Ask The Experts: Special Touch Floral
Esther Ryan, the owner of Special Touch, owns one of Spokane’s best floral shops. Esther has worked in the floral industry since she was young in a friend’s floral shop. This lead her to discover her love of florals. Today, Special Touch has been in business for over 24 years. It is not hard to understand why, as whenever Special Touch comes to the Estate, Esther creates the most beautiful floral arrangements to decorate the venue. We are always so excited to see what unique and creative designs that Esther comes up with.
How would you describe your style?
The most fun I can have is recreating a vision that someone has in their mind for their “perfect” flowers. I have learned to ask a lot of questions. and if I do not ask a lot of questions it leaves room for error and I honestly never want that. When I first started designing I tried to do some things that are not typical. I can do typical, and I still often have a call for it, but I love the creative freedom of floral design and if I have a chance to do something that no one has seen before I love that!!
When a Bride asks me to do Big and lush with lots of texture I am in heaven. I don’t do small real easy, I have to keep telling myself to back it down a bit. The bigger the better as far as I am concerned!! I love a lot of the beautiful greenery and flowers that make a statement. in the late spring I could use peonies all day and never get tired of them, and in the summer and fall I get the same enjoyment from Dahlias, and I will never ever be tired of Orchids.
What is the min amt of time that should be allotted for delivery and setup?
Most weddings don’t take too long to set up, we like to be well on our way before the guests start arriving, generally we go after the pictures have all started. We have a few weddings every year that we are at for a few hours at least but most of them only take between 30 and 90 minutes to get fully delivered.
When we are booked to deliver a wedding for a bride, we like to be sure that we are there before the photographer does a “first look”.
I usually don’t see anyone who is ahead of schedule and that is o.k. with us, we understand how much time it takes to get ready on a wedding day. So for us it is good to remind the bride that she does not have to pad the time that we should be there, she just need to get a timeline from the photographer. We like to make sure that we are not a vendor to worry about on the wedding day, we will get there and set up all of the flowers and when we see that there are a few people ready for their personal flowers, we like to be able to pin them on as well. It is actually kind of fun!
Is it more helpful for a couple to provide specifics about the arrangements or provide vague ideas?
People ask me all the time if I am sick of Pinterest. I have to say NO. I love the thousands of pictures that are very current and with so many styles presented. In the old days, we had books that were hundreds of dollars and they had a good number of pictures in them but what happens when they are out-dated? Plus, how many times do I want to make that same bouquet listed on page 125!! ARGHH! It is alright for people with no creativity but that makes a designer crazy. Not very often has a bride brought in a picture she found on Pinterest or elsewhere and said she wanted it exactly like it is shown. It may not be the right color or the right size or have the right flower in it. Perfect, let me make a few changes to it and personalize it just for that bride. I love that. It is easy for me to see what the style is for the wedding but still make it fit in theme and color, and budget. Some of the things we see on the internet and in magazines are breath-taking, and there is often a price tag that goes with that. If we need to fit a budget and still keep a look like the inspiration photos, we will have to get a bit creative, but it can almost always be accomplished. I get a call now and again and am asked if we have a package. I just can find no good way to do that. I have never seen two weddings that were even remotely similar. A custom wedding order is the only way to be sure that you have what you need and only what you need.
How do we find flowers in season?
Flower growers are all over the world. We can get flowers from Peru, Columbia, Thailand, Hawaii, Italy, Holland, California and many other places. The best way to get flowers for a wedding that may be happening is when it is winter here, is to go South! The growers in South America grow flowers year around. They do not have every flower in every color but it is pretty close. Every year I find more growers that are making available flowers that used to be very seasonal. Alaska started shipping out Peonies in August September and October but the shipping is a killer on that one. When it is winter here, it is summer in Australia and they grow flowers that we can get any time. Flowers of course have to be shipped and we are very blessed that FED-Ex does a great job of getting us flowers on time 98% of the time. I can order flowers on line on Monday and have them in my store on Wednesday, I re-hydrate them and they are fresh and beautiful and last for a very long time.
Any last hints that might be helpful?
A wedding floral professional is not really like a traditional florist. We do 70% of our yearly volume between May and October because we are specifically focused on weddings we do a lot of them. We have the skill and the personnel to handle a heavy schedule all summer.
My biggest thought to make wedding planning easier is to do everything earlier than the little book with the timeline in it says to.
I see some of them saying to book your flowers 3-6 months in advance, well, what if you are getting married in August and you come and see me in May? Yes, that is 3 months, but in May, I have less appointment time available to sit and spend the time I want to with a couple. Plus, I may already be booked for the date you are getting married! I would love to have the first visit with a couple as soon as they pick a date and a venue. Nothing I write on a wedding order is permanent until a few weeks before the wedding, so there is no problem making changes to an order. I like an initial meeting and then a follow up or a phone call whenever a change is made or a question needs to be answered. Change is inevitable. Many times the initial conversation just has to do with pricing and that is fine too. You may not feel like you are ready to make a commitment to wedding flowers but coming in sooner rather than later is the key to getting what you want., even if you are not sure what that is at the moment.
Generally, our floral studio is very quiet from November through March. The bridal festivals happen January through March so that is a great time to start planning a wedding. Flower orders should be started at that time as well. Make a phone call and an appointment and come in to a talk about flowers. It is fun. Trust me!