The Blooms Boss: Erica Jones of O Luxe Design
The first thing Erica Jones tells couples is that she isn’t a florist. “They are trained to do single arrangements and send them out for occasions,” she explains—Valentine’s Day, funerals, proms. By contrast, as a floral designer, Jones focuses exclusively on social events, transforming ceremonies and receptions with lush bouquets, towering centerpieces, and eye-popping 3-D installations that make you question everything you thought you knew about orchids, roses, and chandeliers. Formerly a wedding planner, Jones transitioned into flowers in 2009, and now works with couples on every aspect of their décor—from lighting and linens to draping—through her company, O Luxe Design. “I like the fact that it’s a form of self-expression,” she says, “and when clients give us more rein rather than less, we can really influence the mood of an event.”
When in the wedding timeline should a couple start thinking about flowers?
I say as soon as you know what your venue is or where your venue is, please feel free to book your floral designer or event designer. It’s such a process to transition or transform a space, so as soon as you have the space secured, it’s time to get going.
What should brides and grooms keep in mind when designing a reception space?
Be aware of the venue’s rules concerning décor. Ask what the policy is on candlelight, attaching décor to preexisting structures, and setup time. Are you going to be limited to an hour or two for setup when your décor will take hours to install? Ask these questions up front so there are no surprises later. Aside from that, be aware of your venue’s feel and look. Are you trying to bring an upscale-barn feel downtown? Probably not a good idea. Not all looks work for all locations, and there’s nothing worse than trying to create a certain feeling in a place that really is not designed for it.
How do you work around seasonality?
Seasonality is always an issue. You’re not always going to get the bloom you want—if the globe isn’t growing or harvesting it, it will not be available to you. Our job as designers is to be aware of that. If someone is specifically asking for wisteria or peonies in December, we have to know if there are any locations on Earth we could source them from. In some cases, it’s a no and it’s best to choose an alternative. My most common substitution occurs when peonies are out of season but a client wants that same large, open-bloom look. In these cases I’ll recommend a garden rose, which to the untrained eye is very similar to a peony.
What trends are hot right now?
As a studio, we are getting more requests for suspended florals. Other than that, I would say boxwood is huge—hedging and things like that. The color of the year is greenery, so bringing in a lot of boxwood greens and having this really clean look of white with green is big right now. I also see a lot of design that is free-flowing and unstructured, which I love. Flowers are actually being allowed to be themselves; I wouldn’t mind seeing that continue for a bit.
Anything you think that’s over- or underdone?
Color is underdone here. I get that this is New England. I get that people are very conservative. I get that people often don’t want to get “too crazy” or “have too much going on.” That doesn’t mean that we have to be strapped to the all-white, all-ivory, or light-ivory-and-blush persona. Please, at least consider a little bit of color!
How do you collaborate with brides and grooms to make sure their tastes are reflected in the floral design? What’s that back-and-forth like?
Gosh, my whole week is back-and-forth [laughs]. Clients will add pins to their Pinterest boards, I’ll take a look, and if I have questions I’ll ask, “Why was this added; what inspired you to pin it there?” Or I’ll get clients who will send images via Dropbox. By the end of the process, you have the 100 percent best idea of what they want—and how to execute it—because you’ve gotten a sense of their taste from all the things they’ve sent you over the months.
Must the bridesmaid bouquets mirror the bridal bouquet?
Nope. They don’t need to mirror anything. All of the flowers just need to look like they belong to the same event. It doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be matchy-matchy, it doesn’t mean that the bridesmaid bouquets have to be a smaller version of the bride’s bouquet—it just means that everything should look like it ties in together. Flowers should complement one another; flowers should complement the fashion. However a designer arrives at that is why they’re the professional.
What are your favorite arrangements to make?
I gravitate toward the arrangements we suspend. I feel like anyone can design something beautiful to go on a tabletop. Some days I say to myself, “Where is the sport in that? We could be hanging things from all of the crevices!” Those are my favorite designs—ones that bring people’s eyes upward—because people aren’t expecting to see beauty above them.
Erica Jones recommends the perfect blooms for every style of wedding.
Fairy-Tale: Peonies No flower epitomizes “happily ever after” the way a peony does. Its frilly, dainty layers reveal themselves when the flower is in full bloom, making peonies nature’s princesses.
Rustic: Astilbe The draw is in the long-stemmed, feathery look. Although astilbe aren’t super-impressive on their own, they add so much character when combined with other “country flowers” and vessels.
Beachy: Equisetum Commonly mistaken for bamboo, equisetum’s reed-like stems are hollow and perfectly complement orchids and other tropical blooms.
Traditional: Roses For centuries they have been a symbol of love and romance, making them extremely suitable for weddings. Roses are so timeless—they never go out of style.
Modern: Cymbidium I’ve always loved the clean, sleek edges on these flowers. Grouping individual blooms with nothing but themselves is the perfect way to create contemporary arrangements.
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