How to Plan Flowers for Your Destination Wedding

Long-distance tips for managing your wedding flowers.

Expert floral designer Amy Child Marella of The Hidden Garden shares her advice on everything you need to know – from hiring your florist to preparing for the big day, and more!

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Photo: Valorie Darling Photography

Destination weddings are an exciting and romantic way to turn your special day into a wonderfully elongated experience for the bride, the groom, and their guests. The process of planning a destination wedding is both fun and challenging at the same time. Fortunately, when choosing a destination wedding, an event theme is usually decided for you, leaving you to enjoy the process of planning just how your flowers will carry out that idea.

There are two ways to approach floral décor for a destination wedding: hiring a florist who is local to the destination; or working with one close to home who has experience with destination weddings and the travel that is required. Below are some helpful tips on planning destination wedding flowers, including maximizing your wedding budget and selecting the perfect floral expert to bring your dream to life.

Hiring a Florist Local to the Destination

When choosing a local florist in the destination, it’s best to work with someone who comes recommended by the hotel/venue or local event planner. A local florist is more likely to be familiar with the event space and should be familiar with which locally grown flowers will be available at the time of the wedding. Using locally grown flowers will maximize the floral budget and add to the authenticity of the event.

Keep in mind that the term “in season” is very generalized; having a local floral expert is extremely helpful when it comes to choosing the best flowers for a specific time of year. In addition, a local florist will be an asset when troubleshooting potential issues that may arise. He or she will have the ability to adapt to any last minute adjustments by nature of the fact that he or she lives in the area.

Email as Your Most Valuable Resource

When working with a florist long distance, chances are that most, if not all, of the planning for your flowers will be done by phone and email. The trading of inspiration photos will become crucial and is, thankfully, easy to achieve via email. Be sure to get plenty of photos of the actual wedding location and request that they be updated throughout the planning process. Many things can change due to weather so it’s important to stay on top of the site.

Although the destination wedding venue may have a website, it may not have enough photos of the ceremony and reception locations to get a good idea for décor. Additional photos should be requested from the hotel/venue or by asking the florist or coordinator to visit the site and take the photos for you.

Another great way to maximize your budget is to incorporate wedding flowers into the design and the natural beauty of the destination. The florist will help with this; however, the bride and groom should always share photos with their floral expert to ensure he or she understands how they visualize the event so they get the look they want. Floral sampling is also a must. Any reputable florist will be willing to create samples to be photographed and emailed for your approval. A visual confirmation ensures that the wedding will look exactly as anticipated.

Hiring a Local Florist You Know

A couple may choose to work with a florist in their hometown with whom they are comfortable and confident. This is a great way to simplify the planning process. It eliminates the guesswork of back and forth emailing, and enables the couple to have total control over the design. The couple should, however, be prepared to send their hometown florist to the destination at least once prior to the wedding so he or she may assess the site, identify local flowers, and take photos.

Although the costs can start to add up, most flowers can be shipped to any destination, which means the wedding can be filled with extraordinary blossoms (such as your favorite flower) that are not indigenous to the area. If you are going this route, it’s critical to work with a florist who has experience shipping flowers and understands the government’s rules and regulations associated with importing and exporting plants. The last thing any bride wants to hear is that all her beautiful flowers have arrived but are tied up in customs because someone filled out the wrong paperwork.

Preparing for Anything and Everything

A wedding florist needs a workspace. Ask your destination wedding venue up front if a work area will be provided and whether there will be an additional cost involved. Always ask about future renovations on or near the wedding site throughout the process. Often times hotels will begin remodeling or updating structures and landscapes without notice, so it’s wise to inquire about any potential improvements and timing upfront.

Be sure there is also a clear understanding of the wedding site in general. Will there be enough room for desired number of guests? How long is the walk for the wedding party? Will there be any measures taken to prevent high heels from sinking into the lawn? Is the garden up to par? And will there be another event taking place at the same time?

Destination weddings are very popular because they are exciting and unique. The planning takes much more attention to detail and direction, but by hiring experienced professionals and by sharing ideas throughout the process, the bride and groom are sure to create something very special. Whether the flowers are grown locally or flown in expressly for the big day, the secret is to dream big with realistic goals, hire talented vendors, and, most importantly, have fun!

For more tips and inspiration, find the best flowers for a beach wedding décor as well as a beach wedding bouquet with these expertly selected beach wedding flowers for beach weddings in any season, and be inspired by bridal bouquet floral designs from real weddings – including beach bouquet designs and weddings showcasing calla lilies!

Opening photo by Valorie Darling Photography; Floral Design by The Hidden Garden; From Real Wedding: An Opulent Ocean-View Ceremony & Luxurious Reception in Santa Barbara