As 2020 draws to a close and we reflect back on the tragedies and hardships this year brought to so many, we are thankful to have some bright moments that stand out and warm our hearts as we look forward to 2021 with hope! Anyone in the wedding industry from the flower farms, wholesale houses, venues, vendors to the couples who had planned to be married this year know what a roller-coaster ride the year turned out to be! We were heartbroken for our couples as we worked together to post-pone, reschedule, post-pone and reschedule again and again.
Photo credit – Haley A. Photography
For some couples whose spring weddings were shut down, they found the best solution was to proceed with a micro or legal wedding and postpone the big celebration to next year. Such was the case for this sweet couple. As they stopped to pick up their bouquet we were inspired by their positive attitude when they mentioned that things could be far worse than having to post-pone their celebration.
Their attitude helped me to realize that I was going to have to look for the positive and focus on the positive to get myself out of the “depressive slump” I had slipped into during the shut-down. As wedding after wedding was cancelled and postponed, I found myself with a lot of extra time on my hands which I should have been using productively. I should have been eager to catch up on blogging, organizing photos and other things which get neglected during busy season. Instead I seemed stuck in a dark place of sadness and I couldn’t get motivated or feel creative. The photos and videos of flower farms plowing up fields of flowers because there was no demand for them and seeing our local wholesales houses 3/4’s empty was so sad.
Photo credit – Rebekah Albaugh Photography
As spring turned into summer, a few of our couples had a small backyard weddings. These small intimate ceremonies were so heart warming as the neighborhood rallied around them and offered their backyards and driveways to help make the event socially distanced and safe. It felt so wonderful to be have an opportunity to be creative again as we worked on their bridal bouquets, ceremony decor and reception table centerpieces!
Photo credit – Wright Photography
By late summer the wedding venues were able to have small socially distanced weddings and had put up tents outside to space out guests. A new local flower farms added to the availability of flowers for bridal bouquets and floral centerpieces which was exciting for me and close enough that I could go to the farm and choose my flowers such as the zinias and lisianthus pictured above.
Photo credit – George Street Photo
We found that there was something really special about doing these small intimate ceremonies and we felt so thankful for the work and also thankful that the venues could be open again.
Photo credit – Ebby L. Photography
We also found that these couples had room in the budget for some beautiful premium floral designs for their bridal bouquets, ceremony flowers and reception centerpieces to decorate their space and make it memorable because their guests lists were smaller! We also enjoyed delivering to some charming smaller venues which created a cozy atmosphere for these small intimate weddings such as this old restored barn pictured above.
Photo credit – Nicki Lynn Photographpy
Mixed in with the small intimate weddings we also did some medium sized weddings which were held outside on private property and family farms which added some unique and different elements. It was so interesting to see how couples thought outside the box to hold their events safely.
By November weddings were having to downsize back to micro weddings as the virus was on the upswing again. This wedding had chairs for 10 guests and the ceremony was videoed and live-streamed for the the rest of the wedding guests to take part virtually.
Our last wedding of the season was perhaps the most creative of all! It was a “drive-by” reception at the end of November. Because the weather was too cold for the bride and groom to stand outside, it was held in a large toolshed where the guests drove their cars in one end of the toolshed, were handed their cupcake/snacks/bottled water, drove by the couple, waved and drove out the other end of the toolshed! By December wedding venues were completely shut down again as the virus increased in the area.
We look ahead to 2021 with hope in our hearts that we can see this pandemic coming to an end! While a few of our couples chose to just cancel their 2021 rescheduled weddings, many other couples are looking forward to having their celebrations in 2021 and we are looking forward to celebrating with them and making their day as special and beautiful as possible!!
A wedding at Hornbaker Gardens is beautiful anytime of the year but especially so in the summer when everything is lush and green and all the shade plants are fresh and thriving. It was a gorgeous, sunny day for Alejandro and Elizabeth when they were married in an outdoor ceremony on June 29, 2019. We are excited to share these beautiful wedding photos by Agnes Rasek Photography.
How did you two meet? – We met at school/ through my cousin who was friends and had classes with Alex. Alex saw a photo of me on my cousins social media page and he had classes with her, so he asked her about me. We exchanged phone numbers through my cousin and the following year we attended the same school & within a few months, we began dating!
Hornbaker Gardens is famous for it’s collection of shade plants,especially the large collection of hostas. We always love a chance to deliver a wedding to The Barn at Hornbakers and save time for a stroll through their beautiful gardens.
How did Alejandro propose? Alex proposed to me during a vacation in Santorini. We were in Greece for 5 days before he proposed. He acted like we were going to take a photo (but in reality he had discussed his plan with the concierge at our hotel, so we got it all on video!) He were on balcony over looking the Aegean Sea. It was perfect.
Elizabeth told us she was fascinated with “Farm Girl Flowers” when we first consulted together. We also love to follow “Farm Girl Flowers” and knew were would be a good fit to work together! She chose bright shades of peach and crimson with white accents to coordinate with the bridesmaids crimson dresses, and all the floral decor except for her bridal bouquet which was shades of white.
What did you enjoy most about wedding planning? I enjoyed spending quality time with Alex, my mother, sister and niece. We toured venues together, attended bridal expos and so much more together. These are memories I will never forget and are once in a lifetime.
What did you find most difficult about wedding planning? I’m extremely indecisive and over think every little thing. I made wedding planning difficult for myself because I never knew how to make a decision within a timely manner or without stressing myself out over it, even though I already knew my answer. I felt that before I could make a decision, I had to “think about it” for weeks.
We took the time to explore all the options with Elizabeth as she thought about each one, what she really wanted, and how to get the most for her budget. She decided she wanted the bridal bouquets to really stand out and she wanted to have a ceremony arbor floral spray to be a grand focal for the wedding. We kept the table centerpieces simple with bottles of blooms and candles.
What advice would you give to newly engaged couples? I would say it is NEVER too early to begin planning. We were engaged for two years and I saved a good portion of planning for year two. I wish I wouldn’t have! Start right away! You will have so much more time to make things special and unique.
