Marta Prachar, owner and head designer of Brooklyn-based Porcelain Vine Floral, is celebrating her most recent milestone: being hand-selected by Carrie Lauren and Heather Hallgalle to join the ranks as one of Harper’s Bazaar Little Black Book of Top Wedding Florists in the World. Fun fact, Marta and I were roommates back when I was living in Brooklyn, and I really love working with her. We had a conversation about all things floral including her top 5 wedding tips, advice on how to choose the right florist for your wedding, and what inspires her as a designer.
To me, there is nothing more celebratory or beautiful than an explosion of florals around a room or ceremony space. It’s a beautiful way to visually communicate so much about the couple and what they stand for in their union. And yes, I’m biased, flowers make everything more beautiful, it softens any space and helps to mark the day as incredibly special. The temporary nature of them makes it even more so.
What are some different types of wedding floral styles?
There are so many! Since every wedding is different and so customized, it’s hard to categorize them. A good place to start the conversation is having the couple choose descriptors that resonate with them – like MODERN, EARTHY, BOHEMIAN, BOLD, RAINBOW ELECTRIC, ARCHITECTURAL, WILD, ORGANIC, GLAM, ENGLISH GARDEN, ETHEREAL, MONOCHROMATIC, COLORFUL, TRADITIONAL. From there, you can start honing on your specific style.
One of my brides asked me for an “airy and tendril-y Victorian vibe” for her wedding. I just loved that! That became the floral style, interpreted in various ways for the various rooms.
Tell me about bridal bouquets:
One of the more popular ones is the Natural style – it’s designed to look a little wild, a little loose, with few tendrils or branches or vines spilling out – one thing I want to say about that is that “wild & loose” shouldn’t look messy and unstyled – every bloom should still be seen and appreciated. Another popular style is a sort of loose V-shape – it has a low point in the middle with the sides cascading out a little bit. What I love about this style is that it looks so effortless and slightly boho and goes well with almost any dress silhouette. Other types to consider are cascading bouquet, traditional round, or a small posy/nosegay, which is a very simple and small bouquet.
How should I choose my wedding color palette?
I think there’s several ways to go about it – a couple often will have an idea going in to of what they want their color palette to be. Sometimes it’s certain colors from a family crest, often its just the colors that they’re most drawn to (look in your closet or at your home décor), or it can come from a slightly more abstract idea: before I started Porcelain Vine Floral, I worked for a designer whose couple gave him a picture of a sunset. They said this is the color palette! It turned out absolutely gorgeous – soft corals, with peaches and yellows that blended naturally…. like a sunset. Something so simple, an ordinary picture of a sunset, became a breathtaking vision when translated into flowers. Taking inspiration from nature is always a good way to go for color palette ideas. Once the palette is chosen make sure it works with your venue – if the event space has bold orange curtains, it may not work with the delicate white and lavender theme you were going for.
What’s the difference between a florist and a floral designer?
I associate the term Florist with someone who owns a brick and mortar retail location, one whose operation is based around deliveries, with a very established well-worn style of making arrangements – there is a definite consistency of design that doesn’t necessarily change often.
When I think of a floral designer, I associate that with someone more rooted in events rather than daily deliveries, someone whose business is centered around customizing events with clients – whether with a couple planning their wedding, or with a corporate liaison for a launch, or with a stylist for an editorial photo shoot. They interpret the clients’ wishes in a new and very personalized way. A floral designer considers the linens, the dress, the tux, the venue, and personal intangibles of the couple in designing the floral style. A floral designer thinks beyond a table arrangement and considers opportunities for special installations in the space and, I think is just more acquainted with the couple and the venue and the wedding planner and the whole process.
What is the scope of your services /offerings?
Full-service floral design – which, as far as weddings go, run the gamut from the conceptual design stage to venue walk-throughs with our clients, to building ceremony pieces, vignette styling, floral installations as well as arrangements, and designing the personal flowers like the bouquets and boutonnieres. I generally don’t focus on furniture rentals and things like that, most of my clients have wedding planners that design those elements with their clients.
I plan the wedding day meticulously and the event team I hire is one I’ve worked with for years so there’s a lot of trust there. We are organized and efficient as a team – everyone knows what’s expected, what needs to get done in what time frame, and we understand the constraints of the particular venue.
How do I choose the right floral designer?
