Have you ever wondered where your wedding flowers came from, and how they got to be at your wedding? They have probably travelled a very long way, and through multiple sets of hands along the way. Check out their journey here.
Flowers are a perishable product, so in that sense they are no different from the food that is placed on your table for dinner at your wedding. In fact, you can even use the same analogy of “farm to table”.
Getting your flowers from the farm fields,which are usually in South America, California, Australia, South Africa, Hawaii and Thailand, is a bit of a complex process. To get from there to here, they pass through several hands, and several systems. One of those systems is called “The Chain of Life”, a process that keeps your wedding flowers fresh and alive, so they are beautiful when they get to your wedding reception. The Chain of Life ensures a constant state of temperature control throughout the transportation of the flowers. This includes chiller units blowing cool air into the boxes after being packed at the farm,maintaining cold temps on transportation, and inventory being held in large cooler buildings.
Harvesting/packing the flowers at the farm requires several workers. People in the fields cutting them, people in the warehouses processing them into different sizes and qualities, whether they be a “fancy” or “select” grade, like beef being graded as “AAA” or other categories. They are then wrapped in such a way for optimum transportation, so it doesn’t take up too much room, but still ensures enough buffer to stay mostly unblemished and undamaged. Most flowers are packed in cardboard sleeves, some are in cellophane, depending on the type of flowers and the required humidity. Then they are packed in boxes, and the boxes are then chilled to the optimum holding temperature, and taken to the airport, put on planes, and most are shipped to Miami.
Once in Miami, they are redistributed again, based on their destination. In our case, they are shipped to Mississauga. Once here, they pass through customs and get distributed to the various wholesale companies.
Once the wholesale companies have them, they will either hold them in cold storage for the retailers/event companies, or they will open the boxes/packaging and begin a preliminary system of hydration.
GETTING READY FOR THE BIG SHOW
When we florists or design companies pick the flowers up from the wholesalers, we will begin the next steps of processing and hydrating the flowers. This will include opening all the packaging, cleaning the stems and removing damaged petals, giving a fresh cut to the stems, using some specially designed solutions to hydrate and coax the flowers into full bloom, or a solution that simply allows the flowers to hold their development to stay tight longer, depending on the floral application required. After that, we will either put them into a cooler to hold the development or leave them out in the warmer temperatures to allow for blooming. Designers will then gauge how much warmth and time is required to get the blooms into the proper stage of development needed for the design.
To do bridal bouquets, I love to have my roses blown wide open, so that you get beautiful rose blooms in your bouquet. To do this, I leave them out on “the floor” (meaning not in a cooler) for a number of days, depending on the variety of roses being used. Some roses take up to 2 weeks to reach maximum opening. Some roses pop open in just a day or two. Because we know how each variety reacts, we handle according to those traits.
Once all the flowers are at the proper stage, it requires a skilled designer to assemble them into a beautiful design, so again, another pair of hands that the flowers will pass through.
At this point, the finished design is packaged up to protect it through the transportation system because we need to take them from our coolers in our studios/warehouses/shops and deliver them to your wedding venue. Once at the wedding site, they are either put into the hands of the bride or placed in their designated spots – on the arbor, on the guest tables, on the cake.
These are the different stages, from when the flowers are brought in from the farms until reaching the end client. This is no different from the “farm to table”aspect of food. You can do “local” flowers, but you are generally limited, so depending on what you want to see for your florals you may or may not get what you want. Again,the same as the food system. If you want a 100-mile dinner, you may only get certain items. If you want specific items, you can access food from around the world. As the food prices will vary and have a difference in costs associated with each item, so do the flowers.
You can see how many sets of hands these flowers will have to pass through to get from the field to you. So when you are considering the cost of all these flowers, you need to remember where those flowers have come from and how they have gotten to you, and how many people with specialized knowledge and expertise have handled them to make sure they get to your wedding in perfect condition.
This is how the flowers go from the field to the table.