Backyard Wedding Flower Guide with Fresh by Brandon

Backyard weddings are becoming a great way for couples to get married during the Covid era. If you’re rethinking your big here’s an interview you’ll find helpful for planning your florals for a small wedding or an elopement in your favorite outdoor spot!

Brandon is a local photographer here in Southern California. Check out his tips on how to get the most impact.

1. What are some creative ideas for where I can use flowers in my ceremony? Is it the same advice if I’m planning a small wedding or an elopement?

This is a great question! I think the most common spaces for florals during a ceremony are an arch, chuppah, or altar of some kind, and usually some decor and flowers at the aisle entry or down the aisle. These areas help frame the space and create the best photos. 

With weddings shifting to elopements and backyards being the new venue of choice, I’ve been encouraging my couples to embrace this change and incorporate existing landscaping and favorite aspects of their backyard. Maybe your original wedding colors were blush and bashful but getting married in Mom’s backyard full of yellow roses really leaves you two options: adjust your colors or invest in hiding what is already there. It’s much easier and cost effective to embrace what is there. This might seem scary to shift away from your vision but I encourage couples to at least explore with me and see what we might be able to create utilizing what is already existing in the space. 

Also backyard weddings and elopements don’t usually have the traditional alter or aisle, so this means maybe the only flowers are the bouquet or boutonnières- so get creative! Hire a professional florist that you love and be open to new ideas, and flowers, and colors and textures. Maybe you opt for some rad wearable flowers instead of a bouquet, maybe you do a floral enhanced pocket square. Maybe we hang flowers from the trees to create an altar space or backdrop. Let’s get weird! 

Also, I always try to think outside of the box but some couples don’t want that. Their dream day is more traditional, and that’s ok, too.

Finding a pro that pushes you to explore options but also respects your boundaries is important. Don’t let the focus of your big day become building a florists portfolio- instead find a florist who is going to take your vision, sprinkle it with fairy dust and make it better than you ever imagined it could be, regardless of whether it’s 1000 guests or just the two of you. 

2. How do I choose a color pallet for my flowers?

I think sometimes a lot goes into determining  a color pallet, and sometimes very little consideration goes into it. Some couples want their colors to represent their favorite colors, other times it is based on their favorite flower. Inspiration can truly come from anywhere!

I think weddings are most visually successful when couples come to me with an idea of their colors but are open to suggestions.

For example, if I walk into your reception space and the wallpaper at the venue is not complimentary to your color palette then we might want to add in some transitional tones that can help pull the entire space together.

Your florist and designer should have a strong knowledge of color theory and can help guide you.

3. What are some creative ideas for flowers at my small reception?

Small receptions are so fun! And they really lend themselves to utilizing family pieces. Most people have a small collection of little vases or cute jars.  When you have 10 or 15 centerpieces at larger gatherings sometimes it’s cheaper and easier for your florist to source all of the vases from a single source, either rented or bought.

But for a backyard wedding I recommend couples bring their own pieces out of storage, if they have little cute containers they love. And since you are only going to the backyard, there is much less opportunity for Grandma’s heirloom compote to be lost or damaged. 

This is also a great time to forage your yard for fun clippings to add to centerpieces. Allow your florist to mix some of your garden roses into your centerpieces or use some foliage off of the trees in your pieces!

If you’re one of the couples that had planned a bigger wedding and now are adjusting, perhaps you can afford to spend a little extra on centerpieces that maybe you wouldn’t have been able to if you had a lot of tables to cover, so maybe this is an opportunity for you and your designer or florist to revisit that mood board and have some great conversations about how to really blow your few guests away!

On the other hand, maybe this is a smaller ceremony with a larger, more traditional wedding coming next year, so perhaps your backyard reception hints to your vision for next year with smaller versions of your planned arrangements. This way your florals can be a coming attraction for next year! 

4. How do I choose the right flowers for my wedding?

This is a tough one. There is a lot to consider- how long do they need to live? Will they be in water the entire time or not? Are you getting married at 3 pm outside in July? If so, you’ll need flowers that are strong and can last the heat of the day and the entire evening.

