Long before she became a florist, Sarah Ryhanen, founder of Brooklyn-based floral business Saipua, would cut grasses and Queen Anne’s lace from the side of the road, bundle them in string, and suspend the in her apartment. “I like the beauty of a real mess,” she says.
One of the original pioneers of the rustic floral movement, Ryhanen’s come to influence a whole generation of florists with her lush, instinctual style. Her arrangements are like a cross between a Dutch still life and the most feral bouquet of wildflowers. She’s worked her magic for countless weddings over the years, crafting bouquets in Ball jars for courthouse brides and creating elaborate installations for destination weddings.
But when we sat down with Ryhanen at Saipua recently, she wasn’t all that interested in talking about floral wedding trends. “I don’t think people need trends for their wedding flowers,” she says. “Instead, why not use your wedding as an opportunity to learn about flowers? It’s such an exciting time to learn what your taste is. A wedding is such a classic moment in your life. I think the flowers should feel timeless.”
Here, Ryhanen outlines the five most important things to consider when commissioning flowers for your wedding day.
This one’s obvious, but it’s also tricky. “A lot of brides are attracted to color, but they’re afraid of it because they don’t want to color their wedding,” Ryhanen says. Take some time to look at flower arrangements and note what draws you in.
If you opt for a bright palette, she suggests toning it down for the bride’s bouquet, simply because neutrals read better next to a white dress. “It’s hard for the camera to capture the nuance in the flowers as well as in the pale figure behind it,” she says.
“A handful of brides will always respond to round flowers like peonies or roses—romantic types of blooms,” she says. “Or some are really attracted to the more angular, pyre-shaped flowers like delphiniums and foxgloves.”
Shape applies to the overall arrangement, as well. Do you want a tall, lanky arrangement? A low, sprawling one? A tidy bundle of blooms? Flip through photos of a wide variety of arrangements, and take note of what calls to you.
“Often, when someone is getting married, one of the first things they’re doing is going to the Internet and typing in the season of their wedding and then ‘wedding flowers,’” she says. Working with the seasons means that your bouquets will be more sustainable, and in tune with the nature.
But if you’re working with a florist who is sourcing flowers locally, what’s in season can vary from week to week and day to day—it’s not always as simple as choosing your favorite blooms from a list of seasonal flowers.
At Saipua, Ryhanen works with her clients to determine the look they’re going for, but doesn’t promise specific stems. Instead of concentrating on the types of flower you want to see in your bouquets, she suggests considering the unique properties of the season’s flowers that you’d like to highlight.
If you’re getting married in the fall, you might have to forego peonies to stay in tune with the seasons, but the trade-off is texture in droves. Texture is the property that varies the most from season to season.
“We have a lot more texture in the summer and fall than we have in the spring and winter,” she says. “In the spring we have a lot of soft, new flowers blooming– lots of delicate, soft shapes. But in the summer and fall we get the grassier flowers, we get foliage.” She’s especially fond of interesting pods, like seeded eucalyptus or prickly green chestnuts on the branch.
Ryhanen is adamant that any wedding, at any budget, can have killer flowers. “It’s just about being really careful and selective about how you spend your budget,” she says. “It may not be lavish centerpieces on every single table—it might be a knockout jaw dropper on the bar, like an insane urn of flowers that everyone wants to touch.”
For really small budgets, she recommends putting everything into your personal flowers. “Even if you’re spending $5,000 on your entire wedding, you can generally afford a really beautiful bouquet, a bouquet for your mom, and some boutonnieres. And when you’re getting ready and the florist brings those things in, it’s going to be so exciting and so special.”