Caroline Bailly, founder of the floral design and event production company L’Atelier Rouge, specializes in creating bespoke visual experiences. Bailly’s company offers no pre-determined packages, preferring to work with the client to create a design exclusive to the space and event. Before founding L’Aelier Rouge, Bailly attended prestigious hotel management school École hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland and spent eight years working in high-end private dining in New York City. “When you work in hospitality, you need to know how to visualize the way the entire event and space work together,” Bailly says. “Coordinating the flowers, linens and other decorative elements makes sure that we create something that’s cohesive and beautiful, but always functional.” Here, the design expert spills her secrets for making the perfect floral choices on your big day.
How did you get in to floral design?
I have loved flowers since I was very young—my mother was a botanical specialist when I was growing up in eastern France—but I began my career working in private dining after attending Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland. Once I moved to New York, I managed events for Daniel Boulud, Geofferey Zakarian and Olivier Guigni. When I was working with Olivier, I was around flowers regularly, and the passion and excitement I felt every day inspired me to open L’Atelier Rouge, my own floral design studio, back in 2010.
Where should a bride begin when choosing flowers for her wedding?
Couples have more access to different designs, flowers and general inspiration than ever before. We always recommend that our clients go through magazines and websites to find inspiration. These can help your florist get a sense of the vibe and aesthetic you’re hoping to achieve, though we remind any client that certain elements might be far more expensive than they might realize! Setting a budget, and sharing it with your florist, is incredibly important. We like to work backwards with any given budget to make sure that our selections will remain appropriate and so the client really knows what they’re getting for the cost. Then we can make sure that we respect their budget without ever compromising the design.
Do wedding flower choices usually depend on the season of the wedding?
I always advise our clients to stick to blooms that are in season. It’s important to remember that flowers are natural products, so their quality is often dependent on the time of year that they’re harvested. This also allows us to keep our costs lower. When the varieties are in their peak season and most plentiful, we can work with our purveyors to get amazing values. While we advise on flower availability, it can also be useful for the bride to do a few quick searches online to check and see if her favorite flowers will be in season.
What flowers would you recommend for a bride looking for something out of the box?
We love using flowers with really unusual textures, varying sizes and colors that keep the eyes moving and intrigued without being confusing. I love incorporating more offbeat flowers, like the spiky white king protea, blushing bride or anemones with their inky black centers, with more commonly seen flowers like roses and dahlias in shades of creams, peaches, and beiges. These flowers lend visual interest while still complementing the white flowers that couples often want to include.
What would you recommend for a bride looking for a classic, timeless bouquet?
You really can’t go wrong with a beautiful bouquet of white roses— there are so many rose varieties that can bring some new dimension to its texture while maintaining that classic look. Peonies are also very popular when they’re in season because of their similarly lush, soft quality and timelessness. Roses and peonies are always chic, but not trendy, which I think is the key to having a bouquet that won’t feel dated when you look back on your wedding photos years from now.
Do you have a favorite floral design you’ve done for a wedding?
Choosing a favorite is impossible! Each and every wedding is a real labor of love. It’s such an important day for the marrying couple, and it’s always an honor to collaborate with the bride to tailor the design to their tastes. If I had to pick one of my most fun projects, we had a great time designing for a couple that wanted a Mediterranean-inspired tablescape with abundant greenery and fragrant white flowers, regional produce, and more candles than you could count. The final look was incredibly lush and celebratory without being gaudy—just what we like!