Top 3 Things to Know About Donating Your Wedding Flowers

As we become ever more mindful about the environment and the toll our modern existence is taking on it, more and more couples are looking for ways to repurpose or reuse their wedding flowers after the big day. Here are the top three things you will want to keep in mind when asking your florist this question.

Photo by Emily Alyssa Photography

Photo by Emily Alyssa Photography

1) Your flowers will probably not live longer than a day or two after your event.

From a young age, we are taught to value longevity in flowers over their ephemeral beauty. This leads to some confusion when it comes to the process of event flowers.

Unlike retail flowers, where the goal is to sell the blooms as soon as they come in the door to maximize enjoyment, event flowers are timed so that each blossom will be at its absolute peak perfection for the day of your wedding. For most florists, this means that roses on average will start arriving the Tuesday before a Saturday wedding with the remainder trickling in on Wednesday and Thursday.

After being transported to the venue and surviving untold abuses from your guests and those hot little tea lights that get nestled so close (seriously I see at least one charred centerpiece at every pick up), your flowers are tired and thirsty!

By Sunday, they are almost a week old and really have very little left to give.

Photo By Emily Alyssa Photography

Photo By Emily Alyssa Photography

2) Delivering and re-delivering costs time and money.

Most clients don’t know (and don’t need to know) how much time, people power, and money it takes to get flowers from point A to point B and that’s ok. Unless of course you want them to redeliver your leftover flowers to a charity after the event.

Can it be done? Of course, but this is what is involved. Before anything can happen prior coordination needs to take place. This usually involves an email chain of no fewer than eight back and fourths discussing what is to be donated, getting permission from higher-ups and scheduling a time when delivery is convenient.

I have yet to find anywhere that will accept a delivery at 12am on a Sunday morning. This means that the next available time is probably Monday morning and that in order to keep the flowers alive, they will have to be unloaded from the truck, re-cut, re-watered, re-worked and babied until Monday morning.

They will then need to be re-loaded onto the truck and un-loaded again at the final destination. By this time, they are a full week old and holding on for dear life. All of this will take between 5 and 10 hours and your florist will need to charge you for the time and van rental. At a minimum if you ask your florist to provide this service you are looking at between $600 and $1,500.

Photo by  Tracey Salazar

3) You have options.

Ok, so you have read this far but you’re not feeling great - please don’t fret you still have some good options.

A) Flowers are meant to be enjoyed, so encourage your guests to take them home. Most florists use rental vases with plastic dishes nestled inside that lift up so they are easy to transport. Now your family can enjoy the moment just a little longer every time they glance at your centerpiece.

B) Ask your florist what happens to your flowers afterwards if the guests don’t take them.

Personally, I will play flower fairy on my way home from a late night pickup, leaving random centerpieces at my neighbor’s doors. When they wake up in the morning they get a fun surprise! I have also been known to display them outside my front door for everyone to enjoy while out walking their dogs or taking a jog.

Maybe you can take some comfort in knowing that your wedding has brought some unexpected joy and pleasure to people you don’t even know. Call it a pay-it-forward moment.

C) There are companies designed to help you with just this quandary - they can transform your flowers into bouquets for hospitals or other charities. Repeat Roses made headlines when Meghan Markle did just that for her New York baby shower. Just like any business they will need to charge you a fee for their service, but since they have infrastructure and relationships already in place it is likely going to be less than your florist will charge. Here are a few to consider:

Repeat Roses

Random Acts of Flowers

Petals with Purpose - Florida Based

Floranthopy - Texas Based

4) Hire someone (possibly your florist) to make a keepsake potpourri. Again this is going to take some coordination, time and money, but wouldn’t it be fun to send little sachets to your parents and bridal party as a way of saying thank you!







Cherry Blossom Photos Washington DC a DIY Guide - Parking and Photography

While notorious for meticulous planning when it involves my clients, when it comes to fun projects just for me, “Spontaneous” is probably the nicest word that could be used to describe me.

