Devon Danielle isn’t just a florist, she’s an artist. (I’ve been to one of her gallery shows. In one word: enchanting.) When I met Devon Danielle three years ago, she was just launching her Seattle-based floral business, Umlaut and Ampersand. In the years since, I’ve been constantly amazed at her creativity and passion. We asked Devon to tell us a little about what it’s like to be a petal pusher, what inspires her, and why being a romantic at heart makes her the ideal florist for your wedding.
How did you get into arranging flowers?
My love affair with flowers began completely by happenstance. I had just moved to Canada after graduating and found a “Help Wanted” sign in a window of a flower shop. What people don’t know is that it takes a long time to start learning about arranging flowers. For the first year or two you are mostly doing manual labor, filling water-picks, sweeping up after the designers, cleaning buckets and doing general customer service—but I was so interested in what the designers were doing that they let me give it a try and the rest has just been a journey of learning as much as I can.
I fortunately got to learn under the watchful eye of some of Vancouver’s most renowned florists. I worked in a flower shop that had florists from all over the world: Japan, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Russia, Germany, France. They taught me so much about the technicality of floral arranging and the different styles really expanded my skill set.
How did you get into wedding flowers specifically?
It’s a major part of floral design. Believe it or not there are quite a few florists out there that don’t enjoy doing weddings, but I love it. I wish it were a bit more year round!
Describe your style in one sentence.
I live for juxtaposition—smooth and rough, light and dark, feminine and masculine.
What do you love most about arranging for weddings?
I’m very much a romantic. I love being a part of these love stories. It’s so wonderful to meet a couple, hear their love story and see the flowers come together in a way that represents them uniquely for this one day where their friends and family celebrate them. It’s all pretty magical. Weddings more than any other occasion allow me to really produce gorgeous work. We aren’t looking for longevity of flower life, we are looking for the everything being it’s most beautiful on that day.
Where is the most interesting or unique place you’ve done flowers for a wedding?
I think the most challenging wedding I’ve ever done was on the top of Grouse Mountain in Vancouver, British Columbia. We had to deliver everything via gondola. It was so foggy the morning of the wedding. We were on giant ladders building an alter surrounded by blankets of diaphanous clouds. It was a very beautiful and ethereal wedding.
As a florist, what has been your biggest wedding day challenge?
Aside from some feats in engineering I have done over the years, I would say the biggest challenge is timing. For a wedding you want every flower at its prime. You need fully open garden roses, but closed ranunculus. It takes an incredible amount of thoughtfulness to know exactly when to buy, making sure everything is spectacular for day of show.
What piece of advice would you give brides and grooms to ensure that they get the best flowers for their wedding?
I would advise couples to not follow suggested timelines. Book florists before booking wedding planners and photographers. Florists usually have quite a breadth of wedding knowledge, often some more seasoned than some of the wedding planners out there. Find a florist you love and ask them for recommendations for planners and photographers. Chances are they have favorites that take amazing photos of their work and they know wedding planners that are going to make your wedding beautiful. Florists can be an invaluable tool to utilize and these people should be working together to have one collective vision.
Always, always, always opt for local and seasonal. You’d be surprised what is available to you.
Wedding magazines do photoshoots months before the seasons they are representing. I hate breaking hearts by telling brides that peonies just aren’t available in some months of the year. (although their window of availability has grown considerably because they are so sought after!) Most importantly, hire a professional! Floral design is so much harder than one would imagine it to be. The stress is not worth the money you think you’ll save.
What are your favorite wedding flowers trends right now?
I love anything bohemian that is happening with wedding aesthetics. Loose and asymmetrical bouquets are gorgeous. Tons of lush greenery and texture. Their has been a trend of coral and mint with draping eucalyptus happening for years, I’m ready to move on from that one. I’m loving bridesmaids in mismatched dresses, non-traditional wedding dresses, and really intimate and cozy weddings.
At Joy we believe that even though a wedding lasts a day, joy should last forever. What does that mean to you?
A wedding may just last for one fleeting day but the memories stay well beyond that. If we are lucky we live long happy lives and our wedding day will hopefully be a cherished, joyful memory that was the beginning of an amazing journey.
How do you think an app like Joy can help make weddings better?
We are living in an online world that allows connectivity like never before. I think that often when couples are planning their wedding they have a hard time getting loved ones from all over the world together in one place to take part in their wedding. Joy brings everyone closer, instantly sharing their intimate moments with the couple and allowing that to be shared beyond the attendees. It’s really special.
If you weren’t a florist, what would you be doing?
I’m a very tactile person and am obsessed with all things visual, so I would probably still be involved with art and design in some capacity. I love interior design and architecture. I think I try to incorporate those things into what I am doing whenever possible. I would also finish my degree in women and gender studies and find some way to marry youth development and mentorship into the arts. I think children and mentorship are paramount.