Q&A with Chicago Wedding Florist Mertle & Dot

If you’re looking for a Chicago wedding florist,  Mertcle & Dot should be at the top of your list! I met with Alex, an entrepreneur and florist extraordinaire, to learn about her business and process!

A heterosexual couple in wedding attire face each other. The bride is holding flowers and the veil blows around them.

How did Mertle & Dot start? 

I started Mertle & Dot as a side hustle in 2018, after arranging flowers for a few friends’ bridal showers. I realized I loved everything about flowers: from the beauty they bring to the world, to their ability to connect people during some of life’s biggest moments.  Almost immediately, I was hooked, and Mertle & Dot was born. I’ve learned so much in the last four years! I am lucky to have taken the leap to flowering full-time in September 2022.
The name of my company is a nod to my Grandma Dot and mom, whose nickname is Mertle. They were both trailblazers in their own right. Dot had dreams of becoming a pilot or a trapeze artist, and was a pillar in her St. Louis community. She showcased her creative talent by writing original plays performed at the local elementary school, creating elaborate floats for community parades, and sewing elaborate Halloween costumes every year.
Mertle started her career as a probation officer right out of college, then climbed the corporate ladder in a male-dominated office. Later in life, she made another career shift and became a minister in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, leading a thriving community, impacting countless lives and fighting for social justice. I’m grateful to be a product of these two incredible women, and to honor their legacy through my business.

What areas do you serve as a Chicago wedding florist, and can you elaborate on the packages you offer?

I serve Chicago and any suburbs within a 20-mile radius of the city. (For all you suburban folks, I especially do a lot of business in La Grange and Western Springs!)
My services include:
You can find me at craft fairs and pop-ups around the city, as well as a few floral arranging workshops. Keep an eye on my Instagram for upcoming events!

What is your creative process? 

My goal as a Chicago wedding florist is to offer flowers that are as unique as the people receiving them, with an eye for the unexpected. I love to use dried or non-floral elements in my arrangements whenever I can, so I look for inspiration everywhere—on nature walks, in the produce section at the grocery store, in museums, while watching TV…the possibilities are endless.
Collaboration is also key for my creative process. I look for ways to tie my clients’ stories into my floral designs whenever possible. For example, I did a baby shower last year for a couple that was decorating their nursery with a Winnie the Pooh theme, so we created centerpieces that evoked the Hundred Acre Wood. And for one of my first weddings, the groom was super into gardening — so instead of floral centerpieces, we created an arrangement of plants that guests could take home.

As a Chicago wedding florist, how far in advance do you recommend clients reach out? 

For weddings, I recommend clients reach out at least 7 months in advance, if not more. (I’m almost completely booked for 2023 already, so the earlier the better!) For smaller events like bridal or baby showers, a month or two beforehand is great. And if you’d like to send a flower arrangement to yourself or a friend, you can place an order as late as 1-2 days before you’d like them delivered!

What’s something people might not know about you? 

When I first went to school, I thought I was going to become a choir teacher. For many reasons, I shifted gears — but I’m so happy to still work in the arts and pursue my creative passions in new ways today!

Do you have any advice for clients who are just starting the wedding planning process or are just starting their search for a Chicago wedding florist? 

In general, I share three tips with couples who are just starting to plan their wedding:

1. Write down your top three wedding priorities.

 This is the absolute first step you should take, as it’ll help you make every decision surrounding your wedding. Are you huge foodies? Then you should allocate a big chunk of your budget to catering. Are you music nerds? Then make your DJ or live band a top priority. Are you big on aesthetics? Then focus your time on finding a great photographer and florist.
Whatever your priorities are, be sure to record them so that when things get stressful down the road, you’ll know how to direct your energy (and where you can let some less important things go).

2. Commit to making decisions together. 

The most meaningful interactions I have with couples is when they both attend our floral consultations, and make decisions together. The way you plan your wedding is a precursor for how you’ll handle so many aspects of your marriage. So remember to share the labor and consult with each other throughout the process. After all, it’s a big day for both of you — you should both have a say!

3. Throw the rulebook out the window!

These days, weddings can look so many different ways. Embrace the traditions you actually like, and forget the rest. Remember that this is your day, and if you want to start a new tradition, go for it. It can be hard to block out the countless opinions you’ll get from friends and family, but if you can stay focused on what you want for your big day, you’ll be happier in the long run.
When it comes to figuring out what florals you need, my advice is tried and true — head to Pinterest as a starting place. Get a feel for the types of flowers you like, and save anything that catches your eye. Don’t worry too much about finding pictures that all go together, or fall within one specific color palette. Start with lots of ideas, and narrow down your focus as you go.
From there, I’d recommend reaching out to a few different Chicago wedding florists, who can serve as a consultant if you’re new to learning about flowers! They’ll be able to guide the conversation around where you might need flowers during your wedding, the types of flowers that will fit your color palette, and what’s in season on your wedding date. Talking to a few folks will help you get a sense of different floral styles and price ranges, so that you can make the right decision for your event.
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