When I heard peak Cherry time had been moved up a couple of days, I wanted in on the action, and I wanted in now. My first thought was to ping a couple of my professional photographer friends to see if they had any “Cherry Blossom Sessions” left, but most were completely booked or couldn’t work within my last minuet time frame. Most professional photographers only guarantee a handful of time slots because of the unpredictability of the Cherry Trees blossoming.

ashley-spring-blossom-bouquet-jefferson

Following so many #igdc photographers I realized that I could probably get some great photos with just my iPhone and good lighting. So next I tapped a few people I identify as “creative hustlers” who would probably be down for an early morning if it meant some good content. I also put a flyer up on my Instagram Stories asking if anyone wanted to join me in the joy of waking up at 5:30.

Brittany-iphone-cherry-blossoms

Within a few hours, By Brittany Branson, Calligraphette & Co, and even a real photographer, Marie Windsor Photography were all on board! Now technically there are rules to taking photos at the monuments, and if you are working with a professional photographer they need to apply for a permit. Since we were going as friends, and working mostly with our iphones we thought we were probably ok. Just no props and no tripods, I have haerd that fines can be issued in the thousands of dollars range.

cherry-blossom-friends

Never having been part of a Cherry Blossom session myself, I really didn’t know what to expect. Would there be parking, how early do we really need to get there?

I have heard that the best time to be there is before sunrise, so since sunrise was at 6:59 am we decided to meet at 6:30am. This was a good idea, and meeting at 6:15am might have been an even better idea, but really that is just way too early!

Coming from Alexandria, VA I took the parkway over Memorial Bridge, bore to the right and then turned left to follow the road along the water towards the Jefferson Memorial. My idea was to park in the lot closest in front to the memorial but it was closed. I continued to follow the road closet to the Jefferson and eventually saw a sign for Public Parking. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was doing, but decided to trust the signage and turned left. Just a little down that road there was a parking lot with lots of spaces at 6:28am. It is pay parking and I used my Park Moblie App, zone 5811 and was on my way. The walk from the lot to the steps of the Jefferson is about 10 minuets.

IMG_1392.JPG

Brittany had been the first to arrive and remarked that waiting alone at 6:25 in the morning had been kind of creepy, but that in the time she had gone in to use the ladies room (so yes there are some restrooms) and come back out, 2 couples were already in the midst of their engagement sessions.

Having been admiring Connor Studios portraits, for a year, I wanted to try and get the same angle so we walked clockwise around the water from the memorial. By 6:55 another photographer and family, were in the spot I had spied on our walk in. Trust me, jockeying for position gets real, which is why you may want to come even earlier than 6:30. I guess it’s just human nature, but sometimes I forget to be all zen and polite.

IMG_1393.JPG

By 7:05 the sun was making its way up, and the sky was showing signs of brilliant yellow and red. We took turns posing in pairs of two and as a group. We captured the cherries with the Washington Monument, and the Jefferson and then took a few through the blooms themselves.

We photographed until about 7:30am which by then the place was drawing with couples, families, photographers, instagram models, joggers and bikers!

JEFFERSON-BOUQUET

Brittany and Nika had appointments to head off too and Casey Marie and I wandered a little further down the path. Eventually we were tired and felt we had enough photos, by 8:00 I was back in my car and heading home.

marie-windsor-photography

The Cherry Trees were not quite a peak, and something about being up and in the presence of such powerful elegance is intoxicating, so I may just have to do this again!

Ashley-sPRING-bLOSSOM-bOUQUET

















Cherry Blossom Photos Washington DC a DIY Guide - Parking and Photography

While notorious for meticulous planning when it involves my clients, when it comes to fun projects just for me, “Spontaneous” is probably the nicest word that could be used to describe me.

When I heard peak Cherry time had been moved up a couple of days, I wanted in on the action, and I wanted in now. My first thought was to ping a couple of my professional photographer friends to see if they had any “Cherry Blossom Sessions” left, but most were completely booked or couldn’t work within my last minuet time frame. Most professional photographers only guarantee a handful of time slots because of the unpredictability of the Cherry Trees blossoming.

ashley-spring-blossom-bouquet-jefferson

Following so many #igdc photographers I realized that I could probably get some great photos with just my iPhone and good lighting. So next I tapped a few people I identify as “creative hustlers” who would probably be down for an early morning if it meant some good content. I also put a flyer up on my Instagram Stories asking if anyone wanted to join me in the joy of waking up at 5:30.

