From the bouquet to the wedding arch to the table decor, flowers immediately set the tone for a wedding. On the North Fork, more often than not, that tone is rustic chic, meaning brides want something “wild and organic” but still artistic. That’s where the floral designer comes in. Thanks to Instagram and Pinterest, floral design is increasingly on public display, with designers creating bouquets, centerpieces, wedding arches, runners and petal carpets that are true works of art.
With the North Fork setting already so beautiful, however, floral designers have a lot to compete with.
“You already have this lush background of lush vineyards and gardens out here,” said Danielle LaScala, floral designer and owner of Mattituck Florist (95 Love Lane, Mattituck, 631-298-5840) who purchased the nearly 50-year-old business in 2005. “You don’t want to compete with nature, you just want to accent it.”
The trick for any florist is to understand — and translate — the bride’s vision. Mattituck Florist’s tagline is: “Great floral design is about what you like; we’re just here to help you figure it out.”
To get an idea of any prospective florist, spend time on their Instagram feeds to see their aesthetic and visions.
The best thing about flowers at a North Fork wedding? Time it just right and there’s a good chance the wedding bouquet was grown locally on North Fork flower farms. Like the local “slow food” farm-to-table movement, the “slow flower” trend is really catching on, with couples using more seasonal flowers and wanting to know where they come from.
The aptly named North Fork Flower Farm (1110 Terry Lane, Orient, 212-727-9907) is a relative newcomer to the industry, founded by Orient couples living on Village Lane who turned their respective flower farm dreams into a reality. The farm features over 200 species of flowers, with 15 varieties of zinnias alone. Local camaraderie is a boost, too, as the farm works with a neighboring apple orchard to obtain apple blossoms in the spring.
“Sometimes wedding couples come and take photos at the farm, then buy flowers to make their own table arrangements in addition to the bridal bouquets we create for them,” says co-owner Charles Sherman. “It’s part of the whole experience.”
Even florists from the Hamptons frequent the other fork’s farms.
“When I say I have my own flower farm, brides get very excited,” said Anastasia Casale of Sag Harbor Florist (3 Bay Street, Sag Harbor, 631-725-1400) who happened to marry the owner of Pierpont Blossom Farm in Baiting Hollow years ago. “We have about 30,000 dahlia plants in the ground. The wedding arch is very common, and we can do 75% greenery. We’ll do different textural eucalyptuses and honeysuckle vines from the farm.”
Clarke’s Garden & Home (416 Main St, Greenport, 631-477-6770) works with four local flower farms, focusing on the unique.
“I’m interested in flowers and greens that might not be really popular but are very unique,” says co-owner Peter Clarke, who often hears “Where’d you find that?” from clients and customers. “Most brides are really looking for unique, eclectic assortments that are more natural and garden-style, which is a good fit for us ,as a lot of our style is rooted in the garden.”
Clarke credits California with the North Fork’s natural wedding style with wooden tables, burlap and linen.
“It’s a take on the California farm girl with an East Coast flair,” he said. “Which makes sense as we’re both farming and wine regions.”
Even flowers follow trends, with formal wedding white sometimes ceding to more colorful mixes a la fashion.
“Pantone’s color of the year for 2019 is Living Coral, so I expect coral to be incorporated into florals this year,” said Aquebogue-based florist Kim Jackson Reeves, who managed florist Ariella Chezar’s shop in New York City before starting her own business in 2014 (Kim Jackson Reeves Design, 516-993-4316). “Yellow is having a moment, which is a color I happen to have loved since getting into floral design.”
In fact, yellow sunflowers do pop their sunny heads into more casual local weddings, as they are such a symbol of the rustic North Fork.
That might be true, but not for everyone.
“I’m always trying to put color into weddings but I’m not always successful,” laughs Clarke. “People still want white, green and blush, but they love the gray-green of eucalyptus and thistle/eucalyptus mixes.”
Other trends include more elaborate floral installations, such as green vines dripping from the ceiling, a floral meadow running down the ceremony aisle, floral chandeliers or a floral entryway for the reception.
“These are usually higher-ticket items, but the impression they make on you and your guests is worth it,” said Reeves. To stay within budget, she suggests choosing one or two impact items and opting for more minimal table centerpieces.
