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Black-tie blowouts. Destination elopements. Cozy backyard shindigs. As a professional wedding florist, Ali Coates Chakola of Wild Pollen Design has seen all kinds of weddings. And yep, you guessed it, all kinds of wedding flubs. Below, she candidly shares the lessons she’s learned along the way—aka the things she’d never, ever do at her own wedding. 

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Let Parents Dominate The Guest List

“Yes, parents are likely providing some funding toward your wedding, but that doesn’t mean that their colleague that your fiancé has never met should detract from the friends you want to invite—or balloon your budget for that matter. Allow a certain, even number of friends for each set of parents to invite and stick to your guns! They’ll get over it.”

Assume That Greenery Cuts Costs

“Several brides have come to me requesting lots of greenery filler as a cost-cutting measure. But the truth is—labor costs remain the same! I think we need to re-approach greenery in weddings: Look at it as a fun-yet-simple alternative to bloom-heavy arrangements, not just a way to save a buck.”

Skip A ‘Wow’ Moment

“You really don’t need florals covering every inch of your venue and you don’t need lush centerpieces on every table either. (Bud vases, flat laid blooms and decor bits and bobs can work wonders.) What I wouldn’t skip is a statement floral that enhances the venue space and gives guests a stop-in-their-tracks moment. Think: A gorgeous hanging floral installation or a large, lush garden installation on the stage.”

SKIP A DAY-OF COORDINATOR

"Even if you're a type-A micromanager, the last thing you'll want to do is worry about whether the table arrangements have been placed perfectly and whether someone will be there to direct your guests to the shuttles. Trust me, hiring someone to make sure nothing major falls through the cracks day-of will be some of the best money you spend. If hired help just isn't in the budget, ask an organized member of your camp to act as point person as their wedding gift to you."

Book A Vendor Without Speaking With Them First

“Just because a vendor meshed with your friend or a family member doesn’t necessarily mean that you will. Do your research. Find someone whose work speaks to you and your partner and whose demeanor you get a great read on (whether that’s over the phone or in person). Listen to your gut, and don’t settle for anyone whose work or attitude doesn’t leave you feeling secure and excited.”

 

Micromanage Your Vendors

“Remember: These people are the backbone of your big day, so make sure you completely trust and love their work even before booking them. As a florist, the best feeling in the world is when a client messages you saying how much they admire your work and trust your creative vision. If you hire someone because their brand speaks to you, don’t nitpick their creative process. Relinquish some control, and you will reap the benefits.”

Have A Big Bridal Party

“This is a tough one for so many brides because, of course, you want all your people to be by your side. But wedding party size is a sneakily huge budget influencer—not the least of which, for florals. Plus, if you have 15 bridesmaids, think of all the getting-ready robes you will have to buy, the hair and makeup costs, the Champagne…gah! My advice: Think about who you call right away when something big happens. That should be a good rule of thumb for asking a friend to be your bridesmaid.”

Waste Time On Wedding Favors

“Favors can be a nice touch, but they’re pretty unnecessary. Little expenses add up quickly and let’s be real: Your aunt from Nebraska isn’t bringing a mini potted succulent home on the airplane. Put your money elsewhere!”

Expect Pinterest Replicas

“It can be so hard to not fall in love with a design on Pinterest, but remember that that image is probably one arrangement on one table that was loaded up with high-end, beautiful ingredients for an editorial shoot. (Multiply that by 20 tables and things can get crazy-pricey.) Inspiration photos are meant to get your creative juices flowing and create a general design flow for your vendor. Don’t be disappointed when your end product is not exactly that and instead, something uniquely yours.”

Use Hydrangeas

“My best floral advice: Don't use hydrangea as a focal flower in the summer. These guys hate the heat and are notoriously tricky with wilting. Instead I’d recommend working with a similarly scaled bloom that’s grown from a bulb (like dahlias), as these tend to be much heartier. If hydrangeas are an absolute must for you, shy away from using in bouquets or out of water—like at an outdoor wedding—and use them in indoor centerpieces.”

Lowball Your Florist

“Know your budget and be transparent about it from the start. If you have X amount to spend on a florist, don't reach out to someone with a minimum investment of X and expect to haggle down or negotiate your pricing. You want to be realistic about your pricing and not insult the integrity of the business. Florals are a pricey piece of your wedding budget for not only the materials, but the labor and talent/artistry that goes into it.”

Follow Ali's work on Instagram at @wildpollen 

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