Where to begin! Nancy is amazing. She completely brought our floral vision to life, with not much help from me at all. I showed her a few photos, gave her our wedding colors and told her my likes/ dislikes. That was all Nancy needed and she was SPOT ON with what we wanted. When I first saw all of the flowers, it literally brought tears to my eyes because it was EXACTLY what I envisioned. Nancy you are truly the best and I am so thankful we found you. – Elizabeth Sandoval Ramirez
Take Elizabeth’s advice and start planning today! If you are looking for a florist who offers highly personalized service and lush one-of-a-kind bridal bouquets, beautiful ceremony decor and flexibility, call, text or email us today 309-212-6570 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Vendor credit – The Barn at Hornbakers, Fancy Florals By Nancy, Agnes Rasek Photography
Cole and Shelby were married on July 13, 2019 and held their reception at Reality on Monroe. We worked with Two Sisters Event Design to create a lovely gardenscape inside this restored historic venue. It turned out to be a really special experience for us to be able to work with Two Sisters and create the floral designs for the “Steel Magnolia” theme designed by Two Sisters.
How did you and Cole meet? – “Cole and I met through a mutual friend in Arizona. It was ironic because we both are from Illinois and lived in the same town for several years without meeting. We quickly hit it off on our first date and have been together ever since. 3 years later, he proposed and almost 4 years later we were married.”
Shelby and her mother met with us to explain their vision for her wedding flowers which was – Vintage, Chabby Chic, Dreamy, Romantic with flowers in shades of dusty mauve and vintage lavender. The Amnesia Rose nailed the color palette and was used as a base for pulling in other shades to coordinate for her bridal bouquets and all the table centerpieces and reception decor.
How did Cole propose? – “Cole proposed to me on a beach in San Diego, CA. He brought my whole family out for the big event and proposed to me at sunset. It was beautiful!”
The floral spray (above) decorated the vintage door and a garland graced the top of the dessert buffet and connected to another door with another floral spray. The doors were embellished with sayings from “Steel Magnolias” – “My colors are blush and bashful” … “Her colors are pink and pink.”
What was your favorite part of wedding planning? – “My favorite part about wedding planning was the cake tasting, of course! Honestly, the entire process was fun to me. I had so many great people helping out that it made planning a seamless and enjoyable experience.”
A large ornate mirror “It’s time to celebrate Shelby and Cole” served as a focal area as the guests arrived. We embellished the personalized mirror with dripping greens and lush, romantic blooms.
The farm tables were covered in a dreamy gauzy runner and decorated with mangolia leaves, vintage candlesticks and assorted vases of flowers.
The cocktail tables were given attention with mangolia leaves, vases of blooms and Turvey’s famous quotes printed and framed in cute little frames.
What was the most difficult part of wedding planning? – “The most difficult part of wedding planning was trying to please all parties! You have to learn to go with what you want because it’s your day and no one else’s.”
Responding to the “shabby chic” vision, the pink dressing table was converted to “Truvy’s Beauty Spot” and decorated with romantic compotes filled with flowers and one of the drawers was opened and filled with cascading greens.
Lush pink peonies added a romantic charm to the floral centerpieces.
To help create a garden effect and screen off a restful seating area for guests to relax, we created a faux tree around the support beam which added a fun element to the room.
Among the blooms we used for the wedding flowers were light lavender stock, violet clematis, deeper tones of antique carnations, fluffy light pink astilbe and lush garden roses.
Even the ceilings were dripping with blooms from the three floral chandeliers creating a garden feel.
What advice would you give to other couples who are planning their wedding? – “My advice to other couples would be to stop and smell the roses…seriously! 🙂 take a moment to soak it all in because it’ll be over in an instant. “
Nancy was amazing to work with! She truly brought my vision to life and went above and beyond to make sure our day was special. The flowers were absolutely beautiful and I am still receiving compliments from friends and family about how great they turned out! I would highly recommend Nancy to any friend or family member.” – Shelby Weber Salamone
Two Sisters Event Design, Stephanie Wood Photography, Fancy Florals By Nancy, Janet’s Cakes, Palma Entertainment, Blono Copy Shop.
Tom and Jelena were married at Pear Tree Estate last August 10, 2019 in a beautiful flower filled ceremony. Jelena was so delighted with her wedding flowers it was pure joy to see her appreciation and fun to be a part of her day. Jelena graciously agreed to answer a few questions about them and share some tips for wedding planning.
Q – How did you and Tom meet?
A – Tom and I met while playing on the same intramural softball team in grad school. I immediately became interested in the soft spoken guy who always wore a hat and hit home runs at every at bat. (We’re a very athletic couple and have won several championships since)
Q – How did Tom propose?
A – Tom proposed by taking me to Niagara Falls (inspired by Jim and Pam on the office- our favorite show) we loved how kitschy the town was and had fun acting like kids playing alien tag and going through haunted houses. He left me hanging until the last day by taking me to the botanical gardens and proposing. The moment was even more special as it was captured by another couple who had also gotten engaged that weekend!
Q – What did you like most about wedding planning?
A – What I liked most about wedding planning is that I got to bounce ideas off my mom. She was super involved in the wedding planning and helped me every step of the way!
Q – What did you find most difficult about wedding planning?
A – What I found most difficult about wedding plan is nailing down all those last minute details for the wedding day. Everything is about timing and we had to make sure everything was just right.
The ceremony was held in front of the draped window with a dramatic table top floral pergola and table top floral spray for her wedding decor. These floral decorations were moved to adorn the head table during the reception.
Jelena chose a soft palette of white, cream, blush and pink for her wedding floral decor which created a romantic and elegant setting for her wedding and reception.
Tall centerpiece decor – Because the venue has high ceilings we used several of our tall clarinet vases with a stunning array of hydrangea, garden roses, snap dragon and spray roses for part of the reception centerpieces to create a statement in the room.
