A Conversation with Floral Designer Sidra Forman - District Weddings

A Conversation with Floral Designer Sidra Forman

May 21, 2009

The month of May is one of my favorite times of the year!  April showers have brought May flowers and everything seems so fresh.  I have to admit, after growing up with a mother who had an incredible green thumb, I have been raised to splurge and always have fresh flowers either in my home or on my desk.  With my love for flowers, it has been such a treat to be introduced to Sidra Forman, one of the best of the best floral designers in Washington.

Today, I am delighted to share Sidra Forman’s expert insight on floral design.  In addition to creating breathtaking arrangements, she is committed to practicing a green business that will fit any couple’s wedding budget and vision.

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How far in advance do you first meet with a couple who is interested in your design services?  What questions do you ask them to get a feel for their vision of their wedding?

This can vary quite a bit.  Generally I first meet a couple for the first time 6-12 months before their wedding date.  However, I already have a wedding booked for 2011 and I have also done wedding flowers with very short notice.

I ask that the couple to give me a few general words that describe how they picture the event. For example, a couple that I met with earlier this week said, “Elegant, welcoming and fun.” I always ask to see photos of the wedding dress if it has been chosen.  Also, I ask for any other photos that the couple has seen of flowers or other design elements that they like or do not like – I find the likes and dislikes to be equally helpful.


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Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

I find inspiration through my garden and the flowers I grow and purchase.  This aspect is completely driven by the seasons which determine what flowers are at their best at any given time.  I often joke that the constant change of seasons keeps me from ever getting bored since there is always something new growing and available.  I have a cutting garden that right now is bursting with herbs, peonies, garden roses, branches covered with young figs and hydrangea.

I also deal directly with local growers who provide me with amazing flowers during the local growing season; my primary source for local flowers is Wollam Gardens. This time of the year I speak with them often sometimes a few times a day monitoring what is blooming on a daily basis.  For example, this weekend I am doing a wedding at The Arts Club of Washington and plan to use huge containers of Mock Orange where the ceremony is taking place. This afternoon, the farm called to suggest that they want to wait one extra day before cutting so that the blooms will be at the optimal point of openness for the Saturday wedding.

When flowers from my own garden and other local sources are not available, I buy many of my flowers from the Dutch Auction in Holland.  Not only are the flowers spectacular, but they are also grown in an environmentally conscious manner with fair labor practices.

I work with a broker who bids on the flowers that I request and gets them to my front door in less than 48 hours.  A close working relationship and a lot of email back and forth, with photos, gives me great choice and ultimate freshness.  I was fortunate to get to visit the Auction in Holland this past spring and saw firsthand where the flowers are coming from.  In addition to these sources I work with a couple organic farms in California and Florida as well as a few farms in South America that grow consciously and are cooperatively owned.

Another important source of inspiration is from the collaborative process between me and the couple getting married.  Each wedding that I do is unique and very much grows out of the sharing of ideas and experiences.


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What are the ways to make the most of your floral budget?

I believe that it is possible to do fantastic flowers with a huge variety of budgets.  I feel strongly that couples need to be comfortable with the amount of money they are spending on flowers for the event to be successful.

On the other hand, with flowers – more is nearly always better.  That being said it is important if working within a specific budget to know the exactly what that budget is.  If a budget is limited I find that you get more floral impact by doing fewer larger floral arrangements rather than many smaller arrangements.

Often monochromatic flowers can make fewer flowers seem like more.  Other methods I use are to stuff smaller containers rather than sparsely filling larger containers or tying flowers in a bunch and leaning them to the side of a container.

Lastly for both budget and environmental reasons I suggest that couples borrow containers so all their money can go to the flowers rather than the vases and then the containers can be reused.

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Do you make an effort to use seasonal and local options?

I use local options whenever they are available and only use seasonal flowers from both local and distant sources.  I am very committed to using only flowers that are grown with respect to the environment and with fair labor practices.  If flowers do not fit this criterion then I do not use them.  I also make every effort to run my business in an environmentally conscious manner making as small a footprint on the earth as possible.

All of these gorgeous photos were taken by Jay Premack.

Thank you so much to Sidra for sharing her talents with us today!  I hope that you all are as enamored with Sidra’s wisdom as I am!  Be sure to check out her blog!

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