Stop & Smell...the Peonies: A Guide to Event Floral Design

Walking through the flower district on 28th street, you will be literally surrounded by choices.

On my walk to meet with Merriel Weston, a veteran florist with nearly 25 years of experience, I passed through what seemed like a pop-up jungle. To my right were small bushes and imposing conifer trees, on my left, gorgeous bright flowers, climbing vines and tall grasses. Despite the appearance, I was not in a jungle, I was walking along 28th street's famous flower district on my way to get Merriel's words of wisdom on event floral design.

For someone unfamiliar with planning for and purchasing flower arrangements, the choices can be daunting. What is in season? What fits with your brand or event theme? Do you want large arrangements, something more discreet or both? How does your event venue factor in to your choice of floral arrangements? 

I tackled these questions with the help of an experienced and talented florist. Below are some quick, high impact tips to get you on your way to incorporating floral design into your next event.

A selection of arrangements in the studio. These were all created for the same event and kept with the white color scheme while varying in texture and type of flower to create variety and different points of interest.

A selection of arrangements in the studio. These were all created for the same event and kept with the white color scheme while varying in texture and type of flower to create variety and different points of interest.

Q: What are the top factors to consider when creating floral design for an event? 

  • The venue's architectural details. For example, if the venue has high ceilings, consider creating taller plants or flowers or having a large centerpiece. If the venue has large window sills, can you place arrangements at each one?
  • Guest interaction & Event flow. If you are creating centerpiece or table accent arrangements, make sure your guests can see one another across the table. For your centerpiece, make sure it's near the point where guests will congregate most - at a bar or food station may be a good option depending on the size of the space.
  • Seasonality. In the spring Cherry Blossoms, Pear Blossoms, and Magnolias are a great way to reflect the season and create a feeling of Spring indoors. In June, peonies and lilacs are abundant choices. In the Fall, berries and dahlias are local, readily available to usher in the brisker weather. For more guidelines of what flowers are available by season, see here.
Succulents are readily available in the summer and a unique and hardy choice.

Succulents are readily available in the summer and a unique and hardy choice.

Q: What are some considerations when choosing flowers or plants for your arrangements?

  • Your brand / cause and the event's mood. Consider what mood you want to create for your event and how you want your guests to feel. For example, bright or intensely colored flowers may foster a sense of excitement while subdued, earthy succulents may have more of a calming, comforting effect.
  • Color and texture. When selecting items for your arrangements, consider the texture of each selection you make. The arrangement pictured below has not only varying colors but also vary textures to create interesting contrast in a subtle way, while maintaining the overall white color theme.
  • Budget. Floral and plant arrangements can become costly. If you are working within a strict budget, consider having one large or high-impact piece and then complimentary small arrangements throughout the space in areas that guests will see such as check-in, on the bar, or on cocktail furniture and in lounge areas.
This bouquet uses varied textures and colors to create a truly stunning arrangement while evoking a classic look. Each element of the bouquet, from the peonies to the hydrangeas, was chosen for how it would ultimately contribute to the final look.

This bouquet uses varied textures and colors to create a truly stunning arrangement while evoking a classic look. Each element of the bouquet, from the peonies to the hydrangeas, was chosen for how it would ultimately contribute to the final look.

About Merriel Weston Merriel Weston has been a florist for nearly 25 years, first in Malibu for 7 years and then in New York City for the past 17 years. Her clients include, Estee Lauder, FedEx, Financial Times, and numerous private clients. For more about Merriel as well as photos of her work, see her website.

Merriel Weston, founder of Merriel Weston Floral Design, poses in the walk-in plant refrigerator.

Merriel Weston, founder of Merriel Weston Floral Design, poses in the walk-in plant refrigerator.