Roses to the Occasion: The Life of an Event Rose

Wedding flowers are, quite literally, the life of the party.

Ryan Calacsan Photography for HMR Designs at Four Seasons Chicago.

They treat our senses to color, warmth and often fragrance. It’s no doubt that flowers bring a lot to the table. And, well, the entryway, the aisle, the bridal party, the ceiling, the floor, the powder room….

Ryan Calacsan Photography for HMR Designs at Four Seasons Chicago.

What you may not consider is just how far these flowers travel, and just what they go through before making their grand debut.

Ryan Calacsan Photography for HMR Designs at Four Seasons Chicago.

To learn a little bit more, we checked in with our floral studio manager Rick Wroble and our floral buyer Kyle Hustedt to see how this reception, literally brimming with blooms, came to be.

With thousands of varieties to choose from, a lot goes into finding the right rose. In this case, the chosen one was Pink Floyd, for its strong color, high petal count, large head, and performance (i.e. the way they open). As far as hot pink roses go, “Pink Floyds are consistently the best,” notes Kyle.

Photo courtesy of HMR Designs.

Availability, seasonality, and timing of development also weigh heavily on the choice. “Global shipping helps all of this, of course,” explains Kyle, “but not everything is at its best outside of its regular season, and it can (dramatically) change the cost.”

Photo courtesy of HMR Designs.

The roses have a long way to go, travelling a total of 3100 miles from a farm in Ecuador.
the rose journeyThe early arrival is, of course, by design. In fact, in order to assess the timing necessary to ensure the stems are at their peak for go-time, test are conducted on pre-orders. “We need fully, fully developed flowers for the big night,” explains Rick. “We have a whole different take (from retail stores) on how the flowers are treated as a result.”


After arriving, the roses are cleaned, cut and put into water to work towards their full development at room temperature for several days (…and brighten the day of everyone in our studio, no doubt). A careful amount of bleach also kills bacteria in the water and allows the rose to stay cleaner and fresher longer.

Photo courtesy of HMR Designs.

After this, there is a 48 hour window for the design process, depending on whether or not the roses will be in a water source or adhered to a structure or other decor element.

(All production photos courtesy of HMR Designs.)


Once design is complete, the roses are sprayed with an anti-transpirant, which helps seal in moisture, and kept refrigerated until they are brought on-site for the big night:

(All images Ryan Calacsan Photography for HMR Designs at Four Seasons Chicago)

rose-tables-are-prepared-at-four-seasons-chicago-by-hmr-designswedding-flowers-are-placed-at-four-seasons-by-hmr-designswedding-centerpieces-are-designed-on-site-by-hmr-designswedding-production-on-site-by-hmr-designswedding-production-by-hmr-designs-at-four-seasons-chicagoFinally, the lights come down, the candles are lit, and it’s impossible to imagine the room without the blooms:

pink-wedding-reception-floral-and-decor-by-hmr-designs-at-four-seasons-chicagopink-rose-wedding-reception-at-four-seasons-chicago-by-hmr-designspink-wedding-flowers-by-hmr-designs-at-four-seasons-chicagolong-table-seating-and-pink-roses-wedding-reception-hmr-designsdetail-of-rose-tables-at-hour-season-by-hmr-designslarge pink centerpieces at wedding by HMR designs

So next time you find yourself in a room of flowers, stop and smell them, of course, but also consider how far they travelled to delight you.

Special thanks to Kyle and Rick for sharing their expertise, and finally, to everyone on our amazing design and production teams for being, quite simply, the best.

Special thanks to Ryan Calacsan Photography for the lovely shots, and to all of our creative partners:
Reva Nathan and Associates
Frost Chicago
Halls Rentals
Nuage Designs
Tailored Elements
Arlen Music Productions
Four Seasons Chicago