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The Mechanics of Bows + Arrows' Most Popular Installations

Bows + Arrows

Hey guys, Adam here. Before flowers I did sculpture and set design so it’s been pretty natural for me to take the lead on our installations now. I’m going to give you a few tips for how I’ve executed some of our most popular designs.

What I love about building installations is how varied they are. I love being asked to design a five-foot hanging installation or build a richly-adorned arbor from the ground up. Installation work, to me, is like a breath of fresh air.

As much as I enjoy working with smaller, contained arrangements, breaking out of that norm is my favorite thing. Maybe my background in sculpture has given me a certain affinity for building on a large-scale, or maybe it’s the challenge of engineering something new each time—whatever it is, installations are, hands down, my favorite part of floral design.

The Flower Wall

We made the wall installation pictured above by creating a chicken-wire grid and plugging a lot of greenery, vines, and roses into it. The wall already had a good base of vines growing on it when we arrived, so we attached chicken wire over what was there and added blooms to it. I prefer to use chicken wire with smaller holes for something like this because it allows me to tightly weave the greenery in and out before plugging in the florals.

We didn’t need to water-tube our roses in this instance—they were hearty enough, and lasted several hours out of water. This installation was surprisingly easy and everyone loved it.

Greenery Installations

This bride didn’t like the idea of a tent, so we decided to cover it as much as we could with greenery—bringing the outdoors in. We did two things: First, we created garlands and branches which we secured along the tops of the tent poles—alternating between the two greenery elements. Next, we added greenery over the criss-crossed arch structure in the center of the lounge area to hide the metal poles.

I had about 20 designers on the team who executed the ceremony and reception. We started making the garlands on Thursday and installed them on Friday. I always hand-wire my garlands with paddle wire because I think it makes them look fuller and more natural. If your greenery is hearty enough, it’s ok to mist and hang the garlands beforehand, but if it is fragile, put them in a cooler. In this case, we had a cooler available but didn’t need to use it.

Lush Floral Aisle

This ceremony was part of a beautiful wedding in Houston, Texas. The bride wanted lots of greenery and for the ceremony to be extra special, so we created this floral installation down the walkway. The idea was to make the flowers look as if they were growing from the ground naturally.

For a floral aisle installation, you can use chicken wire or oasis—we’ve done both. If it’s hot outside, oasis is better. If it’s cool enough to use chicken wire, start with a strip of wire and bend it so that it creates an arched grid to work from. Nail it to the ground with giant nails or stakes and insert your flowers.

This old chapel was brought from Italy and placed there (so cool!), so we highlighted the doorway with a floral arch.

Ceremony Arch

To create the arch, we selected materials that echoed the architecture of the chapel and reception venue. We brought in two terracotta pots, put plastic buckets inside, and poured concrete into them. We then placed two-by-fours inside the concrete to create the base. For this one, we didn’t use any chicken wire—only oasis cages.

Home Depot is usually our first trip when we get to a new location. We generally don’t like to travel with large structures. Instead, we build on-site and figure out our approach once we get there. This arch wasn’t secured to anything, but it was just fine standing alone on the concrete.

My Top 5 Must-Have Toolkit Items

One of the most important things to keep in mind when picking which tools to bring along with you for an installation is: simplicity. I recommend using only basic tools that are accessible at any local hardware store.

Here’s a list of the top 5 most important tools I bring with me on every project:

  1. Chicken wire— I love chicken wire because it’s so versatile. You can plug florals into it, use it for extra security, or use it to hang installations.
  2. 2 X 4’s (and a hammer, of course )— This is essential for building frames and supports for hanging arrangements.
  3. Steel cable— It’s load-bearing and holds up to 600 pounds!
  4. Zip ties— We use these for everything—to fasten florals to structures, to fasten oasis cages down, to keep our greenery together in bundles—it’s honestly great for keeping just about anything close and secure. You can’t have enough zip-ties...we use them for everything.
  5. Tarps— Depending on the installation, we lay down tarps to make clean-up a breeze (especially when designing on grass where you can’t sweep up).

Pro Tip: Writing Recipes for Installations

Installations can be the trickiest things to account for when planning your floral recipes. They can feel daunting—how am I supposed to know how many roses we’ll need for an arch? That thing is huge! It could take hundreds! When it comes to installations, we like to keep it simple. (We do that a lot.)

Instead of fretting about the installation as a whole, we opt to order per square foot. For example, if we’re doing an arch, we calculate how many flowers we want to use in one square foot, then multiply it by the amount of feet in the entire arch.

We do this for every kind of installation—it’s a great way to figure out pricing, and ends up being very accurate.

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