Becoming #TeamNakamura: Choosing a Florist

The #TeamNakamura story continues…I’ve talked about how we met, cake tasting & choosing a dress.  Now it’s time to talk about what ended up being the hardest part of wedding planning, choosing a florist.

When I started the wedding planning process, I went straight to Pinterest to find some inspiration.  Seeing as we were getting married at City Hall, which has amazing architecture, and then having our reception at a more rustic location, at the Plant Cafe, I knew immediately I wanted succulents in my bouquet.  I found this amazing bouquet and it became my inspiration.  I wasn’t planning on doing a ton of floral but I wanted my bouquet to be spectacular and that was my focus.

So, I started out by asking for some recommendations for florists.  I got a few recommendations and started sending emails with this photo and my requests.  Early Monday morning delivery, bouquet, boutinnere for Sean & our dads, corsages for our mom, cake flowers and maybe some small centerpieces.

The first person I contacted, was recommended by one of Sean’s family friends, they send me their price sheet and it was a bit more than I expected but seeing as it was SF, which is an expensive place, I responded to see if I could a quote.  First no response for a week, then when I called, they told me that they were working on a big event and wouldn’t be able to get back to me for another week. WHAT???  If I had told a bride that, when I was working in the wedding industry, they would have immediately gone somewhere else and not come back.  Needless to say I was surprised.  The owner did end up calling me back only to tell me that they work on large events and their minimum starts at $25,000!!!!  Again WHAT??? Seriously, $25k in wedding flowers.

At least she was nice enough to offer up a few recommendations, I looked at them both, one seemed reasonable, the other had a $10k minimum.  I ended up emailing them both because they and 9/10 or so it seemed florists told me they were either not available or that their minimums were way higher than I wanted to pay.

I think for a week I kept getting rejection emails, all with recommendations for other florists.  I went through and kept emailing florists getting interesting responses.  Probably the funniest was when I emailed one florist that was recommended, only to have them tell me they only work with large weddings and to contact the company who referred them? Seriously?

Finally, I got a few positive responses and I ended up having 3 florists that I had to decide from.  They all had a lot of great things to say and 2 of the 3 had been reviewed on  The 3 florists I needed to decide between were Violetta Flowers, Ha Rue Floral Design Studio and a.Hana Designs.

I spoke with all 3 of them on the phone, had skype meetings with Ha Rue & a.Hana and got quotes from them all.  I scoured the internet for photos, reviews and more info on all 3 of them before making a decision.  All of them would have done a great job, but I could only work with one.

I ended up picking a.Hana Designs and working with Asako Han, who was absolutely amazing.  She was slightly more expensive than the other 2 florists who had great options as well, but after looking at everything and reading all the reviews, I felt like she was the best option for me.  Really the reviews I read on and on other sites were the real reason I chose to work with her.  I felt like everyone thought that she got their visions and that she did beautiful work.

When we went to SF for the Summer Solstice Run, we ended up meeting with her, so I felt even more comfortable and couldn’t wait to see what she came up with.

And then finally the weekend was there…and that Saturday I knew I had made a great choice as Asako emailed me some photos of the flowers she had found at the flower market and had planned to use for our event.

The morning of the wedding, Asako personally delivered our wedding flowers, I was so excited to see my bouquet.  It wasn’t exactly the same as my inspiration photo because peonies aren’t in season in late July and I had asked for some other colors, but it was fabulous!  I was sooo happy.

a.hana design, wedding bouquet, succulents, garden roses

I’m pretty sure I tried to have my bouquet in every photo lol.

Carmen Alvarez Photo, San Francisco, City Hall, People's Palace, a.Hana Designs

We ended up with beautiful centerpieces, I did a little trio of succulents in silver vases, a small glass vase with garden rose and a blue mason jar with a larger centerpiece of garden roses.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get many good shots of the flowers on the table at the reception, but I do have a shot of them from when we took them back to the hotel.

San Franciso, Wedding Reception, The Plant Cafe Organic, a.hana designs

Ritz Carlton San Francisco, a.hana designs, cupcakes, flowers, wedding

Also, some beautiful flowers on our wedding cake, way more than I was expecting :).

Plant Cafe Organic, San Francisco, Pier 3, The Embaradero, Wedding Cake, A.hana designs, peanut butter & jelly

And some nice boutonniere’s with a baby succulent and flower and corsages for the mom’s.  My parents both wore their flowers to the Giant’s game, which was awesome.

Wedding Flowers & the Giants Game

I was so happy with the work that Asako did and I would totally recommend her for any of your floral needs.

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