What’s your first step when a bride asks for a large and dramatic fresh flower design you’ve never done before?
“Getting over the fear of doing it!” says Alan B. Thompson AIFD of McNamara Florist in Carmel, Indiana.
A bride asked Alan and his team to create a spectacular fresh flower wedding chandelier.
“This was our first time for this type of design,” he says of what turned out to be a 6.5-foot diameter overhead structure. “I had to figure out how to construct it.”
Floral ceiling décor can take various forms including suspended centerpieces, architectural accents or canopies of flowers. The options are endless based on size, style, the wedding party’s budget, chosen theme and personal preference.
Considerations for overhead designs also include weight, water source, not dripping on the wedding guests, choosing mechanics, attaching the design and installation efficiency.
An added complication
Not only was Alan unsure how he was going to create the structure, the wedding was on Mother’s Day when the shop already had two weddings on the schedule.
The design team was going to be all over the place. He needed a mechanic that made installation easy.
He borrowed a foam tile from a friend so he could experiment with it. “It worked so I ordered the tiles from my local wholesaler.”
“The initial investment in mechanics may have been a little higher using the floral foam tiles, but in the long run involving less labor by getting in and out of the event quickly was a big savings,” Alan explains.
“In today’s fast-paced market, you have to think a little differently than old school.”
How was the innovative design created?
To begin the design, Alan cut seven floral foam tiles in half, creating 14 separate 12-inch x 18-inch tile panels. He cut six inches off one tile so the panels fit the 6.5-foot-diameter truss.
He and his team backed the design with leatherleaf and dotted in short pieces of pittosporum. Then they inserted 750 blooms, mixing pink carnations, white stock, Ocean Song lavender roses and Majolica white spray roses.
“I like to use the Majolicas because they open so well and added dimension to the design,” he said.
Most of the flowers had smaller stems that held well in the foam. These were cut about three inches long for a full look. No glue was required. The stock was put in at an angle to expose more of the blooms.
“The design wasn’t that deep so the flowers really made a big show.”
“In addition to the flower costs, I added a significant labor charge,” he says of the time-consuming task.
What about water drainage?
Water drainage is always a concern for suspended designs, especially those designed on site.
Alan’s designs were made in advance. The foam tiles had time to drain, so there was minimal water dripping during installation.
“To construct the designs in advance, we lay the tiles flat on the design table and filled them in with flowers on Thursday. The whole thing went onto one cart for storage until delivery. This gave the tiles plenty of time to drain.”
“The panels did drip periodically for about an hour,” says Alan, “but it wasn’t a lot.”
How did they attach the wall tiles?
The tiles were attached to the aluminum truss with cable ties.
Once onsite, Alan and his team connected two narrow 11-inch cable ties to get the needed length. They pierced two holes on each side of the tile to secure the tiles to the truss at the top and the bottom for extra security.
They doubled a piece of disposable wedding carpet and pinned it to the back of the design to hide the mechanics.
“We lost very few flowers in transit and installation,” he added.
What is Alan’s best advice for this design?
“Work closely with your AV (audio-visual) person to talk about the weight of the structure,” Alan advises. “We didn’t weigh the panels but we’re guessing they were possibly five to eight pounds per tile.”
Weight can make construction more difficult if you have to work overhead to secure the tiles in place.
Fortunately for Alan, the truss was motorized and was lowered for the team to attach the foam tiles from the floor. Once the design was in place, they lifted the truss back up and secured it at the ceiling. The AV company also provided and installed a chandelier in the center of the design.
The bride’s response?
“I got to see the ecstatic response of the bride’s mom, but I had to get back to the store to assist with Mother’s Day so I was disappointed that I wasn’t going to see bride’s first look,” shares Alan. “Then, the venue manager FaceTimed me and I did get to see the bride’s “OMG!” response. She loved it!”
“Thank you, floral foam wall tiles! You saved us a ton of time on a hectic day.”
The sky’s the limit
The sky’s the limit when it comes to selling suspended floral chandeliers.
“As a florist, it’s great fun to design something a little different than the typical centerpieces on the table,” says event designer Katherine Gonzalez AIFD of Bastille Flowers & Events. “Many brides are looking for a wild, whimsical and organic feel to their wedding flowers. A lush draping chandelier or canopy has become a natural go-to for creating that overgrown secret-garden effect.”
Floral chandeliers vary with budgets
Floral chandelier prices can vary greatly. They can be designed using wreath forms in a series of sizes or large-scale metal forms or trusses.
The chandeliers can be dramatically arranged like these designs created by Chris Norwood AIFD, PFCI of Tipton Hurst in Little Rock, Arkansas and Emily Pinon of Bastille Flowers & Events in New York and Alan.
Floral chandeliers can also be arranged on a smaller scale featuring more foliages and fewer flowers, like these photographed designs. They can be elevated upon wreaths, branches, wood, wire or metal forms, even foliage or flower laden hula-hoops.
Or flowers or foliage can simply suspend from an existing chandelier as was done for Rachelle Nyswonger AIFD’s wedding in this photo.
For more chandelier “secrets” in a variety of prices and product mix, check out my Chic Wedding Chandelier board on Pinterest.