My Bare-Minimum Floral Design Tips

(And how to say F**k-it to Fear)

If you’ve read my previous post on being an ‘Accidental Wedding Florist,’ you know that I didn’t start out knowing what I was doing. In fact, I’m still learning and figuring that out. When I say that the very next time I made an arrangement was AFTER I decided to officially become a Florist (which also happened to be years later), I’m not exaggerating. **If you’re bored of stories and only interested in my Bare Minimum Floral Design Tips, scroll to the bottom.**

Fast forward to when I began making moves to become a Florist, my desktop is filled with lists (things to learn, things to buy, etc.), and I’m dying to make my “first” arrangement! What I wouldn’t tell a soul at the time was that I mostly wanted to see if I was even any good at arranging flowers. As much as I wanted to jump in, I was having this inner battle on which came first: the chicken or the egg? And by that I mean, I couldn’t possibly make the arrangement without buying the tools first, but I also couldn’t buy the tools unless I was sure this was going to work (cue steam coming out of my ears).

This is the moment where I reiterate one of my long-standing mottos: F**k it and go!

I swallowed my danged fear (yet again) and just went for it! I drove to the local grocery store, picked out flowers I thought would look nice together, got a cute vase, and took them home to be floristed…designed?…arranged?? Whatever you want to call it, I did it to those flowers. And guess what, they looked be-YOU-tifully sub-par. (Don’t mind me, the tears are from cracking up at this creation still) Honestly, at the time I was darn proud of those flowers, but even that is not the point! DON’T STAND IN YOUR OWN WAY (I’m creating more mottos for myself every day if you can’t tell). All that mattered was that I did it and I decided to continue to get better. You don’t always need to be a pro to attempt something, in fact I challenge you to (safely) do something you’ve always wanted to but didn’t think you were quite ready. Who knows, you might just be amazing, or love it enough to work towards becoming amazing!

Warm floral arrangement, sunflower, tulips, orange roses, flower centerpiece
Warm floral arrangement, sunflower, tulips, orange roses, flower centerpiece

The Bare-Minimum Floral Design Tips

And for you beginner Florists out there (whether you’re designing for yourself or others) here are some tips that may help:

  1. Bare minimum things you need:
    1. Flowers
    2. Knife or scissors
    3. Water
    4. Container to put the flowers in (preferably one that will hold flowers)
  2. Pick flowers of varying sizes (small, medium, and large blooms)
  3. Pick flowers in colors that you like together (don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise!), whether that’s similar colors or opposing colors, have fun with it!
    1. You can also use different textures to add interest
  4. Whatever knife or scissors you use to trim them, make sure they’re sharp and clean
  5. Make sure to cut off at least 1-2 inches of the stem, and try to cut at a 45° angle to help the flowers take in more water
  6. Take off any leaves that would be sitting in water, otherwise they cause bacteria to build up a lot more quickly
  7. To allow your flowers to open more (but not too quickly) and look healthier, after you trim them, keep them in water in a cool and darker room
  8. Arrange flowers so that the blooms fall on varying planes to add interest, rather than all sitting at the same height and same direction

Happy Floristing!

Sincerely,

Savannah Wichman

The Accidental Wedding Florist

My first ever time as a Wedding Florist felt like a high-stakes DIY moment, where I somehow volunteered to be the Florist for the wedding of one of my best friends for whom I was already the Maid of Honor. The ceremony was going to be in a public garden and a low-key event, which meant I needed to help plan the timeline, rent the furniture, reserve the reception restaurant, plan the bachelorette party, AND plan the floral details, all while living 600 miles away. My Hospitality degree, planning, and Type-A personality kicked in big time; and when I tell you we pulled it off, we pulled that mother OFF! Now keep in mind, this was a few years before I decided to become an actual Florist, so my entire Floral education at this point was from Professor You-Tube, and to be honest I probably only watched a 3-minute video and called it a day. The Bride and I talked flowers and colors, I placed the order with their local grocery store and an online wholesaler, then I crossed my fingers! I arrived the day before the wedding, picked everything up and began designing (thank god to the family member who told me to have the roses delivered a few days before and have them sit in water in a cold, dark room).

Was the Bridal Bouquet perfect? Hell no! Did I make sh** up as I went? Abso-freaking-lutely! Let me also mention the fact that post bouquet-making I had extra flowers and greenery, so I decided (very) last second to flower-ize the ceremony arch! Being a wedding Florist with no background, no tools, and no education was hectic and scary, but I am so unbelievably glad I did it. I learned, I had fun, and I got to do this wonderful thing for a friend for which I will always be grateful.

