With an incredible 25-year career that has taken her from Tokyo to Los Angeles, Mitsuko Osuga has mastered the art of creative floral design. Founder of California-based Mitsuko Floral, she has added her own imaginative touch to many events, and collaborated with brides-to-be to help them realize their dream day.
Her business is now lauded as one of the best wedding vendors. She continues to work with brides to transform their venues into unique spaces and create personalized bouquets.
Mitsuko has kindly agreed to be interviewed for our latest ‘Influencer and Expert’ series, sharing her insider knowledge for those planning weddings or special occasions, and has spoken about the impact flowers can make on your big day.
JOVANI: What initially got you interested in becoming a florist?
MITSUKO: I loved everything about flowers. The fragrance, the vibrant colors, the romance, the ability to create things and uniquely tell a story with each floral design and arrangement. It’s with this fervor then that I went on to pursue my floral design degree and eventually my certificate in Professional Floral Instruction from Parsons The New School of design in Manhattan.
JOVANI: Tell us a little about Mitsuko Floral and its ethos.
MITSUKO: I initially started out owning a flower shop selling bouquets and individual floral arrangements. I quickly found, however, that working with couples to design and implement their wedding ideas and visions to reality was much more rewarding. That’s when we transitioned to specializing exclusively in weddings and events and became a creative floral design studio. It’s this concept of working with couples that led to our company culture.
As a floral designer, there are so many ways to convey concepts, stories and emotion in your work and I especially enjoyed finding ways to make my couples happy on their wedding day. From advising on flower types, dimensions and color combinations to surprising them with a little something extra on their wedding day, that’s what we care about most. In Japanese, we often use the word “kandou” to express the feeling of being deeply moved or touched emotionally. We strive to do this each time and being a part of our couples’ special milestone.
JOVANI: How do you begin to build a flower bouquet – what do you take into account and what is your inspiration?
MITSUKO: One of the most critical parts of our design story begins at the consultation. It’s at this stage that we get to know the couple, their love story and get a feel for their style. We often reflect on this meeting and the couples’ personality when designing the bouquet.
Bridesmaid dresses also often dictate the color theme of the flowers, but we like to ask about details of the bride’s dress too. This helps us best balance the bouquet with the details of the dress, train and veil. If there is a lot of detail in the top corset, it’s often best to go simpler or muted in color as to not drown out the beautiful details of the dress. If the focus of the dress is on the back of the dress, or the fabric is on the clean, simple end, I usually recommend more dramatic color tones or floral accents in the bouquet to give it that extra punch.
Everyone usually gets caught up in the “bigger is better” mentality too, but also consider the bouquet as one of your fundamental accessories on your wedding day and you’ll be carrying it around all night! Think about the shape, sizing and comfortability — It’s a shame if you had to put it down simply because it got too heavy or cumbersome to carry around!
JOVANI: Do you have a signature style that you often reflect in your work?
MITSUKO: I’ve been in the industry for over 25 years and have followed many trends, and endured many changes in the evolution of flowers. My background stemmed from ikebana and the wabi-sabi concept of simplicity and asymmetry. From there, I moved to pave-style floral construction where flowers are more abundant and compact.
I now primarily do a mixture of the widely popular organic “undone” look to contemporary styling depending on the wedding. But in this way, I don’t necessarily keep to a single “signature style.” As a formally trained floral designer, I pride myself on being experienced in a number of popular styles including vintage, urban, contemporary, classic/traditional, modern, rustic, bohemian romance, beachy etc.
In the age of Pinterest and wedding blogs, it’s hard not to get caught up in browsing the internet every day and changing your mind about the style and theme of your wedding (a year is a long time to plan and think about your special day after all!) That’s why I think it’s important couples are working with a trained floral designer who’s experienced in a multitude of areas so that if you decide two months before your wedding you want to go from a modern wedding theme with unique pattern and sleek lines, to something a bit more vintage, he/she can easily adjust.
