Lovestills sits down with Benita, founder of local wedding floral brand Florals by Benita, to learn more about what inspires her floral aesthetic and all that goes on behind the scenes to create those stunning floral masterpieces on the big day!
Q: Hello Benita! Tell us more about how you came to pick up your skills in floristry?
After graduating from university I began serving my 4-year bond at SPH. I worked as a reporter for The New Paper, writing a mix of news and feature stories. In my final year, I took up a floral arrangement course at a local flower school which conducted courses on weekday evenings. It proved a welcome distraction from my day job.
The course covered the basics of working with flowers like how to condition them and working with foam, but I would say most of my current skill set was picked up from countless practice sessions in private, through reading books on floral arrangement books as well as watching instructional videos online. One of the most useful processes for me was looking at pictures on Pinterest and experimenting privately to recreate a similar shape, form or feel.
After leaving the newsroom, I knew wanted a career switch so I decided to leave and do my own thing. Thankfully things worked out and here I am, after 3 years.
Q: Use three words to describe your floral aesthetic.
Lush, feminine, and romantic
Q: What would you say differentiates Florals by Benita from other florists who offer flowers for weddings?
Hmmm. I would say the shape of my arrangements, the flowers I pick, as well as the way I interpret a given color scheme or design brief.
Q: There are so many gorgeous wedding floral trends / looks. What are some of your favorite to create?
I like lush, organic looks. Where a variety of a flowers fillers and foliage are used to create something that reminds you of ‘restrained chaos’.
Q: Take us through a typical wedding consultation process with a bride.
When a bride first approaches me to enquire for her wedding flowers, I first ask for wedding date (super important!) and a list of items she is considering (mostly done over email and whatsapp unless venue decor and set up is required). If she requires styling, a specialized moodboard for the entire event, or provision of props, I may refer her to a wedding stylist.
If she already knows what she wants, I proceed to send her a quote after understanding her requirements, especially her color scheme and the overall feel she’s trying to achieve with the flowers. If she is engaging me for a venue setup, I will do a brief venue recce where we discuss the arrangements in further detail. Once confirmed, I will reserve time in my work schedule for her wedding.
Q: Do you have any recommendations on what flowers are best/worst in what seasons?
Many Singapore brides snub roses because they think they’re so common..and well, they are BUT! Our suppliers are bringing in Kenyan roses in such a large variety that I think they deserve more consideration. They’re getting more ruffled in their centers, they come in so many colors and they do GREAT in our terribly hot and humid weather. I never worry when I work with roses. Carnations and lisanthus are also very very dependable. Another underrated flower, which is one of my favorites is alstromeria. They also come in a variety of shades which is very useful for florists like me who are constantly trying to concoct recipes which are faithful to the color theme and overall vision of the client.
Flowers which make me worry in our weather include hydrangeas, dahlias, and occasionally, peonies. Hydrangeas don’t always do well out of water for long hours, dahlias especially the dinner plate varieties often shed their petals, and peonies bloom sometimes uncontrollably because of our weather. Unfortunately these also tend to be a few of the favorites of brides here. Ranunculus too! They don’t last as well as trusty roses, carnations and eustomas (they often have weak necks which snap) but brides keep requesting for them.
Q: What are some of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job?
Let’s start with the good things first. It is incredibly, amazingly rewarding when brides text or write back after the wedding to tell me they loved what I made and that they received compliments for the flowers. This is what has kept me going through the hard times. I never take compliments from the brides for granted, I always feels so grateful to receive good feedback. The exhilaration and euphoria I feel when they say thanks has been what has kept me from throwing in the towel (in those times I’ve felt like doing so).
The challenges are...endless. It is common for me to be unable to sleep well one or two night before a major setup. I worry about logistics and mechanics...the stability of structures, whether things will stay in place or sag. Assurance from my husband, as well as experience gained through previous setups keeps me sane.
Working with brides can also be very challenging. I do flowers for one of the biggest days of their life..and the stress can be overwhelming at times. Even if they aren’t stressing me out. I stress myself out! Nailing down a way to co-design the flowers with a bride hasn’t been easy but thankfully I have that pat down now. It’s about listening to what they want, because they’re the clients, but also retaining your voice as a creative vendor, and educating them on certain constraints that we may face being located on a tiny island which doesn’t grow much, if any at all, of the flowers used. We import a majority of our flowers, and many of them are a bit different from what you see on Pinterest. Florists abroad can buy directly from local farms and forage for their foliage and other material, which is not legal in Singapore.
Q: In your mind, is there an ideal Florals by Benita bride?
YES there is! Definitely. The ideal Florals by Benita bride has seen Benita’s portfolio and trusts her skills, aesthetic and taste. She knows what she wants in terms of her colour scheme and the overall look of the flowers but she has an open mind always, and welcomes suggestions. She does not require a recipe or mockup beforehand, and respects floristry as a labour-intensive craft. Finally, she sees flowers as they are-a beautiful addition to her wedding decor but not the bedrock or foundation of her marriage or future happiness!
Q: Of the many weddings you have worked on, have you ever had a bride and groom that challenged you to do something that you absolutely loved?
I had a bride who wanted to have yellow as a main color in her wedding flowers. This was really memorable for me because of the hundreds of bouquets I’ve done, yellow has never been a requirement. Brides usually like shades like blush, peach, burgundy and white. I really liked the outcome.
Q: Last but not least, any tips or wisdom to impart to future brides looking for their dream wedding florals?
It is good to have a vision and overall direction for how you want your wedding to look like. This provides cues for your vendors, and feel free to communicate what you want to them. But keep an open mind if things need to change along the way. Trust that your vendors want to do their best for you.
Be kind to your vendors and generous with thanks/praise, because this will motivate them to go the extra extra mile for you in whatever they do.
Check out the work of different vendors before enquiring with the selected few, and pick the one which best suits your aesthetic preference and budget. Respect that as much as they strive to please you as the client, they may also have creative perspectives they wish to explore through their work. Never ask them to replicate or copy the work of another vendor, especially if the other vendor operates in the same country as them.
Finally, remember that flowers are beautiful but they are not integral to your marriage or happiness. It is perfectly respectable and fine to get married without lavish decorations involving flowers. But if you wish for flowers to be part of your wedding setup, remember that most of the blooms here are imported and hence inevitably pricey. They are put together by human hands (and not machines), and hence cost what they do. Please respect the creative vendor who has put in his / her hard work and effort and try not to bargain! :)
For brides looking for a romantic & feminine style of wedding florals, do visit Florals by Benita's website to see more of her beautiful work (all images in this article has been kindly provided by Florals by Benita) or drop them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to get to know them better!