When choosing a floral designer, other than their aesthetic and portfolio, I think it’s always important to choose someone who you feel is receptive to you, who is consistent in returning communication throughout the whole planning process – not just to you, but the wedding planner and your entire team. Someone you have a good rapport with, someone who is genuinely enthusiastic about your wedding.
What questions should I ask my wedding floral designer?
Floral Design styles vary greatly, and though many designers can cater to many styles, you want to choose the one whose work already best reflects your tastes. This may sound obvious, but before you approach your potential designer, make sure you are familiar with their work – peruse their Instagram, their website. Do you like their aesthetic?
Will your floral designer be there the day of the wedding or will they have multiple commitments that day? If they do have another event, ask them about the process, and the team who will be executing their vision.
Feel free to talk openly about costs – how are the costs broken down? Is there a design fee on top of the flowers? What is the breakdown fee? Taxes? What other additional costs can I expect?
How long before a wedding do I need to consult with you?
Most consultations are approximately 8 months to 1.5 years out. I’ve also been able to accommodate last minute weddings if the schedule allows.
Should wedding floral design be influenced by location?
Absolutely – the location is one of the first things I ask about when first consulting with a couple. I wouldn’t be able to do much of a proposal without knowing the venue. First, stylistically you want to make sure the venue complements the florals and the florals complement the venue. Visually, it affects the color palette, size and shapes of arrangements, as well as possible floral installations I might propose.
How will seasons affect my flower choices?
Well of course flowers are seasonal, so it’s best not to get too attached to specific flowers, but a floral designer should be able to suggest other possibilities that are similar in style and feel to what you’d like. For example, if the peonies you wanted are not in season, a beautiful cabbage garden rose can be a good substitute. It’s best to give your floral designer a lot of leeway as far as the specific flowers, often we find flowers that are stunning & special that the wholesaler didn’t expect to get and the floral designer didn’t expect to find. Allowing your designer to choose the best of what is there and what works best for their designs allows you to get the most inspired work out of them.
What is your process for designing a mood board?
The first consultation usually takes place over the phone, and I take a lot of notes and ask a lot of questions. Even if you don’t have a specific vision in mind, I feel that I can usually read between the lines and pick up on what sort of style we are headed for. I always want to know if there are any flowers you definitely want to see, and any flowers they do not want me to use. Most of the time people have inspiration photos that I can springboard from to see what direction they want to go in. And very important – the venue, I research the venue if I’m not already familiar with it and get inspiration from the place itself and see how I can make the clients wishes harmonize with the venue. From there I create a detailed mood board/proposal, we hope on the phone again after the couple has had time to review and we hone in from there.
What happens to flowers after the wedding?
They get thrown out (ie: composted). People find it surprising that re-using or donating the flowers is a significant added cost. There are companies who specialize in this and can bring recycled blooms to hospitals and retirement communities. We can definitely recommend and help coordinate for couples who are interested in this.
What inspires you?
A lot of my inspiration comes from nature – the subtle colors reflected off the ocean right after the sun goes down, shapes and textures found in the woods and the beach – it’s endless I could talk about that for hours. Art, Fashion, Photography and basically any other art form!
I also get really inspired by couples’ stories – one couple I’ve been working with this year told me about their trip to Italy and what it meant to them. It reminded me of my time there and I was really inspired to come up with something that felt true to their Italian theme, and elevated for a wedding celebration.
Top 5 tips from Porcelain Vine Floral:
1. Hire a floral designer whose style you love and trust them choose the specific flowers. It’s great to say, “I love peonies and roses and branch-y elements” or, “I don’t want calla lilies or anything tropical looking.” That gives your designer great direction, but lets your designer fill in the rest.
2. It’s better to have fewer dramatic pieces (the WOW moments) – say, the ceremony space, or a flower wall, or a decked out fireplace, rather than more smaller components everywhere. Think of where your guests might want to take pictures and where you and your guests will spend most of the wedding/reception
3. Consider height in the room, some tables with high branch arrangements and others with low floral arrangements lets the eye travel when looking across the room and also ensures better photos.
4. Another thing to consider (your floral designer would usually do this for you) is the shapes of the tables. Rectangular tables and round tables would call for different style arrangements.
5. Trust your vendors, and only hire vendors you believe you can trust. A good rapport is just as important as someone’s credentials. If you get a “red flag” feeling, go with someone else.
To see more of Porcelain Vine’s gorgeous work and book her for your wedding, visit her website: porcelainvine.com