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Florists Share The Importance Of Funeral Flowers

Sometimes to make a point you have to put your money where your mouth is and that is what a handful of florists did last week. Cheryl Bakin of Parkway Florist, Clay Atchison of McAdams Florist and Lisa Greene of Nunan’s Florist have been long-standing proponents of funeral flowers.

However, simply stating a fact — flowers are comforting or flowers make a funeral service special — doesn’t always effectively make the point. So these creative florists, along with Melissa Mega of The Ivy Green and Kathy Dudley of The Bloomery, decided a picture was worth a thousand words.

Contemporary Funeral Spray

Contemporary Funeral Spray

Last month they attended the National Funeral Directors Association convention in Boston, painting a very important picture — flowers and funerals go together like peanut butter and jelly. Each taste good on its own, but together the taste is awesome.

With the kind and generous support of Smithers Oasis, Delaware Valley Floral Group and Pioneer Wholesale, the florists created several sympathy flower arrangements which gave the attendees a better picture of why funeral flowers are important.

Although I didn’t attend the convention, I know the attendees experienced a WOW moment at the florists booth. If the flower arrangements were half as amazing as the descriptions Cheryl gave me, anyone walking up to the booth would be blown away.

Cheryl was kind enough to give me a run-down on the events at the convention. I thought I would share an excerpt of the design process. Maybe this will give you ideas on how to effectively communicate the importance of funeral flowers.

Contemporary Casket Spray

Contemporary Casket Spray

In less that 5 short hours, including the time to decide what containers we were using, what vignettes we were making, and which flowers were going in what – we had approximately 20+ funeral pieces made, packed into two vans and ready to transport to the convention center in Boston.

The booth was masculine in style. Clay had sent a casket lid with stand and skirt to Lisa last week. A large & showy piece, with birds of paradise, roses, dendrobium orchids, and bells of Ireland was styled to almost cover the casket lid. Deer Antlers were included as a focal point. Matching pieces placed in Pioneer Wholesale’s tall, sisal roped tins were made to match the casket. We also did a very stylish & grouped standing spray with some of the same flowers, and a standing spray with the remain flowers for this set.

On the floor at the base of the casket, we displayed the letters “DAD” using Smithers new Dad letters (also available in Mom). This was fastened to a larger, heavier rod iron easel (usually used for some of the new heavier stepping stones). At the base, a lateral display complimented the letters. Finishing this set, we created a very stylish wreath of grouped flowers & greens. Cool grasses from DVFG were bundled & tied to provide additional points of interest.

Above the casket, using Nunan’s heavy garden arch, we hung a large & showy spray – instead of a traditional overhead spray which generally hangs on the casket lid. Winding around the left corner of the booth & placed at the base of the casket were tins from Pioneer Wholesale containing beautiful mono-floral groupings of flowers such as Gerbera Daisies, Asiatic lilies, and sunflowers. The right side of the casket featured complimentary pieces in a Wicker basket, a cool wreath with a new keepsake stepping stone included among others.

Turning our attention to our cremation set, our table covered intone on tone black cloth, contained very awesome open-cut, tall Callas arranged in a tall ceramic dark red vase from Pioneer Wholesale. The cremation urn was surrounded with all white flowers, again in grouping. The urn itself was unusual, featuring a hurricane globe top& large pillar candle. We used Oasis’ wreath ring the with solid bottom for this piece. Complimenting these two designs was a smaller tight grouping of all white roses. A 36″ standing cross done in all white carnations, and containing a spray of red roses as well as the new square Oasis frame done in Red/White and Blue completed this set.

Our third and final set was a generational & geographic throw-back collection known as “The Empty Chair.” This just one of the many types of personalized designed that can be incorporated in funeral work today. A green (slightly battered) large wicker chair was used as our focal point, with the poem displayed on the chair, with an Oasis garland cascading over the front and arm. Displayed behind, beside and around it were various pieces to achieve a “peaceful” garden setting. This setting was often done over the years to celebrate the life of a very special person, who is truly and very fondly missed. The Empty Chair poem was included on the chair seat.

All in all, our efforts are designed to produce a “WOW” factor, and I think we did that today. We are also delivering to two casket companies extra pieces for display in their booths The work, the products that we worked with, and the people that worked together on this project were awesome!!! This only proves that we can be a powerful force to be dealt with when we all work together for a common good.”

As someone who works in the floral industry, I know the importance of sympathy flowers. Sometimes, it takes a picture to drive the point home. When we buried my husband’s grandmother a few weeks ago, the beautiful casket spray with pink roses and lilies painted a picture of a rosy and positive life. Those flowers reminded us that her funeral was not a depressing event, but rather a celebration of her life.

The florists who attended the NFDA convention realize that sometimes you have to remind funeral directors that flowers are a very important part of the grieving process. Below is how they got the message across.


  1. emily bennette says:

    I agree with you that sympathy flowers are a big and important part of a funeral. Like you said some flowers can be very comforting and a way to celebrate a loved ones live. It seems like it would be a good idea to take some time and care selecting those arrangements if you want to show someone you care about them.

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