I met Katie at the beginning of 2018. After working at a few weddings together, Katie and I decided to meet for breakfast to get to know each other a little better. I fell in love with her right away! She has a light that shines so bright! She is kind and sweet and of course SO TALENTED! I asked Katie if I could come to her studio and take a few pictures of her working. I have always been mesmerized by flowers and wanted to see the real process as well as I wanted to learn more on how to choose flowers and florist for your wedding so I could give some tips to my brides in the future.
So I was able to stop by and witness Katie working on three bouquets and a floral arrangement. I enjoyed every single minute witnessing her talent. She told me a lot of exciting things about the floral business, and we came up with an idea to make a list of interview questions. Our primary goal is to educate brides on what to look for when looking for a florist. Because how much does an average girl who just started planning her wedding know about flowers? Not much, right? So keep reading!
We are hoping that this information is useful, and you get an idea of some styles, designer process, and what to think of when looking for your wedding florist. Please comment if you have any other questions that we didn’t discuss here!
Katie, Can you please tell us a little bit about your company, Billie Ball & Co?
We are a full-service floral design team specializing in weddings and events in the DFW Metroplex. We pride ourselves in being a small team, but mighty. We take a limited number of events every season, so we can really focus on giving our clients to most memorable
experience and expertly tailored designs. We source locally where we can, and use only the finest responsibly-grown blooms. Our designs tend to be bold, full of texture and organic in shape. We like the flowers to dictate the design, and love celebrating their unique forms.
What services do you offer?
We are a full-service company, allowing us to serve our clients from the beginning concept stage, all the way to striking the event. Some of my clients have a pretty good idea of what they want, and others need a bit more help verbalizing their vision. During our consultations, we look at color palettes, mood boards, inspiration images, floral varieties, fabric swatches, vases, etc. I know that’s enough to make your head spin, but I try my best to make it fun! I love inviting couples into my cozy studio to collaborate and pull together their vision. I think what makes our personalized experience so special is we make your event floral design feel like you. Every design is custom, no two weddings will ever be the same. We’re also not afraid to take chances or try something totally out of the box!
Before a bride starts looking for a florist, what should she think about first.
It’s a good idea to have a general mood board of images that grab your eye. Even if the mood board has no flowers on it. I get a lot of inspiration from paintings, sculpture, interior design, graffiti as well, so anything helps determine the direction for our brainstorming.
It’s important to also have an idea of your budget. Wedding flowers tend to be about 10-15% of the total wedding budget. This will help your florist tremendously so they can show you designs that fit within your budget.
Another item I wish I saw more at my consultations is the event floor plan. Typically my couples have their venue selected prior to meeting with me. Every venue is different; one might have a cool arch as a ceremony backdrop, one might have a gorgeous doorway we could frame with flowers, etc. I like to determine the best features of the venue to highlight, so we can maximize the impact of the florals.
What are some questions that you think a bride should ask a florist before choosing her vendor?
- Do you have an order minimum?
- Do you offer full event set-up and strike?
- Can I read over your contract?
- Do you service my venue? (Some florists have travel restrictions)
Why do florists have a minimum to book?
Minimums protect floral designers when booking clients. Once a date is reserved, the florist turns down other potential bookings for the same day/weekend. Most florists have contracts that outline that the date is reserved on the basis that a specific minimum will be met.
Let’s talk about styles. Can you please explain what is what – classic/traditional, natural/wild, modern/simple what are those styles?
These words probably mean different things to different people, but here is my interpretation:
Classic/traditional tends to be more “pave.” Think compact rounded-mounds of flowers. All the flowers are typically on the same plain, and take on a geometrical shape. You see this a lot in the south!
Natural/wild design typically mimics the form flowers and greenery take in the wild. Little to no structure or symmetry. You’ll see the most variation of floral varieties in this style. The color palettes tend to be less obvious, instead opting for “Spring pastels” or “Fall ambers, reds + browns”.
Modern/simple designs tend to be more about the color palette and overall look and feel of the event. Think “modern botanical dinner party” with identical mounds of Protea, Orchids and Roses all in various shades of mauve. For this same event, we could also see individual stems of Monstera leaves in bud vases down the length of a banquet table. Simple, clean and refined.
Is there a style that is most popular these days?
The style I see (and like!) the most is natural/wild.
Do you specialize in a particular style?
My designs tend to be less structured, and more in the natural/wild category. While I can design in any style, my favorite is when I get to highlight the form of the flower or greenery. I like to mimic the growing pattern of how you would naturally find it in the wild.
What is your designer process?
I do a lot of my own inspiration hunting. I’m very inspired by other floral designers, and I look to them often for fresh perspectives and new techniques. I take notes, draw sketches and pull together mood boards. Whatever I need to do in order to better help and inspire my clients!
Can you please tell us a little bit about flowers and how colors and seasons affect pricing? (for example I always thought that peonies are spring flowers, and was surprised to find out that in December peonies are also in season!)
