Wedding Planning

Sweet Annie Floral’s Katie Rocheford Offers Tips on Crafting the Ultimate Bouquet

Rooted in Newburyport, the floral designer brings life to the party with her cascading bouquets and whimsical installations.


Photo by Sasha Israel

While most people spend hours preparing dishes for their Thanksgiving feasts, Katie Rocheford always devoted her pre-holiday time to designing floral arrangements for her dining area. “I didn’t want to just have Thanksgiving dinner; I wanted my family members to feel special,” Rocheford says. “[I did that] by not only creating a wonderful meal, but [by making] the surroundings beautiful, too.” After outdoing her holiday décor year after year, she realized she had a knack for floral design and began creating arrangements for weddings in her spare time. In 2014, Rocheford left her medical-sales job to pursue her blossoming business, Sweet Annie Event and Floral Design. “I’m a big party lover. I love hosting and gathering people,” she says. “And in my eyes, [the ultimate event] is a wedding.”

What is your role as a floral designer?

When I’m first talking to clients, it’s about understanding what their vision is. I ask them a lot of questions [such as], “What are the things that you love? What are the stores that you like to shop at? What are the places that you like to visit?” And then I try to come up with ways to express that through the floral design. I work closely with the other [vendors] that are on board, so the design is as cohesive as possible. And there’s a lot to do before touching a flower: ordering vessels, having the right staff for the right number of hours, getting the studio prepped for the design, and then purchasing the flowers.

So if a couple tells you they like to travel, for example, how does that inspire your design?

[A couple I am working with] spent two years living [on the West Coast]. We’re bringing a lot of beachy-chic, boho vibes into their design. We’re using cacti, rattan, monstera leaves, and other things that represent their time there together.

Does a bride’s gown influence her bouquet?

It’s a tone setter for the overall design aesthetic. If someone wears a ball gown versus a boho, lacy dress, those are obviously two different aesthetics. The classic ball gown would be a cleaner, more structured bouquet. The boho would be looser and more freeform, which tends to be the aesthetic that I’m drawn to.

Where do you get your flowers from?

The majority of the flowers come from the Boston Flower Exchange in Chelsea. Being in New England is a little tough since there are only a few months a year that we can do that, but I try to support local farmers as much as I can. I also order from California. I have a supplier out there that I deal with, and there are a couple of rose farms that I order from directly.

How do you ensure the plants from California don’t wilt before the wedding?

There’s no guarantee dealing with a live product. [But] flowers are actually hardier than most people think. It always surprises me when I get them and they’ve been out of water for 24 hours. [After] a little trim, you plop them back in some water, and they are great for the most part. Certain flowers like warm water, while others like cold water. So just knowing that and always reading, researching, and learning from other people [helps].

So what does the wedding day look like for you?

I’m usually up at the crack of dawn. I like to do the bouquet on the wedding day if I can. It takes an hour to two hours. It’s the most special part of the floral design, so I listen to some soothing music and [work] in the studio alone. When I’m done with that, it’s time to rock and roll. My staff will get here, and we’ll pack up all the flowers. I work with the [couple] and the planner to create a timeline to make sure there’s a bouquet for the photographer. Then we usually deliver the boutonnieres.

What have clients been asking for lately?

They want big floral moments. Installations are huge, and last year I did more than ever. So there were a lot of them above the dance floor, on photo walls and escort card displays, and in entrances to tents. [In terms of bridal bouquets], I’ve had a few brides ask for cascading bouquets, which are making a total comeback. I like to make the bridal bouquets statement pieces—not so big that it takes her over, but often on the bigger side.

What about colors?

People are still loving the muted palette tones, but I love color. Even if someone wants to have a muted palette, I try to get them to think of how it can [be understated] without being just white and green flowers. So I try to incorporate a different shade, such as taupe or tan, to create some depth and variety in the design.

Flower crowns. In or out?

Crowns were in for so long, but they’re a little overdone now. If the bride wants to take her veil off, a flower comb is a fun way to give her a different look for the reception. I love making flower combs. It’s so fun! I take an old-school, 1980s comb and put flowers on it. It’s so beautiful and different.

7 Prince Pl., Newburyport, 781-424-8190, sweetanniefloraldesign.com.


Tips

Not sure how to prepare for your floral consultation? Give some thought to these key components, outlined by Katie Rocheford.

BUDGET

Some designers have minimums, so there should be an open conversation about budgetary restrictions prior to an in-person meeting. When it comes to prices, couples often don’t know what to expect. That’s nothing to be embarrassed about! It’s great to be upfront about it so the designer can guide you through the process.

COLOR PALETTE

Knowing your color preferences allows the designer to think about what blooms could be viable options, based on what’s in season. Couples usually come to me with a vague idea of their palette, but I am always willing to help them get out of their comfort zones. Adding new colors can make all the difference in the world.

PRIORITIES

Florals aren’t at the top of everyone’s wish list. That is totally okay, but knowing that and choosing a designer who best matches your needs is important.

WARDROBE 

Visualizing the couple’s attire helps a florist understand their style, which drives the design concepts.

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