Brittany-iphone-cherry-blossoms

Within a few hours, By Brittany Branson, Calligraphette & Co, and even a real photographer, Marie Windsor Photography were all on board! Now technically there are rules to taking photos at the monuments, and if you are working with a professional photographer they need to apply for a permit. Since we were going as friends, and working mostly with our iphones we thought we were probably ok. Just no props and no tripods, I have haerd that fines can be issued in the thousands of dollars range.

cherry-blossom-friends

Never having been part of a Cherry Blossom session myself, I really didn’t know what to expect. Would there be parking, how early do we really need to get there?

I have heard that the best time to be there is before sunrise, so since sunrise was at 6:59 am we decided to meet at 6:30am. This was a good idea, and meeting at 6:15am might have been an even better idea, but really that is just way too early!

Coming from Alexandria, VA I took the parkway over Memorial Bridge, bore to the right and then turned left to follow the road along the water towards the Jefferson Memorial. My idea was to park in the lot closest in front to the memorial but it was closed. I continued to follow the road closet to the Jefferson and eventually saw a sign for Public Parking. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was doing, but decided to trust the signage and turned left. Just a little down that road there was a parking lot with lots of spaces at 6:28am. It is pay parking and I used my Park Moblie App, zone 5811 and was on my way. The walk from the lot to the steps of the Jefferson is about 10 minuets.

IMG_1392.JPG

Brittany had been the first to arrive and remarked that waiting alone at 6:25 in the morning had been kind of creepy, but that in the time she had gone in to use the ladies room (so yes there are some restrooms) and come back out, 2 couples were already in the midst of their engagement sessions.

Having been admiring Connor Studios portraits, for a year, I wanted to try and get the same angle so we walked clockwise around the water from the memorial. By 6:55 another photographer and family, were in the spot I had spied on our walk in. Trust me, jockeying for position gets real, which is why you may want to come even earlier than 6:30. I guess it’s just human nature, but sometimes I forget to be all zen and polite.

IMG_1393.JPG

By 7:05 the sun was making its way up, and the sky was showing signs of brilliant yellow and red. We took turns posing in pairs of two and as a group. We captured the cherries with the Washington Monument, and the Jefferson and then took a few through the blooms themselves.

We photographed until about 7:30am which by then the place was drawing with couples, families, photographers, instagram models, joggers and bikers!

JEFFERSON-BOUQUET

Brittany and Nika had appointments to head off too and Casey Marie and I wandered a little further down the path. Eventually we were tired and felt we had enough photos, by 8:00 I was back in my car and heading home.

marie-windsor-photography

The Cherry Trees were not quite a peak, and something about being up and in the presence of such powerful elegance is intoxicating, so I may just have to do this again!

Ashley-sPRING-bLOSSOM-bOUQUET

















DIY Cranberry Topiary - Perfect for Your Last Minute Holiday Decor

Down from DC we are spending this week in sunny Sarasota, Florida. Without access to my normal flower suppliers it had me thinking about what was easy and festive to create. Having just had an opportunity to visit the White House, I was inspired by their long tradition of cranberry topiaries and thought this would be just perfect! If you didn’t have a chance to tune into Suncoast View, ABC 7 here is everything you need to DIY your own holiday topiary.

Step 1: Gather together all of your materials. You are going to need:

Styrofoam Shape

Spanish moss or Tinsel

Scissors

Spray Glue

Toothpicks

Cranberries

Step 2: Coat your shape with spray glue

Hint: It is easier to cover if you cut the moss/tinsel into smaller pieces.

Double Hint: You can make a spray booth out of an Amazon Box by just cutting one side. This helps to contain the mess and makes clean up easy!

Step 3: Re-apply one more coat and roll your shape over the moss/tinsel one more time.

Hint: If you are using Spanish Moss you might want to use Design Master Just for Flowers Spray paint to coat the moss red and create a richer texture.

Step 4: Cut your toothpicks in half

Step 5: Insert your toothpick into the bottom of your shape half way. Pop cranberry on!

