Spencer Falls, star of the HBO Max series Full Bloom, talks micro-wedding trends and the secret to a long-lasting bouquet
Words by NANDITA KHANNA
In a matter of weeks, Spencer Falls went from, say, executing an elaborate chuppah for a 300-person wedding to preparing an Australian protea-and-rosemary bouquet meant to withstand a five-and-a-half-hour drive up the coast to Big Sur for a couple’s elopement.
The florist started selling blooms and bouquets from a van on Abbot Kinney. Photo by Fanny Chu Photography.
“COVID has changed how we gather, for sure,” says Falls, owner of The Unlikely Florist, a Venice-based flower design studio and delivery service. “But it doesn’t mean that people aren’t getting married — they are, it’s just a much smaller affair. We’re all figuring out how to adapt.”
If there’s one thing Falls is good at, it’s embracing life’s highs and lows. Raised on an orchard in New Zealand, he left home for California at age 17 to pursue his passion for snowboarding and later, an acting career. Why The Golden State? “I was about 14 or 15 when an American couple came and stayed with us [in New Zealand]. They lived in Venice,” he explains. “When I first started coming to California for snowboarding, I’d skate around the boardwalk and crash on this couple’s couch. I’ve always felt a connection to this place.”
An Unlikely Florist bouquet lasts for weeks instead of days.
But when he wasn’t getting the gigs he wanted, he began searching for a creative outlet. On a whim, he started selling handwrapped bouquets out of his 1980 VW van (lovingly named Untho) on Abbot Kinney, and the aha moment came quickly: “I was like, ‘Hey, I can actually make some money doing this,’” he says with a laugh.
In 2017, when a friend tipped him off to a vacant, 2,000-square-foot warehouse space in Venice, he realized The Unlikely Florist could have its very own HQ — and that he’d need to sell a lot more arrangements to cover Venice rent. Three years later, it serves as a raw space for Falls and his growing team to create and fulfill nationwide subscription orders and, when the time is right again, to host intimate open-air events.
“We created some unbelievable things with flowers”
No matter the project, Falls’ approach to floral design starts with the color palette. If a couple is craving silvery blues, he’ll suggest brunia; if it’s desert-y, he’ll steer them toward burgundy and blushes, like a deep red rose, or protea (one of his personal favorites). It’s helpful, too, that Falls’ aesthetic lends itself to heartier, drought-tolerant flowers like Australian banksia, eucalyptus and sage — and it’s the reason his arrangements last for weeks instead of days.
(LEFT) The florist in his Venice studio. (RiGHT) A floral swing hangs from the ceiling.
Falls acknowledges the flower industry doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to sustainability, but that hasn’t stopped him from doing his part to manage his footprint. “I hate throwing away flowers,” says Falls, who works with local farmers like Peads & Barnetts and makes regular trips to the flower district downtown. So when his team wraps a big event or replenishes flowers for regular clients, they’ll bring the discarded flowers back to the studio where they’re strung up on the wall to dry.
As it turns out, dried flowers are a beautiful keepsake for wedding clients, too. He explains that once an arrangement is carefully dried, he’ll create a frame from reclaimed wood and set it in museum glass: “The idea that a bouquet designed for someone’s wedding day could become a family heirloom … well, that’s pretty cool.”
A large, drought-tolerant protea features in a bouquet with roses and orchids.
So what’s next for Falls? A return to TV, for one. “That’s right, everything has come full circle, in a way,” he says. “I had this joke with friends that all this time I was just an actor, playing the role of a florist. But now I’m back on TV. I spent much of my time during quarantine filming a new show that’s going to air [beginning Nov. 12] on HBO Max called Full Bloom. It was a tricky thing to execute, given what was happening around us, but I’m grateful I had the chance to be a part of it. We created some pretty unbelievable things with flowers. The experience not only changed what flowers that I like to work with, but it changed my perspective on flowers entirely.”
Feature image: Spencer Falls in his Venice studio.
This story originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2020 edition of C Weddings.