Lantern decor – In keeping with the garden theme, part of the tables had lanterns which were filled with flowers to coordinate.
The other tables held silver mercury compote vases full of assorted roses and flowers.
Q – Do you have any advice for newly engaged couples just starting to wedding plan?
A – The advice I would give to newly engaged couples would be to book the big things as soon as possible. The venue, flowers, cake, and Dj. Once you get those done everything else is downhill from there!
The floral pergola and floral spray were re-used for head table decor at the reception adding so much value for her wedding flowers.
Are you recently engaged and want to have extraordinary beautiful floral designs for your wedding? Call, text or email us today to receive your free consultation at 309-212-6570 or email@example.com
“I cannot say enough good things about Nancy! I came to her with no idea what I wanted and she held my hand through the whole process, creating a beautiful vision for my wedding day. She was very attentive and responded immediately when I had questions or requests. Pricing was very reasonable for the amazing product we received. The flowers were absolutely gorgeous and I received SO many compliments! Nancy was wonderful setting up and taking down everything so I didn’t have to worry about anything the day of. She is also just such a lovely person and wonderful to work with. ” – Jelena Verkler Edwards
Allerton Mansion has a bit of magic about it when it comes to weddings and wedding photography. There are so many wonderful nook and crannies throughout the gardens on the property it is certainly a photographer’s dream. It is also one of our favorite venues to decorate for weddings and receptions.
It was a glorious spring day for Nick and Stephanie’s wedding day last May 18, 2019 held in the Sunken Garden. The large white wall at the top of the steps was flanked by double urn centerpieces of bright spring blooms. Stephanie loves peonies so we were able to get the beautiful Coral Charm peony and mix with large bloomed garden roses in sherbet shades to create a lovely bridal bouquet for her.
The groom and groomsmen blue suits and pink ties were the perfect complement for the spring wedding flowers. A soft pink ranunculus boutonniere matched Nick’s tie perfectly.
The ivy covered garden walls at first glance resembles an espalier tree trained against the wall.
They met on their first day of college when Stephanie came up and sat down beside Nick as he was sitting alone waiting on his friends. They started dating a week later!
When asked if they had a favorite memory of their special day, they responded: “The ceremony for sure. It had us both tearing up because it had been a long time coming and we love each other so much. Having our friends and family there made the entire day special and one we wish we could repeat a thousand times over.”
We asked the couple to share some advice for wedding planning and this is what they said, ” Take your time and be diligent. We were engaged for two years and it still felt like just barely enough time. Don’t procrastinate meeting with vendors and locations. The sooner you can get them booked the less stressful your day will be. Enjoy every moment. Take in every little mistake and every happy accomplishment along the way.”
The reception was held at The Refinery in Champaign. The couple personalized their reception with favorite board games for their guests to play. The spring flowers were arranged in gold compote bowls and tall gold stands for the floral centerpieces at the reception.
We got a little behind in our blogging over wedding season, but with the slow season upon us we are ready to show you some of our real weddings from the past year. Get ready to be inspired by these gorgeous photos of Eric and Kristin’s candlelight wedding held at Pear Tree Estate on November 1, 2019. The theme for their wedding was romantic, playful, elegant and fun! See how this group of fabulous vendors came together and brought their theme to life.
Eric and Kristin were simply a delight to work with! They were so excited about their flowers and worked closely with us to have their vision of lush romantic wedding flowers combined with luscious jewel toned fruits create an explosion of color, scent and texture to surround their wedding ceremony and reception.
Candlelight created an intimate, romantic atmosphere for the evening ceremony at Pear Tree which was where the couple first met and then later became engaged. Taper candles in vintage candlesticks covered the ceremony table and coordinated with the tall gold candelabras which were topped with artistic floral designs incorporating fruit for a dramatic ceremony backdrop.
Eric and Kristin describe their relationship as a big, big love that was outside the scope of their imaginations. Once they found it they made the decision to commit their lives to protecting and growing it. Kristin’s favorite flower is the peony. Eric has promised Kristin a garden of 1,000 peonies and has already started fulfilling this goal. We are friends with peony farmers Kurt and Beth from Alaska and they are helping Eric procure peony roots. We love that we have also become friends with Eric and Kristin and can’t wait to watch this peony garden as well as their love for each other grow!!
We wanted to be able to get peonies for Kristin’s November 1st wedding but the South America season was just starting in November and only coral was available which didn’t fit the jewel tone palette. For her bridal bouquet we substituted with gorgeous garden roses; Yves Piaget (a large hot-pink), Keira (another large but soft pink), Grand Jubilee (deep burgundy) and Tess (dark red). We were thrilled to be able to get Mansfield Park spray roses which look like perfect little peonies!!
The bridesmaid dress fabrics were rich velvet in jewel tones of navy, fuchsia, purple and burgundy. As far as Kristin’s dress, she was sure she would wear an architecturally interesting sheath silhouette, free of embellishments from a very specific classic american design house. She wore just the opposite! After they were engaged, they spent the winter watching 17 seasons of Say Yes to the Dress (yes 17!!) Eric loved Hayley Paige’s work and felt that deep down inside Kristin was a princess who needed something fun and ethereal. Even though it wasn’t the style Kristin wanted, when she heard that Hayley was debuting her new collection at Bella Bianca Bridal Couture in Chicago, she quietly made an appointment to check it out. Wouldn’t you know, she fell in love with the 4th dress she tried on – “Nash”, an A-line gown with open back and deep sweetheart neckline with caviar beading, a full layered starlight tulle skirt and a sparkling train that went on and on…all the way back to the castle. When she returned home and told Eric, he excitedly exclaimed, “I knew it! I knew you were a Hayley Paige bride!”
These darling flower girls rocking their floral hair crowns and these handsome ring-bearers almost but not quite stole the show!!
Firelight and candlelight set the scene for this intimate and romantic wedding!
Their ceremony was a hybrid of a traditional religious service, conducted by their minister friend, and modern elements such as the reading of passages from books the couple read together and the planting of a tree for their new home in lieu of a unity candle.
