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Garden roses are back and a popular option for weddings

Garden roses, which once were the everyday rose sold by local flower shops, are back in their uniquely big and fragrant ways.

Their large blooms and strong scent not only distinguish them from today’s standard roses but also make them an increasingly popular option for weddings and other special occasions.

This is how Alexandra Farms in Bogota, Colombia, the source for most of the garden roses that Royer’s buys, toasts its product: “Garden roses are to roses what champagne is to wine.”

BRED FOR PERFORMANCE

Decades ago, Royer’s and other florists grew their own garden roses. What today is known as a standard or modern rose didn’t exist.

By the 1970s, however, an oil embargo made it prohibitively expensive for Royer’s and other domestic florists to heat their greenhouses. Meanwhile, Bogota, by virtue of lying on a plateau near the equator, enjoyed warm days and cool nights – or near-perfect conditions for rose production. (Today, the major rose-producing nations are Colombia, Ecuador and Kenya.)

But as with many things in life, there was a tradeoff: The farther away growers were from florists, the hardier that roses (and other flowers) had to be to withstand the added time and rigors involved with shipping.

So, a choice had to be made between flower bloom size and fragrance on the one hand and vase life (or how long a flower lasts once it is cut) on the other. Garden roses have twice as many petals as standard roses, which manifests as significantly bigger blooms than standard rose blooms.

“In many cases,” according to Alexandra Farms, “you couldn’t get a garden rose with a long vase life if you wanted it also to have many petals or fragrance, so [growers] moved toward standard roses. Rather than getting more beauty or fragrance in the varieties they grew, they got longer vase life. In short, [roses] lost some of their charisma in favor of performance.”

Famed rose breeder David Austin changed that by developing a garden rose genetic line specifically for the cut-flower market.

“Now, garden roses are bred for performance in addition to their charismatic qualities,” according to Alexandra Farms, “so you can have the best of both worlds.”

Meanwhile, improvements in post-harvesting techniques – from hydration methods to anti-ethylene treatments (ethylene gas can promote premature flower death) to better packaging – “have enabled us to grow more productively and ship our cut flowers around the world,” according to Alexandra Farms.

The grower said it has tested more than 1,500 varieties of garden roses for beauty but also for shelf and vase life.

ALTERNATIVE TO PEONIES

Garden roses are available in almost every color that exists for standard roses. True to their champagne reputation, garden roses cost more than standard roses, but they are a cost-effective alternative to peonies.

Garden roses are sometimes described as having “powder puff” petals that mirror those of peonies and make them a good substitute when peonies aren’t available.

Peonies require frozen soil – and therefore seasons, Alexandra Farms explained. The plants must freeze in the ground for months in order to sprout in the spring. Based on time of year and availability, peonies can be considerably more expensive than garden roses, which are available year-round.

But Alexandra Farms, which grows 61 varieties of garden roses in Colombia, noted that garden roses don’t have to be limited to weddings and other special events.

They “can be used for anything including home décor, vase work, etc.,” according to the grower. “The garden roses grown at Alexandra Farms were bred and selected for longevity, as well as beauty. They are hardy and work well for any use.”

We’ll make your wedding day: flowers customized to your vision and budget

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The HGTV series “Property Brothers” always starts with a couple oohing and ahhing over a gorgeous home that, ultimately, they can’t afford.

Never fear, the twin-brother hosts help the couple find a fixer-upper that affordably mimics their dream home.

That dynamic is not unlike what we encounter with some prospective brides who come to us with photos of gorgeous photos they’ve found online, such as on Pinterest. Sometimes the flowers in those photos are more expensive than a wedding budget will allow.

Erica Bixby, store manager for us in Hershey, cited the example of a bride who fancies peonies.

“Well, they’re available in the spring, but in the winter you’re going to pay five times the amount for them,” Erica explained. “But there are flowers that we could get in that could create that look.”

Peonies in the winter might run $25 per stem. As an alternative, she suggested polo roses, which open like peonies.

“It’s very pretty, and it’s more affordable,” she said.

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‘CREATING THAT VISION’

Erica and the rest of Royer’s wedding designers can customize a wedding plan that captures the bride’s vision but also falls within her budget.

“You can have centerpieces and bouquets and boutonnieres and everything you need, but sometimes your vision might be $20,000,” Erica said. “Well, I can create that vision for you for less.”

Royer’s has more than 30 designers and store managers trained in weddings, many of them with 25 or more years of experience. In a single year, we’ll serve more than 500 brides, big wedding (photos above and video below) or small, start to finish.

We offer wedding packages, but we also do lots of custom work. For instance, Beth Ruf, wedding designer at our Lancaster North store, helped bride-to-be Valerie Beyer with her “Alice in Wonderland” theme.

