Vineyard flowers for a Vineyard wedding
Photo by Lynn Christoffers
One of the primary reasons that people choose the Vineyard as a wedding setting is the Island's wild beauty. By choosing to use locally grown flowers, you can take advantage of the natural gifts of the Vineyard and give your wedding more of a local feel.
Says Krishana Collins, who creates wedding arrangements from the hundreds of varieties of flowers that she grows in two different Vineyard fields, "They're fresh and beautiful and unique to the Island. Local flowers bring in the whole essence of the Island."
A farmer for 15 years, Ms. Collins has been growing flowers on the Vineyard for six years. She sells bouquets at the West Tisbury Farmers Market and at a few local markets and farm stands. She also employs her passion for design to do flowers for private clients and local events. Although she will start the planning stage for a wedding well in advance, she also welcomes brides and their families to make a pre-event onsite visit. "It's such a different experience when they come to the farm and walk through the fields." she says. "It's more inspirational. They're more involved."
Furthermore, Ms. Collins says, "You're supporting the local economy and reducing your carbon footprint. You're not getting flowers shipped in from Colombia or Holland." She notes that the wedding market has helped her to extend her season into the fall so that she doesn't have to rely on her entire income in July and August.
Ms. Collins, along with a staff of two, grows more varieties of flowers than she can itemize. She notes that she has more than 30 varieties of sunflowers alone, as well as 50 different dahlias and seven varieties of zinnias. And that just covers the fall flowers.
"I use a lot of wild stuff – whatever's blooming – to add more character," Ms. Collins says. "I like to use fruit in my arrangements. Baby pears, baby apples, a strand from a strawberry plant that goes from green to red with strawberry flowers to decorate cakes, blueberry branches. I see the beauty in everything in every state — including a lot of the wild stuff that the Island creates on its own."
Ms. Collins can turn to other local farmers if necessary and she occasionally makes trips to the Boston Flower Market if she doesn't have enough of a requested flower or if a client wants to include something that's not available on the Island. However, she says, "The idea is to keep it as local as possible."
Years of experience have helped Ms. Collins in both the horticulture and design aspect of her business. "One of the things that happens when you grow something is that you know the peak stage to pick it," she says. "You're keeping an eye on the flower. If you're using what's in the field, you're using that as your basis of inspiration and you're guided by nature."
Ms. Collins's artistic bent is evident as she talks about arranging. "The designing is a way that you can express yourself in flowers," she says. "You can say so much in a bouquet that you can't say other ways."
Ms. Collins and her staff start growing some varieties in a greenhouse in early March. Under ideal circumstances she can provide for weddings from early June through mid-October. However she cautions, "It's all dependent on nature."
Robyn Athearn, flower manager for Morning Glory Farm, also stresses the unpredictability of the business. "It really is a flexible person who wants to get flowers from a farm," she says, "It's not like going to a florist. You have to be a little more open-minded." She encourages brides to "focus on color scheme. We try to get people not to get too particular about flowers. We will get them the most beautiful that we have in their colors."
For a recent wedding that will be featured in Martha Stewart Magazine, Morning Glory staff planted hundreds of white flowers at the beginning of the season, only to have a lot of the flower crop ruined by the hurricane. Ms. Athearn notes that the organizers of that wedding wanted to use as many local products as possible. They even selected local jams and goats milk soap for party favors.
"The local farm movement is so huge right now," Ms. Athearn says. "I think people are just starting to realize that it's possible to use local flowers for events." She also notes that farm flowers are often a more affordable option.
For her own wedding in April, Ms. Athearn grew 800 tulips in her own yard and used forsythia and hyacinths. "I've never had more fun in my life. We grew all the food as well." However, for early summer weddings she notes that flower choices are limited. "There's not much around. There are roses and there are things like herbs and other greens."
Ms. Athearn says that her staff enjoy the more personal nature of doing wedding arrangements as opposed to the hundreds of bouquets they create daily for sale in the farm stand. "I think they love doing wedding and event flowers over anything in the world," she says. "They feel very connected to the people, whether it's a funeral or an anniversary party, and they really knock themselves out."
Although most people start with a consultation up to a year in advance, the Moring Glory staff is always happy to guide clients through the fields closer to the wedding date for last-minute choices.
Ms. Collins strongly recommends a walk-through. "Wedding planning can be very stressful," she says. "This is a more relaxing, fun thing to do."