Centerpiece & Wedding Bouquet Ideas

Wedding Bouquet Ideas - The Essex Room


Karla Cassidy of Karla Cassidy Designs in Salem, MA talks to us about wedding bouquet ideas, wedding flowers in general, and how choosing the style that suits you is most important.

John Maher:  Hi. I’m John Maher. Welcome to our series of podcasts with wedding vendors for The Essex Room, Woodman’s wedding and function facility on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Today I’m here with Karla Cassidy of Karla Cassidy Designs, a floral design company in Salem, Massachusetts. Welcome, Karla.

Karla Cassidy:  Hi, John. It’s nice to be here.

John:  Great. Karla, can you tell me a little bit about your business and your style when it comes to providing flowers for a wedding?

Karla:  Yes. We are a full floral and event design company, specializing in weddings and wedding‑type events: bridal showers, bachelorette parties, engagement parties, rehearsal dinners. We do everything: kitchenette, bouquets, boutonnieres, the whole nine yards. We love everything wedding.

We also do other items such as decor items like place cards, escort card tables; any little touches that put your wedding at a different level that make it personal to the bride and the groom.

John:  At what point is it important for a new bride and groom to call you and book their wedding?

Karla:  I would say it’s changed a little bit. Years ago, it used to be I was getting a lot of calls six months before but now it’s become more common that we get contacted a year before. We’re already booking up for 2017 which is crazy to me but it’s just the way the trends are going. Brides and grooms, and brides and brides, and grooms and grooms are much more involved in their weddings now and really like to search out the options.

I mean, I do get calls two months before. I think it really depends on the couple’s personal style and what they feel comfortable with. How much time do they need as a person? Do they have really busy jobs? Then they might want to contact us a little bit ahead of time. That way, it allows for some wiggle room and some time to pause while they continue on with their very busy lives.

John:  Right. Do you think that brides and grooms these days are tending to have longer engagements so that they can really get the wedding that they’re looking for and make sure that they can hire the right people and make sure that it’s perfect for them?

Karla:  Absolutely. I would say the majority of our clients have much longer engagements. We still definitely get people that have quick and sweet engagements but I would say that people are taking their time to do their research, figure out really what they want, work with their budget.

Also, I think that we’re just seeing a lot of weddings in New England so it’s a little bit harder to get a venue exactly when you want. Sometimes you have to wait for that venue that you love or that location that you love.

How to Choose the Right Flowers for your Bouquet and Centerpieces

John:  Right. What’s your process for working with a new bridal client when they first call you or they have a meeting with you and sit down? What’s the process of picking the flowers?

Karla:  What we do is I usually have either a phone meeting or a face‑to‑face meeting or even a series of email questions. If we have clients that don’t live in the area and just need to get the information rather quickly and then what I do is I do a personalized proposal for every client and that breaks down description of everything that they might need along with price breakdowns, options, and then tons of images. We go from there. Then, as proposal gets sent out, hopefully they’ll love it and then that proposal becomes our working document. We’re constantly updating it with new images and sample photos.

I work very visually. I think it’s easier for the client. I don’t expect all my clients to know everything about flowers and everything about weddings. Whereas if they can look at something and be like, “That’s it exactly, I love that.” It’s wonderful.

So many brides and grooms are now very into Pinterest so there’s a big ‑‑ I have brides that just send me their Pinterest boards. It’s a very visual ‑‑ “I saw this, I love this. Can we do this?” It seems to work out better because at least we both have the same image in our head.

John:  You mentioned also that you do centerpieces for the reception tables. What are you seeing for current styles or trends for centerpieces?

Karla:  A lot of people are staying low. I’m not seeing a lot of high centerpieces. I don’t know if that’s budget reasons but high centerpieces tend to be a little bit pricier.

John:  Maybe people just want to make sure that their guests can see each other and talk to each other across the table.