Most brides are really looking for unique, eclectic assortments that are more natural and garden-style, which is a good fit for us ,as a lot of our style is rooted in the garden.Peter Clarke
Jenny Marchese of Wildflower Floral Events (631-655 3117) has been doing weddings on both forks for more than 25 years and is thrilled at the wedding boom of the past decade. She describes the North Fork bride as having an “elegance that’s casual and rustic yet glamorous,” but notes it’s stepping up from shabby chic.
“People don’t necessarily want pews made out of hay anymore,” she said. “Now they’re lining the farm fields with lucite chairs. It’s high-end style in a rustic setting.”
Marchese often stages a photographic backdrop for guests (think “Instagrammable moment”) such as a flower cart, vintage car filled with flowers,or strategically placed bike basket overflowing with flowers. Vintage or glass compote bowls make trendy centerpieces, often featuring a “messy, viney floral bouquet.” And for those popular fall weddings? Mix in some fruit, branches or plume grass that capture the season.
Another factor is budget, something Riverhead Flower Shop (136 E. Main Street, Riverhead, 631-727-2960) is very mindful of.
“Weddings have always been a good business for us, but now with Pinterest and Instagram, brides are getting beautiful ideas and they want it all,” said owner Peggy Kneski. “Many will splurge on flowers, but those who don’t have a high-end budget appreciate how I work with them.”
Bridal parties have also gotten larger, which puts added stress on budgets.
“In 2010, maybe a bride had two bridesmaids, but today there are five, six, seven or eight!” Kneski said. She advises brides to focus on flowers for themselves and the moms, and not go overboard for the bridesmaids. “We keep prices down by growing a lot of our own flowers — from peonies to sunflowers. We’ve also gotten into rentals like wedding arches and chuppas, and we don’t charge for delivery, set up or breakdown.”
A more recent option for those watching their pennies is newcomer Laurel Floral Design, run by the sisters Laura and Cristi Carrillo, who worked in the hospitality industry and now run the floral operation from Laura’s backyard. In true millennial fashion, they run their entire operation from Instagram and Facebook, skipping a corporate website.
“Brides will DM me on Instagram and we’ll send them a questionnaire to fill out so we can see what they’re looking for,” Cristi said.
Wedding season runs through the fall, and floral designers love to take advantage of the farmer’s harvest bounty.
“We absolutely mix in pumpkins, gourds, fall leaves, branches and other natural-type materials in the fall,” LaScala said. “We also love working with a material called Angel Vine, which seems like dried moss-like bird’s nest that bends and can be manipulated in all different ways.”
Buying flowers on the North Fork
1110 Terry Lane, Orient, 516-652-8188
416 Main St., Greenport, 631-477-6770
56475 Main Road, Southold, 631-765-6500
43385 Main Road, Peconic, 631-765-4005
28145 Main Road, Cutchogue, 631-734-8849
320 Depot Lane, Cutchogue, 631-734-9400
95 Love Lane, Mattituck, 631-298-5840
41 Manor Lane, Riverhead, 631-722-3313
136 E. Main St., Riverhead, 631-727-2960
What’s Blooming When
What brides don’t always realize, or want to recognize when they’re so set on their mood board full of perfect floral themes, is that not all flowers bloom in every season.
“When a bride tells me she wants peonies in October and she wants them local, I say she needs to move the wedding to the Southern Hemisphere,” laughs Charles Sherman of North Fork Flower Farm.
Local florists will incorporate out-of-season flowers into their mix as needed, but for brides who prefer to keep it all local, for the most vibrant stems, it’s best to know what’s in season when.
Here’s a cheat sheet from florist Kim Jackson Reeves, who notes that a lot of these can be sourced locally on the North Fork at North Fork Flower Farm or Pierpont Blossom Farm:
Available most of year
Ranunculus (a bridal favorite), eucalyptus, protea, moss
Tulips, narcissus (daffodils), fritillaria, muscari, poppies, cherry blossom branches, quince branches, crab apple blossom branches, peonies, lilac, anemones, sweet pea, hellebores, kumquat fruit
Late spring/early summer
Lilies, snapdragons, garden roses, cosmos, astilbe, hydrangea, sunflowers (“Instead of the standard yellow, I like to use less common varieties that are peach, chocolate and burnt orange,” Reeves said.)
Dahlias, heirloom chrysanthemums, pampas grasses (these are STILL having their moment), pomegranates, figs, bittersweet vine, rose hips, limelight hydrangea (an antique pink color)
Amaryllis, magnolia foliage, silver brunia