Apr 4

Using Local vs. Seasonal Flowers :: Part 1

Flowers are shipped to us from around the world.  We’re often educated by wedding blogs and others in the industry about cutting costs by using local flowers and making sure we’re choosing flowers that are in season.  But because we’re able to source flowers from so many different places, the idea of what’s “in season” becomes a little clouded.  If we solely relied 100% on local flowers, I think that could result in a really stressful time for brides, everyone wants some idea of what they’re getting and often Mother Nature has ideas of her own.  Any flowers we purchase are “in season” somewhere, but the question is where?  While I’m certain that it’s not the intent of any one writer to misinform their audience when it comes to floral knowledge, we must realize that every area and growing season is different but there are a few misconceptions that I’d really like to clear up.

Local versus Seasonal

Right now, there is a large variety of flowers available on the wholesale market.  The Japanese ranunculus and sweet peas are stealing the show and poppies are making me weak in the knees.  I would say these are all “seasonal” products.  However, they’re certainly not local.

In January, I saw the return of lilacs to my supplier’s list.  They’re Dutch lilacs and they’re very nice.  Within the last week, I saw California lilacs added which are a far superior product in my opinion.  The bunches are larger which makes them more than worth the price.  I still have another month and a half to wait for Michigan lilacs, which for obvious reasons are my very favorite, but by then, my wholesalers are going to tell me that lilac season is over even though I’m cutting them locally.

Living in Michigan means that our growing season is shorter and behind the schedule of much of the country’s.  Often I mix both local and wholesaler flowers because it’s less risky.  If I’m relying solely on local peonies and we have a late spring, they might not bloom in time.  Or if it rains really hard the week before your wedding, the petals may all fall off.  For small quantities and accent flowers, I use local whenever possible but I have to have a backup plan in place.

Local Lilac Bouquet | The Day's Deisgn | Ashley Slater Photography

This bouquet is made up of hand picked local lilacs, plus South American quicksand roses, spray roses and scabiosas sourced from a Grand Rapids wholesaler.

Photography: Ashley Slater Photography

Seasonal Products aren’t Always Cheaper

We’ve been told time and time again that if we use flowers that are in season, they’ll be cheaper and we can save our floral budgets.  But this isn’t necessarily true.  For example, this time of year, Japanese and Dutch products reign high, as do their price tags. These flowers are being shipped from continents away, to wholesalers in New York, California and then there’s a very limited amount that makes its way to my local, Michigan wholesalers.  I am often able to source these products and love doing so, but I have to accommodate for all those extra traveling adventures those flowers are on.  So unfortunately, just because these blooms are in season, there’s not a cheap price tag attached to this very premium product.

On the adverse side of that, last month I paid $6 a stem for peonies.  That was wholesale price, which I then had to mark up to turn a profit and well, you can quickly see why peonies bouquets are often so expensive.  However, last June I was driving along and saw a roadside stand selling the same flower in bunches of 8 for $5.  Local was cheaper by a long shot.  So in this case, local and seasonal peonies were the best option.

Local Wedding Flowers | The Day's Deisgn | Samantha James Photography

This bouquet is made up of local blooming branches, hellebores from the local nursey and seasonal peony and tulips blooms from my California wholesaler.  

Photography: Samantha James Photography

The second part of this post is going to focus more on local flowers and my love/hate relationship with them.  Alright, there’s really a lot of love just some challenges that get presented to sourcing them.  If you have more questions regarding choosing the right flowers, local, seasonal or otherwise I’d love to hear them and hopefully provide some answers.  Maybe we could even turn this into a 3 part series. Stay tuned!

  1. […] back to the first part of this post, local flowers are always seasonal but seasonal flowers aren’t always local.  I […]

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