The Floral Designer

Photo: Hannah Whitaker

Peter Seprish of Takashimaya

In this economy, couples are scaling back their floral budgets—opting for lots of candles, that sort of thing.
I’m obviously biased, but I think flowers are necessary; they add much-needed life to an event space, especially if it’s a loft. People will notice if you’re skimping on the flowers—it’s conspicuous. My advice is, don’t overspend on ceremony décor because it’s the reception that people will remember.

But what if having a floral chuppa is super important?
You can have a cost-effective chuppa made of wisteria branch—it’s simple, but elegant. I like using curly willow, white phalaenopsis orchid blooms, and yellow gloriosa lilies for a bold look.

When should a couple start thinking about flowers?
After you choose your venue. Often the space is the point of inspiration—I personally love the energy of Cipriani 42nd Street and Gotham Hall. If you’re hiring a floral or event designer, you need to book him at least three months before the event. Next step: Choose a strong color palette that complements your venue.

What’s an elegant color combination?
Pink and burgundy with chocolate-brown details. For this I’d use pink garden roses, burgundy callas, pink peonies, chocolate cosmos, and raspberries. I use small fruits a lot. I like that organic feel.

Is it possible to have a flower-filled reception without breaking the bank?
Yes. Have a spring wedding, when flowers are most beautiful and readily available. Stick to one type of flower and keep the design minimal. Keep centerpieces sparse and flowy, rather than tight—those use up more flowers. You can also do more stylized arrangements, like a blade of grass wrapped around the vase, or foliage in some interesting shape.

What is your favorite flower?
Pink peonies are always ahead. In the spring, I like green and white parrot tulips, green midori anthuriums, orange ranunculus, and purple sweet pea. For budgeters, I recommend baby’s breath. As bouquet filler it’s cheap and dated, but baby’s breath by itself looks delicate and fabulous.

What are your winter favorites?
Blooming quince branches. Or, create a winter wonderland using all-white calla lilies, hydrangea, and amaryllis. Oh, and if someone is allergic to pollen, I suggest orchids for a classic wedding, or driftwood with echeveria for something edgier.

Is there a flower you don’t like?
Hyacinths are great in nature; not at weddings. Also, mixing tropical and indigenous flowers can lead to a confusing aesthetic.

Are you pro- or anti-synthetics?
Pro, as long as the materials are of exceptional quality and you don’t overdo it. Peacock feathers jutting out of a wild bouquet look amazing. I prefer wild and flowing bouquets—something that looks inspired by old Baroque paintings by Brueghel the Elder or Osias Beert.

Does the bouquet toss break your heart?
No, that’s a timeless tradition that should be carried on. Create a small version of your bouquet for the toss and preserve the real one as a keepsake.

Beautiful Bouquets on a Budget
The Best Floral Designers and Specialists
Unique Touches for the Reception
How to Personalize a Loft Space

Modern Monochrome
“Use all-white flowers in winter. I have a personal motto about color palettes: Red and white is just not right.”
Bouquet, $190, by Takashimaya.

Bouquet Photograph: Hannah Whitaker/New York Magazine

The Floral Designer