Mountain Mama Florals Bridal Bouquet
Pink & White Natural Bridal Bouquet
Mountain Mama Florals Wedding Ceremony Greenery Arch
Wedding Ceremony Greenery Arch

Mountain Mama Florals Wedding Ceremony Greenery Arch
Wedding Ceremony Greenery Arch

**PSA pleeeeeease take off all leaves that are located at or under where you are going to tie-off your bouquet! If you don’t, you’re going to have one THICK stem bundle and the leaves will create more bacteria if the bouquet goes back in water.**

Opportunities and new experiences come out of nowhere sometimes, and I for one try to practice swallowing my fears and jumping in whenever possible! You never know where it will lead you.

Sincerely,

Savannah Wichman

My Journey to Becoming a Florist

Have you ever thought, “For real though, how much fun would it be to do _____ for a living?” Of course, you have, we all have! Now how many of those thoughts did you actually look into, do a little research to see how one goes about becoming a [insert job title here]?  How crazy would your life be if every time you thought it might be fun or cool to do something, you actually did it? I know becoming a florist may sound a little less exciting in the scope of “If you could be anything…”, but that was always my dream job that just felt way too out of reach, until now.

To start my flower story, I spent summers on my grandmother’s farm in the mountains of West Virginia (hence, ‘Mountain Mama’ Florals). It was there that I learned how to plant seeds, drive four wheelers, and of course, how to build a floral centerpiece as no dinner table is complete without one! My grandmother had an amazing front garden with a koi pond right in the center, a trellis arch that covered half of the walkway, and greenery and flowers everywhere in between that was mine to pick from as I pleased!

The West Virginia Farmhouse

Fast forward to my high school years where I was in a Fine Arts program, and for our senior year we had to complete a themed portfolio. Naturally, my portfolio’s theme became flowers! I spent that entire year arranging flowers in fun and new ways so that I could draw, color, or paint them to specifically highlight each individual bloom’s specialness. After graduating and making the hard decision not to pursue a career in art but instead to study Business Management (ugh, being practical [insert eyeroll here]), I went on to Virginia Tech! Once again, I was in my mountains, and while studying business I appeased my love for florals by taking plant courses to fill my extracurricular requirements. After college I went on to be a manager in the Hospitality industry, specifically in Country Clubs, where I was able to develop my service-culture mentality and love for creating experiences for others. Do you know who has beautiful flowers? Country Clubs! I was able to meet and work with fantastic Florists whose main jobs were to create arrangements for their one specific venue and maintain those flowers (don’t mind me, just drooling with envy). I had put in a few years living the Hospitality life (or lack thereof) when- dun dun DUN- COVID happened!

Raise your hand if you got to live your *lifelong dream* (and then get sick of) doing nothing but watch TV and hang out on your couch all day! For those of you who have little kids, I feel for you. A lot. During this era of hanging out with Gerald (that’s my couch’s name), there was one day when I was watching a movie with my boyfriend and sister. When we got to the part where the female main character was working in her small-town Florist Shop, my heart just wrenched. I had one thought – GOD that’s what I want. As the thought went through my mind, it apparently also went out my mouth (there’s very little filter there) and my lovely little family responded as any family would: “well why don’t you freaking do it then??” You know what, they honestly had a point. The very next day I Googled “How to become a Florist,” and that’s when Alison Ellis of Real Flower Business came into my life. We are best friends now, even though she doesn’t know it, from the moment she taught me how easy it was to follow my dream. I spent the rest of my Furlough Days planning, shopping, studying, and making all the lists, because after living for a quarter of a century I had finally made the decision, I was going to become a Florist!

So, after you now feel like you’ve lived my life, let’s get to the moral of the story. Life is too short to not do the things that make you happy! I want you to make a list (I mean it, don’t be lazy). Write down some of the things that you want to TRY in your life; no one said that all of them will be possible, but how do you know if you don’t try? What are some adventures you want to go on, skills you want to learn, and jobs you want to do? Now, list what might be needed to do these things (you may have to Google this like I did). You might be surprised how doable a dream really is. Finally, set yourself a timeline to start one or two of those items. Who here learned about SMART goals? That “T” stands for “Time”, which means you must set yourself a time limit for these goals and keep yourself accountable!

 Although my Florist journey has only just begun, I will forever be proud of myself for jumping in and following my dream. Where will yours lead you?

Sincerely,

Savannah Wichman