an interview with Ariella Chezar

Recently I had the divine pleasure of interviewing my floral design hero, Ariella Chezar. I discovered Ariella’s work a few years ago while combing the wedding section of Barnes & Noble and have been a devoted fan ever since. Her designs, philosophy and passion have had a profound impact on me and the soul of my business. I feel so lucky to have been exposed to this amazing woman’s magic! And now I am so excited to be able to share some of her wisdom and incredible designs with the members of the ASCFG .Enjoy!

What first brought you to floral design?

I thought I wanted to be an opera singer and was studying voice. One day I walked into a family friend’s home studio as she was preparing flowers for an upcoming wedding. The studio was filled with the most exceptional collection of flowers I had ever seen—far more beautiful than any flower shop. I realized then and there that I wanted to be similarly surrounded with flowers as often as possible, and that luckily for me, there was a whole wild world of weddings that would allow just that.

How many years have you been in the industry?


What does your business specialize in?

Predominantly weddings and events. In the last two years I’ve begun branching out into garden design as well.

What is your greatest inspiration and motivation when working with and selecting flowers?

The requirements/palette/style of the event and floral stars of each season are the main things that influence my choices.

Where do you source your material?

Many different places. Much depends on where my event is. If there is a wholesale market nearby I will get a lot of the flowers from there. I will often buy plants from garden centers and cut them up. I also grow a lot of my own materials. Occasionally if I am looking for something specific that I know is available only through a specific market I will have it shipped from there.

Do you buy from small specialty growers, farmers (vegetable and fruit) or import from Europe and South America?

My preference is to buy locally and seasonally and to a large degree I am able to do this during the spring, summer and fall months. This invariably gives me the freshest, most vigorous and most seasonally relevant choices. In the same way that a tomato in January tastes worthless, tulips in August are pretty dreary. But the reality is that particularly during the winter months, the flowers that come from Holland, Italy and France are really beautiful and without these, one’s choices are quite limited indeed.

Do you grow any flowers or foliage in your own garden?

Yes, lots, and more every year. There is nothing better than being able to go out and cut your own material.

How can growers develop a relationship with an event designer such as yourself?

They can contact me through the website.

Are designers always looking for new product, or do you find one grower (or wholesaler) you like and stick with him or her?

I am always eager to see what is new and there are several growers and wholesalers whose product is always spectacular.

What do you look for in a grower and her product?

The flowers have to look clean and juicy. It’s an added bonus if they are grown without pesticides.

Do you have many requests for locally grown or organic blooms? If so do you have trouble sourcing them?

More and more clients have begun to ask for this and it can  be a bit challenging if they have their heart set on a specific out-of-season flower. Generally, if they are open to the flowers that each season has to offer, I can accommodate them.

What are your favorite flowers, foliage, vines and fruit/vegetables to work with in each season?

Spring: tulips, ranunculus, anemones, narcissus, akebia vine.
Summer: tree peonies, peonies, garden roses, abutilon, begonias (foliage and flowers), nasturtium.
Fall: dahlias, deco mums, Japanese anemones, beech leaves, sweet autumn clematis.
Winter: amaryllis, quince branches, orchids.

Are there ingredients that you love and have trouble finding or would like to see more widely available?

Vines of all kinds.

I have noticed that you use garden roses often in your work. Where are you sourcing these blooms? Do you have any tips or tricks for working with these delicate beauties and could you share your favorite varieties?

These come in abundance to the San Francisco flower market through the late spring to fall. The New York market gets them as well. The Dutch and South American growers have begun growing “garden” roses as well in hothouses. They have the similar look and fragrance to the old varieties but I love all the David Austens particularly. Garden roses won’t last as long, but in many ways this makes them even more special. Their natural arching habit allows for looser, freer, graceful bouquets.

Do you have any suggestions for creating mixed bouquets for retail sales—design elements or color suggestions that could be used to make a bouquet look natural, elegant and full, instead of cutesy and contrived?

I think the trouble with most mixed bouquets is that they include too many different colors within one bouquet. It’s the essential problem I have with many arrangements. If you have yellow, next to purple, next to red, next to pink, your eye has nowhere to rest. Tone-on-tone arrangements are the most inviting. If you want to use more than one tone, choose two or three and then include several flowers in each tone. This will create a more exciting and sumptuous visual experience.

In your opinion how can ASCFG members reach the upper level of designers to let them know that we have many growers out there producing really wonderful stuff?

Research what each designer’s specialty is and send him pictures of your product. If possible, ship actual samples.

Ariella’s work has been featured in numerous magazines including Oprah, In Style Weddings, Sunset Weddings, Garden Design, Elegant Bride, Town & Country, House and Garden, Victoria, Martha Stewart Weddings, Hanajikan. You can also find her book Flowers For The Table at or visit her gorgeous website

You’ll be truly inspired!

Erin Benzakein


Erin Benzakein is the owner of floret, a floral design company and specialty cut flower farm in Mt. Vernon, Washington.
Contact her at [email protected]