4 Ideas for Turning Any Reception Space into Your Very Own Secret Garden

Former prop stylist Amy Merrick launched her eponymous flower business in Brooklyn in 2010 after learning the ropes as an intern at a floral shop. In the years since, she’s become known for her loose and lush creations that bring the natural world into urban, industrialized spaces, like lofts and warehouses. Here, she shares her advice for transforming any wedding venue into a magical bloom-filled backdrop.

Photography by: Bryan Gardner
Floral designer Amy Merrick

Stocked Pots

Whether you want a luxuriant scene like the one below for a ceremony backdrop or decorative focal point at your party, this idea won’t break the bank. “It’s much more affordable for a florist to put together a collection of potted plants, like these crab apples and ferns, than it is to create 12-foot-tall displays from cut flowers,” says Merrick. For an overgrown feel, she positioned miniature daisies, towering apple branches, and creeping figs to frame the fireplace, then filled in the smaller spaces with lily of the valley, snowdrops, and a variety of mosses spilling out of terra cotta vessels.

Photography by: Bryan Gardner

Tall Branches

“One of the questions brides ask me most often is how they can decorate the space above the tables in a high-ceilinged venue,” says Merrick. Her answer: reach-for-the-sky potted branches, such as the flowering apple one below, which offer fullness yet still allow for cross-table conversation. And the concept isn’t season-specific, notes Merrick, who suggests a leafier version, like maple, in the summer; a fruiting tree like quince in the fall; and bare branches hung with votives in the winter. Here, a low arrangement of yellow peonies, purple hellebores, white lilacs, peach tulips, and green fritillaria, flanked by long tapers, balances the tablescape. At each seat: A single fritillaria in a miniature pot does double duty as décor and a favor.

Photography by: Bryan Gardner
<em>The Details: “Flora Danica” plates, $2,150 each; <a href="http://www.royalcopenhagen.us/home" target="_blank">royalcopenhagen.us</a>. “Rosy-Cheeked” coupes, $68 for 2; <a href="http://www.bhldn.com/" target="_blank">bhldn.com</a>. Tapers, from $10.50 for 2; <a href="http://creativecandles.com/" target="_blank">creativecandles.com</a>. Flatware, $140 for a 4-piece setting; <a href="http://www.westelm.com/" target="_blank">westelm.com</a>. Planter, $58.75; <a href="http://campodefiori.com/" target="_blank">campodefiori.com</a>.</em></p>

Filled-to-the-Brim Bouquet

This bouquet bursts with a mix of peonies, tulips, clematis, lilacs, and apple branches. Merrick left the stems exposed and tied the bunch up with a wide satin ribbon.

Photography by: Bryan Gardner
<em>The Details: Delphine Manivet “Arthur” gown, $4,750, at Lovely, 212-924-2050. Ribbon, from $2.75/yd; <a href="http://www.mokubany.com/" target="_blank">mokubany.com</a>.</em>

Bold Corsages

For a surprising alternative to attendant bouquets, Merrick looks to the past, reinventing the classic corsage as an oversize accessory. “It’s reminiscent of the 1950s but feels fresh when made a bit larger,” she says. Pin one on your maid of honor to help her stand out (and keep her hands free for dress-fluffing). And aim high: “The key is to put all the weight on the shoulder,” says Merrick.

Photography by: Bryan Gardner

Art Directed by Genevieve Panuska; Styled by Naomi deMañana

About the Author

Jaime Buerger

A senior editor at MSW, Jaime edits the planning section of the magazine and writes stories on flowers, home décor, stationery, and more. Since she started, she's learned the difference between buttercream and fondant, what the 4Cs of diamonds really measure, and how to properly address both the outer and inner envelopes of an invitation. She also eats more than her fair share of...


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