I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented and personable vendors and wedding consultants in the wedding industry. I love to refer my clients to professionals I have worked with who I truly believe will do an amazing job for them. I have a blog post dedicated to my favorite vendors, but I wanted to also occasionally spotlight each of them more in depth.

Today, meet Amanda Johnson of Butterfly Petals! Her eclectic style and over-the-top creativity is infectious and makes her so much fun to work with. She was the master-mind behind the poem-inspired styled wedding shoot that I photographed last summer, which I couldn't have loved more.

As I watched Amanda create the above arrangement in her Mesa shop in a matter of minutes, I marveled once again at her talent and the passion for her craft that oozes from her countenance. And then she sent me home with it!! Talented, passionate AND generous! haha!

Here is some Q & A to help us get to know Amanda better. Read Amanda's answers below each question:

1. How long have you been a florist?
I have to give credit to my grandmother. When I was a kid she owned a shop in Globe Arizona that specialized in all things crafts. She taught me how to wire boutonnieres, glue bouquets. I went on set-ups to the fairgrounds and Elks club. I felt really special having an "in" and backstage pass to these big events. I would explore the storage areas at the Elks club while she stapled ivy to white lattice backdrops. Sure it was tacky, but it was the time period and I thought the whole business very glamorous.

While studying at ASU for journalism, I chose to take a job with a florist because it reminded me of the time in my grandma's shop. It was a "cash and carry" store specializing in inexpensive rose bouquets. We were taught very basic arranging--grab 12 roses and stuff them in a plastic sleeve. I got bored and would play with the flowers in the trash trying to create elaborate arrangements. My manager felt I needed an outlet and, if I was going to create "arrangements", I may as well create things they could sell. The shop started carrying prom corsages and he hated corsage work. He decided I was the perfect protege to take over for him. Boutonniere and corsage work turned into wedding corsages and that naturally branched into wedding bouquets. My first wedding creations weren't very glamorous. The shop didn't carry exotics really so they were a lot of roses tied in a bow with baby's breath. I was hooked. I loved the interaction with brides and loved talking to them about their wedding, choosing colors and flowers to suit their needs. I worked at the shop for three years before pursuing a job more closely related to my journalism degree but still dabbled in flowers for birthdays and friends' weddings.

2. What got you interested in starting your business?
When my husband and I found out we were expecting our daughter, I decided I wanted a job with flexibility where I could stay home but still have something to do. I had some freelance writing work but felt I needed something else. I thought about working for a florist but really only wanted to design wedding bouquets. My husband and I came up with a plan to run a small wedding florist in our house and Butterfly Petals was born. It definitely took a while to get off the ground. We started in 2005 and I didn't get a booking until 2006. My first year I created bouquets for two brides.

3. What do you feel sets you apart from other florists in the wedding industry?
I'm a seventh-generation Arizona native and love the desert. I've become known for my work with succulents and cacti. Many local wedding and event florists work with succulents of course, but I'm drawn a bit deeper into the desert. I use cacti and cacti blooms, I use cacti skeleton for bouquet handles. I use deer antlers and antelope horn. I've pulled 150-year-old rusty barb wire from an Arizona ranch into arrangements. I'm not afraid to experiment with these funky textures and I'm always on the lookout for ways to incorporate more native plants and textures into my work.
4. What kind of flowers did you use in your own wedding? Would you still make the same choice now if you were getting married today?
Oh my wedding, what I wouldn't change for my wedding! :) I was married in 2003 and Butterfly Petals wasn't even a dream at that point. I was finishing my last year at ASU and working for a professor part-time. We used my grandma's connections and her wholesale license to purchase flowers but, lacking a place to store floral, had to wait until the last minute and just purchase what was in stock. I made the mistake of focusing on flowers in just my color scheme so I was somewhat limited. The flowers were nice, I did use irises which are some of my favorites, but a lot of the flowers I'm not a big fan of now. Had I known some of the awesome exotic varieties I've been able to design with now, there's no way I would have created the same bouquet. I also would have slapped a succulent or two in my hand! Of course you only learn from experience and eight years in the industry opened my eyes to hundreds of floral possibilities and design opportunities.

5. What do you enjoy most about working in the wedding industry?
There's a rush when you click with a client. When your client describes their event and your brain starts whirring with possibilities. As the couple describes their big day I'm already mentally pulling together flower matches and I get really excited when they start mentioning unique and quirky touches they'd like to pull in. I love that moment.
6. When meeting with brides who don't know much about flowers, what is the biggest tip you find yourself giving them?
Don't fixate on a flower type. Pinterest is a blessing and a curse, it makes my job a lot easier because I can use it as a tool to inspire ideas. However, it's a land-mine of expensive floral and difficult to source floral. There's a reason bridal magazines and blogs publish gorgeous full, fluffy bouquets, they're lovely! However some of those flowers are very hard to get seasonally. In Arizona most of our weddings occur in the Fall and early spring. Peonies are a favorite with today's brides but they're really affordable and in season at the start of the summer.

So I encourage brides to instead think of the overall feel of their wedding. Is it romantic? Clean and modern? This will help guide my choices so I can pull together the best seasonal varieties. I find if my clients let go and let me "do my thing" they're blown away when they see what mother nature has to offer that time of year. Give us some color parameters (fixating on an exact color shade is another way to set yourself up for disappointment, Mother Nature does what she does) and a look and feel and let your designer create something unique for you.

7. What current trend in wedding flowers do you personally like the most?
I love that bouquets are a bit more free-form and messy. This means I get to pull in lots of fun textural floral or flowing greenery and that makes me happy. The tight, perfectly round bouquet will always be popular but letting a little mess creep in around the edges lets the flowers be themselves and really pop in the bouquet.
8. Any fun-facts that we should really know that would contribute even more to your coolness?
I'm a vintage nut. It's pretty obvious from my studio decor, but I surround myself with old stuff whenever possible. Even my taste in music is dated. Our daughter Rhiannon is named after a Fleetwood Mac song. My house is full of antique books. I especially obsess over books from the turn of the last century. It boggles my mind that this object I'm holding is over 100 years old and yet I can read it and enjoy it. Many of books are inscribed for special occasions. Seeing that spidery cursive and knowing that this little thing I was holding was someone's "big deal" gift that year...I don't know it's a goofy thrill. I spend all of my free time at flea markets and antique stores. My husband and I plan our vacations around places known for vintage shopping. His passion is old movie cameras and projectors. We have several working models and watch old 8mm and 16mm silent films. I also love old stuff that reminds me of growing up here in Arizona. I collect deer antlers and javalina skulls. It's a bit creepy I suppose, but they remind me of where I come from; hiking with my grandpa and dad and learning about the critters that share the desert with us.

Thanks Amanda for being so fabulous at what you do and making my job so fun!! Click here to visit the Butterfly Petals website!

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