Sally Vander Wyst, founder and visionary of Milwaukee Flower Co, has a deep-seeded love affair with flowers. Having just celebrated it's tenth anniversary, Milwaukee Flower Co has evolved quite a bit through the years and while Sally's style is anything but cookie-cutter, the core of her brand remains rooted in simplicity. From her half-acre flower farm to her incredible floral designs, Sally answers our budding questions on what she's inspired by, her collaborative process with her clients and her advice to newly-engaged couples.
What are you inspired by?
I know it's cliche but nature is my greatest source of inspiration. Observing how plants grow has been influential to our designs. Something I've noticed in the wild is flowers are beautiful at all different stages of growth, we try to incorporate that into our designs.
Photo by Studio 29 Photography
Let's talk about flower power - what do you love most about flowers?
Their ephemeral nature is what I love most, there is a sense of preciousness because they are only here for such a short time. Another joy is watching them develop through their stages of bud to blooming, we get to see this up close at the farm.
Photo by Kelly Grace Photography with Pritzlaff Events and Milwaukee Flower Co
You also grow flowers yourself - talk to us a little about that.
Sure, we grow the flowers we plan to use for our clients events but most importantly we grow for our joy. Throughout our years of flower farming, we have learned it's best to focus on growing our favorites, since it is such a labor of love. Each year we experiment with a few different and new types of flowers to keep it interesting, always adding to our perennial gardens. There are some flowers we grow year after year because they do well in our field.
Photo by Courtney Dueppengiesser with Milwaukee Flower Co and Events To A T
How do you work with clients to create a certain look or vibe?
My favorite advice for couples is to focus on a few spaces at your wedding to make a large impact. This would look like having a few grand moments and leaving others more simplified. If dancing is important to you, highlight that space with a custom dance floor or flowers in front of the band. A lot of our couples are wanting a dramatic entrance into the space, it's a lovely welcome for your guests. Whatever you choose, make it personal to you and your fiance.
Photo by Emily Barbara Photography with Events To A T, Milwaukee Flower Co, Villa Terrace Museum
What advice do you have for couples looking to hire a florist for their wedding?
While looking for your wedding florist, peek around on their instagram and website. If you get a good sense that they can execute your vision for the day, reach out. When you do connect, make sure your style, budget and needs are aligned. Best thing you can do for your wedding is trust your event partners and let them run with the vision.
Photo by The Uttkes with Events To A T, Milwaukee Flower Co, Lexi Lee Hair, Juniper Spa & Body
Where should couples look for inspiration when it comes to wedding flowers?
Take inspiration from the venue. You want to make sure the look you’re going for marries well with the decor already in place. Check in with your personal style; what colors are you wearing and loving? Even looking around and being inspired by your favorite space in your house, that is a way your wedding can feel personalized.
Photos by Kelly Grace Photography with Events To A T, Milwaukee Flower Co, Pritzlaff Events, Films by Design, Lee Johns Catering, Sound By Design, Marquee Event Rentals, Event Essentials, BBJ La Tavola, Parker Drive Event Co, Paper Envy, Lexi Lee Hair, Avenue M Salon
What do you love right now?
Our real genius is large, over the top flower designs. We love getting to create interesting custom pieces that speak to them as a couple. Statement arrangements, hanging installs and unexpected floral moments, like staircase florals - bring them on!
Photo by Autumn Silva Photography with Midwestern Bride, Milwaukee Flower Co, The Atrium, Avenue M Salon, Katie Morgese
You've done some amazing styled shoots? Why do you get involved and what do they bring you?
Styled shoots are bittersweet for us. One thing I look for in a styled shoot is highlighting designs that we want to create for our clients but haven’t had the opportunity just yet, this is our playtime and to show what we can do. Over the years I have learned that they must be beneficial for everyone involved or they won't be as dynamic as they could be. With the right team and vision they can be exceptional, this requires communication with the other event partners to create the look that will add to our portfolio.
Photo by Autumn Silva Photography
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give yourself if you could go back to right when you first started?
When I first started Milwaukee Flower Company ten years ago, I said yes to every project and opportunity that came my way, it was overwhelming at times. So I would tell myself to hang in there. Looking back, I think this was really great for me to experience and learn what I want to be doing (and not doing). I’ve made so many great connections along the way, that was the real gift of those first couple years.
Photo by Cassie Rosch with Events To A T, Wisconsin Club, Milwaukee Flower Co, Paper Envy, Melody Sopa Artistry, Sarah Seven