I’m a firm believer that the floral designer shouldn’t have a single distinct style and an important aspect of my job is to be able to adapt to the bride’s style, not the bride to my style. I love that I can be flexible to the couple’s tastes and helping make a different fantasy come to life each time.
JOVANI: What are the most important factors to consider when choosing flowers for a wedding?
MITSUKO: Many couples start the planning process filling mood boards with arrangements and bouquets they like, only to find that some of the spring florals they adore are not in season for their fall/winter wedding.
You definitely need to consider seasonality when choosing flowers for your wedding. For instance, ranunculus and anemones are only available in the spring and peonies and dahlias have a very unpredictable growing season. It’s very difficult for us to procure these flowers when they’re out-of-season and can often be very expensive if we get lucky enough to find a bunch or two.
Try to be flexible with the type of flowers you select and try not to get caught up in the exact type of flower but more of the entire image and look of the arrangement/bouquet. If you’re a planner much like I am and afraid of last minute changes or surprises (trust me, I get it), roses and hydrangeas are a sure bet to be found year-round.
Keep your theme and venue in mind also when picking the types of flowers you want, as well as how your florals might photograph in that setting. Bright colored florals often photograph well and add that drama and dimension to your photo. Muted neutral to blush-toned or white florals are beautiful too and give a more soft, whimsical, soft feel. The more you know about the ambience and look you’re going for, the easier you can dream up which florals you’ll use.
JOVANI: What are some unique, unconventional ways to add a floral touch to an event?
MITSUKO: We’d like to think that everything can use a floral touch! Whether it be cascading greenery to adorn the chandelier or ceiling beams, or plush overflowing greenery and florals that fill a fountain, there’s always a way to spruce up a space. Flower backdrops are so popular right now and it’s a fun way to use as a photo booth backdrop or an area for guests to take photos for your guestbook. Welcome and directional signs can always use a little floral love as well simply by adding flowing garlands or flowers on or around the corners, along with table numbers and escort cards that can be accented with leaves and a sprig of dry lavender, for example. You can never go wrong!
JOVANI: Are there any current trends for bridal bouquets or wedding flowers that you’ve noticed emerging recently?
MITSUKO: The undone, organic look for bouquets with tons of wispy greenery is prominent right now. This includes the use of garden flowers with lots of grouping and clustering of florals.
Very tall bridge stands decorated with dense, lavish florals over the headtable or king’s table is also becoming popular and gives the table lots of height and dimension and also allows guests to see each other across the table. It’s a dramatic, lavish look.
As for colors, metallic tones remain well-liked combined with antique, neutral tones like champagne, beige and dusty rose and blush. Rich burgundy wine reds have consistently been requested also, always with lots of full greenery in varying textures and lushness.
I’ve seen many couples forgo the traditional arch for the ceremony space as well, and opt for flower or greenery garlands to adorn the space that’s already there (i.e. hanging from trees or a chandelier, for example).
JOVANI: How can a bride make sure her flowers stand apart or look more personalized?
MITSUKO: People often neglect to see that there are many ways to personalize your wedding flowers! Depending on how “out of the box” our client is willing to be, we can incorporate unique and unusual greenery, sometimes twisting and pinning leaves to add dimension and unconventional layers to a bouquet.
Another one of our favorites is when the bride has a special family heirloom, like a locket, grandma’s brooch or handkerchief that we can somehow incorporate into the bouquet.
Ribbon can also change the look and feel of your florals with all of its different textures and colors, and can really impact the style of your bouquet. This part is really our favorite because we love to capture the creative personalities of each couple.
JOVANI: Can you share some creative ideas for a low-key beach wedding, and a modern winter wedding?
MITSUKO: With a backdrop as gorgeous and expansive as the ocean, it’s easy to keep it simple at the beach. Plenty of Monstera leaves or other tropical leaves are just enough to add that pop of color.
When I hear modern winter wedding, I think evergreen sprigs, mistletoe, curly willow or indoor tree branches, metallics and fur! Those would be fun to incorporate into your centerpieces or bouquets.