Kristin’s mother hand-made the navy velvet table runners. The tall centerpieces graced the wedding aisles, then were moved to the reception tables. Pomegranates and other fruits added dark red color against the table runners.
Half of the farm tables had low centerpieces in gold compote bowls with taller candlesticks and mercury votive candles, while the other half had the tall centerpieces with flowers draping from the gold stands.
The ceremony backdrop floral candelabras were moved to Eric and Kristin’s sweetheart table in front of the fireplace where they framed the couple beautifully.
Each table was named after a book that Eric and Kristin had read together and the name of the book was presented on a hand painted, calligraphed card.
Each name tag was tied to a red pear at each place setting. Apricity Ink hand created each table card, name card, wedding seating chart, sign and invitations with her phenomenal talent.
The couple focused on complimenting their styles to create a wedding that belonged to both of them. For Kristin, that meant rich textures, bold glamour and an abundance of candlelight. For Eric it meant bringing a natural element into the space such as fruit. Pear Tree’s modern rustic look was the perfect setting to bring the two styles together. The deep reds and purples of the pomegranates, pears, plums and grapes added a luxurious feel to this fall wedding.
The dessert table featured a donut stand embellished with blooms and a two-tiered cake with paint strokes & fruit hand brushed with gold.
The couple wanted to created a special experience for their guests and they achieved this with a corner space set up and decorated as a portrait studio for guests to have their photo taken. Adding to the experience a caricature artist sketched super fun cartoon versions of the guests and they went up on a board until the end of the night when each guest could take their sketch home.
Q – What was your most anticipated or special moment of your day?
A – For Eric it was the vows that they wrote, spoke to each other and framed them with stories so that the guests could understand the magnitude of the work they put into their relationship to get to that moment. For Kristin it was the first look which she had dreamed of and worried her dress, hair and look for so long. Eric looked like an angel waiting their and it brought her to tears.
Q – Do you have any wedding planning or marriage advice that you’d like to share with other couples planning their day?
A – Remember why you are planning this. Kiss often. Start planning way too early. Hire a wedding “day of” coordinator to take care of the logistics between vendors and bring all the details together!!
Schilling Photography, Apricity Ink, Pear Tree Estate, LA Gourmet, Bella Bianca Bridal Studio, Caitlin Hicks – Private Jeweler, The Cake Artist Studio, Dan Wild Illustrator, Wingard Salon, Lauren Foran Bridal Beauty, The Black Tux, Jenny Yoo, Tory Burch, Christian Loubouton and Fancy Florals By Nancy
Are you recently engaged and looking for a florist who will listen to your ideas, dreams and help you bring them to life? Call, text or email us today – 309-212-6570 or firstname.lastname@example.org
As 2019 draws to a close we are gratefully looking back at all the wonderful flower opportunities we have had, excited about new friends we have made, counting our blessing of having the support of our family and being able to travel to Mexico and serve at Casa Visa Y Esperanza through the “grandparent program” for two weeks in the summer and two weeks in the winter which is made possible through this business!!
We find that this business is not just about the wedding flowers and our couples (as integral as they are) but also about the relationships we have built with other vendors in the industry with whom we have become friends, the wholesale companies and farms we do business with and being able to get to know and support each other.
It’s also about the opportunities to learn, grow and challenge ourselves and in all of our interactions and happenings to reflect the love of Jesus which is the greatest thing we can do here on earth!
Our 2019 wedding season started with the wedding for our long time neighbor’s daughter the last weekend of January. As we left Fairbury with two fully loaded vans of flowers headed to Peoria, our van thermometer registered -17 degrees below zero! In Illinois we have very extremes in weather which can create real challenges. We were grateful to have all of the flowers safely delivered and tried to remind ourselves that setting up in 95 degree heat and humidity maybe isn’t so bad!!
For sure a big highlight of 2019 was having the opportunity to travel with Mayesh Wholesale to Ecuador for “hands on” classes being taught by some of the best in the industry, using the most luscious blooms and being able to tour some of the best flower farms and make friends with these amazing people. It broke our hearts later in the year to hear of the uprising and destruction in this country and the damage and threat to the flower farms and the people. We are so thankful that it has settled back down for the time being.
This is one of our amazing group installations with Susan McLeary. Photo credit: Nicole Clarey Photography My skills and knowledge of design mechanics have been so enriched by this experience; how can I ever thank Mayesh for this opportunity!!
For sure another highlight of 2019 has been receiving my “prize” garden roses from Alexandra Farms. My bouquet entry won 2nd place in the wedding contest and to be able to experience the many different varieties of garden roses the farm grows has been an incredible experience. The year has literally been a sensual delight with each box I receive. How can I ever thank Alexandra Farms for this opportunity?!!
After returning from Ecuador our season took off with a large flower filled wedding the first weekend of April and set the tone for filling our year with flowers!! It was so much fun to work with Mary and Tami to fulfill their beautiful vision – we covered the venue in flowers!!
With only one wedding in April, we had time to do a series of workshops with an abundance of spring blooms. Everyone is ready for flowers after the cold winter and we had 9 full classes. We love to share our joy of flower arranging and are thankful for each student who attended!! It also earned me some money for our trip to Washington DC to help create the floral arrangements for the First Lady Luncheon were we pay all of our own expenses and volunteer our services!!
In May we were grateful that we were able to be volunteers for the First Lady Luncheon for the third year in a row. It is a lot of hard work but truly a great experience and honor to do this. We love the opportunity to make connections and friends with so many other designers. We were all invited to attend the luncheon and be in the same room with our lovely first lady, Melania Trump!! We have been asked to speak about our First Lady Luncheon experience for the Pontiac Rotary and the Gridley Library.
Other opportunities we had this year was again doing the “tasting/photo shoot” with Pear Tree Estate where we tried out some of our new floral design mechanics we learned in Ecuador. The photo below shows our floral crescent which is created without foam so is light weight and can be hung from the ceiling of your venue.
