At ARJ, we know how much of an effect beautiful floral arrangements can have on an event. We are here to help! Soon after you’ve chosen a date, you’ll want to begin building a vision board, setting a budget and researching potential floral designers. Also, be sure and take the time to learn the lingo so you’ll be able to communicate your vision better.

We sat down with one of our favorites, the super talented Jeff Johnson of Blue Vanda Designs, a California native and fourth generation floral designer. His family operates the acclaimed Mark’s Gardens in Los Angeles and he created his own company, Square Root Design, a favorite of celebrities and Southern California elite. He and his wife met in Hawaii then eventually moved back to her hometown in the Annapolis area to raise their two daughters.

ARJ: Is there anything “west coast” you’d like to see us easterners adopt?

JJ: If I could change one thing, it would be for people to be open to other ideas. Don’t just mimic what’s been done over the past few years. Keep an open mind. Don’t be afraid to mix old elements with new. Like natural wood and grapevine with sophisticated vases. People here tend to be fairly conservative, so I like to see them step out of that box.

ARJ: What is the first step in the process of designing for your clients?

JJ: I ask them how they picture their day. It’s not about me, it’s about them. One of the most important components is color, so I ask to look at their vision board and get an idea of what colors they are drawn to. What I really do for a living is put colors together that work. I’ve done it almost all my life so it just comes naturally. it’s like with musical notes or with food, there are infinite ways to combine flowers too, but not all are going to work together well. You also have to consider the colors in the surroundings of the event space too. If it’s outdoors, there is the green grass and the blue sky to work with, if indoors, the colors in that venue’s flooring, walls, furniture, etc. You want them all to work together beautifully.

ARJ: Where should clients start when drafting a floral budget?

JJ: The biggest driver is guest count. That really determines a lot. How many tables, how many bridesmaids bouquets, that kind of thing. And what tends to get overlooked is labor. There’s packaging, delivery, placement, transfer to the reception from the church, all that. There are certain things you don’t do often and you want done really well. Like your taxes. You hire an experienced professional because you don’t want to stress out about it and you want it done right. Factor that about 30 percent of your floral budget will be labor.

ARJ: What would you say is Blue Vanda’s signature style?

JJ: We are known for being full and lush, not skimpy. I like things to look beautiful and have an impact. If I can’t do that, I shouldn’t take the job. I protect my brand, but I also try to protect people from themselves. I try to gauge expectation level, Pinterest has done a number on people. I’ve never had a client call and say they were unhappy. I want that to continue.

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