Also you want to consider the surroundings and how your flowers can create a cohesive event.

I encourage my clients to fall in love with a bouquet or centerpiece style, and/or colors, etc but try to be open minded about the specific flowers. Your florist has access to flowers you’ve never seen or heard of. Sometimes when I go to the market or meet with my favorite growers I see something totally great that I would never have considered pitching to my client- but in the moment I know it’ll be the best bloom for the job.

Being open to that as a couple really allows your hired creatives to be creative. That being said, if you have a favorite flower, or a flower that will honor a special moment or family member, by all means share that with your florist and I’m sure they will do their best to incorporate it. But the truth is, you wouldn’t walk into a restaurant and expect to have to tell the chefs the ingredients and spices you’d like them to use- instead you’d say, “I generally like these flavors, hate these flavors, and have an allergy to this” and then see what they suggest for you. 

You should lean on your florist to navigate that for you and understand the stability of each flower to be sure it’s right for all of the circumstances of your big day. 

5. How far in advance should I consider booking my favorite florist?

If you’re reading this then it’s time to book your favorite florist. Most florists, like all vendors in our industry, have had to reschedule their weddings from 2020 to 2021, that means our calendars are filling up very, very fast. If you find a vendor you love you should reach out as soon as possible. Most professionals, if they are already booked, can offer you recommendations to other florists who provide a similar level of care and who they trust and have worked with in the past. So reach out, even if your wedding is coming up soon- if i’m not available I will do my best to help you find someone great that is. 

6. How do I get the biggest impact?

This is a great question and the answer depends on what area and budget we are working with. A general rule for designing for maximum impact is stick to groupings and clusters. One candle or floral arrangement on an 8 foot table is nice. 12 candles and 3 floral arrangements will be far more impactful.

Also, again, leaning on your professional to make the absolute most impact with your budget for the space you have is crucial. 

7. What’s your favorite flower

The toughest question of them all! I love flowers, all flowers. I would say for sure that I have major soft spots in my heart for things that are interesting or weird.

Love protea.

But I also really love and advocate for flowers that I feel get a bad rap. Alstroemeria is a great example.

Carnations are, too. They come in every color you can imagine, are incredibly long lasting and hardy, and usually smell great too.

I feel like people think of carnations and the image that pops into their head is a cheap, bright red or pink flower from a gas station. In reality, some designer carnations are more expensive than roses. I use carnations in almost every piece of floral art I create.

I love changing people’s minds! 

8. What’s your favorite wedding memory

I have a memory that I will carry with me forever- and that is of my cousin’s backyard wedding in Indiana.

I was able to fly home and help her put together an intimate and lovely affair. She and I are super close and grew up together so it meant a lot to me and to her.

I also have the best clients and can honestly say that I have very special, fond memories from every wedding I’ve ever been a part of.

Some of my favorite memories involve the behind the scenes craziness that the couple never knows about (like bouquets being delivered to the wrong bridal suit! or DIY arches made by family members that fall apart twenty minutes before guests arrive!).

Many laughs, lots of sweat, a few tears, and tons of favorite memories. 

9. Why Flowers? What started your love?

I have always loved flowers- they are little reminders of the magic of life.

We get to experience the beauty of an entire life cycle when we keep fresh flowers.

I started working at a floral shop in high school but after graduating I left the floral industry for many years but still did occasional weddings for friends or family members.

I didn’t really consider floral artistry as a profession until four or five years ago. I was in a very dark place after the passing of my brother, Scott, from cancer.

In one of our last conversations Scott made me promise that I would do something for myself and just for fun to help me find joy again. He suggested a return to painting or some form of art.

I agreed but didn’t really think much more about it.

About a year after his passing I found an advertisement for a floral design class at the local community college. I wondered if the structure of a class schedule and working with flowers would spark some joy for me and remembered my conversation with Scott.

I knew I had to check it out.

Soon I had a pretty big corporate client ordering floral art from me on a regular basis, and so Fresh By Brandon was born!

Fresh by Brandon:

San Diego, CA