Thank you to Stephanie Wood Photography for doing a photo shoot with us where we could set up and decorate our new floral chuppah. We feel that we have so much more to offer our brides and couples than ever before and are excited for the future weddings where we can use these new designs.
Another very big highlight of 2019 was our bouquet entry again winning 2nd place in the wedding division of Alexandra Farm Garden Rose contest this year!!! Photo credit: Stephanie Wood Photography “It really is still hard for me to comprehend that my bouquet design was chosen not just last year but again this year and as a garden rose lover for many years this is such a dream for me. I still pinch myself each time a beautiful box of garden roses arrive from Alexander Farm – truly glorious!!!!”
Wedding season truly began in earnest with one or two weddings booked every weekend from the last weekend of June through the middle of November with only two weeks off at the end of August to take our mission trip to Mexico!!
It was a very intense busy season and for Nancy the summer and fall was spent almost 24/7 in our garage processing and designing wedding flowers, and set up days at the venues. “I truly did not have a life outside of “flowers” during this time!!! I am so grateful for my husband Wayne who cooked and did laundry, mowed and weeded the yard and helped me in a million ways. I truly could not do what I do without his help and support.”
I look back over this time and recall some of the highlights!! Probably the hardest thing that happened was a strong gust of wind that blew over the vintage door frame that the bride had rented from another vendor and we had flowered and decorated!! I was just leaving the venue when a staff member came running out and said it had just blown over. Again I was so grateful that we were able to get it back up and repaired with minimal damage to the flowers (good mechanics pay off) with a half hour to spare before the ceremony started!!!
We are thankful and grateful to our couples for their trust they put in us to create beautiful flower designs to fulfill their vision. We feel that we do our best and most creative work when they trust us enough to give us design freedom and don’t micro-manage us. Anna let us create the faux tree with flowers cascading down the trunk for a stunning entry way focal to greet her guests. Loved how it turned out!!
Probably the funniest thing that happened was when my son was helping me clean up and tear down at the end of a reception. An intoxicated “old according to him” lady pinched him in the but and said “It’s going to be a great night!” You really have to roll with the punches in this job LOL!!!
I’m not going to lie – this business gets intense and is a lot of hard work but the appreciation of our wonderful couples brings so much joy!! Getting to present the bride with her wedding bouquet and seeing the happiness on her face is an incredible feeling.
Making friends with our couples is such a special part of our business!! After all the months of planning and details it is such a joy to see it all come together. One of the harder things we did in 2019 was to take part in an anniversary photo shoot for a young dying husband and his wife. Within days of the shoot he had passed on but we felt so grateful for the opportunity to create a special memory for his wife of 3 years to cherish.
With less weddings in November, we were able to sneak away and attend another great Mayesh Workshop. This one was with Sean Strong and we again learned so much and were inspired by the beautiful product brought in by Mayesh for us to work with. Looking forward to these special events and knowing the inspiration they will bring keeps us going in the middle of the intense busy times of the season and we are grateful!!
Of course another highlight was again being chosen as a Knot Best of Weddings vendor for the 6th year in a row!! It is only because of our lovely couples who take the time to leave us wonderful reviews that we can be chosen for this honor. How can we thank all of our wonderful couples?!! We are grateful to you.
2019 brought something new for us! We decided to submit several albums of our work to blog publications and feel so grateful that our work has been seen and published on these platforms above. To actually view the blog feature, click on the Two Bright Lights button below for the direct links.
Our hearts are grateful and full as we realize our dream of being able to serve at the orphanage in Magdalena, Mexico “Casa Vida Y Esperanza” with some of the proceeds from our weddings funding these trips. We love all the staff and kids there and are thankful for these opportunities.
Fancy Nancy reached a milestone this year turning 60 years young!! Even though many people tell her she looks young for her age, she does “feel” her age and has especially struggled with some lower back, hip and leg pain this past year.
We haven’t made this announcement public yet…but here it is! We have been hired to help decorate floats for the Rose Bowl in California and will be leaving the day after Christmas!!! We really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves in for when we applied and so we are asking all of our fans to please pray that Nancy’s hip and leg will hold out during the gruelling work days from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. with only 1/2 hour for lunch and dinner break. In addition Nancy was told she would be on a ladder most of the time. As a rose lover it has been a dream of hers to attend the Rose Bowl Parade and now she will realize her dream of not only seeing the parade but getting to help decorate the floats. Again we are so grateful. The floats we are assigned to are: Trader Joe’s, Huntington Gardens, RFD TV/Cowboy Channel and City of Alhambra.
Last but not least we are so grateful to our wonderful family who is willing to step in and help out when needed!! After just coming through our busiest season ever, Nancy has been doing some soul searching and has set some boundaries for herself in 2020!! She will be doing less weddings next year; only one per weekend. Because of this we also have a new minimum order to book; that way the week we are committed to a wedding will be worth our time and if there is not a wedding booked, we will have more time to enjoy our most wonderful and delightful grandchildren!!!
Thank you for following along on our Floral Journey this year! We can’t wait to see what exciting adventures next year will bring.
We do still have some open dates in 2020 so if you are recently engaged and flowers will be an important part of your wedding vision please call, text or email for more information on how to have the fabulous wedding flowers of your dreams!!! 309-212-6570 or email@example.com
Let me tell you about our magical experience we had with Mayesh Wholesale by taking part in their first International Workshop which was held at Hacienda Cusin in Quito, Ecuador. Mayesh knows how to put on a workshop; this was my second workshop with them and I am thrilled for the experiences they provide. Although this is my second blog post on the subject (my first blog had photos taken with my Iphone) the photos in this post are the beautiful professional photos by Nicole Clarey Photography.
First of all, they chose a wonderful venue! Hacienda Cusin made a wonderful and relaxing setting for the workshop. The staff was friendly and efficient, the grounds were park-like with walled courtyards, beautiful plants and flowers and lovely paths to explore while listening to birdsong. The food was delicious and they even lit a fire in our room in the evening and slipped a hot water bottle between the sheets!
