By Kristen Wagner
Florist Christina Jenion is in the business of milestones. And since opening Classic Creations Floral Design four years ago, she’s marked a few important milestones of her own.
Ever since she was a young girl she had been creating her own arrangements from her garden, and with Classic Creations she has turned a lifelong dream into a reality. Her first summer in business, she designed for eight weddings, assembling arrangements in her kitchen. The following year she completed twice as many weddings. Soon after, she moved operations from her kitchen to a shared studio in downtown Kelowna. Then this past March, Christina graduated to her own studio, a larger space with rustic wood furniture, barn doors, crystal chandeliers and plenty of natural light – a perfect space for inspiring and creating.
As her business has grown, Christina has had more opportunities to work with other vendors in Kelowna’s thriving wedding industry. The Okanagan is fast becoming Canada’s wedding Mecca, and it’s not hard to see why – the rolling hills, pristine sapphire lake, temperate climate and stunning venues make it the perfect backdrop to that memorable day. Christina and Kelowna’s other vendors are all busy, but by bouncing ideas off of one another, they’re able to help make each event one-of-a-kind. “The best weddings, shoots and events come from collaborations with amazing vendors,” Christina says, “and the Okanagan has so many incredible vendors to choose from!”
Christina strives to maintain a local focus in other ways too – like by sourcing flowers locally whenever she can. Nowadays florists aren’t limited to what’s in their gardens, or what’s in season. Many source their flowers from large growers, which ship their blooms all over the world. In Kelowna, most florists use flowers delivered from Vancouver. But by incorporating locally grown blossoms, including popular varieties like dahlias, lavender, poppy pods, and Dusty Miller greenery, Christina is able to give her creations a unique local touch.
Sourcing flowers locally also helps Christina get exactly what she wants, making it easier to cater to the visions of her clients. “I get specific flowers planted here – very specific colours – that I wouldn’t be able to get from growers,” she explains. “It allows my brides to have something a little more unique; something not everyone else can get.”
Going local also helps floral creations stay fresher, longer. Christina picks her local blooms the day before a wedding, which improves their quality and life span. “Certain flowers, like dahlias, do not ship well,” she explains. “When you’re getting them from the grower in Vancouver, by the time you get them here the quality has decreased a bit. Getting flowers locally helps the arrangements last longer – up to a week.”
Knowing the benefits of sourcing locally, Christina hopes to one day grow her own flowers – “Or half my own flowers,” she corrects. “It takes a lot of time to grow your own flowers, and many varieties must be outsourced because they don’t grow well in our dry climate. And I want to focus on my brides.”
That client relationship is the most crucial part of Classic Creations. Christina has two main sources of inspiration: first is the flowers themselves – “I can be inspired by a single bloom,” she says. The second is the bride: her likes and dislikes, her ideas, and most importantly, her dress.
Christina takes the time to meet with each client—in person, on the phone or over Skype—to discuss their vision, wants, needs and budget. “Every wedding I create is custom designed for each client based on her personality, and the consultation is where it all starts,” she says. “Weddings are one of the most important milestones in our lives, and I love to be able to make that day even more special by creating the perfect floral accents.”
Not any bouquet will work with any dress; the styles should complement one another to help the bride look her best, Christina explains. If the dress has more complicated embroidery, you don’t want to cover it up with a big bouquet. If it’s a modern, streamlined style of dress, very modern flowers will fit best—something like calla lilies. “And if the bride is funkier or edgier, you may want to do something cascading, or something else completely off the wall,” she adds. Flowers can be a great way for a bride to show off her personality and insert some colour into her day, and Christina works with each client to ensure that objective is achieved.
Part of what makes a milestone so important is the fact that you’ll look back on it for the rest of your life. In the case of a wedding, flowers can play an important role simply because the sense of smell can help unlock the memory and provide a stronger impression of the day than even a photograph. “I find that smells bring back memories,” Christina says. “I want to be able to provide that memory for the brides.”
She hopes that as each of her brides progresses through the rest of life’s milestones – motherhood, retirement, grandchildren – she will catch the aroma of roses, or freesia, or rosemary, and remember the excitement and joy of her own wedding day.