Even in coronavirus times, flowers and marital bliss endure.

Like so many thousands of others, I am what they call “a COVID bride.” My fiancée and I excitedly set a wedding date for September 2020—blissfully unaware of the impending havoc that a worldwide pandemic would wreak on our carefully laid plans. At first, it was a waiting game to see if the COVID-19 virus would somehow magically disappear on its own. But as time went on and the world went further into lockdown, it became painstakingly obvious that our plans for a big celebration with 100 or more of our closest friends and family not only wouldn’t—but simply couldn’t—happen.
With her Lake Geneva locale a destination wedding hot spot, Duda has noticed a marked increase in custom installs. “We’re doing a lot of boat florals, chandeliers and moongate archways,” she notes. “Even if the wedding guest count is small, couples still want these “wow” factors for themselves and their photos. They can afford to splurge on flowers when they aren’t paying for a 200-to-300-person wedding.”

“Intimate weddings are here for awhile, so it’s time to embrace them with positivity and ingenuity,” says Carli Spielman, owner of Wild Rabbit Flowers floral studio in Hope, B.C., Canada. “More-intimate gatherings give couples a chance to create a décor theme they might not have been able to focus on when trying to include 100 or more people in their day.”
Spielman says several of her 2020 brides have bigger floral budgets now, especially once their guest numbers went down—some by as many as 150 people. “We have the opportunity to offer dream weddings to couples,” she notes. “I am always up for selling the big, most impactful pieces, like a huge floral ceremony backdrop and drop-dead gorgeous florals for guest tables.”

Cassandra Duda, of Lilypots, a small floral shop that specializes in destination weddings and events in picturesque Lake Geneva, Wis., agrees. “Most couples still want their big-ticket items, so take advantage of that!” she advises. “Archways, installs, beautiful bouquets … most are still willing to spend on key floral factors even through their centerpiece counts may be down.”

Lauren Wiebe, Stone House CreativeFlorals: Stone House Creative, @stonehouseweddingsWedding planner: Soirée Event Planning, @soireeplanningPhotography: Lynsey Corbett Photography, @lynseycorbettphotography

Florals: Lori Parten, Season in Bloom; seasoninbloom.com, @seasoninbloom Photography: Alea Moore Photography; aleamoore.com, @aleamoore Venue: Meadowlark 1939; meadowlark1939.com, @meadowlark1939

Florals: Brady Cole Everett, Ad Astra Floral Design; @bradyeverett, @adastrafloral Photography: Kelly Sea Images; @kellyseaimages Styling: RockPaperStyleChic; @rockpaperstylechic

Florals: Susan Kelly, Marion Moss Floral Design; @marionmossfloral Photography: Julie Mikos Photography

Tallahassee, Fla.-based South of Stem has partnered with other wedding vendors to offer all-inclusive packages to couples looking for a one-stop intimate-wedding shop. Owner Melissa Brock says that giving clients three floral collections to choose from “not only helps us keep our margins, but we also book more volume versus larger gigs.”

While there may be larger budgets for flowers for intimate weddings, says Lauren Wiebe, of Stone House Creative in Winnipeg, Man., Canada. “It’s really hard to make a proper margin with just a bouquet and boutonnière. Make sure you take into account the full bunches you’ll need to bring in for the order, and be smart about your ordering,” she advises. Wiebe, whose floral company is known for its distinctive color palettes and intriguing details, added that ordering from a local farm can give more flexibility with stem counts and minimum orders.

Lori Parten, of Season in Bloom in Peachtree City, Ga., says that explaining to clients that you have to purchase in bulk and cannot purchase just seven roses, for example, can definitely work in your favor. “By explaining that the floral ‘math’ involved in that gorgeous bouquet includes so many different floral components usually results in adding more pieces,” she explains.

Parten, a 25-year veteran of the floral industry who previously worked at the Dutch flower auction, cited a recent wedding as an example, where the couple originally wanted only body florals, but then they added tree décor for a backdrop for their formal photos, increasing the bottom line. “They were thrilled with the results!” she reports.

One designer uniquely qualified to talk about micro-weddings is Susan Kelly—not only as the owner, designer and flower farmer at Marion Moss Floral Design in Petaluma, Calif., but also as a COVID bride herself.

“The thing I loved most about our wedding was that it allowed us much more freedom to spend money on what was important to us,” Kelly confides, who married on May 1 while sheltering in place. “For us, it was the flowers, photos and really good champagne! You can really go all out with a tiny wedding—and do it all yourself!”

While many couples may be looking at their floral budgets differently, designer Brady Cole Everett says they’ll also be looking at their weddings with a renewed sense of importance. “Whether the guest list is four people or 400, every wedding is just as special and worthy of our business.”

Everett, an artist, horticulturalist and designer at Ad Astra Floral in Toms River, N.J., says that while everyone is scrambling to understand what social settings and events are, ultimately, going to look like, his advice is to focus on the beauty and the passion we have as designers and florists.