Some of you know Elianna Phelps from her work at Bride & Blossom as Director of Operations. Much has changed for Elianna in the last year, personally and professionally. She became the mother of two and launched her own business, Aureate Florals – a custom floral design company specializing in corporate and private events. Taking such a leap when so much is going on in life takes passion, drive, and experience. Elianna seized the opportunity and we couldn’t be more excited for her.
Always looking for creative female entrepreneurs on the rise, we couldn’t think of a better person than Elianna to interview for our Women Paving the Aisle series. Here she talks about her visual arts background, passion for flowers, creative inspirations and favorite celebrity weddings of all time.
Congratulations on your new business! When did your passion for flowers and design start?
My journey to a career in floral design and events happened by chance. I never would have expected to be where I am today, but I also would not change a thing. After graduating from my MFA program, I needed a job right away. I was unsure of which direction to take, but knew that I did not want to go back to working in an art gallery. On a whim, I answered an AD seeking help in the floral industry. Somehow, with no experience, I got the job! I knew I had a lot to learn about flower names and care, event logistics, etc. but my years of training in fine arts had taught me the foundations of color and form. This seemed like such a great opportunity utilize my creativity and passion for being a maker. Six years later, all I think about are flowers, day and night. Much of my time is spent ruminating on ideas of different flower combinations and installation logistics, and browsing the hundreds of Instagram accounts of event professionals.
In addition to weddings, you also do corporate and private events. Can you tell us more about your services?
I love weddings. After months of planning and collaborating, it’s such a pleasure to have everything come together and see glowing brides on their wedding day. However, corporate and private events offer a nice change of pace. For example, a really fun project I did this year was with a high-end men’s clothing company that was having a big event to announce its partnership with Baume watches. The company is passionate about sustainability, so we created a fourteen feet long wall covered in greenery with their logo laser cut out of OSB board. Corporate events have a completely different dynamic than weddings. You are given creative license, but must work within a set of parameters outlined by the corporate client. I also had the opportunity to make arrangements for an opening dinner reception at an art gallery I worked at years ago. We have plans to do another exhibition opening together. Right now, it feels like everything is coming full circle.
Many of our readers don’t know this about you, but you have an MFA in Visual Arts. How do you see your background in art informing your floral design work?
My background in visual art definitely informs my floral work. Everything I do, see and experience influences me as an artist and floral designer. It’s like a subconscious visual log that comes into play when needed. Just seeing an exhibition on jewelry or fashion and how designers juxtapose and appropriate different elements, textures, and colors can give inspiration in florals, whether I am conscious of it or not. It’s the same when I am creating art.
You are just getting started, but Aureate Florals already has a distinctive look and feel. How would you describe your style and aesthetic?
I try to use the flowers and greenery that are in season as much as possible. My approach to design and styling is heavily inspired by the romance of Dutch still-life painting and the drama of Baroque art.
Let’s talk weddings. What do you like most about designing flowers for a couple’s big day?
For someone to entrust you with helping set the mood for one of the most important days in their life is a big honor. And wedding flowers are one of the most personal elements of a wedding. For me, it’s very important to meet my clients in person, because we do end up forming a close relationship during the wedding planning process. I am working with many of them for up to a year, sometimes more. We are constantly going back and forth on ideas and design and styling – I look at it as more of a collaboration. I always enjoy designing décor points of interest such as big installations, chuppahs, and archs. And there is something intimately special about helping a bride choose the flowers for her bouquet.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
I am inspired by many things; the fine arts in all forms, music and nature. My colleagues and the talented designers I’ve had the pleasure of working with have all left an impression on me. I really love going to the flower market and picking out flowers to bring home and experiment with. Flower arranging reminds me so much of the creative process of sculpture.
What advice do you have for a couple that is just stating to think about their wedding vision? What are some things they can do before coming to you?
The most important things to have solidified before coming for a consultation are the wedding date, wedding venue, and a ballpark budget for flowers and décor. I also advise coming in with an idea of how you want the the table layout to look. It doesn’t have to be exact, but a general idea if you want long tables or individual round tables for the reception is helpful.
Heading into the actual design phase, I always talk with my brides about the fact that you want to look back at your wedding twenty years from now and love what you see. It’s totally fine to incorporate trends, but keep in mind that classic, timeless décor will never go out of style.
Budget is always an issue for weddings. In terms of floral décor, what should a couple focus on?
These days, ceremonies tend to be on the shorter side and I am seeing more couples put focus on the reception since that is where the majority of time will be spent. However, some couples want to have a show stopping ceremony that sets the tone for the rest of the day and looks amazing in photos. It’s really a personal choice.
Are there any wedding trends you are particularly excited about right now?
Looking beyond trends, I get more excited about the flower types that are becoming popular. There are so many unique, statement flowers being grown by farms all over the world that look amazing in wedding floral décor. Japan and Holland are producing incredible hybrid flowers. The brownie double tulip, fritillaria, and pampas grass always leave a lasting impression. I never thought I would hear myself say this, but the rainbow tinted gypsophilia is actually really cool looking in arrangements.
Do you have a favorite artist or designer?
Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hess, Walton Ford, Paul Klee, Édouard Manet, and Henri Matisse to name a few. I am really drawn to art and design that had a three-dimensional, sculptural nature to it.
Do you have a favorite celebrity wedding of all time?
I am a sucker for the classics – Grace Kelley, Jackie O, and Princess Di come to mind. For me, it’s not so much about the décor, but timeless romance and beauty these iconic brides have come to symbolize.
You have a full day off. How do you spend it?
I would probably complete the one million craft projects I have started, but have never had the time to complete. Or I would spend the day snowboarding with my husband. Then I would wonder why I didn’t spend the day resting and sleeping.
Categories:Blog, Women Paving The Aisle, Your Inspiration Fix