Yes they are! Peonies are officially available year-round as of recently. A farm in Alaska just started growing them and will be able to fill-in the gap between August-October when they are typically unavailable. However, outside of April-June, they will be very pricey.
Most flowers are the same price regardless of color. For example, burgundy Ranunculus are usually the same price as peach Ranunculus. Of course there are different types of Ranunculus that come in multiple sizes, colors and textures. But most of the 10 stem bunch Ranunculus I purchase for my designs is the same price regardless of color. Of course, different colors are more available during certain seasons. Burgundy is in higher demand in the Fall and Winter, so the flowers in that color can be scarce. Growers tend to raise their prices of a specific in-demand stem during a certain time frame just like any business would.
This past Fall, we actually had a burgundy shortage. Finding burgundy Ranunculus was almost impossible due to the bad crops, weather and some getting destroyed in customs. My biggest advice would be to be flexible with your floral varieties. Mother Nature sometimes has other plans, and a burgundy Scabiosa may need to stand-in for the desired Ranunculus. If the florist can communicate this to their client, and in turn, the client has faith in the designer to choose the right stems to make their event beautiful, that is a recipe for a happy client and happy designer!
What are some flowers that are in season all year round?
Roses, Hydrangea, Chrysanthemums, Stock, Snapdragon and Lilies are good options for keeping it affordable!
What are some 2018-2019 wedding flower trends? (bouquets and centerpieces/decor pieces).
I love seeing bolder colors instead of just blush and ivory. I also think this will be the Fall of Pampas Grass! My couples are also embracing fun colors like copper, oxblood and steel blue. I think we’ll continue to see more jaw-dropping installations like the royal wedding cathedral doorway!
What is your opinion about trends? Do you like them, follow them, or are you against them? Why?
I like some of them, but I want my couples to just do their own thing. I think its special to look at wedding photos and you have an idea of the era based on the wedding dress or the hairstyles. In my opinion find it endearing, and its a moment perfectly captured in time. No wedding is truly “timeless”, instead embrace what you like, trendy or not, just make it you! I just love those 70s-80s wedding photos, just adorable!
What are some most timeless flowers other than roses?
You can’t go wrong with Hydrangea!
Are there some trends that have officially passed but you still see people liking and using?
I’m still seeing a ton of garlands and greenery on everything. I really enjoy this trend, so I’m not in a hurry to see it go!
I remember, when we met, you mentioned that you love to learn from the the best professionals and most well known people in your industry. Can you tell us a little bit how more luxurious designers are different from traditional flower shops?
One of the things I noticed when making the transition from a traditional flower shop to an event- driven florist, is the expectations of the flowers. When you order an arrangement from your local shop, you want the flowers to be super fresh so they stay beautiful for an entire week in your home.
Weddings and events are totally different. We get most of our flowers in 4-5 days before the event so all of our blooms open fully. We want every stem to be at the very peak of beauty and openness for the event. This means coaxing our stems to open quicker. There is a whole process and technique for this. Typically after a wedding, the flowers will not live much longer because they have fully opened and the petals have been manipulated. You’ll notice how event floral designers “reflex” their Roses and peel back every petal, making the Rose twice as big and beautiful!
Where do you get your flowers from?
Locally and all over the world! I like to buy Dallas-grown Ranunculus, Dahlias, Sunflowers and Celosia when possible. Most of my flowers come from cooler climates in California, Alaska,
Holland and Ecuador.
How far in advance do you have to put your order?
I reserve flowers a month in advance of the wedding, and I can continue to add up until two weeks before. I personally select all of my flowers to make sure they are the healthiest. When I’m at the growers, I like to fill in the color palette with seasonal flowers that are in stock. I always find the most beautiful things in the floral coolers! The random little bunches of berries or a fun textural grass always end up being my favorite elements of the designs.
What are few of the most expensive and most affordable flowers?
Seasonality is key here. Peonies are a great example. They are in season and the most “affordable” late April through June. I put affordable in quotes because Peonies are still a premium-priced flower year round. Ranunculus, Dahlias, Garden Roses, Delphinium, Orchids, Anemones and Hellebore are the premium stems I used the most. Usually we can make just a few stems the main focal flower, and fill in with more affordable options. Some more affordable options are: Standard Roses, Stock, Hydrangea, Tulips, Scabiosa, Chrysanthemums, and fillers like Wax Flower, Hypericum Berry and Limonium. There are so many great books and online resources for determining which flowers are in season for a specific wedding date. When in doubt, just ask your florist. That’s what we’re here for!
And now let’s take a look behind the scenes! Welcome to the studio of Bille Ball & Co.!
When I came to Katie’s studio on Friday, she was getting ready for her Saturday and Sunday weddings, so she had a lot of beauty in the house! As Katie and her assistant were working, I was shadowing them with my camera.
And here are some pictures of the final results!
Many thanks to Katie with Billie Ball & Co for letting us see these amazing behind the scenes process and for sharing so much useful information!