Each time I walked into the workshop space, my heart just leaped in joy and a feeling of intense excitement filled me!! Mayesh brought in a stunning array of glorious blooms and foliage; it was a feast for the senses to see and to smell such a mass of premium blooms for our use in the workshops!
Even though Quito is located along the equator, it has a mild climate because it is in the mountains and the elevation is a little over 9,000 ft. The temperature was in the 60’s and March is their rain season so Mayesh had the workshop area under a tent. We actually had gorgeous weather – an added bonus!
That first evening all of us florists were busy checking out all the beautiful flowers waiting for us for the next two days of workshops. Needless to say our hearts were overwhelmed and delighted!!
The first day of workshops started out with introductions all the way around from Mayesh family and staff, the three workshop instructors (left) Veronica Cicero – Anthology Co., (center) Holly Chapel – Hope Flower Farm and (right) Sue McLeary – Passion Flower Sue and then all of us workshop attendees. We came from all over the states and even Peru!
Holly’s workshop was held on the first day and had two parts; hand’s on for learning her method using Syndicate egg & pillow to create bouquets & centerpieces and the second part was business tips for running a successful floral business. Even though I had already done a 2-day floral intensive with Holly at Hope Flower Farm enabling me to become a Chapel Designer, it was all a very good review and don’t we always pick up a little more the second time around?
I was privileged to have my husband as well as business partner travel with me. Even though he doesn’t design, he is my assistant and just like at home he was helping me in any way he could. It was so nice for him that a couple other designers had brought their spouses and they all bonded well and had a great time together.
Ahhh, the magic of having all these glorious blooms at your fingertips. We had so much fun together designing and being inspired.
A very special part of the workshop besides the flowers was each other!! We made lasting friendships and still communicate with each other through the Whats App group Yvonne created to keep us all informed. We ask floral and design advice and share our triumphs and floral joys together!
This was Holly’s demo bouquet she made for the workshop – it could not get any more gorgeous than this!!
This was Holly’s demo compote bowl arrangement for the workshop using her signature compote bowl & pillow which she created with Syndicate and has a patent for.
The second day we learned from Sue McLeary who is famous for her “floral wearables” such as crowns, necklaces, floral tattoos and much more. I was unfamiliar with her techniques so this was very stimulating and exciting for me to learn these new techniques and ideas.
Sue’s demo head-piece is on the model at upper left. Another fun activity was being allowed to forage along the creek bed at the hacienda for foliage and and natural materials – my husband helping – see upper right.
Sue is also known for her large scale foam free floral installations and it was super cool to learn how to make “burritos” out of floral netting stuffed with natural foraged material, then rolled and zip-tied together.
Here we are attaching the burritos to the arch to create a base to insert the flowers into.
WOW! Look how beautiful it turned out and those ugly burritos are completely covered and create a sturdy base to insert the flowers into. The more delicate blooms were placed into water tubes. There aren’t any heavy foam cages either – it’s all light weight so that the arbor can easily support the flowers. So amazing and what ingenious mechanics!!!
Love that hanging amaranthus!!!
For the large scale floral installations, we divided into two groups. I was in the group that did this yellow floral waterfall! It would take a bride with a large budget to be able to use this many flowers but what an amazing focal backdrop it would make! I’m not sure I will ever have a chance to create something on this grand of scale for a client so I was grateful to get a chance to work on something of this magnitude here at the workshop!!!!
Acacia, garden roses, ranunculus, narcissus and orchids en masse – Oh my!!!! What a dream!! What magic!!!!
Here we are! The whole group of us including the Mayesh employees and our workshop instructors. What a great fun-loving talented group of people!!
The third workshop was with Veronica Cicero of Anthology Co. It was a lesson in creating a large scale floral design in a large urn without foam.
All the beautiful flowers we got to use were gathered around the courtyard fountain making such a beautiful display – again what a feast for the senses!! We also got to go out and forage the creek bank again for large branches and tall papyrus grass.
This was Veronica’s demo massive urn design – I just love creating these large arrangements!!!
Day three was reserved for visiting flower farms, an experience that all of we florists were eagerly awaiting. Ecuador has the perfect climate and soil for growing roses and other flowers here in the Andean region. The first farm we visited was Greenrose Ecuador where the owner gave us a first rate tour of the whole production. We were happy to see how well the employees are cared for with transportation, child-care, medical care, protective clothing, etc.
Greenrose Ecuador is the first and only one of 5 farms in the world that grow the coveted “Toffee” rose. It is not always readily available and of course that makes the price more than other rose varieties so it was pretty cool to see masses of these beautiful colored roses!!
The whole operation is modern and efficient and is was so interesting to see all that goes into growing and harvesting the roses and every step that happens in the process until we get them in our florist shops.
We could look down from a balcony and watch the grading & packing procedure. So very interesting!! At the end of the tour we were given Ecuadorian snacks and drinks. They also handed out hats and swag bags to all.
This is a familiar sight! As a wedding florist, we use hundreds of rose blooms and get them in packaged like this. After we process them, it’s always a joy to watch them open up and become even more beautiful looking for our weddings!!
The second farm we got to visit was ValleFlor where we found beautiful new varieties of delphinium they were hybridizing. The also grow many other flowers and fillers at this farm. Before our tour started they fed us a very tasty hot lunch.
As a florist, it is so interesting to see how the flowers are grown and where they come from. Of course we try to use a lot of American grown flowers but there just aren’t enough American flower farms to meet the demands.
Piles of purple statice and blue limonium bundles look so beautiful just waiting to be taken to the cooler.
As a very special treat the owner of Greenrose invited us to his horse ranch for cocktails, to see his show horses and then later for a wonderfully delicious dinner. We were given a demonstration of what their show horses could do and also the opportunity to ride – which many of us took advantage of. The ranch is located up in the mountains and it was a beautiful drive and location.
We were shown incredible hospitality and of course the house was decorated with masses of those famous toffee roses!!!
