Who: Meredith Waga Perez
What: Available to lend bridal bouquet expertise and flower crown creation skills at upcoming BRIDES event Wedding Worthy
When: March 3rd, 2016
Where: Manhattan, NY
By Day: Founder of Belle Fleur NY, experienced celebrity wedding floral designer and elite event curator
By Night: Former fashion designer and ultimate branding expert
When it comes to curating, planning and designing wedding florals and event spaces, bridal bouquet expert Meredith Waga Perez certainly knows her stuff. As Creative Director and founder of the luxurious Belle Fleur NY, a premier York City floral design boutique and event design firm, the industry expert takes a special pride in the hands-on approach she has with her brides.
And that's saying a lot, considering the high-profile status afforded to much of her clientele – the likes of which include celebrities, fashion designers, and stylish socialites.
With a sensibility and personal taste that is equally refined, elegant and luxe, my one-on-one with Meredith was enlightening, to say the least. More than that, it was intriguing to hear the shift in trends in the wedding industry straight from one of its top experts, and especially one who is clearly so invested in leaving brides and guests alike with "the most memorable experience" that Belle Fleur possibly can.
So without further ado, here's everything you need to know – and all the tips we were able to glean from her – on how to pull off the perfect floral arrangements and wedding decor when it comes to planning that big day.
Stay open to trying different textures and being creative with different floral combinations.
"The beauty of inspiration is that it can be found anywhere and everywhere," Meredith shares. "And it’s a matter of keeping your eyes open. We are very spoiled in NYC, we have such incredible access to some of the most incredible flowers, so sometimes it’s simply a stroll through the flower market, and the search for inspiration is easy to find.
[But it] has to do a lot with seasonality as well. What flowers are we able to get our hands on for the season?
Another determining factor in deciding the direction for decor is getting a true sense of the space. The floor plan, the architecture and the overall decor of the venue. Certain spaces in New York City dictate the color palette and ultimately even the floral selection for the design. Personally, we prefer to go against the grain and surprise the guests with a departure of what’s expected and embrace a more interesting juxtaposition of style.
Inspiration can come from the most obscure places, but we tend to be great listeners with our clients and take our cue from them. It’s so much more authentic when we can pull something personal from the couple. It’s our job to interpret something from “their story” and translate it through flowers and design.
Of course, [at] Belle Fleur, we have our signature look and we most definitely have our favorite flowers, but we inherently know that our job is to embrace the vision of the bride and groom... or the groom and groom, or the bride and bride. It’s all about the couple and that exploration adds to the newness of all the events we plan. I can honestly say that with the plethora of weddings we design, each one is so different than the next," Meredith continues passionately.
For the bride on a budget: Opt for flowers that will make a statement when arranging a standout floral arrangement.
I was sure to ask Meredith what she'd go for in arranging spectacular event decor. One grandiose, showstopper of a centerpiece? Floral garlands? What's her pick?
She responded, “ For clients with a budget, I would suggest to have their designer work with big-faced flowers, such as billowing fluffy hydrangeas, luscious peonies, and those over-sized fully bloomed cabbage roses. There is so much more look and impact with those decadent florals and because you don’t need to use as many, the overall cost is lower. It’s those delicate little gems that seem to add up quickly, perhaps just incorporate those petite blooms in the personal flowers.
"So I would start by getting feature flowers in there. Size does count, if you want to make a grand [statement]. If you’re on a low budget, that is a way of getting a wow statement.
Another fabulous way to save is to add a lot of candle light to the table setting. It’s pretty incredible how effective votive candles and candlesticks are to the overall style of the table design. The warm glow and the intimate ambiance is imperative for any evening wedding reception. It creates formality and also softens the flowers that much more."
Make sure your vision for the different celebratory events surrounding your special day is cohesive.
According to the experts, the top mistake brides make when it comes to wedding planning, at least in terms of decor, would have to be trying to do too much. In other words, take a step back – and yes, Bridezillas, do less! Lacking the ability to decide on and refine a cohesive vision will only result in the variety of celebratory events surrounding your special day not coming together as a whole.
Remember: It's part of the expert's job to help you bring everything together in one smooth executive vision, one that will ultimately result in your special day being the best and most beautiful it can be.
Go for continuity when it comes to decor.
Meredith shared, "Pinterest has been both a blessing and a curse for designers. The positives would be that the bride has so much more access to the world of design, so they tend to get that much more involved with strong opinions. However, there are times when that access leads to indecisiveness – there are simply so many looks to fall in love with. A bride could easily love rich jewel tones, but she also favors white; yet she has a penchant for feminine pastels. It’s our job to assist in editing the process so that there is a clear cohesiveness. The client needs to trust the designer so that the event feels curated, in an uncontrived fashion.
Everything needs to make sense," the floral designer continues. "There’s gotta be a purpose for every flower that’s chosen. The recipe in the floral centerpiece has gotta [have] continuity with the flowers that we’re using in the church… or the personal flowers that the women are carrying. There’s gotta be continuity.
Remember to prioritize your flowers.
Maybe you haven't hired an expert, and that's definitely achievable too. You can absolutely use your floral arrangements as a creative outlet to refine your overall aesthetic and overarching theme. But if you have hired one, and he or she has anything like the twenty years of experience in the industry that one Meredith Perez does, then here's a gentle reminder to be open to working with them.
And whether you've got the extra helping hand or not, that doesn't change the fact that according to the experts, standout decor needs to incorporate florals. When the bridal bouquet expert shares her fashion design background with us, it's easy to see where she finds her inspiration, both personally and professionally. "I went to Parsons, and lived in Paris; fashion for me has kind of played a huge role in my inspiration," she tells us. #CareerGoals, anyone?
You can never go wrong with a sense of classic sophistication.
The right person can change your wedding. With a background working for Calvin Klein, and in studying to be a fashion designer before finding her calling in florals, Meredith's taste has been called the pinnacle of refined and romantic, and she was happy to open up even more about her background when we asked her about it.
"For me, flowers are no different than fabric," Meredith told us. "A bouquet could reflect a certain genre of design much like the silhouette and style of a dress. The principles of color theory, texture, scale and proportion are the key components in both disciplines. I suppose that’s why it was such an easy transition for me, I couldn’t be any happier that I made the switch. But what I didn’t expect to carry over was the business side of branding. I learned much of this at my stint at Calvin.
[When] we think of well-branded fashion houses, Calvin is right up there, like Ralph Lauren, like Donna Karan. You kind of immediately know what their brand is all about, without even having to look through a magazine to find them. We can immediately conjure it up in our heads.
I may have become a skilled designer from working for those powerhouses, but more importantly, I learned who I was as a designer and applied those principles and philosophies to my own business. It’s amazingly cumulative, those precious foundation and formative years at Parsons, and then moving onto designing for such big players in fashion, to eventually falling head over heals in love with flowers and nurturing my boutique business, Belle Fleur."
Think of it this way: She could have been designing wedding dresses, but Meredith was ultimately more passionate about designing wedding event spaces and floral arrangements to make each and every bride she works with have the memorable experience they want and deserve. At the end of the day, she's bringing dreams to life – and I can't think of a more lovely aspiration to have.
For brides-to-be in the NYC area: Join BRIDES for their new event series, Wedding Worthy, in which local brides can attend to learn insight for their impending nuptials from top industry experts. Learn how to create the perfect bridal bouquet or flower crown from Meredith Waga Perez. Purchase tickets here for the March 3rd event.