Indie Wed 2012 Recap

Wow…  I’m so honored to have participated in another winter Indie Wed (year 3!).  I had an especially good time this year.  I got to catch up with a few past clients, see a few current clients, and meet potential future clients!

I was excited to meet some vendors with whom I have been hoping to cross paths.  And I got to see some friends’ new(ish) businesses, such as Plate, Crafty Broads, and Pink Cottage Pastry.  Kudos for taking the leap!

Thanks to friend/floral designer/interior designer Paul, who was at my side while putting together the display and on the day of Indie Wed.  Here’s the final display:

A couple of weeks prior to Indie Wed, Paul and I scoured The ReBuilding Exchange for inspiration, without too much of an idea of what we would do for the display.  We picked up some folding doors and somehow came up with the idea of attaching pussy willow branches to the doors.  The overall effect of the pussy willow was of a somewhat random pattern… neutral but natural.  We went with Pollen’s colors of dark brown, mossy green, and raspberry (picked up in the flowers).

I wanted to use furniture from the studio so that the display “felt” like Pollen.  The pedestals were locally made a few years back by my talented carpenter friends Carson and Dave.  The table was a craiglist find (with a little revamping to change the tabletop from orange to white and expose the layers of plywood).  And the chair is one of four Heywood Wakefield school chairs I picked up at the Kane County Flea Market.  (Have you been?  You must go!)

The display showcased our favored naturalistic style.  On display were a bouquet, a floral centerpiece, a planted centerpiece, a boutonniere, and a showier piece, like might be used at the guest book table or bar at a wedding.  The flowers all went together, but weren’t too matchy-matchy.

The designs kept with our eco-friendly focus, eschewing floral foam (a non-biodegradable petroleum product).  The focal arrangement was designed in a recycled glass vase.  The smaller floral centerpiece was designed in a vintage glass container.  While our first choice is to work with locally grown product, during Chicago’s winters that just isn’t possible.  So we hand-selected a combination of sustainable, domestic, and Dutch floral product.

photo by Lily Red Studio (©Lily Red Studio 2012)

The bouquet was loose and sprawling, and wrapped with a plant-based ribbon.

photo by Lily Red Studio (©Lily Red Studio 2012)

The planted centerpiece, a low container of succulents, showed an example of a centerpiece that can have a life beyond the day of the wedding.

The flowers used included the following:

  • from California, acacia, scabiosa, blackberries, and viburnum;
  • from the Netherlands, kale, anemone, muscari hyacinth, cymbidium orchids, snowball viburnum, ranunculus, hellebores, and bullet allium; and
  • from a certified sustainable grower in South America, blue thistle and hydroponically grown roses.

Paul “person”-ed the booth while I joined fellow Green Wedding Alliance members Nina from Tweedle Press and Molly from FIG Catering to give a short workshop on green wedding tips.

Thanks to all who came out to Indie Wed and stopped by to say “hi.”  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Indie Wed Recap v2

Pollen was lucky enough to be selected to display at Indie Wed not just once, but twice!  I have described last year’s display as “showing off.”  I created a bouquet, centerpiece, and boutonniere for three different looks, showing the range of styles Pollen can do.  Intimidated by a sophomore effort, and no longer feeling the need to be all things to all people, I took a different approach this time around.

This year, I kept it simple, and focused on the direction Pollen is heading, both in style and philosophy.  The style we’re honing is one that is naturalistic, a little gardeny, and seasonal.  And we’re making the transition to working only on weddings where sustainability is a focus, which was the original idea behind Pollen.

When I tell people that I started Pollen to be an eco-friendly option for couples planning weddings, I’m often asked, “What does that mean?”  This year, Pollen’s Indie Wed display answered that question.

Sustainable floral design means…

Designing in water, not floral foam. Floral foam (that green spongy stuff) is a petroleum-based product that is not biodegradable.  And it contains formaldehyde.

Working with sustainably grown flowers. Locally grown flowers are Pollen’s first choice, but in winter, we need to look to warmer climates for our flower supply.  We seek out flowers that have been certified as sustainably grown by a third-party certification program, such as Veriflora.  Or flowers that have been grown in the Netherlands, which leads the way in the cut flower industry with technology, conservation, and labor rights.  Our sourcing decisions are based on a thoughtful hierarchy of the least harmful impact of the cut flower options available, while fitting the budget and color scheme of the wedding.

Working with the seasons. What is seasonally available typically also is more affordable.  A display of forced spring bulbs (in recycled glass containers with vintage marbles) as a centerpiece demonstrated a seasonal option.

Considering the life of the centerpiece after the event. By using plants (such as the forced bulbs) as centerpieces, guests can take them home to enjoy for long after the wedding.  Alternatively, flowers can be donated to a retirement home or shelter.  Pollen can arrange to have your wedding flowers reused after the big day.

Supporting the community. Our display featured votive candles from Bright Endeavors, a local social enterprise working to break the cycle of poverty.

Working to reduce, reuse, and recycle.  We try not to buy more stuff if we don’t have to.

  • Pollen participates in Bright Endeavors’ votive refill program, in which they refill votive holders with soy wax for reuse.
  • Pollen will rent out containers for larger weddings, and otherwise offers a vase return program, in which clients (with prior agreement) can return unwanted vases from their wedding for a partial refund.
  • Pollen looks for alternatives to buying new.  The bridal bouquet in the display was wrapped with a vintage necktie, instead the usual satin ribbon.  Oh, and our table cover was upcycled from curtains and linens.

Special thanks to Kelly and Shannon for organizing Indie Wed; to Sarah (pictured below, on the right), who braved the crowds with me to be the face of Pollen; to Julie, who lent me her marbles (no joke); to Carla, who cut and folded paper for the display signage and handouts; and to Jessica and Peter of Matushek Photography, who took the photos!

An Eco-Friendly Option: VeriFlora Certified Flowers

I’m often asked what makes Pollen an eco-friendly florist.  One way we are a green florist is in where we get our flowers from, and, more specifically, how the flowers have been grown.  Locally and organically grown flowers provide the most eco-friendly option, as explained in a previous post.  But being in the Midwest, locally grown flowers are most widely available only about half of the year.  What to do from November through April?

Another eco-friendly option is to buy cut flowers and potted plants that have been certified by a third party as being grown in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.  One such certification program is VeriFlora, administered by Scientific Certification Systems.  To qualify as VeriFlora certified product, the flowers must be sustainably grown, not only with regard to the environment, but also with regard to fair labor practices and a sensitivity to the community in which the product is grown.

What does VeriFlora certified product look like?  No different from conventionally grown product.  In fact, VeriFlora also has a quality component in its certification.  I recently used VeriFlora certified Black Beauty roses for a winter wedding.

Here’s a look at the Veriflora label, on a package of Black Beauty roses: VeriFlora Label on Roses

And the VeriFlora product, a Black Beauty rose:A VeriFlora Certified Black Beauty Rose

When you can’t go with locally grown product, VeriFlora certified flowers offer another option for ensuring your wedding or event is working toward the goal of sustainability.