Milwaukee wedding trend: alternative bouquets

Milwaukee Wedding Trend: Alternative Bouquets


Milwaukee wedding trend: alternative bouquets

If you’re the sentimental type of bride, you’ve likely wondered how to keep your bouquet long after the wedding. You could have your bouquet and boutonniere preserved at a place like Inspired by You, or you might want to consider skipping live blooms altogether.

A growing number of artistic southeast Wisconsinites are fashioning bridal bouquets out of long-lasting materials, and the final products span a wide variety of styles. Like I was, I know you’ll be inspired by these women in Milwaukee’s budding market. (Psst: They also make other wedding-day items, including bouts, hair accessories and more!)

Maggie Joos of Mark the Occasion Designs

If having “something old” at your wedding is important to you, one of Maggie Joos’ designs might be just the ticket. “I prefer to work with something that already has a story,” Joos says. “That means brides trust me with their mother’s wedding gown, grandma’s collection of jewelry or anything special that would mean a lot to be included.” Since she does most of her work with Wisconsin and Illinois brides, it’s likely no surprise that she’s incorporating feathers from a bride’s chickens into her winter-wedding bouquet, for example.

It was actually an heirloom piece that got Joos into this field. Not wanting to spend loads on fresh flowers, she got the idea when her mom gave Joos her wedding gown and veil. “When I told friends I was going to use her veil to create my bouquet, they chided me, but once they saw the final product, they told me I had to go into business,” she says. So she did, and now offers her wares on Etsy and at bridal fairs and businesses (such as High Brow Waxing Boutique) near Milwaukee, where she lives.

Gathering anything but fresh or faux flowers to create arrangements, Joos most enjoys working with fabric, jewelry and feathers for pieces that tend to start at $120 for bouquets and $12 for boutonnieres and corsages. “Additionally, I take hints from the bride’s personality,” she says, “perhaps tying in something like black zippers, denim and black lace for a motorcycle babe bride.”

“After the bride and I have agreed on the materials and general design, I’ll hand-sew and wire each flower using old-fashioned needle and thread,” explains Joos, who’s perfected a variety of flower styles over time. “Doing these bouquets lets me not only walk down the aisle with the bride,” she says, “but also be a part of her memory year after year as she looks at the bouquet that will keep nicely in a vase on a shelf.”

Emily Krenzke of Ellarye Boutique

Maybe a vintage-inspired fabric bouquet would befit your wedding. If so, take a look at the creations at Ellarye Boutique, crafted from different types of fabric, pearls and rhinestones. First, designer Emily Krenzke forms the flowers that make the silhouette. Then the fun part: “I get to layer and shape the bouquet, and sprinkle on lots of pearls, rhinestones and beads,” explains Krenzke, a Racine resident.

Krenzke’s always looking for one-of-a-kind “ingredients” to add to the bouquets she sells in her Etsy shop. “I am constantly sourcing the Internet and even local craft stores for unique and beautiful supplies,” says Krenzke, who went into business making fabric flowers for headbands in June of 2011, but started designing made-to-order bouquets for brides and bridesmaids this March.

“I also keep cost in mind because I want my bouquets to remain some of the best priced on the Internet,” she says. They typically run between $40 and $100, and have appeared at weddings stateside and worldwide: “Last week I shipped a set to Ireland!”

“The best part is seeing the end result,” Krenzke says. “From a table covered in hand-rolled flowers, and a bowl full of pearls to a beautiful, full and unique bouquet that rivals the best fresh flower arrangements out there!”

Ellarye Boutique bouquet photos courtesy of Jim Colman Photography.

Fen Li of Bead Flora

Ask Fen Li to estimate how many beads she incorporates in her romantic French-beaded bouquets, she’s got an answer at the ready: “A gazillion,” she tells me. And she seems to be right on the mark. Dating back to the 15th century (and 10 years ago for Li), the technique involves stringing seed beads onto wire, which is then bent into petals, blossoms and stems. “My first bouquet took me about six months, on an off,” Li says, which explains the lead time she needs from clients, who live from Wauwatosa to New Zealand, purchasing on Etsy and in local shops, like Miss Ruby Boutique.

Li beaded the crimson and gold flowers for her own wedding. “‘I do beaded flowers,’ I thought, ‘so, I’ve got to have beads at my wedding, not just regular flowers. It wouldn’t be me.’” In a little less than a year, Li, who’s from Waukesha, beaded bouquets for herself and her bridesmaids, a boutonniere and 10 centerpieces. “It was crazy,” she muses.

If an all-bead bouquet isn’t what you have in mind—or if the price, which can exceed $1,000, isn’t in your budget—take a cue from many of Li’s clients and add a few beaded blooms or leaves to an arrangement of flowers. “Sometimes, a beaded bouquet can look kind of hard,” says Li, “but if you incorporate some soft components, like the fresh flowers, it brings it all together.” To weave a beaded theme throughout the wedding day, brides use Li’s individual flower and leaf creations everywhere from the boutonniere and centerpieces to maids’ hair and the cake. “Even though they’re different types of items, they can be made in the same color scheme,” she says of the pieces that can cost as little as $6.50 apiece.

Perhaps because beading the flowers is such a personal process, Li still keeps in touch with some of her clients. “One of the first brides to purchase from me is now my friend on Facebook,” Li says of a client who sings her praises to family and friends on the East Coast. “It’s been four years, and it’s cool seeing someone I’ve never really met become so close.”

Gloria Witt of ColorfulDreams4U

Though she’s a longtime jewelry maker, Gloria Witt didn’t start creating alternative floral arrangements until she had to, when she and her now-husband were planning their wedding at Milwaukee’s Pabst Mansion. “They did not allow fresh flowers at that venue, and I didn’t want just silk bouquets,” she remembers about her November 2011 wedding. “With all the twinkle lights in the mansion, I wanted the Swarovski crystals, citrine and crystal quartz to catch the lights from all the decorated trees.” One night, she dreamed of the bouquet she had to have. After a fruitless search, Witt turned to her mom and nephew, who also work with precious stones, and they helped bring her vision to life.

Since then, Witt has tweaked her method, but the components remain basically the same: high-quality silk flowers, semi-precious gemstones, Swarovski crystals, beads, brooches, antique buttons and more. “Some of my favorites to add to bouquets are citrine, crystal quartz, turquoise, and I am currently working on one with fluorite that I am very excited about!” says Witt, who has “bins and bins and bins” of materials.

Together with her husband, Witt has opened a shop in downtown Hartford, where their photography, artwork, plants and jewelry—along with some of her bouquets—can be found. The bouquets are also on Etsy and cost from $100 to $500. It all depends on the components, she explains.

“I have not done custom work to this point, however I would love to work with a bride to make a bouquet that can last a lifetime, to remind her of her special day,” Witt says. “I understand budgets, and I also understand dreams. The sky’s the limit.”

So, which type of bouquet will you choose? Share below!

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Ellie Martin Cliffe (104 Posts)

By the end of high school, Ellie Martin Cliffe was completely enamored of journalism, so she chose the most logical college major possible: anthropology. Disappointed by the minimal emphasis on writing and editing, she changed tracks and earned a comm degree from Carroll College. Ellie has since tackled many facets of the field including books, magazines and the Web at places like The Knot and Reader's Digest. She now works full time in book publishing, and is thrilled to get her wedding fix with When she isn’t wielding her (red) pen, Ellie can be found in the garden, at any concert that showcases a fiddle, playing pub trivia or in the kitchen. She and her husband live in Riverwest with their hedgehog, Guinness, and grapefruit tree, Sprout.

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