I don’t think I have been so excited for a wedding like I am for Erin and Jeff’s. It’s a mix of Big Lebowski with my wild yellow flowers and tumbleweeds. It’s gonna be great!!!! So many cute and fun ideas that aren’t overly kitschy. Below is my inspiration and stay tuned in July for pics!
OUR NEW PROJECT
Ash + Oak and Dia Photography are launching a new project together and I am super excited to share it with everyone. We are putting together a workshop and shootout for new photographers and other wedding vendors. Our first event is for new photographers so other vendors stay tuned unless you want to learn how to use your camera better to get those rad Instagram pics.
Our first workshop is on May 18th 2019 and the locations is a secret until you book your ticket. You wont need a flight or anything crazy like that, if you already live in the Bay or Northern Cali.
After many workshops, webinars, workbooks and so many meet-ups I have learned very little and spent sooooooooo much money. I was tired of this and wanted to put something out their for people like me. I am not saying there aren’t great workshops out there or that ours is the answer. However, we are laying it all out.
Are you looking to learn how to price, what social media tools and tricks we use, what our steps to booking clients is well look no further. I will tell you my exact steps and trust me I have tried so many different things.
Diana will help teach you one on one a few tricks with the camera while you shoot a beautiful styled shoot I set up for you. More details will come after Valentine’s Day. Stay tuned.
Oh and we are doing it all outdoors and getting adventurous with it! PACK YOUR BAGS!
Ashley aka Ash + Oak
Hi, my name is Ashley Mueller and I am the founder of Ash + Oak. I started my business over 5 years ago. It all started with a bad break up and turning 30. I wasn’t your typical American worrying about a white picket fence, career and kids. It wasn’t my thing. Somehow, I was approaching 30 and I started to realize I didn’t want to keep waiting tables or live on the beach in Mexico forever. Well, maybe living in Mexico wasn’t so bad.
I was in Austin, Texas alone and heart broken at a music festival when I realized my favorite job I had ever had was working with flowers. I was 18 or 19 and worked at a hippy kind of co-op grocery store in Tacoma, Washington. They put me in charge of keeping the buckets clean and flowers organized. I loved it.
I got back to my hostel after the music festival and sent an email to my favorite design studio in SF. Thankfully, they were interested in an intern. I expected to swept floors and clean buckets but I also was hoping to learn a lot more behind the scenes and how to build. Since I didn’t get the lessons I was hoping I jumped ship and move on to starting my own business.
My biggest struggle was “the business.” I had no idea what I was doing. I went to Art school and let me tell you I did not learn a thing about starting your own business. I ran businesses for other people but still had no idea. A few other struggles a had to deal with involved having a tiny car for giant weddings, getting a cease and desist letter from my landlord for working from home and living in the bay with a huge rent to pay and little income. That did not stop me.
My biggest fear is not succeeding. Since I was a little girl I knew I wanted to be my own boss. This probably came from my dad and grandpa who both ran their own companies. I thought I was going to New York to be a fashion designer but when the time came I didn’t have it in me. I crushed Fashion School so it wasn’t that I couldn’t design I just didn’t have the courage to take that leap. I still don’t know if I have the courage to keep going and succeed. I spent hundreds of dollars trying to break this wall down in therapy but it didn’t help. It’s just my biggest fear.
Things that do help me keep my sanity through the rough, busy and no money times is being with my puppies. It sounds so lame (super basic Instagram tag) but I struggle with anxiety and those little pups calm me down. A few pets in and I am chill as can be. Hiking and a glass of wine with my friends totally helps too. If it’s wasn’t for my 5 best friends and our girl trips (about 4 times a year) I would definitely loose it. One piece of advice you should learn from me is take girl trips. Get wild and weird and be you. Let it all out, cry and laugh with your besties.
A few other tips for women you thinking about starting a business or changing careers is just do it and don’t stop. Make sure you’re doing it for you and your passion. I know I am in the right career for me because during the slow season I crave working with flowers. There are many times owning your own business you don’t get to be creative and it’s soul sucking. During January I spend most of my time on vacation and prepping for the new year. About mid month I start to feel a little crazy. At first I didn’t know why but I pick up a few flowers locked myself in my studio aka laundry room and went at it. OMG, I was a new person. Don’t forget why you started and don’t let it slip away.
I am sure I could go on forever but I wont. This is 1 of the 52 post you will see about working women. Each Wednesday I will blog about another woman doing her thing. From screenwriters to beauty products from Oakland to Australia I will be sharing all sorts of love with you. Each woman get to write or answer a few questions but each week there will be two guest questions. For this week I must answer……..
What keeps you going when you start to doubt yourself?
