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Brides & blooms: Local florists offer advice on what to choose for your wedding

The Salinas Californian
Source: The Salinas Californian

The Salinas Californian, CA - Jan 14, 2008

Salinas, Jan 14 --

Take away the flowers, pluck their velvety essence from the scene, and one of life's great moments would lose much of its inherent magic, Suzanne (Slaten) Denny said. "Flowers just made my own wedding even better," she said

Suzanne Denny and her bridesmaids carried bright flowers by Christine Cater at her Aug. 18 wedding.

Yellow and red rose petals lay strewn across her path as Slaten, in a white gown, walked to the altar. Her bridesmaids wore red, and she selected flowers of the brightest reds, oranges, yellows and greens for their bouquets.

As a form of visual music - consider the chromatic overtones - flowers help set and carry the mood and shape the memories of a wedding day, most brides agree.

Brides-to-be who wrote The Salinas Californian telling us of their wedding day put high priority on flowers when sharing their experience.

For example:

Linda Castillo of Salinas married Everardo Arreola of Salinas Nov. 17 at the Carmel Mission. They held their reception in the spacious former Del Monte Hotel at the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey.

Flowers played a key role in the proceedings

"The bridesmaids carried long-stem calla lilies, which stood out against their cobalt blue tea-length dresses," Linda Castillo-Arreola said. "I carried a garnet red rose bouquet with red calla lilies and Swarovski crystals in it."

The crystals are diamond-like, eye-catching bits of sparkle, placed, for example, in the middle of a rose.

"For that extra 'bling,'" she said.

To give her bouquet even more emotional and symbolic meaning, she wrapped her grandmother's blue rosary around it.

As for the groomsmen, they wore classic black tuxes with white calla lilies on the lapel. The groom was the exception. He stood out in his cream-colored vest and suit-style tuxedo.

Wendy Heffington married Bart Walker Sept. 29 at Vision Quest Ranch on River Road. The ranch houses exotic animals.

The bridesmaids wore pink dresses with chocolate-colored polka dots. They carried bouquets of pink Gerbera daisies, pink roses and brown cosmos.

"My bouquet was dwarf white calla lilies with sprays of tiny seed pearls," Walker recalled.

Some brides-to-be hire floral experts to advise and guide them. Denny, for example, hired Christine Cater.

"Flowers add to a wedding's romance, emotion, elegance and drama," Cater said.

In the business for more than 20 years, she meets her clients either in her home or at the site of the planned event.

"We visualize what she (the bride-to-be) has in mind, and we work with that," Cater said. "We do not do cookie-cutter weddings. We customize each."

Average cost for the floral aspect of the weddings she handles is $3,000, she said. For larger ones, such as an upcoming wedding costing $50,000, Cater brings in the services of Illusions of Grandeur, an event company.

"Because then you're talking about décor as well as about flowers," she said.

Choose the right colors

Swenson & Silacci Flowers, in Salinas and in business since 1945, is one of many area florists with great experience in providing flowers for weddings.

Two trends are evident over recent decades, said Mark Silacci, owner.

"We still do big full-blown traditional weddings with big receptions, but the other is the little beach-side wedding or the little chapel wedding," Silacci said.

Either way, flowers are a centerpiece, he said.

"We did a few hundred weddings last year, and very few were all-white," he said. "Most had a splash of color and variety of color."

Silacci buys most of his wedding flowers from vendors in the Salinas area. Depending on the season, though, and for special orders, he may have to fly, say, top-grade tulips in from Holland.

"Or flowers from Ecuador or Colombia, or hydrangea from New Zealand, or sunflowers and calla lilies from Mexico," he said.

Stay within your budget

To keep your floral costs within budget lines, be flexible, said Lisa Lee, head floral designer at Salinas Flowerland, 11 West Acacia St.

"Have a theme and have your colors ready, but don't be too set in your idea," Lee suggested. "Give your designer more license to design. We have lots of ideas."

In some arrangements, for example, it might be cheaper to substitute candles or fabric for flowers, she said.

Also, try to select flowers in season.

"That saves you money, because, if they're seasonal, that means we don't have to import them," Lee said.

Silacci has seen a wide range of costs for orders.

A typical high-end wedding allocates $5,000 for flowers. Most, though, fall in the $1,500-to-$5,000 range, but he has seen them as high as $50,000. The latter included dining tables with 75 roses in each centerpiece.

He's seen the opposite, too. Last summer, the store did a wedding that involved one bridal bouquet and one boutonniere.

"A beach wedding," Silacci said. "The couple popped into the store. In one hour, we made the order up for them. They were out the door for under $100."



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