing with her black German Shepherd ‘Haven’ or sipping a glass of red when she isn’t in her shop putting together some of the most stunning floral arrangements and pieces you ever did see! Her floral design company, Flowers by Willows, has a very unique characteristic that differs greatly from your traditional florist. She’s what they call a ‘farmer florist!’ Now, you’re probably thinking, a “farmer florist? Uhh…is that even a thing in Alberta?” Keep reading…
Rachelle was raised on Cooking Lake where she was surrounded by her mother’s rose bushes and peony’s and is where her love for all things floral first began. Growing up surrounded by farmers fields and the farming community is where she gained a concrete understanding of what it meant to grow, buy, and support local growers. She decided to start her own floral design company in 2011 after working for her family’s floral design shop in Sherwood Park once known as The Purple Daisy. She has created centrepieces, bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, wristlets, pomanders, flower crowns, altar florals for over 200 weddings and has created quite the name for herself here in the Edmonton and area Wedding Industry. As a result of growing her own flowers, Rachelle takes a lot of pride in being able to supply a higher quality product to her clients that is grow in Albertan soil. Although she is not a Certified Organic farmer florist, Rachelle does not use any pesticides or chemicals in her growing techniques. “It’s definitely not easy. It’s a lot of work and I wake up every morning wondering what the Alberta weather is going to bring that day however somehow, it always seems to work out.”
We asked Rachelle a ton of questions that all you couples out there would be anxious to know the answers to when it came to the floral design of your weddings. Go and grab yourself a hot cup of coffee and join our Q & A sesh:
Q: Where does a couple even begin when it comes to thinking about flowers for their wedding?
A: “One of the first things a couple should do is figure out what colours they want to use and what style best communicates both of their personalities. When they come to their floral consultations with just those few things figured out, its extremely helpful because I’m better able to hone in on what kind of florals will match. In the consultation I’ll also ask them if they have a certain flower that carries any kind of emotional significance that they would like me to build off of. It sometimes can be a process of discovery because talking things through forces them to select descriptive words which can also be extremely helpful to me when figuring out exactly what the client is looking for.”
Q: How are couples better able to maximize their budget?
A: “Multi-use items. If a couple wants an archway covered in garland for their ceremony, I can pull the archway apart and turn it into a table runner for all of their guest tables. Displaying their bouquets on their head table, using different types of ceremony arrangements and placing them on their guest book table at their reception–things like this will help keep you in the black when working within a budget. My second piece of advice is to be flexible with your flower choices. I’m finding that more and more couples are giving me a lot of freedom when it comes to the floral design which allows me to really create something beautiful while hitting their budget. For couples who are after something more specific, that’s definitely okay too! Being open to substitutions and design suggestions is what will allow me as a professional to deliver the best results.”
Q: What kind of things should couples keep in mind when designing their centrepieces?
A: “Location, lighting and stability. Location: certain flowers thrive in warmer conditions, and others…well, not so much. Hydrangea’s wilt quickly in warm conditions whereas roses will do just fine, so keeping in mind where your ceremony and reception are taking place is very important. Lighting: Good lighting is key to creating an ambiance at any occasion and incorporating colour can be a really fun touch. However, if you want white roses and have pink lighting…say hasta la vista to your once white roses! Mentioning any potential coloured lighting that you may want to incorporate is very important. Height/stability: Let’s put it this way, if you have a family member or friend who has had one wobbly pop too many and bumps into the table, will your centrepieces hold up or come crashing down? Making sure you have shake proof centrepieces will remove any cringe worthy happenings throughout your reception.”
Q: What kind of things should the bride-to-be keep in mind when visualizing her bouquet?
A: “Size and weight. Bouquets can weigh anywhere from 5-15 lbs. Depending on what you’re comfortable with carrying throughout your wedding day can play a big factor in deciding on what it will look like. The size of the bouquet is also very important and I will ask her if she likes the flawless white roses in a perfect sphere, a more asymmetrical design with more of a garden/wild flower feel, or somewhere in between? I also like to ask her to pick her favourite flower that is representative of her personality and why. I can then create a design that truly communicates her personality and style based on those few elements which makes it much easier for me to design the rest of the wedding florals.”
Q: What is one thing you want every bride to know?
A: “Flowers are WORTH IT! Flowers are true reflections of a couples personality and style because there is so much that can be done with them on a large or small scale. Its an opportunity for them to add their own touches and flare to their wedding with the help of my expertise. They add depth, texture, and warmth to any space and have the ability to transform that space into something so spectacular. Flowers can certainly be expensive but with a little help and some careful selection and planning, you just might be pleasantly surprised at the wow factor you are able to achieve while maintaining your budget.”
Q: What is the best piece of advice you have for all the bride-to-be’s out there?
A: “Keep an open mind, trust your florist and be realistic and honest with them in regards to your budget. This is where Pinterest can be the best and worst resource when it comes to finding ideas for things you may want to incorporate into your wedding day. Going into your floral consultations with an open mind gives us as florists a chance to provide you with options that are both beautiful and affordable. This will leave you feeling excited and inspired versus feeling deflated. A little flexibility can go a long way.”
Q: Last but not least, what is your favourite flower and why?
A: “Peony’s. They are one of the first flowers to bloom in the Spring at my farm and they just make me smile! They are simply beautiful. The way they smell, their colours, and their size are my favourite things about them. They take me right back to being a little girl in grandma’s backyard running around from one to the next smelling each and every stem.”
So there you have it–a floral education and a few great tips for all you couples out there! A HUGE thanks to Rachelle for taking the time to answer a few questions and we hope you all learned a thing or two during our coffee date. In fact, we would love for you to share things you learned both today and in the past. Maybe you had something that was really helpful to you as you were deciding on your florals for your wedding, or maybe you would like to share a picture of your bouquet from your wedding! Either way, we would love to hear it, so leave your comments below! If you have any questions about Rachelle’s farmer florist practices or interested in having Rachelle creating something fantastic for your next event, simply click here! Until next time ya’ll….