Choose decorative elements to fit your style

When it comes to decking an autumn wedding out with flowers and other foliage, Heather Merchant, owner and designer at Love Flowers Shenandoah, said it comes down to a balancing act between rustic and elegant, trendy and traditional.

Because so many flowers end up “fizzling out” in the late summer Virginia sun, Merchant ends up importing many of her flowers from California, some from growers that specialize in distinct choices like dahlias or orchids.

To keep it local, brides can choose more nontraditional decorative flora like apples, willow branches and wheat. The designers at Love Flowers forage through forests for a few distinctive elements in the autumn arrangement arsenal like nandina, red maple leaves and moss.

“It’s super popular for studios on the west coast because they have so much to forage for, but there’s definitely stuff here in the valley that you can use,” Merchant said.

Brides can also find a balance to strike between trends found online at sites like Pinterest and more classic wedding traditions. Certain eye-catching wedding pieces like popular densely-packed arrangements of flowers seen online may not turn out to be exactly what a planning bride expects.

“At a show, we try to create those pieces,” Merchant said. “It’s one thing to see it online, but it’s another thing to see it in person.”

Samantha Greenfield, operating Samantha Greenfield Designs in Floral Artistry out of Strasburg, said that while brides can find a lot of inspiration on Pinterest, certain pieces created for photoshoots can end up proving to be a bit too much – visually and monetarily. The wildflower motif is more expensive than some may assume, but more organic material and greenery can supplement arrangements for that wild look.

She incorporates natural fall elements like mini gourds, dried leaves and grasses and gathers goldenrod and Queen Anne’s lace from the area.

Greenfield said she gravitates toward more diverse color palettes outside the typical fall tones or classic white. Solid color bouquets can lose a lot of depth in photographs, but throwing in a few blooms of contrasting color will mix things up.

“I would like to see brides be open minded … to a designer’s suggestions even though they might sound kind of unusual,” she said.

Colors in the fall wedding palette also shift with the season: Weddings that land on the earlier end when the leaves are bright can incorporate the rich hues in pumpkin and red, while those into late October and November may delve into deeper shades of plum and garnet accompanied by paler neutral colors.

The autumn palette is just as colorful as other seasons – if not moreso – but the vibrancy is balanced out by dusty colors, even with some of the greenery itself. Frosted leaves that are soft and fuzzy to the touch like lamb’s ear, eucalyptus and dusty miller can mute bouquets and arrangements in any season, toning down the brighter greens more associated with spring and summer.

No matter what the time of season or the color scheme, couples need to check off a chat with their florist anywhere from six months up to a year out from their big day.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com