Flower Power: Blooming During Times of COVID

Interview with Sally Vander Wyst, Owner of Milwaukee Flower Co.
Interview with Sally Vander Wyst, Owner of Milwaukee Flower Co.
Written by
Laura Cross

Creative and distinctive - two words that perfectly describe the fantastic work by Sally Vander Wyst, owner of Milwaukee Flower Co. Sally's fresh and modern approach to floral design is anything but cookie-cutter, and her aesthetic with florals is truly a breath of fresh air. She recently chatted with us about how she started her brand, what makes her events original, how her company has evolved during these times of COVID, and setting trends in the wedding industry. 

How did you start your brand?
Milwaukee Flower Co. has evolved quite a bit over the past seven years. With humble beginnings in a very small space on the East Side of Milwaukee we now have our dream studio in Mequon with a half-acre flower farm. We are grateful for each couple that has given us the opportunity to be a part of their celebration and build our dream. One thing has stayed the same over time - we love weddings and the process of getting to know our couples and their families. 

How has your brand evolved over time (especially during the pandemic)? 
With more micro weddings and less large celebrations, we have had so many extra blooms from the farm. So we decided to offer our first ever CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where people could pick up flowers from the farm each week. It's been so wonderful to see past clients and make new friends with the farm stand. 

Where do you find inspiration? And where do you tell your clients to look for inspiration?
Architectural Digest mag all the way. I love when it arrives each month and looking at interior design for inspiration! Of course, nature too. I canoe often on the Milwaukee River and am so inspired by the water, trees and plant life on the banks.  

Couples should look to their favorite spaces and significant places. That could be their living room, favorite restaurant or vacation spot. For example, we have a couple who got engaged in Italy and we will be weaving that story into the flowers and greenery. 

How do you help steer your clients in certain directions so that you can have the creative license to put forth your best work?
Our process is truly collaborative. I like to do a lot of listening on the front end, then my creative juices start flowing. I find that when we trust each other and share openly, that's when the magic happens.

In today’s world of Pinterest, Instagram, and other social media outlets, couples often come to the table with a set idea on what they want. How do you push them to be unique and think beyond what might be “on trend” at that point in time?
Like all event partners, I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. I think it's good to get a few ideas online but my best styling advice is to let the venue’s look and couple's story really dictate the overall look and feel of the wedding. 

What are some of your favorite rules to break?
Love this question! Let's break all the rules and still create a timeless celebration. I often see couples get hung up on what they think their wedding should be like. But the reality is that this is your party, it should feel uniquely you. That's one huge plus of COVID - couples are more open to new ideas and throwing the party they always wanted. 

What is trending at the moment and what trends have you set that others are following?
Innovating the reception layout is on trend and I am loving it! In years past, the head table was rectangular and the guest tables were round and that's all we saw. Now I am delighted to see couples choosing to have a mix of guest tables in different shapes and sizes. Layering the look of the room really makes a space feel unique.

For years, I have been really excited about the idea of a wedding weekend and am seeing this more and more recently. Say Friday night instead of a welcome or rehearsal dinner you could have a sunset ceremony and lovely dinner with your nearest and dearest. Then Saturday, you could have the big celebration (and this doesn't have to be a sit down dinner or could be). What I love about this is it spreads out the joy over a few days instead of cramming it all into one short day. Plus this also means more outfits ;)

Can you share your "dream mood boards" with us and how you would take a basic idea and enhance it?
Pictured below are some of my dream mood boards! (Created in collaboration with Morr Events)

I love to juice up an idea that a couple brings to me. We have a couple that loves the woods and hiking. We have a plan to create an 80-foot-tall install of candles, ferns, moss, acorns (we collected) for them to recreate their favorite space for all their guests. 

For more information on Milwaukee Flower Co., head to their website! https://www.milwaukeeflowerco.com.

Images courtesy of Milwaukee Flower Co.