FREE CONSULTATION

Royer’s wedding consultations are free.

Erica said most wedding work begins with a phone call. She will ask the bride-to-be a series of questions: name, wedding date, venue, vision. If the future bride has pictures that capture her vision, she can email them to Erica ahead of their consultation or bring them to the appointment.

Erica also keeps her own book of ideas. She sets aside an hour for each consultation and recommends three months for planning purposes; flowers are ordered one month prior to wedding day.

“Everything should be finalized a month before your wedding,” she said, “but three months gives us enough time if you want anything out of the ordinary.”

Whether it’s Erica and Stephanie Allen in Hershey, Beth Ruf at Lancaster North, or a wedding consultant at any of our other stores, you can find contact information for them here.

Our wedding consultants are always happy to answer any questions that brides may have. 

Valerie’s wedding ‘Wonderland’

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Valerie Beyer married Patrick Tully on March 14, 2015. The Lancaster County couple held their wedding and reception at Pheasant Run Farm.

Having just celebrated her first anniversary with Patrick, Valerie spoke with us about the inspiration behind her “Alice in Wonderland” theme and about working with Beth Ruf, wedding designer at our Lancaster North store.

The bouquets comprised orange gerberas, orange alstroemeria, hot-pink roses, hot-pink carnations and lime-green button poms, with ti leaves looped around the outer edges like a collar. Two topiaries adorned the altar. The centerpieces were the main attraction.

What inspired your wedding theme?

Patrick knew I loved “Alice in Wonderland,” so being the creative person he is decided to propose to me with that in mind. The night he proposed, he placed an image on my car windshield of White Rabbit and a clock from the book and a handwritten note: “You’re late, you’re late for a very important date.”

I arrived at Patrick’s parents’ house to find a kitchen side table with lit candles and the “Alice in Wonderland” book on it. There were lights hanging from the wall leading to the basement. As I walked down the stairs and around the corner, there was Patrick on one knee.

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What led you to Royer’s for your flowers?

We stopped in the Royer’s near my parents’ house one day to talk about flower arrangements for my wedding, and they suggested going in town to talk to Beth Ruf because she is super-experienced, creative and passionate. The Lancaster North store was convenient, and Beth’s willingness to set up my flowers was a big plus to relieve some stress on me.

What are your memories of the flowers at your wedding and the reception?

Just extremely beautiful! That is all that comes to mind.

You had roses made from musical note paper. What’s the story behind that?

That was my idea. My husband is a huge music lover, and I just wanted something in my bouquet and his boutonniere to connect the both of us as one.

Can you describe what it was like working with Beth?

Amazing! Perfect! Beth was willing to do whatever to make my special day perfect. There were a few times where I thought I was being a little too picky, but she was willing to make those changes while always keeping the customer (me) in mind.

Photos courtesy of A Reflection by Sherry

 

Our proposal: join us Feb. 21 at wedding shows in Mechanicsburg and York

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Here come the brides-to-be — and we’ll be there to greet them Feb. 21 at two area wedding shows.

WINTER WEDDING EXPO
5401 Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg

We’ll be among more than 45 vendors from noon to 3 p.m. at this event, hosted by Weddings Harrisburg and Park Inn Harrisburg West, where Royer’s is a preferred floral vendor.

Click here for more event details, including tickets.

BEST WEDDING SHOWCASE
2000 Loucks Road, York

We’ll be at Wyndham Garden York from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Look for our garden theme and free mini-bouquets for prospective brides, while supplies last.

Click here for details and tickets.

Outdoor weddings, weather and having a Plan B

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On this particular September wedding day, the misty weather presented some logistical challenges for the bride and groom.

The ceremony that had been planned for a beautiful garden had to be moved indoors on short notice. A ballroom had to be transformed into a beautiful garden setting, complete with an arch and flower-festooned aisle.

As they say, into every life some rain must fall. And it was a good reminder that weather is one variable that no one controls, no matter how good of a wedding planner he or she is.

If you want an outdoor wedding, it’s best to have a Plan B just in case. We all know how variable the weather can be in Pennsylvania, after all.

A number of years ago, the Farmers’ Almanac solicited submissions for its “Worst Wedding Weather Contest.” After Texas and Florida, Pennsylvania tied Ohio and Indiana for the most submissions.

Couples from those states “have experienced the soggiest, snowiest, windiest, most hurricane-hampered and hail-ridden wedding weather,” according to the Farmers’ Almanac.

In fact, a Philadelphia-area couple won the contest’s grand prize (a warm-weather cruise) with a tale of how a record snowfall interrupted their wedding plans.