This is the wonderful Mayesh family that took such good care of us and did such a good job planning the workshop!! Thank you Mayesh for an incredible and magical experience!!!
The fourth day we were given the opportunity to explore old town Quito with a guided walking tour and lunch at one of the plaza restaurants.
Old town Quito is a UNESCO historic site with its colonial architecture and collection of churches, convents, palaces and plazas. The guide also gave us the history of Ecuador and explained how they came to use the dollar. We had time to visit some of the shops and purchase some of their famous chocolate. We felt so fortunate we had this extra day to explore and play tourist!!
When we arrived back at the Hacienda, the staff had prepared an outdoor barbeque for us with candlelight and of course flowers on the tables. It goes without saying it was all delicious!!
It felt sad to realize that our time in Ecuador was coming to an end! Mayesh had genuine Ecuador Alpaca wool scarves made for each of us to treasure and remember this beautiful place and magical workshop experience.
The final act of the evening was a dance performed for us by Ecuadorian dancers, then farewells were made with promises to stay in touch!! In the morning some of us that had later flights took a taxi to see the famous Otavalo open air market which on Saturday turns into the largest open air market in South America. This was a great way to be further exposed to Ecuadorian culture.
We had a clear view most days of this volcano. The soil is enriched by all the volcanic ash and contributes to the success of growing roses and other flowers. It certainly is a beautiful country!!
Thank you again to Mayesh Wholesale for providing this most magical experience!!
Many thanks to all of our sponsors: @greenrose_ecudor, @ez.flower, @valleflorec, @accentdecorinc, @oasisfloralproducts, @syndicatesales, @agricolaelchaupi, @alexandrafarms, @bellaflorgroup, @rosaprimaroses, @valleverderoses, @decorentalec, @UPS
Vendors: @nicoleclareyphoto, @talewindvisuals, @hacienda_cusin_ecuador
Designers: @hollychappel, @passionflowersue, @anthologyco
Are you seeking some romantic inspiration for your wedding? This wedding styled shoot which took place in late May in Bloomington, IL shows you how using the right floral decor can create a stunning, romantic ambiance for your whole event. This wedding styled shoot took place at “Reality On Monroe” which has been lovingly restored into a cozy, intimate space for weddings, receptions and other events.
The dreamy bridal gown from Cloud Nine Bridal Studio had a full lace edged train which when swirled around the model echoed the abundant draping gathered around the chuppah frame – talk about Cloud Nine!!
What kind of wedding flowers could be more romantic than soft blush fluffy peony blooms, big blowsy hot pink garden roses, charming little pink ranunculus and light lavender clematis embellished with cascading greens and framed by delicate flowering jasmine vine!! If you are planning a wedding in May or June, these are the perfect in season wedding flowers to use to create a romantic ambiance.
Did we talk about having your wedding in May or June? The white blooms of the old-fashioned Bridal Wreath Spirea are blooming and oh. so. gorgeous!! They too are so perfect for adding a romantic touch to the chuppah or wedding backdrop floral decor with their gracefully draping stems.
Can we talk about the ceremony backdrop decor? To create a lovely and romantic focal point for your wedding consider a large scale chuppah, pergola, arch or circular frame to embellish with dripping and cascading types of foliages and branches to set the stage for some truly magnificent focal flowers such as peonies or garden roses which are large enough that even your guests seated in the back row can enjoy them.
To complete the romantic look for the bridal bouquet we added some streamers of lush hand-dyed mauve velvet ribbon by “The Poetry Of Silk” to the bouquet handle to create a lovely, rich texture against the delicate lace dress and the soft petals and shiny leaves of the bridal bouquet. What a stunning menagerie of color and textures, wouldn’t you agree!!
The chuppah can only be described as dreamy with this lush cascading Bridal Wreath Spirea adorning it!
The warm brick wall adds a cozy, intimate feel against the sheer draping of the chuppah. Are you looking for a florist who can create a romantic ambiance for your wedding day with lush beautiful flowers? Contact us today for your free consultation 309-212-6570 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to Stephanie Wood Photography for these beautiful images.
Vendors: Cloud Nine Bridal Boutique, Reality on Monroe, Stephanie Wood Photography. Model: Laura Lyons
It has been a privilege to be invited to DC to help design the floral decor for the First Lady Luncheon for the past three years! Once again it was an honor and wonderful experience to be a part of this incredible event.
There are about 20 designers and 10 support staff which make up the group of volunteers who come together from all over the country. We work together for three days before the luncheon as well as putting in an early morning to finish set up on the day of the luncheon.
This year the Congressional Club invited all the volunteers to attend the luncheon! Last year we were privileged to be invited as a select few of us 2nd year volunteers, but First Lady Melania was in the hospital and unable to be there. This year we were all so happy that she was able to be with us and it was an amazing experience for the whole team!! The First Lady Luncheon is just not the same without The First Lady!!
Come along with us and take a peak behind the scenes to get a glimpse of what goes into an event of this size and importance.
We are fortunate to be able to design at the venue where the luncheon is held. We start by preparing the work rooms; covering the floor and work tables with plastic to protect them. All of the supplies, many of which are donated and have been shipped and delivered are unpacked and organized. All of the Oasis products are started soaking. Buckets are filled with water which has flower food added to it.
DVFlora handled getting in all the flowers and the delivery truck arrived at the loading dock at 9 a.m. The truck was filled with pallets of boxes and procona packs of fresh flowers all donated by American Flower Farms! Half of the team unloads the truck while the other half starts processing all of these flowers. Everyone of these boxes has to be opened, all product counted and checked off (which turned out to be 21,385 stems of flowers & greens)!!
All the flowers have the packaging and bands removed, every stem is re-cut and dipped in Quick Dip, then put into the prepped buckets. Each bucket is labeled with the name of the donating farm and the flower type, then taken to the design room.
We used foam in the vases this year to make transport to the ballroom easier. All of the foam had to be soaked and cut and placed into the vases, then taped to secure. We received our “recipes” and the designers started arranging the 96 vase designs.
