A Guide to Wedding Foliage

From centrepieces to cascading archways, altars to aisles, foliage can offer a rustic and elegant backdrop to your day. But where to start? We speak to Jeremy Henderson of NZ Foliage Brokers about the magic of greenery.  

  • Story by As told to Emily Bell

When it comes to decorating your wedding venue, freshly cut blooms have long been a firm favourite. But in recent years wedding planners and brides have experimented with different types of décor to create a bespoke look that every bride desires. A trend that’s on the rise is foliage which gives the option to bring the outside in, creating a look that’s organic and natural. From tumbling shrouds of eucalyptus to garlands of ruscus, foliage has the ability to transform a space whilst serving up a magical atmosphere, creating a beautiful backdrop for wedding photography, guest experience and overall style. But where do you begin, is it cost effective and how long does the greenery last?

We caught up with Jeremy from NZ Foliage Brokers , to find out what makes foliage the perfect choice for your wedding.

When you’re approached by a couple planning their wedding day, what are the first steps?

We mostly deal with florists and wedding planners. They organise and discuss the details of the wedding with us and then we advise them which greenery would be most suitable.

Is foliage cost effective?

Foliage is generally a lot cheaper than flowers as it has great coverage and looks amazing en masse. Foliage on its own is increasingly popular.

In terms of seasonality, what foliage would you recommend for each?

It really depends upon the client’s mood board and the season. Copper beech is very popular around December and January, whereas silver birch trails in February are glorious as they produce their leaves and catkins (seedpods). We see eucalyptus all year round except for its spring growth period.

Products like little gem magnolia can been seen in the autumn and spring. Then there are solid base greeneries like agonis flexuosa, camelia, nandina. The large leaves found in our tropical range; monsteria, philodendron, and nicolai strelitzia are common in larger wedding installations.

As the day of the wedding nears, what’s the process?

In the lead up to the wedding we open up a picking time for our clients. Here, we work using an ‘open source’ ordering system which enables us to meet the inspiration of our client and fill the wedding order to suit, with our unique product range.

How do you work alongside the florist?

We meet them at the venue and unload all the greens. In some cases we work alongside them, but mostly it is our job to manage all the foliage and keep it fresh and watered until the styling begins.

What do you do to make sure the greenery lasts – do you have any tips?

Firstly, greenery is different to flowers – most of them are semi-hardwoods and hardwoods. So, as long as they have plenty of water to drink they should be fine. In some cases, I prefer to keep the greens out of direct sunlight. A chiller is always good but not always possible. Re cut the stems every few days. Change the water every two days. It’s important to remember that when the water goes off, so will the foliage, whereas foliage on its own with fresh water will last for weeks. In arrangements it’s the flowers that will die first, then the water goes off and the greenery dies last.

What’s the most popular foliage to use right now?

Many types of foliage are popular. At the moment I would say it is little gem magnolia and smokebush.

Have you noticed any upcoming trends?

Dried products are making a new entrance, and what’s great about them is that they are so versatile as they don’t die. Dried foliage also creates wonderful moods and textures and balance well if styled correctly. Dark, fresh greens like camelia and even rimu are popular since the Royal Wedding in 2018, where foliage contrasted with white flowers. In many cases, weddings now require greenery to be out of water for long periods, that’s why a specialised service like ours is essential. NZ Foliage Brokers delivers to your wedding, all stock in water, ready to go. When the greenery is perfect it makes the florists job so much easier.

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