Many factors to consider

So what should you consider when it comes to creating that Plan B for your outdoor wedding? There are many factors, none more important than the safety and well-being of the wedding couple and their guests.

An article from about.com wedding expert Nina Callaway offers “10 tips for the perfect outdoor wedding.”

Of course, we’re pretty protective of the flowers, too.

We were on hand for that misty September wedding mentioned above. Being a perishable product, flowers require a tender touch. While do-it-yourself can be tempting when it comes to flowers (and other aspects of a wedding), it’s also comforting when a professional is on hand, in good weather and bad.

A florist will ensure that your flowers look their beautiful best. Unlike the weather, this is an aspect of your wedding that you can control.

See you March 1 at free ‘Best of Lancaster’ wedding planning event

We hope to see you March 1 when we participate in Brent L. Miller Jewelers & Goldsmiths’ free “Best of Lancaster” wedding planning event.

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Gregory Royer from our Lancaster West store will be on hand for the event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 1610 Manheim Pike, Lancaster.

Everyone who attends will be eligible to win prizes valued at more than $5,000 from the participating businesses. Royer’s will be giving away a bridal bouquet valued at $125.

For more information, visit www.brentlmiller.com/weddingshow.

Of course, the Royer’s team is always eager to assist with your wedding needs. You’ll find lots of great resources here.

 

101 The Rose Bridal Party

Join us Sunday, January 18, 2015 from Noon to 3pm for 101 The Rose Bridal Party at the Eden Resort in Lancaster, PA. View the latest trends in wedding flowers and learn how we can help make your walk down the aisle spectacular.

Dream Weddings PA will bring back their spectacular Grand Prize Wedding Giveaway for the 4th year in a row. The Grand Prize Wedding will be given to one lucky couple at the end of the show! Every registered bride will automatically be entered, every PRE-REGISTERED bride will be entered TWICE (pre-registration ends Friday 1/16 at 2PM)!

We’ll walk down the aisle with you on your wedding day

Talk about a night at the museum. Instead of historical figures coming to life, this is a story about a would-be florist providing flowers for a wedding at a museum.

She left the flowers overnight in the museum’s old refrigerator – and they were frozen solid the morning of the wedding.

Not only are we familiar with this story, we lived it. At least the part where the woman came to us in a panic, and we made all-new bouquets, corsages and boutonnières in time for the nuptials.

It certainly wasn’t the first time we repaired or made new bouquets on short notice for a bride who bought her flowers elsewhere and was disappointed. Nor is it the only way that we can help to make a wedding day a little more special.

Wedding packages

We’ve been fortunate to provide flowers to many big weddings, but the typical expenditure for wedding flowers is between $400 and $1,000. We also offer affordable wedding packages.

Typically, we deliver two hours before a wedding to make sure that everything is where it should be.

Nine-piece rose wedding package.
Nine-piece rose wedding package.

Wedding service

We also offer a wedding service – for a fee, in some cases – that arrives an hour prior to the exchange of vows and stays until the bride has walked through the door and down the aisle.

A trained wedding consultant helps everyone with their flowers – and brings along a toolbox to help with just about any other need that might arise:

• Such as the time that the flower girl gave an enthusiastic hug to the bride, who was left with a nice bright lipstick stain in the middle of the gown. No problem. Our consultant pulled out her stain stick and removed the blemish.

• Or the time that the bride’s gown zipper ripped just before the wedding. Our consultant reached for her needle and thread.

• And the icing on the cake with all of this? It was the time that our consultant helped to ice the wedding cake moments before the reception.

Royer’s joins Fox 43 for ‘Wedding Week’

You’ve found Mr. Right, but understand that there’s no wrong when it comes to your wedding flowers.

That’s the message that Barry Spengler, Royer’s vice president of operations, conveyed during his “Wedding Week” appearance on Fox 43.

Five or 10 years ago, for instance, few brides-to-be would have thought of combining lime green and pink. Not so today.

“If I can get through anything, there’s no wrong,” Barry said, “and, frankly, it looks really cool.”

You can view Barry’s interview with Fox 43’s Andrea Michaels in the two segments below.

Meanwhile, click here for wedding resources on our website.

Bridal album: photos from Weddings Year Round bridal show

Looking for ideas for your upcoming nuptials? Perhaps you’ll find inspiration from these photos from Weddings Year Round’s bridal show, held Jan. 19 at Eden Resorts & Suites in Lancaster. The centerpiece of the event was a live wedding, for which Royer’s provided the ceremony and reception flowers.

You’ll find more information about wedding packages and other wedding resources on our website. We look forward to assisting with your special day.