10 Questions with Jennifer Ahlstrand

WeddingRule Interviewed one of the most passionate and super talented wedding florist & floral designer in California, Jennifer Ahlstrand of WestWind Succulents. Oakland based Jennifer is the founder and owner of WestWind Succulents.

WestWind Succulents

Florist - Jennifer Ahlstrand

10 Questions with Jennifer Ahlstrand

1. Introduction: What's your story?

Hi there, Im Jennifer; owner of WestWind Succulents. In 2015 I began obsessively growing succulents on the rooftop of my husband’s furniture studio in West Oakland. Despite the challenges of scorching sunlight and intense winds coming off of the bay, my succulent collection thrived and expanded.
I had just quit my full time job to pursue my own freelance art business. Having graduated from the California College of Arts and Crafts in 2006 with a degree in sculpture and being a jack of all trades kind of artist I began doing murals, sign painting and other odd jobs. During this time all I really wanted to do was be with my plants, so I turned to them as my artistic medium. I began arranging them into up-cycled containers, attaching them to anything from pumpkins to driftwood and selling my creations on my sidewalk by Lake Merritt and at popup markets around the east Bay. Inspired by my windy rooftop beginnings I created my business WestWind Succulents so I could continue to "paint with plants." Aside from designing succulent wedding decor, I specialize in making succulent wreaths, custom potted arrangements, and host succulent classes for corporate and private events.

2. What's your experience as a wedding florist business? How many weddings are in there in your portfolio?

WestWind Succulents offers so many different services that in the early years of my business, wedding occurred less often. As my business has grown and the popularity of using eco-friendly succulents for decor has increased, so has my wedding portfolio. I've done about 18 weddings in the last 5 years and have 7 booked so far for 2022. Weddings are becoming a staple service of mine and I couldn't be happier. I simply love combining succulents with other foliage to create long lasting decor. I use succulents grown in my nursery, flowers and greenery from my garden, and from local flower farmers whenever possible. Nothing is more rewarding than getting to do what I love for such an important and happy time in peoples lives!

3. How far in advance do couples need to secure your services?

Many of my couples book about 1 year in advance to make sure I'm available for their date. I've had others that are doing smaller weddings get in touch as little as 3 months in advance, and often times I'm able to fit them in.

4. How do you price your floral arrangements? What are the different packages that you offer and which one is your most popular package?

I have a general price sheet that I send brides when we are first chatting and will create a detailed estimate after we do an initial consultation. I don't have packages and treat every wedding as the unique and special event that it is.

5. How many meetings will you have with the couple, and how will they be involved?

My relationship with every couple is different. Sometimes we meet in person, or have a zoom meeting or sometimes for small events just a phone call. I do insist that we actually talk and don't just email. It's very important to me that I get a feel for someones personality, and for them to get a feel for mine. I want couples to feel comfortable and happy when we interact. Although emails are great for sharing inspiration images, colors and pricing etc., being able to have a back and forth about ideas and expectations I find to be the most helpful. I encourage couples to think outside of the box. When you're using succulents for your big day you can really get creative with how you enhance a space because they do not need to be in water, and can be attached to almost anything!

6. Who else is in your team and how many people on your staff will be at the wedding?

Just me! I have a few trusted fellow florists who I've occasionally hired to help with larger weddings that have more complex setups or a higher volume of items, but overall you'll be getting a one-on-one experience.

7. How would you describe your design style? (e.g. traditional, modern, rustic, organic)

I would say generally my style is very organic. I like the natural beauty of the materials to be the star in my arrangements. There are so many kinds of succulents, it's easy to pair them with the right flowers and greenery to achieve the vibe and style that a couple envision.

8. Who will handle setup and delivery? What other services do you offer?

I include delivery and setup in my pricing and am happy to do take down whenever needed. I offer bouquet replanting which is a great way to "preserve" your bouquet. All of the succulents from an event can be propagated and will continue to grow. I can guide clients through this process, and if couples are uncomfortable doing this themselves, I'm happy to do it for them.

9. What happens to the flowers after the wedding?

As mentioned in the previous question, propagating succulents is a great eco-friendly way to make sure there is as little waste as possible from your event. Often times I will design potted arrangements for the couples to send home with their friends and family as a great keepsake from their special day.

10. What is your cancellation and/or refund policy?

I send a detailed floral agreement when a couple decides to book, but generally speaking I require a 50% nonrefundable deposit to hold your event date and the remaining 50% is due one month prior to the event date.

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Awards

WeddingRule Editor’s Choice 2021