Hummmm, my passion for the flowers. Honestly, I hate weddings and lovey things but it’s a place for me to create what I love. Working with my hands and touching every stem drives me to keep going. Someday I will give up weddings and create living art for galleries. Big dreams but my goals.
The most fun you’ve had creatively that didn’t involve work?
As I mentioned before I take these wonderful girls trips and on the trips we usually do a creative project. One of the first was for the Dakota Pipe Line. Well, let me start this off by saying we had good intentions. During these girls trips we usually take psychedelics and drink a lot. This one trip we wanted to send a sign to the pipe line as well as supplies and money. My dear friend let use her leather sign from her wedding but we had paint over it. Well, do I need to say more. Drugs and painting are by far my favorite things to do besides flowers.
Please feel free to comment or send people my way. I would love to hear from you!
Valentine’s Day is here and guess what?!?!?!?! We are also serving Grass Valley and Nevada City. Since we recently moved to Grass Valley. Expect us to pop up all over the place.
You can find our $35 arrangements at Hex and Sunchild’s Parlor. Pick up a necklace or a vintage piece of clothing for you babe!
Ceremony backdrops, hanging installations and wow Instagram worthy floral pieces are all the rave. I wanted to share with you what to expect from 2019. Forget that basic eucalyptus garland because we have the hottest ideas. Sorry wedding blogs and Pinterest but you got nothing on me.
FYI These installations are NOT low budget ideas, if you want something this beautiful expect to send big.
11 Tips and advice we recommend for saving money. Yes, there are ways to save money and no one will think your cheap.
1.Mix and match your centerpieces. Use a combo of small, medium, tall, garland and bud vases for your tables. If you want the extra large tall centerpieces but you don’t have the budget than mix and match. DON’T ask the florist to use the bridesmaids bouquets as centerpieces. If they suggest it, go with it. But a good florist knows it's not gonna look as good. Trust me your guest know what your doing. See below for my 5 TIPS on what NOT TO DO.
2. Keep your guest count under 150. It’s so easy to bust a $1,500 budget when you have over 150 guest. Reality is you’re going to spend about $100 a table at the bare minimum plus your bridal party and what not.
3. Use large blooms instead of filler flowers. Trust us we know ranunculus are the coolest flower ever but they don’t take up a lot of space in your bouquet or centerpiece, that’s why they are known as filler flower. Roses may seem boring to you but there are so many different types and man they are beautiful. What us floral designers will supply, are not those god awful grocery store super tight red roses. No, they are open and smell as they should.
4. FYI Garland is expensive. Want to know WHY.... It takes so much more time to make and it’s hard on our bodies. The average florist can make an arrangement within 30-45 minutes from start to finish. Your 6 ft of garland for one table can take anywhere from 1-3 hours. It’s not in water so it’s also time and weather sensitive. Add delivery and maybe a few flowers that's even more labor and more money. There goes your budget.
5. Keep your bridal party small. The average bridal party Ash + Oak had in 2018 was 7 on each side. See below how much you can save.
Bridesmaids 7x $95 = $665
Groomsmen 7x$20= 140
Save even more and just pick one MOH and one groomsman and save hundreds. Can’t cut your party down then ask for bridesmaids crowns, hair combs, arm band, corsages instead of bouquets. Try something new and exciting but cheaper. If your wedding is on the casual side have the groomsmen just wear pocket squares.
Spend that extra money on the bigger installation, nicer linens, better booze or your honey moon.
6. Get married on the off season. If you live in California like we do, we can get most flowers year around plus the weather is pretty perfect for most of the year. Trust me your flowers and guest would prefer a early spring outside wedding than sitting in the blistering sun in August. Also you can’t use delicate flowers if you have an outdoor wedding because the sun is melting everything including the guest and you in your makeup. The wedding below was on December 9th in Mendocino. The couple had a beautiful outdoor ceremony and indoor reception. Winter weddings can be just as beautiful.
7. Trust your florist to pick the best of the best flowers for your budget. Don’t put limits or restrictions on anything. The more flexible you are, the more they can do. The event below had a very very limited budget but they let us do what we do best. It ended up looking like they spent a ton of money because I got to make ex large centerpiece but with greenery and cheap seasonal flowers. Take a guess on how much this cost me to make?
8. Let the florist do what they can do best with ribbon. The current trend is extra long silk ribbons in two or three colors. If you don’t have to have it, ask for shorter ribbon for your bouquet and the bridesmaids. This may decrease a little cost, not always but it’s worth a try. Those long ribbons run us anywhere from $30-$45 for 2-3 ft which isn’t very long once you wrap it around the stems a few times. The couple below went with shorter ribbon to save a small amount of money.