Karla:  Absolutely, absolutely. I like high pieces for certain things. For an escort card table, a high piece works great but on the table, it’s nice to see your guests. Unless your venue really needs it, if you have this massive vaulted ceilings and you need something massive to fill the room, that’s a different story. Most venues, you don’t need that. They’re beautiful enough. There’s enough natural, wonderful surrounding whether it’s nature or seaside.

Low centerpieces, I would say, lots of blush and gold. That’s super popular. It has been for a couple of years but it just keeps coming back. It’s like the new white. Blush pink is the new white. All the brides are carrying it. They have that traditional feel but with a little bit more of color, not overly traditional.

Lots of mercury and brass, lots of vintage. People in New England are either going really vintage or really rustic. I guess that’s when you live in an old, old area so that makes sense.

John:  We’ve got some old historical towns. You work out of Salem which is an old historical town. I live in Ipswich which is very historical. There are a lot of towns like that around New England and some people are trying to incorporate that feel into their wedding style and theme.

Karla:  Absolutely. I would say that they’re using their surroundings and they’re complementing them which is always my big thing. Complement where you are, don’t try to fight it because A, you’re going to spend a lot of money doing that and it’s not going to work as well. New England has all these amazing things going on with them. Just complement it, you’ll go much better.

John:  What about bouquets and boutonnieres? What are you seeing for trends or current styles there?

Karla:  Bouquets, we’re going a little smaller for bridesmaids, maids of honor, anyone in your wedding party. A little bit more manageable but overall it’s utterly romantic, super textured, feathery flowers, creating an amazing kind of medium sized bouquet. I’m finding that brides don’t want anything too large which is what I always suggest because you have to carry that bouquet for a long time so you don’t want it to be too heavy or too awkward.

A lot of herbs being involved. We use rosemary, thyme and sage, a lot more different textured greenery. I think that foliage and greenery went out of style for a while because it was very dated and now it’s coming back but it’s a more interesting texture.

John:  Do you think that fits in with that rustic style that we were talking about?

Karla:  Absolutely, absolutely. It also kind of touches on people’s personal style because a lot of brides, they love to cook, “I’d love some rosemary in my bouquet.” Then there’s also an old saying that rosemary brings good luck to the couple. On a wedding day there are options that are probably more elegant than that but it’s a good luck thing.

Then I have a lot of it going in the boutonnieres as well which is nice. It gives a great scent. It’s a day where you’re going to do some good eating so it’s not a bad thing to have.

John:  What types of flowers are guys using for their boutonnieres?

Karla:  It’s funny, most of my guys don’t really care about the boutonnieres but we tend towards small flowers, small blooms. Grey roses, ranunculus when it’s in season; a lot of our petite, gathered, again with the herbs and really small wild flowers. Lapels are not as big as they used to be so trying to fit within that space.

Again, it’s your wedding day. It’s not prom so it shouldn’t be massive and overpowering. It should be elegant. I’m coordinating with the rest of the wedding party but mostly in my guys, I don’t know. I think maybe guys don’t know a lot of flowers. They immediately go to the rose, use a few art rose or straight rose. Again, small, simple, elegant flowers; guys usually don’t want anything flashy so simpler is better.

What flowers are available for summer vs. fall weddings?

John:  What are some great flowers or arrangements for a bride planning, say a spring wedding versus a summer or a fall wedding? Do couples choose different types of flowers depending on the season?

Karla:  Absolutely. Mostly because flowers are seasonal and certain flowers are not available in the fall, regardless of what the magazines may tell you. Even if you can order them out of season, they usually don’t ever look right because, again, you’re trying to force something that nature does not want to bloom at that time.

John:  You’re having to import them from far away and then they lose a little bit in the transportation, et cetera?

Karla:  Exactly. They’re not giving us that same petal count or the same size or same color. It’s almost unnatural and you can tell. In spring time, it’s my favorite because their flower options are just so vast. We have peonies, we have tulips, we have hyacinth, hydrangea, lilacs, any springtime flower that you see blooming all around and their color palette is beautiful. It’s very spring, very pastel-y and sweet.

