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!







Happy First Anniversary Erin and Ryan. Elegant July Wedding at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C.

It’s no secret that The Mandarin Oriental Hotel is one of my favorite venues in Washington. I love the hotel and working with their pro staff (read: Michael Deltette). Last July, I had the pleasure of designing for a beautiful couple, Erin Loomis and Ryan Moore, who made my job easy. And receiving this email from Erin after the wedding was icing on the cake: “Thank you so much for all the amazing flowers for my wedding this weekend. They were even better than what I was picturing in my head.” Happy First Anniversary Erin and Ryan! All photos by Michael Connor of Connor Studios.

Atelier Ashley Flowers +Erin and Ryan + Mandarin Oriental + Connor Studios + Ivory and Blush + Wedding Flowers + Arch + Greenery Arch

I get a lot of requests for floral arches which can be designed in a variety of shapes and sizes. It all depends on your venue and set-up. Erin and Ryan had a medium-sized arch of greenery accented with garden roses in blush and pink. The arch photographed beautifully and looked so romantic in the Mandarin’s garden.

Atelier Ashley Flowers +Erin and Ryan + Mandarin Oriental + Connor Studios + Ivory and Blush + Wedding Flowers + Roses + July Wedding + Arch + Floral Arch + Greenery Arch
Atelier Ashley Flowers +Erin and Ryan + Mandarin Oriental + Connor Studios + Ivory and Blush + Wedding Flowers + Arch + Roses + Arch Detail

The bouquets and boutonnieres featured all the best summer blooms in pinks and blush - from garden roses and hydrangea to ranunculus and dahlias.

Atelier Ashley Flowers +Erin and Ryan + Mandarin Oriental + Connor Studios + Ivory and Blush + Wedding Flowers + monument photos + dc wedding photos
Atelier Ashley Flowers +Erin and Ryan + Mandarin Oriental + Connor Studios + Ivory and Blush + Wedding Flowers + dc wedding + dc wedding florist

You can’t beat these classic photos on the steps of The Jefferson Memorial by Connor Studios. The blush and blues really pop against the white stone monument.

Atelier Ashley Flowers +Erin and Ryan + Mandarin Oriental + Connor Studios + Ivory and Blush + Wedding Flowers + bridesmaids + bouquets
Atelier Ashley Flowers +Erin and Ryan + Mandarin Oriental + Connor Studios + Ivory and Blush + Wedding Flowers + dc wedding photos + wedding bouquet
Atelier Ashley Flowers +Erin and Ryan + Mandarin Oriental + Connor Studios + Ivory and Blush + Wedding Flowers + wedding portrait ideas

For a more modern look, Connor Studios took advantage of the great waterfront views at The Wharf - just down the street from The Mandarin.

Erin and Ryan chose a tall centerpiece and a low candle design for their reception which created an elegant setting for the dinner. We also designed a signature escort arrangement and added fresh blooms to their beautiful wedding cake by Buttercream Bakeshop.

Atelier Ashley Flowers +Erin and Ryan + Mandarin Oriental + Connor Studios + Ivory and Blush + Wedding Flowers + wedding portrait in dc
Atelier Ashley Flowers +Erin and Ryan + Mandarin Oriental + Connor Studios + Ivory and Blush + Wedding Flowers + wedding kiss photo

Cherry Blossom Photos in Washington D.C. at the Jefferson Memorial

As a collector of experiences, I wanted to see what it felt like to wake up at 5:30 a.m. and arrive in D.C. an hour later to experience a cherry blossom photo session. It actually felt pretty good! I am not a morning person by any means, but it was thrilling to join the other photo seekers at the Jefferson Memorial. Luckily for me, I was joined by Brittany Branson, Nika Smirnoff, and our photographer Casey Marie Windsor. After seeing these photos, I think the early wake up call was worth it!

Cherry Blossom + Jefferson Memorial + Atelier Ashley Flowers + By Brittany Branson + Marie Windsor Photography + Calligraphette & Co + Cherry Blossom Bouquet
Cherry Blossom + Jefferson Memorial + Atelier Ashley Flowers + By Brittany Branson + Marie Windsor Photography + Calligraphette & Co + Cherry Blossom Bouquet
Cherry Blossom + Jefferson Memorial + Atelier Ashley Flowers + By Brittany Branson + Marie Windsor Photography + Calligraphette & Co + Cherry Blossom Bouquet
Cherry Blossom + Jefferson Memorial + Atelier Ashley Flowers + By Brittany Branson + Marie Windsor Photography + Calligraphette & Co + Cherry Blossom Bouquet
Cherry Blossom + Jefferson Memorial + Atelier Ashley Flowers + By Brittany Branson + Marie Windsor Photography + Calligraphette & Co + Cherry Blossom Bouquet
CherryBlossom-8300.jpg
CherryBlossom-8402.jCherry Blossom + Jefferson Memorial + Atelier Ashley Flowers + By Brittany Branson + Marie Windsor Photography + Calligraphette & Co + Cherry Blossom Bouquetpg
Cherry Blossom + Jefferson Memorial + Atelier Ashley Flowers + By Brittany Branson + Marie Windsor Photography + Calligraphette & Co + Cherry Blossom Bouquet
Cherry Blossom + Jefferson Memorial + Atelier Ashley Flowers + By Brittany Branson + Marie Windsor Photography + Calligraphette & Co + Cherry Blossom Bouquet
Cherry Blossom + Jefferson Memorial + Atelier Ashley Flowers + By Brittany Branson + Marie Windsor Photography + Calligraphette & Co + Cherry Blossom Bouquet
Cherry Blossom + Jefferson Memorial + Atelier Ashley Flowers + By Brittany Branson + Marie Windsor Photography + Calligraphette & Co + Cherry Blossom Bouquet
Cherry Blossom + Jefferson Memorial + Atelier Ashley Flowers + By Brittany Branson + Marie Windsor Photography + Calligraphette & Co + Cherry 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

















Historic Meridian House Wedding

Last October, I had the pleasure of designing for a special couple who were married at the historic Meridian House designed by architect John Russell Pope. This weekend is Megan and Coult’s first anniversary and I wanted to take a moment to celebrate them. Looking back through the photos by Djenno Bacvic, it’s hard to find a frame where they aren’t smiling or laughing — and not just little smiles, we’re talking big smiles that go ear to ear.

M&H_1090.jpg

Megan and Coult’s outdoor ceremony was full of white and peach flowers, including an all white chuppah accented with greenery.

M&H_0803.jpg

What an entrance! The gardens at Meridian House are in bloom from April to October and provide the perfect setting for a wedding. Maria Canellis, Director of Events, is an expert at making private events and weddings magical.

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There’s that big smile again.

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Wedding Planner Molly Radigan was hard at work on all the details behind the scenes.

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I like this bird’s eye view of the party in the linden grove. Catering by Natalie Walker, Event Coordinator for Well Dunn Catering.

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Sparklers and one more big smile for the road.

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Happy memories of a happy couple. Congratulations on your first anniversary!

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

















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!