On September 23rd, 2017, Cara and Bret said “I do” in Lake Tahoe, CA surrounded by friends and family. Their outdoor wedding was, without a doubt, a dream! We interviewed Cara, our 2017 Win Your Wedding Flowers grand prize winner, to learn more about her planning process, her experience with FiftyFlowers and more. Whether you’re planning a wedding or other special events, you’re bound to find some inspiration in this interview.
Where did you get your inspiration from?
I am guilty of having Pinterest wedding envy and couldn’t take my eyes off of all of the gorgeous wedding boards! What a time to be alive and how did anyone plan weddings before Pinterest? I started by stepping back and thinking about how I wanted our wedding to feel and then I went from there after we found a gem of a venue. The biggest factors that I kept in mind were the outdoor mountain/river location and the laid-back vibe of Lake Tahoe. I created boards for different parts of our wedding and if I found a sign I liked, I’d add it to the board and brainstorm ideas how to create something similar that would work for our vision. I tried to loosely stick to a “mountain elegance” theme, but if I saw something that I wanted to incorporate, I did. I saved a LOT of money by doing things myself and really didn’t have to compromise on anything. I took projects on in small doses (one weekend of painting vases and one weekend of staining signs). Etsy and Pinterest were my go-to sites for all things wedding related.
What inspired your color palette?
Our venue was surrounded by mountains and a river and I really wanted to incorporate bright, bold colors to pop against the scenery. I wanted to keep things natural looking but thought that all white flowers might not stand up to the backdrop. I had to be careful not to choose colors or flowers that were too summery for a late September wedding and wanted to mix lots of shades of pinks and lavender with burgundy and creams that were appropriate for the season. Our invitation and menu cards were a gorgeous mountain and blue sky watercolor and that was the baseline for my color palette. I am so glad that I chose unconventional bold, bright colors- it was a risk that I think paid off!
What was your favorite part of wedding planning?
Besides having a year to really celebrate this time with our family and friends leading up to the wedding, I’d have to say the flowers and the décor (centerpieces, dessert table, etc.). I loved planning the flowers and making decisions about how I wanted the tables to look and about the overall experience for everyone. I wanted people to have a fun, carefree time and enjoy the beauty of Lake Tahoe. My husband’s stepdad handmade trivets for the centerpieces from a walnut tree on the property and jarred honey from his bees for our favors. He also made our wedding arbor! I handmade the welcome, seating assignment and bar signs. I love that everything about our wedding had a personal touch and a story. I had a part in designing every piece of the wedding and it didn’t go unnoticed with our guests; everyone had a blast and loved all of the details. My friends all joke that I should have a side business doing wedding flower design after this experience!
How did you find out about FiftyFlowers/the Win Your Wedding Flowers Contest?
When I decided that I was going to do my own flowers, I did some research on the best online flower company and came across a few options. FiftyFlowers had hands down the most variety to choose from and the reviews were honest and helpful. I didn’t feel like my only options were roses or carnations and was so happy to see flowers that I’d never even heard of! Where have peony roses been all of my life? The flower stories and “make this look” on the website were really helpful for inspiration as well and if you want to simplify things, you can copy another wedding with the exact flower recipe- it doesn’t have to be time-consuming. It showed me that DIYing your flowers has been done by many amazing brides and I could do it too and this company made it so easy. This is so far beyond homemade looking flowers- these weddings on the FiftyFlowers website are incredible and complex and nothing about the flowers look homemade. I found out about the contest from the website and couldn’t wait to enter once we received our photos back. I am an avid online reviewer and rely on other peoples’ reviews when making decisions about things, so I’m always excited and happy to give my opinion and experience (good or bad) if it can help someone else.
What advice would you give to those who are too afraid of ordering flowers online?
Trust me, I know it can be scary, especially for the brides who need to have control over every piece of the wedding planning process, but that is the best thing about FiftyFlowers- I felt like I could choose every single flower and control exactly how I wanted it all to look. I had support and help along the way and never felt like I was going into it blind. I was so worried that a florist wouldn’t be able to completely capture my vision and even if they could, it would come at a steep price to get everything that I wanted. Have a plan, be as prepared as possible- think it through and double check your flower plan before you order. I had room for error, assumed that some flowers would break or not open up so I accounted for possible issues. Build in extra time into your flower arranging day- it will take longer than you think. Recruit a team of family and friends because people will be more than happy to help you- it was such a fun morning for my mom, mother in law, aunt and a few family friends to spend time together before the craziness of the wedding weekend began. Don’t let it overwhelm you and don’t doubt yourself, that is the biggest piece of advice. Flowers are beautiful no matter what and you can’t really mess them up! You’re the only one who knows how they are “supposed” to look.
You mentioned you used the resources we had to offer. Did you know about our free consultations with Violet?
I did! She helped me bring my vision to life. I had about 40 kinds of flowers on my ‘favorites’ and I had to narrow it down. Violet gave me some great ideas about what kinds of flowers to look into and the biggest bang for my buck to accomplish this bold, bright look. Of course, everyone wants peonies, but depending on the time of year, they can be out of season and unavailable and there are so many other options that achieve the same look (hello a million varieties of garden roses- I think I used five kinds!). She described the filler flowers I was going between and helped me choose the right one based on what I’d be using it for. It can sometimes be hard to know the quantities you will need, and she was very willing to help figure that out as well. It was so helpful to be able to talk to someone who knew so much about flowers prior to making any decisions. It really helped me feel secure about my choices and gave me the confidence to know that I could DIY the flowers.
What did you like about our chat feature?
The chat feature saved my life throughout this process! I planned out the variety and quantities of all of my flowers and added them to my favorites long before I ordered them just to make sure that I had everything accounted for and was comfortable with my decision. I would think of a random question, even before I ordered the flowers, and was able to hop on the chat feature and talk to someone on the team instantly. Every single person was so friendly and helpful and never made me feel silly for asking so many questions (I was practically on a first name basis from asking so many questions). I was going between 2 very similar types of burgundy flowers and they gave me some great advice about which flower to choose based on what I was using it for and how many came in a pack. They really put my mind at ease and were a great source of guidance from pre-planning through the flower delivery.
What would you have done differently?
The morning of the wedding was such a blur for me and so much was going on. I had so many emotions and my nerves were high and I wasn’t very relaxed. I wish I’d have timed my day out a little better so that I wasn’t rushing to get dressed and finish the final details and taken the time to really be in the moment. It is so, so important to step back and not worry about the last minute details that won’t matter, but really enjoy every moment of the day because it does go by too fast.
What was the most memorable moment?
Walking down the aisle with my dad, and seeing Bret for the first time (we didn’t do a first look and I don’t regret it!). It was so special to see all of our family and friends smiling back at us and then see Bret for the first time and feel all of those intense emotions come over you all at once. I was so nervous but as soon as I saw Bret, everything slowed down and became real and I was able to be present and enjoy every minute of the ceremony.