Then summer tends to almost always go more vibrant. You see people using that bright blue hydrangea and then roses and sunflowers and galleons and pansies. It tends to be a more aggressive beautiful palette that just pops but that’s that time of year, everything is already in full bloom.

Then in fall, fall’s been changing a little. People are getting away from your typical fall palette of the rich reds and the orange and the golds and the plums. I have a lot of brides doing more of the pastels. She’s doing a blush pink with a sage green and mustard yellow. Just going away from the norm which I love because anything that thinks outside the box, which keeps me on my toes which I like. In fall, it’s a little bit of dahlias but that’s pretty much out. Then back to the basics: roses, hydrangea, orchids. Those are always available so we always go back to those.

John:  You mentioned people going outside of the box a little bit. What are some unusual ways that you’ve seen flowers used at a wedding?

Karla:  Oh, goodness. I’ve done a couple of weddings at different museums and incorporating the flowers in a display or in an exhibit that they would allow you to. There was this one that had all these weird white hands coming out of the walls. We had all the hands holding flowers, which was very cool. That ended up as a backdrop for their escort cards. It was very neat.

Decorating things within the venue. Some of the historic venues have big, giant stone lions that you would enter into or in their back, and we do garlands on them or we poke a big flower behind their ear. I mean it’s a little whimsical. It’s just the way people look at things. Some might walk in and be horrified by that because it doesn’t go with their style, and again, it seems too crazy and not what they’re looking for. Every client has their own style and what they want to do and I love it all, but it is fun when somebody wants to do the whimsical. I do like that.

John:  It does seem like a lot of brides and grooms these days are going a little bit more toward that, “Hey. Let’s just have fun. It’s supposed to be a really fun day and let’s have our guests have a really great time. I just want to have fun at my wedding and I don’t want it to be too stressful.” They go, like you said, a little bit outside the box and just go a little bit more toward that whimsical, fun kind of atmosphere.

Karla:  We love that because that’s what it should be. You should have so much fun at your wedding. Your wedding is really short and it is one day. At the end of that ceremony, you guys are married. That’s all that matters. You should let go and have fun.

Even if the food turns different. You’re getting crazy sliders and grilled cheese at the end of the night. Flowers don’t tend to really go that way but it’s more I think the couple’s attitude being, “You know what? This is what we’re looking for. We love this, go with it. We’re not overly picky or specific.” The more specific and the more intense you are on what your wedding day needs to be, it almost never ends up being that way. A wedding day is just crazy. It’s a lot of pressure for one day.

You have a lot of balls in the air and if you were a little bit more relaxed about how the day might go; your day is going to be so much better. You’re going to love it that much more. You’re going to remember it. You’re going to enjoy it. Again, its five hours, you really want to.

John:  It really does go by fast.

Karla:  So fast. I don’t even think I remember my wedding. I remember eating a cupcake and being like, “Wow that was fast.”

John:  So Karla, tell people how we can get in touch with you.

Karla:  A couple of ways really, whatever you’re comfortable with. My cell phone is the best way to reach me. It is always attached to me unless, of course, I’m at a wedding then I don’t answer it. My cell phone number is 781‑771‑6510 or my email which is I am constantly emailing. That’s really the most efficient way to communicate with my couples. Emailing me is a surefire way that we’re going to make progress immediately.

You can also go to my website which is and there’s a little contact page that you can fill in some information. Those are really the three best ways to get in touch with us so we can start working on amazing wedding flowers for you.

John:  Great. Well, that’s really excellent information and it’s been a lot of fun speaking with you. Thanks for speaking with me today.

Karla:  Oh my gosh. Thank you so much. It was great.

John:  For more information about the Essex Room and tips on wedding planning, you can visit the Essex Room website at or call 978‑768‑7335.