9. Don’t pay for strike or clean up. Florist charge more because it isn’t fun waiting around for 6 hours after they have worked a 12 hour day that started at 4am to clean up after you and your guest. Find that one family member or friend that is dying to help but you don’t really want them to, to be in charge of taking everything down or returning the vases back to your florist. Sometime coordinators will offer this too and it maybe cheaper to get them to do it.
10. Aisle Chair decor or pew decor. Is a waste of money for a low impact. We do recommend adding something but make it a big impact or can at repurpose. Ask for arrangement in a vase or foam that can transfer the reception. Again ask a family member to handle this so you don’t have to pay us to move anything.
11. Flower girl crowns and petals. Trust us almost 75% of the time the little girl wont be wearing the crown you just spent $35 or will only toss one petal ($25-$30). If they are 6 years or older buy it otherwise, these kids are wasting your money. Yes it’s super cute but a waste. If you want petals down the aisle spend the big bucks and have us arrange them for you. This extra money can go to cocktail arrangements for cake flowers for your naked cake.
Things to think about…..
Flowers cost money. Just like a caterer who has to buy food or your bartender who buys booze, your florist has to buy the flowers and they cost a pretty penny. Sometimes we have to ship them, and then we always have to clean them, treat them, and keep them cool over the 4-5 times they could be handled before they go into an arrangement before your wedding so there's a lot of heavy lifting and labor included in the cost. Plus the water to keep them fresh, the supplies like buckets, shears, tape, wire, vases and so much more. We aren’t coordinators that just need a computer for admin or photographers that pay for equipment for the year, we have to buy all our materials and supplies for each wedding. Are actually profit is much lower than most people think.
Delivery, handling and labor is expensive for us too. Minimum wage is $15 an hour in the Bay Area and the cost of living in the Bay is out of control. A small business like a floral designer can’t execute a 200 person wedding by oneself in the two hour window. Especially not if you want a ceremony backdrop, garland, and the world. We have to pay for our employees too and it take two to three people to make your day look flawless. Plus gas, I try to fit 20 pieces in my mini Mazda but it doesn’t work. We have to drive vans and the gas for those babies are high. Since we are in the bay we have tolls to get to and from the city that add up quickly.
We start building your wedding the Wednesday before a Saturday and work 12 hour days for 4 days on our feet. We have to get up as early as 4am to pick up flowers. This job is labor intensive, time sensitive, cold and wet. We aren’t reusing the same playlist like your DJ, we are just like your just like your caters. We only have a few days before things go bad and we can’t reuse your leftovers.
If one florist was way cheaper than the rest your are going to get what you paid for. Yes, everyone starts at the bottom and will give it all away for free to get experience. Do you want to risk that on your wedding day, the day you have been dreaming about for years or at least planning and taking up all your time this past year. NO . You want a florist that will spend the extra time, has great attention detail and will deliver best quality and service possible. You get what you pay for. So…. here’s an example of what you should expect.
Below is an example of our average wedding with 150 guest wedding in 2018:
Simple Backdrop $750
Bridal Bouquet $275
Bridesmaids (3) $255
Groom bout $25
Groomsmen bout (3) $60
Centerpieces (15) $1875
Cocktail (4) $100
Welcome Table $175
Cake Flowers $25
Plus tax, delivery, handling, labor
5 Tips we DON’T recommend for saving money. You think no one will notice but your guest will.
Using your bouquet and the bridesmaids for centerpieces. There are two main reasons. First your bridesmaids have been carrying them around for the photos and laying down whenever they can. They are not handling them with the correct care to keep them looking fresh. If you’re getting married in the hot summer the bouquet has been sitting out in the hot sun, out of water for at least an hour. The petals will start to wilt or look broken from getting placed on tables, chairs and the ground. Second there is no way the bouquets will match the look of the centerpieces. The guests sitting at the table with the bridesmaids bouquet will clearly know you didn’t pay for a centerpiece. Do use them in the bathrooms or dessert table where guest aren’t really looking and think it’s a nice additional touch.
DIY. No matter how much time you think you will have you don’t want to be stressing over flowers. These babies are time and weather sensitive. Your friends and family want to spend the morning with you, relaxing not building arrangements. Trust me, when I get married I will not be doing my own flowers. I will be hiring another company to work for me. I wouldn’t even put my assistant, who would be attending my wedding through that. It’s not fair to assume your friends don’t want to have time to get ready for your wedding. The last 5 weddings I was invited to attend after I designed their flower was not how I wanted to feel. I did not get the time to shower after running around all day in the hot sun. Had no time for makeup, hair or even brush the dirt of my nails. Don’t do that to your friends or family.
