Rainbow Ombre Flowers at Eastwind, NY

There are times when it feels like things just click into place.

I’ve been feeling bummed about my 2020 weddings getting cancelled.  I was looking forward to doing design work for my awesome clients!  Don’t get me wrong, I also love being able to send beauty to the homes of people through bouquets at the farmer’s market and through our flower CSA. But, there is a special place in my heart for custom sculptural floral design work.

Then I heard that Sarah at Small Shindigs was planning a styled photoshoot.  When I heard about the theme for the shoot, Rainbow Ombré, I was so excited!

I love using strong colors in floral design.  Don’t get me wrong, a classic white-and-blush wedding color palette is gorgeous.  But, nothing gets me psyched like a good saturated palette.

For a florist (like me!) who uses 100% locally-grown flowers, a broad color palette also gives space to showcase the absolute best of what’s blooming at that moment.

All aboard the rainbow train!  I told Sarah I was in.

What is a styled shoot, and why would I do one?

Styled shoots are photoshoots staged by a team of wedding vendors.  Typically, we all volunteer our time and skills, pull together something beautiful, then take really nice pictures of it.

Especially right now when most events have been called off, a styled shoot is a great chance to flex some creative muscles and try new things.

It’s great to meet a new team of vendors and have a fun, relaxed event where nothing pivotal to somebody’s life is at stake.  Somebody knocked something over?  The flowers wilted in the hot sun?  No biggie!  At least we snapped some nice pics of them before that happened 😉

Color Me Complicated

With such a colorful palette (rainbow! Aka, all the colors!), there’s a spectrum to approaching composition.

On one end is the idea of keeping your colors very consolidated, like the way a cartoon rainbow has distinct bands of color.

This approach can lead to strong, eye-catching compositions–but, if the colors are too distinct, it can lead to gimmicky and unnatural-feeling designs.

On the other end of the spectrum is using all-over color, like an explosion of rainbow confetti.

This approach is more natural-looking and honestly much easier to pull off–but, it can lead to designs that feel disorganized, and I was worried it wouldn’t honor the “ombré” part of the theme.

I ended up using different compositional approaches for the different pieces in this shoot.

The Bridal Bouquet: A Strong Color Gradient

I made the bridal bouquet first, and I took my time with it.  For this piece I chose a consolidated color approach.  I wanted to create a very strong rainbow ombre effect in the bouquet. For this reason, I chose to use almost no foliage in the bouquet.

To avoid the bouquet feeling too color-band-y, I carefully chose in-between shades to blend and bridge the gaps between the major primary and secondary colors. The goal was a smooth color gradient.

In order to get the color gradient juuuust right, I laid out my flowers in a rainbow arc on my working surface before beginning to design the bouquet.  As I built up my hand-tied bouquet, it was easy for me to locate just the right shade of flower to place every time.

Using a European hand-tied bouquet technique I placed each stem at an angle to create a spiral shape.  The spiral stem shape is beautiful, and it protects the stems from breaking or getting too constricted during bouquet construction.

As I added flowers to the bouquet, I used floral tape to discreetly anchor each new stem into place to maintain my strong color gradient. 

This was certainly a maximal bouquet: tons of different colors, flower varieties, and textures!  There’s a whole alphabet of flowers in there, from fluffy peach astilbe down to a couple bright-eyed zinnias.

I finished off this bouquet with a gentle cascade formed by trailing amaranth and clematis vine.  I love both of these flowers, especially clematis!

I am so happy with how this bouquet turned out.  In that magical sliver of summer when the first dahlias and the last peonies overlap, what could be bad?  The best part about using 100% locally-grown flowers is fully appreciating the best of what’s blooming.

Ceremony Flowers: a Living Mini-Meadow

For the ceremony flowers, Sarah and I chose a style that would make a statement without being over-the-top.  Sarah’s wedding planning company specializes in smaller-scale events, so we wanted something that would feel accessible to clients without a sky-high budget.

We both love the “living meadow” look, where flowers are arranged so they look as if they are growing straight out of the ground around the bride and groom.

The most common living meadow trend involves a full arc of flowers to frame the ceremony site.  In the spirit of honoring smaller-scale events, we simplified down to two isolated “mini-meadows” to frame the ceremony site on either side.

I used floral-foam-free mechanics to create the living mini-meadow arrangements (p.s. did you know that floral foam is awful for the environment?).  No foam here! Building these was a whole lot of fun, and the foam-free framework underneath can be reused many times. In fact, I have already reused it once since.

For the mini-meadow, I went to the other end of the composition spectrum and used an all-over-color approach.  The “living meadow” look is meant to be natural, and I felt that consolidated color bands would detract from the overall feel of the piece.  I created the suggestion of color bands, but this is well softened with a loose spacing and lots of foliage.

Tablescape: Baby Bear

The team created a strong rainbow gradient down the table using color-coordinated seat cushions and vintage dishware.  I wanted the florals for the table to fit into this gradient juuuust right.

But, since the color blocking in the seat cushions was so saturated, I also wanted the florals to soften those color blocks and add a loose, whimsical element to the scene.

I created five separate compote arrangements to go down the table. I made the arrangements in mismatched metal and ceramic bowls I collected from antique shops.

Each floral arrangement had a color theme: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Purple (blue got very little love from me in this shoot).

Rather than soften the block colors with foliage, like in the mini-meadow, I used adjacent colors from the color wheel to create depth and complexity within each arrangement.  The Red arrangement had browns and deep purples in it.  The Orange arrangement (my favorite one!!) featured a hefty dose of pink and peach tones.  The Yellow compote was softened with whites. And so on.

I chose swooping shapes for these arrangements with dramatic high and low points.  Against the perfect squares of the seat cushions, these playful shapes felt lively and a little mischievous, like, “how dare you confine me to your color bands?”  It was just the balance I was looking for.

Gold at the End of the Rainbow

We pulled together some other playful floral touches here and there, like little floral sprigs for the placecards, and a wildflower patch growing out of the dessert table drawer.  What fun to work with such creative people who came up with out-of-the-box ideas all day long!

This styled shoot was a wonderful experience and I’m so glad I could be a part of it.  I loved designing within the constraints of this color theme and using it to try some new techniques and push myself.

So: have we convinced you that color is in?  Would you have a colorful theme for your big day?

Full vendor team:

Planning: Small Shindigs / @smallshindigs 
Photography: Par La Mer / @parlamerphotogprahy 
Hair & Makeup: Eye for Beauty / @eyeforbeautyct
Rentals: North Country Vintage Rentals / @northcountryvintage 
Flowers: Sea Change Farm & Flower / @seachangeflower 
Dessert: Me3 Bakery / @me3bakery
Paper Goods: Jaime Reynolds / @jaimereynolds_
Venue: Eastwind NY / @eastwindny
Couple: Katina Mountanos and Dupi Singh / @onadulting & @dupisingh92

Samantha is the head farmer and florist at Sea Change Farm & Flower.

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