Note: It is much easier to put the toothpick in first, rather then putting the toothpick on the cranberry and then trying to push it in. Trust me! Or try it for yourself:)

Note: It is much easier to put the toothpick in first, rather then putting the toothpick on the cranberry and then trying to push it in. Trust me! Or try it for yourself:)

IMG_7759.JPG

Step 6: Repeat! Repeat! Repeat!

Place your next toothpick half about 1/3 an inch to the left of your first cranberry.

Note: It looks best if you place the second row in-between the cranberries of the first row, this helps to keep it natural looking.

Note: It looks best if you place the second row in-between the cranberries of the first row, this helps to keep it natural looking.

Step 7: Garnish with a few touches of peppery berry and pepper berry leaves tucked in.

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If you still want more cranberry decor, check out my DIY Cranberry Candle!

DIY Over The Top Wreaths! As seen on #GoodDayDC @Fox5dc

Just like yours, my holiday season has been busy! Lots of designing fresh flowers for parties and plenty of homes to decorate. So far, my December favorite has been making what I call the “Over The Top” wreath.

This is a close up of the wreath I made for  @blonde_inthedistrict  which started this season’s trend!

This is a close up of the wreath I made for @blonde_inthedistrict which started this season’s trend!

For this wreath, you glue on every holiday bauble you can find and call it a day. Keep reading if you want a little more instruction on how to do it.

Step 1: Gather materials. You will need a wreath form (can be fresh or faux), scissors, fabric scissors, wire, glue gun, extra glue sticks and lots of baubles! Note: A wreath is a great place to use any broken ornaments that you have been saving and just can’t stand to throw away!

fwc4BRGxS3+OZHY4Iy44AA.jpg

Step 2: Glue your biggest ornaments first.

Step 3: Wind beaded garland or tinsel around your big ornaments.

Step 4: Add your fun and/or special ornaments. I always try to choose ones that match the personality of the recipient. Dani’s (@blonde_inthedistrict) wreath reflected her fun and royal personality!

Step 5: Add any “picked” decorations. Hint - Cut them into pieces so you can get a lot more out of them.

Blonde-in-the-district-wreath

Step 6: Hang it on a door and enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial! Here are a few more “Over The Top” wreath designs from this season.

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This wreath hangs on my front door and is made from broken ornaments. I talked about it on my 12/11/19 appearance on Fox 5 - Good Day DC with @producer_stewart and @hollylivefox5

For more on that check out my Insta Stories!

Two More of my favorites! The light pink one was for Julie at @strawberrymilkevents - @Studiomilk_ holiday decor and the other for @lucysyarnpocket.

Children’s National Hospital and Light Up The Season on December 16, 2018 at The Four Seasons Hotel, Washington

The holidays are fast approaching and I wanted to take a minute to shine a light on a cause near and dear to my heart. It’s called Light Up the Season and it benefits Children’s National Hospital. The event (formerly known as The Georgetown Jingle) raises money to support the Hospital and is held every year at The Four Seasons Hotel. Each year, 12-15 of Washington’s top interior designers and florists are invited to decorate a tree or holiday item, like a wreath, menorah or mantle piece, that is then auctioned off at a fun family-friendly afternoon event (buy tickets here). Last summer, I was excited and honored to receive an email from the event’s organizers asking me to participate for the second year in a row.

Atelier Ashley Flowers -Light-up-the-seasons-+ Four Seasons Washington DC+ DIY + Craft Project + Felt Flowers + Blue Flowers + Purple Flowers + Community Over Competition + Charity + Children's National Hospital

The process works like this: Every designer is partnered with a Children’s National Hospital patient and together the patient “artist” and designer work to come up with a fantasy holiday theme. This summer, I had the pleasure of meeting a sweet young lady named Annabelle.

As I talked to Annabelle about what she would like to see on her tree, she drew the small picture below. Her favorite color is blue, her sister’s favorite color is lavender, and, of course, mine is purple. Naturally, we were already in harmony!

Annabelle very much liked the idea of woodland animals and an enchanted snowy forest. We also agreed there should be some bells on the tree as a nod to her name. After combining Annabelle’s ideas and my vision, I decided the theme of our tree would be “Over The River and Through The Woods.”