Don’t use fake or silk flowers. Yes, they last forever but they are more expensive than real flowers and what are you going to do with them? Also they are UGLY.
BUY your flowers from Whole foods. Yes, they offer weddings and if you want basic ugly flowers than be my guest but your not going to get your Instagram or Pinterest bouquet. No one working at Whole foods has training like a real florist. I know I started in a grocery store and I wouldn’t want the bouquets I would have made for you.
Don’t be sneaking and say you’re eloping to try and get a better deal on a bridal bouquet. It’s the same price. Plus we follow and are friends with photographers. We will find out you had your mom or another florist make the centerpieces, when it’s clearly stated in our contracts you can’t book another company. This is just rude.
Bri and Greg are from LA and when they came into town they asked to meet me at my studio and instantly I loved them. I was so honored to work with such laid back, rad people. When they mentioned their wedding was in Yosemite, I was trilled. Bri did ask for a color palette that took me out of my comfort zone. She wanted bright orange, red and burgundy to go with her brown, taupe and sky blue theme. This through me in for a ringer but I pulled it together and I am very pleased. Three other amazing things about this beautiful wedding was the coordinator Emily from Tasteful Tatters, Isaiah and Taylor photography and Evergreen Lodge. This venue and their sister venue are so fabulous, I would hands down work any wedding there no matter the budget or the clients. They are so friendly, on top of everything and accommodating to vendors I almost died.
Anna and Jordan got married at Piedmont Community Hall. Once I found out the Jordan was a chef and I knew I had to incorporate a small food element. I added a few pomegranates along with each centerpiece. It’s the small touches that I love most about what I can do.
“I think my lack of concern about the end result was most surprising to me. Normally, I'm somewhat of a control freak and worry about everything I haven't seen. But you made me feel so comfortable and I was so confident in your work that I never once worried about the florals.” Anna, the bride
“We could not have been happier with our florals. Letting Ashley just go with it and going in to the wedding sight unseen was totally worth it. If I had to do it all over again, I would still choose Ash+Oak, 100%. THANK YOU!! <3” Anna, the bride
I’ve been thinking about this post for a while but wasn’t sure if this would help couples understand the cost or confuse them more. The hardest part of my job is pricing. We want to give every couple everything but unfortunately, we can’t. Unlike photographer we have to buy product just like your caterer. The world of Pinerest and wedding blogs allows you to dream big but if your on a tight budget you need to me more realistic. If only each pin had the price below. Well that’s what I am going to do for you.
Above Wedding $4,500 -$5,000 (120 people including delivery, tax, flip and installation 2018)
Even when blogs mention the cost it’s not totally accurate. First, the level of florist determines the price as well as the location. A novice floral designer verse someone that’s been around for 5 or more years is greatly different. The novice florist hasn’t figured out how to price correctly, wants to book everything they can for the experience, needs photos of their work and they need to get the word out. I know this from personal experience. Trust me the things I did the first years was crazy. I gave everyone everything for free. A floral designer like us, who has done close to 100 weddings or more has the experience, understands cost, has more employees and takes only weddings they want to do, prices correctly. Than there are the floral designers that I dream to be, who only take 10 weddings a year at $30,000 flower budget weddings. Sadly for the normal couple these imagines are the ones getting pinned the most.
Above wedding $8,00 -$8,500 (200 people including delivery, tax, flip and installation 2017)
To top it off floral designer are creating these amazing one of kind styled shoots that come directly out of our pocket at cost but would be quit different at a real wedding. I am ashamed to say I have spent over $500 in cost on ONE installation for a style shoot. Plus the time I had to create this install wasn’t a two hour wedding window, so I didn’t need to pay two or three employees. The over styled shoot cost me close to $1,000 and it was just a ceremony back drop, bridal bouquet, boutonniere and a centerpiece. Now times that by how many items you need. It’s not particle the things we design to get blogged about for real weddings. Another reason installations cost as much as we need to rent larger vans, taller ladders and sometimes a lift ($400 to rent).
So, I decided to share with you some of our weddings and how much they really cost give or take a few hundred (I don’t know if the couples really want anyone to know). Just because you love one of the weddings and it’s out of your budget doesn’t mean we can’t work around things. All I ask is to think about what you’re pinning to what you can actually afford. Most all centerpieces from any florist who knows what they are doing, cost at least $100. If you have 20 tables it’s gonna be close to $2,000 plus tax and delivery. I have said this before, you can’t get an arrangement from 1-800-flowers with delivery for under $80 so why would you think your wedding would be much different. At weddings we use high end flowers, vases and to make 15 arrangements in one day is much harder than a paint by numbers boring basic 1-800 bouquet.
More example below……
$5,500- $6,000 (125 people including delivery, tax and installation 2018)