The Insider: Celebrated New York City Floral Designer Michael Putnam's Top Wedding Essentials

A pioneer in contemporary wedding flower design, Michael and his husband Darroch are the creatives behind the visionary business Putnam & Putnam.

putnam & putnam michael and darroch putnam
Photo: Courtesy of Putnam & Putnam

If you're in the thick of wedding planning, you've likely already discovered the importance of prioritizing a select few vendors or details. This priority list, of course, varies by couple. The same is true for the vendors who actually bring weddings to life—they have priority lists of their own. The difference? Theirs come backed with years of industry experience. To help you shape up your own big-day musts, we've tapped the biggest names in the wedding sphere—from planners and photographers to florists—to share their three wedding must-haves. Follow along with The Insider to learn which wedding-related details professionals can't live without.

To Michael Putnam, seen at left, one half of the New York City-based boutique floral design company, Putnam & Putnam, chasing luxury is a constant creative goal. "What is luxury? Luxury is something that feels cohesive from start to finish. Good, effortless, nice," he tells Martha Stewart Weddings. He and his husband, Darroch Putnam, carry this maxim into every wedding and editorial project they help create—the result of true passion and dedication to their craft. The couple launched their business in 2014 and, since then, have been lauded for their contemporary floral work that plays with composition and color (they've also recently released their first book, Floral Color Guide, and opened a retail location).

Putnam's distinct aesthetic has inspired what he considers a big-day essential—he's shared these specific must-haves, ahead. As for what the floral designer's own wedding would like like if he and Darroch decided to get married all over again? "I'd go for dark—really moody, with red. It's my favorite color; I would do something gothic. A little dark, a little sexy, but also very organic and overflowing," he says, adding that he'd draw influence from baroque design and work in plenty of "aubergines, dark reds, and oxblood, popped with scarlet." Luckily, he has even more essentials (both visionary and practical!) to bookmark—from décor that works within the confines of your locale to balanced floral arrangements.

Good wedding design doesn't exist in a vacuum: Your décor needs to reference your venue.

"People should learn to work with space when it comes to décor. Really think about that. Creating giant things in a barn doesn't work," explains Putnam. "Learn your space, tackle that first, and then match your surroundings." From a floral perspective, the creative advises deciding what your space's vibe is before doing anything else. "Maybe if your space is rustic or natural, go for something more organic, romantic, softer. Or if your space is gilded and gaudy, go for opulence. Work with your space. Go with the colors—if it's warm, if it's cool. Work with that so it looks cohesive."

Use warm amber (not purple!) uplighting.

Throwing your entire budget into your reception's design won't mean anything if the end product is lit poorly. "Lighting is such an overlooked wedding detail; it's so important, it highlights the flowers, highlights every element," says Putnam. "If you put a lot of money and effort into your tables, please don't use purple uplighting." He advises investing in warm amber lights for your tabletop: "They mimic candlelight."

Hire some type of wedding planner for the big day.

"Every bride needs to have a day-, week-, or month-of planner if she doesn't have a full-blown professional," adds the flower designer. "You don't want to deal with lugging people around, or even thinking about that the week or month of the wedding. Don't put it on your family or venue staff, either. You need to have a professional to handle this so you can have a smooth day-of experience."

Think about floral arrangements holistically—not bloom by bloom.

To do so, Putnam advises breaking flowers into four categories (he does this when designing his own creations): base, filler, gestural, and textural. "It helps me when thinking about composition. The over concept comes together with color and composition, as opposed to one specific bloom."

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