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The next step was to begin the work of decorating a tree. In recent years, I have found myself missing the camaraderie and aesthetic kismet that comes from working with a large group of volunteer designers. Heavily influenced by my time in the White House Floral Shop under Former Chief Florist Laura Dowling, I wanted to recreate this experience and feeling. So I reached out to all my creative friends and asked them to help me #craftforacause. The response was incredible; I am so warmed by the generous people in my creative community!

I hosted the first #craftforacause party at my home in mid September. As the saying goes, “many hands make light work” and the attendees produced dozens of floral hoop wreaths made out of yarn and felt. Thanks to Anne Kelley, Carleigh Smith, Emily Alyssa, Jasmine Ellesse, Maria Kessel and Vicky Choy for kicking off #craftforacause!

Photo by Marie Windsor Photography

Photo by Marie Windsor Photography

The second #craftforacause party was held on a beautiful late September day at Periwinkle, a lovely clothing boutique in Old Town, Alexandria. Marie Windsor Photography joined us and took lots of detailed photos. Pamela Vetrini of Cheats and Meeses brought us a delicious cheese board extravaganza to fuel our designs. The designers for our second party included Elizabeth from Periwinkle, Kelley Cannon, Janice Carnevale, Lindsay Kidwell, Jasmine Ellesse and Nicole Nespor. It was fun to see how unique everyone’s designs were and how different they were from the first party.

There was one more #craftforacause party this weekend and I can’t wait to show you those designs too!

light-up-seasons-design-board

The finishing touch on my tree comes from Accent Decor who generously donated dozens of beautiful glass and felt ornaments. These handcrafted ornaments are just what I needed to complete the tree’s wintery woodlands theme. While it is not guaranteed that Annabelle can attend the event, I sure hope she can because I think she will love what we have created.

Atelier Ashley Flowers -Light-up-the-seasons-+ Four Seasons Washington DC+ DIY + Craft Project + Felt Flowers + Blue Flowers + Purple Flowers + Community Over Competition + Charity + Children's National Hospital + Craft Party + Accent Decor Inc

Thank you to everyone who came out to #craftforacause. And thanks in advance to those will help set-up and decorate the tree in preparation for the big event on December 16. I’ll make sure to share pictures of the finished product once it is complete!

Flower Consultations and Frequently asked Wedding Flower Questions

Do you remember in class when the teacher said "there is no such thing as a stupid question" and "if you are wondering that then chances are so are your classmates?"  Well, the same applies when it comes to wedding flowers.  I have so many brides emailing and calling wondering what the next steps are, apologizing for their lack of knowledge and feeling completely overwhelmed.

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Washington, D.C. Wedding Style: What Do Boutonnieres and Corsages Look Like?

I have so many photos of bouquets, but when it comes to boutonnieres and corsages I actually have very few images.  So here are a few I have pulled together. Some taken by professionals and some just taken by me! Enjoy and feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

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What You Should Know about Planning a Cherry Blossom Wedding!

As a florist living in the D.C. area, I am no stranger to the request for a Cherry Blossom wedding.  I get it; they are beautiful, romantic and iconic, but I would also be lying if I said I didn't cringe every time those two little words are uttered.  

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When Should I Book My Florist?

I know the temptation to rush out and choose every vendor for your day is real.  Instead, consider relaxing just a beat and make a few key decisions first.

1. Do you need full wedding coordination or just month-of or day-of?

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Mindful Foraging

Last week I found myself outside walking around looking for goodies to cut. Living in a city, not the countryside, has taught me to be very mindful of what I cut and how I cut it.  

As I was snipping away, I was inspired to share my thoughts about the subject of foraging on my Insta Stories.  Here is a quick recap in case you missed it.

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Why are Wedding Flowers so Expensive? The Top Five Reasons.

"Why are wedding flowers so expensive?" This is a question I get a lot, and I wanted to take a quick moment to break down the different factors that contribute to a $$$$$ flower proposal.

5) The venue is over an hour away. When you choose an amazing location like a vineyard, chateau, or private estate, the extra costs of transportation, work space and on-site labor just add up.  

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