In addition to the table centerpieces, there were six cascading flower arrangements and six 14″ table top arrangements which lined the head table. The mechanics for these special pieces had to be constructed and put together. I especially loved these ombre designs that had the soft pink added to the red to give a feminine touch to the head table where the First Lady was seated.
Last year’s flower wall was such a big hit, that it was decided to create two flower walls this year; one for the main reception area and another one for the VIP reception area. These proved a very popular spot for everyone to take photos in front of. Mechanics for the wall had to be constructed, then a grid of greens inserted with the flowers going in last.
The floral part of the ombre design wall flower is finished starting with burgundy blooms at the top, blending down to red, hot pink, pink, blush and fading to white at the bottom. What a beautiful display of our American Grown Flowers!!!
Such a wonderful variety of so many types of flowers sent by the farms on such a busy weekend – Mother’s Day!!
This is the holding room where the finished designs were stored until it was time to start loading into the ballroom.
In addition to all the vase centerpieces, we created 48 of these designs in flute bud vases placed in lanterns with moss and fairy lights.
By Monday afternoon the tables had the linens placed and were ready for us to start the loading and placing of centerpieces to the ballroom. We worked alongside the Congressional Club members as they prepped the swag bags and added all the special touches for the luncheon.
Tuesday morning started at 5 a.m. with the final load-in to the ballroom and surrounding reception areas. We needed to be completed by 7:30 a.m. in time for the secret service to start their security sweep. All hands were needed in every area to finish in time.
Some designers worked on completing the head table installations while I worked on the final installations to one of the flower walls. The checkered cloth was added to the sides of the flower wall and we filled in with greens & flowers over the top of the cloth and up the sides of the sign to finish it off. Other team members were busy setting up the reception areas with designs for the cocktail tables, 11 bathroom arrangements, 5 check-in arrangements, 14 hotel arrangements and special arrangement just for FLOTUS!! (First Lady Of The United States)
This was the 107th annual First Lady’s Luncheon honoring First Lady Melania Trump’s chosen charities. This year the luncheon benefited WTEF (which serves children and their families from one of our nation’s toughest neighborhoods), and the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer.
Each year a different state plans the luncheon. This year Indiana chose the theme of the luncheon “Hoosier Heartland” which featured Indy 500 – thus the black & white checkered linens and red flowers.
The menu consisted of Indiana Wurstsalat Salad, German Bologna, Roasted Corn, Pimento, French Radish and Traders Point Grain Mustard Vinaigrette; Braised 72 Hour Short Rib with XXX Root Beer Glaze, Indiana Shoepeg and Jalapeno Corn Pudding, Warm Petit Biscuits with Whipped Honey and Butter; Aunt Mandy’s Indiana Sugar Cream Pie with Coffee Ice Cream, Cafe and Wine Institute California Chardonnay.
Entertainment was provided by the US Marine Band; God Bless America was sung by Lee Greenwood and Nicole Mullen and Michael Smith both sung special selections for The First Lady.
First Lady Melania Trump is escorted to the head table.
Such a surreal experience for us!!!
The Second Lady, Karen Pence introduced The First Lady, Melania Trump.
The Star Spangled Banner was sung by Master Sergeant Kevin Bennear, USMC Baritone Soloist, US Marine Band. It was so wonderful to witness everyone coming together for a bipartisan event in the spirit of patriotism for our country – how refreshing!!
First Lady Melania Trump has focused her time on the many issues affecting children. An unwavering characteristic of the First Lady is her aptitude for showing love and compassion in all that she does. She spends much of her time meeting with children all over the world – in classrooms, hospitals, care facilities, at home in the White House and in communities worldwide. On May 7, 2019 Mrs. Trump celebrated the anniversary of BE BEST – her awareness campaign focused entirely around the well-being of children.
Our head designer for this year was Mary Kate Kinnane (The Local Bouquet) and assistant head designer was Christie Lopez (Bergerons Flowers). They did a fantastic job of planning the event with the Congressional Club and leading the team. Thank you to both of them for all of their hard work!!
We were able to come a day early this year and play tourist – there is so much to see and do in DC. We toured a couple of the Smithsonian Museums, then went through the Holocaust Museum which was a very sad and sobering end to our tourist day. It was very respectfully done and we would encourage everyone to take time to visit when you are in DC.
The volunteers pay all of our own expenses and the hotels are expensive in DC – a group of us were able to rent a house just blocks away from where the event was held. Here we are with our friends Les and Melissa Salzman, who own a peony farm in Alaska, having dinner across the street from our house.
One of the very special parts of volunteering for this event is making friendships with designers from around the country. It was great to see old friends from years past and make new friends too!! Across the table from Wayne is Betty Joslyn (Joslyn Peony Farm) which we were able to visit when we were in Alaska last summer.
Another very special part of course is the flowers themselves. I have a soft spot for pink peonies and these were some of the most gorgeous I have seen!!!
This has been a very different year for farmers as it has been so rainy. We are usually done with corn planting before the First Lady Luncheon and the last two years we had finished with bean planting too before we came to DC. This year we didn’t have anything planted and it turned out that it rained at home when we were gone so Wayne would not have been able to get in the field anyway. Things have a way of working out – we are very thankful that as of this writing we were able to get our crops in the ground.
Thank you for sharing our experience of volunteering at The First Lady Luncheon 2019. It was another never-to-be-forgotten experience!!
Most of these photos are courtesy of Kristen Smith Photography. It will be obvious which ones were taken with my Iphone!
Sponsors: DVFLora, Accent Decor, Oasis, The Congressional Club
Certified American Grown Flower Farms:
Bloomia, Camflor, Dramm & Echter, Eufloria, Fern Trust, Gallup & Stribling, Green Valley, Holland American Flowers, Kitayma, Mellano, Myraid, Menagerie Flower, Ocean Breeze, Ocean View Flowers, Paja Rosa, Pyramid, Resendiz Brothers, Westland Orchids.