By Carolyn

November 25, 2020

I am a farmer-florist and I have the coolest job EVER. But when you are searching for wedding flowers, you might see a wide variety of terms thrown around: wedding florist, floral designer, farmer-florist, or flower farm. What the heck is the difference? And does it matter if everyone is offering wedding flowers? Believe it or not, there are some huge differences in this field (pun intended) that you should know about. Today I wanted to share with you what it means to be a farmer-florist, and how that separates us from other people who do wedding flowers.

 I actually spent a lot of time trying to write out the differences before realizing that a Venn diagram would be so much easier. So here you go:
difference between wedding florist, flower farm, flower farmer, farmer-florist, farmer florist, wedding flowers, wedding floral design, wedding floral designer, and farmer's market flowers

A flower farmer is anyone who grows flowers commercially, at any scale. Flower farms typically sell stems at wholesale or to florists, but this category also includes industrial agriculture like seed production and nursery greenhouses. Smaller flower farms often sell directly to consumers – either for wedding work or for “everyday” flowers (or both) – making them farmer-florists. Farmer-florists like me grow most of what we use in our floristry practice. I offer floristry services like wedding flowers and event design, but I also run my own flower farm – which means I often have two full-time jobs! Farmer’s market flowers are sort of a grey area here, because growers may or may not offer floristry services.

In contrast, a traditional florist is someone who offers wedding design and “everyday” flower arranging, but does not grow their own product. Typically, a traditional florist has a brick-and-mortar store. And a traditional florist may not worry about the origin, environmental impact, or sustainability of their flowers, as long as they are pretty. Similarly, floral designers offer floristry services without farming their own flowers. Just like traditional florists, their use of local, seasonal, and sustainable flowers varies widely. But unlike traditional florists, they most often are working out of a private studio or their home.

As you can see from this diagram, there are lots of options for “wedding flowers,” and it can be hard to find the right fit. This is especially true if you care about where your wedding flowers come from (and you should!). And you can also see that farmer-florists like me are right there in the thick of everything, all the time. It’s kind of insane.

 So why do I do it, and why do I love it? There are so many reasons I love growing the wedding flowers that I provide to my clients. The first is that I am absolutely batty about plants.

Me and my blurry husband getting excited about kale like normal Seattleites...

I freaking love the things! I love eating them, I love growing them, I love admiring their beauty, and I love making art with them. It astonishes me to witness something I planted from seed go through its entire life cycle. Remaining “in awe” of the natural world is really important to me. I enjoy working out in the field, forced to pay attention to the little miracles that are happening around me all the time. And I love working with my hands, getting dirty, and seeing my hard work pay off.

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If I didn't grow my own flowers, I'd never witness these cool genetic variations.

I also really enjoy the journey from seed to wedding, or seed to table. When I work with clients, we talk about potential flower choices, and then I can grow their flowers!! How cool is that?! All season, I get to baby “their” flowers and know they are destined for something greater. It certainly makes weeding, irrigating, and trellising way more meaningful and magical than if I were slinging stems at a farmer’s market. It’s a bit like being a plant foster parent! And not to get too woo-woo on you, but my flowers come imbued with all the love and intention I’ve put into them all season. They are coming from happy plants that are cared for. And it is way more fun this way – instead of trying to grow everything, I can just grow what my clients want.

This process also allows me to grow really incredible things. I can custom grow flowers exclusively for my couples – including varieties that are not commercially available to anyone else. And we know that flowers hold meanings and memories. If there is a particular heirloom flower that is important to your family, I can grow it. If there is a color you are swooning over, I can find it. If there is something from your past, a trip you took, a memorable meal? I can find a way to incorporate it. So instead of generic wedding flowers, what you are really getting is a botanical story told in real time. You are getting the sunset hues from when he proposed, or the herbs from the meal you enjoyed on that terrace in Italy. Or maybe we ensure your grandmother’s presence at your wedding through the scent of sweet peas. This type of design opens up a whole new world of creative possibilities, engaging all of your senses and memories. Working this way ensures that your wedding flowers are truly a reflection of you as a couple. And when we add in event design to make your entire vision come to life? It gives me chills, it is so magical!!

And that is why I have the coolest job EVER! I get to meet new amazing people, grow beautiful things, make art, and tell their stories. It is a dream even when I am in the middle of the Venn diagram, running two different sides of my business.

 I hope you learned something about all these different terms and who is offering what kind of wedding flowers! If you are wanting to join me in making some magic together, you can check your wedding date below. I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!
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