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Flower Power

Finding the right florist for your big event



Pottery, sculpture, locally created artwork, and other one-of-a-kind, eclectic “treasures” are scattered throughout Nehapwa Design, Tom Uberuaga’s modern flower shop.

Photos by Megan Haley

Sweet and romantic or minimal and modern? Strong and sparse or dense and lush? These are just a few of the feelings that flowers can impart for a big event—whether a wedding, bar or bat mitzvah, first communion, or milestone birthday party. For area florists, the key is specializing in finding just the right blooms for every client, while staying true to the unique aesthetic that sets each one apart.

“Every artist has a different brush stroke or palette. It is the same with floral designers,” says Tom Uberuaga, owner of Nehapwa Design in Pound Ridge. The store, which opened in late 2016 and recently moved to the space next to Plum Plums Cheese on Westchester Avenue, prides itself on sturdy, dense designs with flowers that Uberuaga processes and cuts himself.

At Hedgerow, around the corner, owner Dana Worlock agrees that every florist brings a unique vision, and customers should seek out the one that best matches the feeling they hope to create for their event. 

“Other florists might do whatever a client wants, but we are true to our vision,” she says of her shop. She describes her flower style as “loose and free and natural,” taking inspiration from Japanese designers, the art world, fashion—even what’s going on in society. “I would rather be happy and making something that’s amazing than making a buck.”

Wild and rustic are the favored flower fashion of late. “A lot of clients tell us they want it to look like we just pulled the flowers out of the garden,” continues Worlock, who counts Blue Hill at Stone Barns among her clients. “Big, over-the-top flowers are over. They may be coming back in the city, but for us out here, it’s not what we do.”

Taking a flower dream and making it a reality is also the goal at Bedford Village Flower Shoppe. “Our aim and goal is to make sure we nail down what is really in the bride and groom’s imagination, or the mind of the mother of twins making a bar or bat mitzvah, and make it real,” says owner Lauren Chillemi. “We are thinking outside the box and fulfilling the client’s needs.”

Beyond-the-box thinking is often exactly what clients seek, the florists concurred. The shop owners recommend that customers come in with an idea of what they are hoping for—whether it is a feeling, flowers they like (or dislike), a list of what’s in season at the time of their event, or just the overall look of the party space. 

Other important facts to bring to the flower shop: how many people will attend the event, the color palette they are going for, what time of day the event is happening, and the venue. And, of course, the big question: budget. From these responses, the florists can work their blossom magic.

But initial and ongoing in-person consultation is key. “The client can explain what they are looking for,” says Chillemi. “It’s a collaborative effort.”

Especially when you are working with a florist for the first time. “For someone who doesn’t already know their florist, it comes down to a personal connection,” says Worlock. “It is usually a momentous occasion, and they want the person controlling the flowers to be on board and communicating with them.”

So what should a client review before selecting a florist? Customers should begin with shop research. “Look at the web site and Instagram,” says Uberuaga. “And talk to the florist directly.”

Many arrive at flower shops without ideas—just hopes and dreams. They feel they are not creative or don’t know enough about flowers. Floral designers will come to the rescue.

Uberuaga says that after the first few meetings with a potential client, he will usually make a mock arrangement so people can really get a sense of what the final flowers might look like. “Even if it is just four or five flowers in a vase, they can get an idea,” he says. “I’d encourage everyone to ask for that.”

Mostly, the florists say, it comes down to relationships—either ones that have been built up over time or new ones that are being created through open communication.

Beyond that, local floral designers believe in the power of an authentic aesthetic. “It is so important to stay true to your own vision,” says Worlock. “Otherwise, you will disappoint yourself and the client.”

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