Rufino Hernandez, Garden District
At the beginning of COVID-19, Hernandez says it felt like 300 bridal parties were competing to reschedule dates. In response, couples became more flexible in considering Friday night rather than Saturday weddings. Hernandez has noticed that younger brides have gravitated toward earthy green elements, whereas more mature brides are interested in large flower arrangements. Hernandez likes to add details like monogrammed napkins, charger plates, and glassware to tie in with the florals. While future weddings are trending toward ornate, early 2021 weddings have felt intimate, like a gorgeous dinner party ripe with close friends and relatives. “We’re not doing the big numbers, but we’re still doing beautiful productions,” Hernandez says.
Michael Longo, Naples Floral Design
This company normally decorates 100 weddings a year, but with the pandemic striking in early 2020, that number dwindled to only 15 last year. With the increase of intimate weddings, brides have opted for verdant alternatives like eucalyptus, succulents, and Italian ruscus, instead of cascading bridal bouquets, Longo says. Along with greener arrangements, many couples have simplified their decorations—think: ivory columns adorned with roses on the beach. Longo predicts that brides will soon be able to schedule the larger receptions they’ve long dreamt of. “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” he adds.
Sean Stevenson, Kaleidoscope Floral
Stevenson’s floral designs resemble the Dutch masters’ still-life paintings and draw inspiration from wabi-sabi, the Japanese theory of embracing the perfectly imperfect. He finds beauty in the unmanicured look and says his free-flowing arrangements often evoke tears of joy. For a recent 12-person wedding, he wrapped vines of blush roses, tart bougainvillea, and citrus fruits around a tent, embracing a Florida flair. With less funds directed to large venues and food services, several couples allocated money to designing lush wonderlands. Stevenson forecasts that dried and preserved florals will carry into the 2022 wedding season. “I like creating a beautiful atmosphere,” he says. “It’s rare to be in a profession where you can have a positive impact.”