VENDOR INTERVIEW || Brenna of Thistle and Lace Florals

Have you ever had questions about wedding flowers but didn’t know how to ask them? You’re told you need a bridal bouquet, bridesmaids bouquets, boutonnières, corsages, centerpieces, ceremony decor….where do you even begin? And then they cost how much?! Can’t you just do it yourself? (P.S. please don’t do it yourself!)

Meet Brenna Reppert. She’s a local Knoxville floral designer. We connected at a wedding last spring and then she helped me with a styled shoot in March. I love how wild yet elegant her work feels - a huge thank you to Brenna for taking the time to answer these! Check out all of her incredible work here.

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How did you get started in floral design? What’s your favorite part of your job?

I got started by doing my own wedding in 2010. I really enjoyed planning and designing my wedding, even though I didn't do my own flowers the day of. My mom actually did all the arranging, but I planned everything out and picked all the flowers. We bought things at yard sales and Hobby Lobby, and collected tubs of decor from my parent's house and all my aunts. After my wedding I had several people tell me how much they loved my wedding and asked if I could do theirs, and so I did my first full wedding in 2013. At the time, I thought I wanted to plan, coordinate, AND do florals. I quickly found out that this was not a good idea! I learned that planning and coordinating kept taking me away from doing flowers and decorating and I was always bummed my focus wasn't there. Over the next few years I started taking planning and coordinating out of my packages until I found I had a sustaining business with florals alone.

My favorite part about my job is that florals are a beautiful piece of art that only lasts for a short while. It constantly reminds you to stay present and appreciate what is around you.

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Okay, so I think most brides want to know more about prices. Talk a little about all the work that goes on behind the scenes and why wedding flowers can seem so expensive. How can couples prepare for a realistic flower budget? How do you work with couples on a tight budget?

Pricing for flowers is challenging because there is a lot of work that the client doesn't see on the other side. Most people's reference for flower pricing is a bundle of flowers that they buy at a grocery store. For a wedding, I am typically working several weeks ahead on an event to get timelines settled, buying materials, putting the floral order in, and not to mention the hours that go into finalizing quotes and and contracts beforehand. A typical wedding starts prep about three days out, like washing buckets to ensure they are germ free. Prepping flowers typically takes 3 - 5 hours for a standard sized wedding. And then of course there is design time to make all of the floral pieces. There’s also the factor of packaging everything up to ensure it arrives safely and not damaged. Lastly, the actual wedding day typically runs 10 - 12 hours on our end.

When you start to plan your wedding, keep in mind that a larger wedding party and a larger guest count will make your floral budget go up. Many other factors can affect your budget as well, such as flower choices; peonies, garden roses, orchids, and ranunculus are going to put you into a higher priced tier. Your florist should be able to help you and tell you what floral pieces to put these higher priced items in and what areas it might be good to cut back on, and use a cheaper option that still has your look. I choose to quote each client based on their exact needs, instead of putting packages together that might over or under charge for what they need. You can always ask your potential florist if they have a minimum starting price. A lot of florists have flat fees for coming on site. You should also keep in mind that while every florist can probably do about any style, make sure what they are posting on their website and social media align with a final look you'd be happy with overall. For example, I design very organically, using foraged elements frequently. Even though I can do tight round traditional arrangements, that is not my expertise or desired look. So you may find that your look is more suited to a different designer, and you will receive pricing from a florist who is well versed in doing the designs you want.

I am happy to work with budgets as much as I possibly can. I offer a la carte options for brides who may not be in need of full service wedding florals. My advice for those brides is to have a florist do their wedding party florals (bridal bouquet, bridesmaid bouquets, boutonnieres), or even do the bridal bouquet and the ceremony arbor. Pick the items that are most important to you and pay a professional to do those. 

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Do you have a favorite underrated flower or trend that you wish couples would use more? How do you get creative with common trends that you see over and over?

My favorite flower is Foxgloves so I want to put those in everything! I really like the look of several different styles of florals mixed together and maybe one large statement flower. This creates a lot of texture and makes the design unique. It is also a good way to get a nice variation of colors and elevate a color scheme.

The most common trend I see is blush, sage, and ivory with a rustic vibe. Rustic can be great, but I've been shown the same 5 photos of the same bouquet for 4 years now when asked to do that style. With that being said, it has challenged me to put my own spin to this look and color scheme. My personal take on rustic is more of a whimsical mountain feel. I want the flowers and greenery to be elements that are foraged in the area and help bring the natural surroundings into your florals. You can still incorporate those fluffy white and pink flowers, but bring life to them by adding in local and seasonal flowers you don't see all the time. That way your wedding is unique compared to the other brides that will have your theme and colors.

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Can you talk about seasonal flowers and the price fluctuations? Are there times in the year where certain flowers just aren’t available? What flowers work best for certain seasons and when are they the cheapest/most expensive?

We are very lucky that we are able to import most flowers throughout the year! However, just because you can get them year round doesn't always mean they look the best if they are out of their peak season. For example, anemones are available year round but they look the best during winter and spring, which is their blooming time. May is definitely the priciest month for flowers. Not only is it one of the most popular months to get married, but you are also competing with Mother's Day, so flower prices go up all around. Even greenery goes up during May. Fall months like October and November seem to be the time where you can get the biggest bang for your buck. There are a lot of different varieties of mums and other seasonal flowers that can give you a heavy floral look with a lot of color options.

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What advice do you have for newly engaged couples who are just starting this process?

Start by deciding which elements are most important to you for your wedding: photography, flowers, venue, food, attire, etc. Once you know those things you can begin to budget accordingly and spread your money around. I am obviously partial to flowers, but I know that may not be on the top of the list for everyone. If flowers aren't super important to you, I'd suggest going with a local storefront shop or somewhere that mass produces flowers, instead of a boutique style business like mine.

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