Mayesh Workshop In Quito, Ecuador – Pure Magic!

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

Romantic Flower Filled Wedding Styled Shoot – Bloomington, IL – Fancy Florals By Nancy

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!!

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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

Thank you to Stephanie Wood Photography for these beautiful images.

Vendors:  Cloud Nine Bridal Boutique, Reality on Monroe, Stephanie Wood Photography.  Model: Laura Lyons

First Lady Luncheon – Our Volunteer Florist Experience!

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.

My Ecuador Flower Adventure With Mayesh Wholesale Company

How did it happen that we found ourselves flying over Quito, Ecuador and looking down on the many greenhouses while preparing to land? Find out by following along with us on this fantastic trip and experience part of the magic of this flower adventure with Mayesh Wholesale!

A few months before, we had made the decision to sign up for Mayesh’s first international workshop. I had the pleasure of doing a workshop with Mayesh in Cleveland, Ohio a couple of years previously and it was a wonderful, worthwhile experience. It became quite obvious to me that the Quito Workshop would simply be an opportunity of a life-time!

Quito is located in the Andes mountain range and is 9,000 some feet above sea level. Even though it is on the equator the average temperature is in the 60’s because of the high altitude. March is their rainy season so everything was lush and green. The soil is rich with volcanic matter and combined with the temperate weather it is a perfect environment for growing roses and many other flowers.

The event took place at Hacienda Cusin, a restored 17th century estate which was a perfect location for our “hands-on” workshop. The whole estate was a gorgeous garden setting with humming birds and beautiful flowers and plants. It contained multiple buildings built around charming courtyards.

We landed in Quito on Monday, March 4th where we were met and brought to the hacienda. After checking into our rooms, we were served lunch and got a prelude to the kind of warm hospitality and excellent service by the staff we would be given the rest of the week. The food was delicious and there were fresh juices at breakfast and lunch made from local fruits some of which grow only in Ecuador. The Mayesh staff warmly welcomed us and we soon realized that we would be in very good hands!

Our room had a front door as well as a back door which led straight into the garden.

This was the view from our backdoor!

It was hard to limit the number of photos that I am posting here because there were so many beautiful areas of the property with meandering stone paths.

Of course many things that we grow as annuals at home here in zone 5 are perennials here in Ecuador and get quite large such as these succulents and fuschia.

The workshop area was located in one of the courtyards set up under tents since it was the rainy season. We ended up having beautiful weather both days of workshops. When we arrived on Monday, the Mayesh staff had much of the workshop materials set up and ready to go for Tuesday morning. Most of the flowers were processed and sitting in buckets all around the edge of the courtyard completely wooing us with so much beauty and variety. I was so excited, that I was afraid I would not sleep a wink that night!!

Tuesday’s workshops were with Holly Chappel and even though I have already studied with Holly and am a Chapel Designer, I was thrilled to have the review and be personally instructed by Holly using her “eggs” and “pillows” mechanics that she designed and Syndicate Sales developed and markets. Holly also gave a class on running a successful floral business. Having so many lush, gorgeous blooms to work with was a dream and is a signature of the Mayesh workshop experience. And then if that was not enough, they had models and a professional photographer to photograph our designs. The two photos below are by Nicole Clarey.

My bohemian “garden style” bouquet using Holly’s egg mechanic. Any bride would certainly be thrilled to carry this for her bridal bouquet!!

My design created in the Abbey compote bowl using the “pillow” mechanic which allows for foam free designs which are better for the flowers as well as the environment.

Our second day of workshops on Wednesday were with Sue McLeary of Passion Flower Sue. I had been exposed to some of Sue’s work on Instagram and so I was super excited to learn some of her ingenious foam free mechanics for small detailed wearable art as well as large scale installations.

First we learned the mechanics to create the large foam free installations. We divided into groups and under Sue’s direction created two fantastic large scale installations – a floral arch and a floral waterfall. The sheer amount of flowers we had to work with was stupendous and the creations so jaw-dropping fantastic, it seemed as if we were in a dream!!! The next three photos below are by Nicole Clarey.

The next part of the workshop was learning the mechanics for various wearable flowers of which Sue is “Queen!!” I chose to do a floral crown and loved how lush and beautiful it turned out.

My work station where the magic happened!!

Here is a peak behind the scenes in the courtyard where the large scale installations were created. Many hands made light work and such beautiful creations!!

Of course we all wore our wearable floral art to dinner that night and did I already mention how delicious the food was and how well we all hit if off enjoying each other and bonding, not with just each other but the wonderful Mayesh staff as well!!!!???

After we finished our wearable floral art, we were allowed to forage the property along the creek where we found a delightful mix of branches and greens to use as a foundation for our large scale urn arrangement workshop with Veronica Cicero of Anthology Co. We worked in pairs of two and my partner was Mary McCarty A.I.F.D. of The Blooming Idea. She was a great partner and we loved what we created together!!

Thursday was the day we got to go out and visit some flower farms. The first stop was Greenrose Farm where we received a complete tour and explanation of the operation. They started by showing us how they hybridize the seedlings into root-stock, took us through greenhouse operations of care and handling (including the water treatment and recycling), continued through the ingenious harvesting methods and ended up in the packing facility. We were all very impressed by not only the care of the roses, but the care of the employees also. This farm was the first and is one of only five that grow the new variety “Toffee” which is a beautiful and unusual golden brown color. Greenrose staff handed out hats and gave us snacks and drinks at the end of the tour.

It was a joy to make new friendships and I was so happy that a couple of other designers brought their spouses/companions along as I did. These guys hit it off perfectly while we florists took part in the workshops. Our guys got to tour the farms and partake of the tourist activities as well.

The next farm we visited was Valleflor where they served us a hot lunch. This farm grows a wide variety of flowers and hybridized many new varieties. I was really amazed by the large beautiful hybrid delphinium and the beautiful new colors. After seeing both farms operations and how much care goes into a single stem, it helps to understand and justify the cost of flowers. The flower farms are important in this area as they employ many people and the soil and climate is very conducive for growing large headed roses and many varieties of flowers.

The day was topped by being invited to the owner of Greenrose Farm’s horse farm where we enjoyed incredible hospitality, watched the show horses perform and were treated to rides.

We were also treated to an incredibly delicious dinner where we could enjoy the beauty of the mountain scenery from the open air living area.

Friday was our day to be tourists. We did a walking tour of old town Quito and had lunch in one of the plaza restaurants. Our guide gave us the history of Ecuador and explained how they came to use the dollar as their currency.

A view of the Basilica del Voto Nacional. This church is the largest of all neo-Gothic cathedrals in the western hemisphere.

Old town Quito is a UNESCO historic site with its colonial architecture and collection of churches, convents, palaces and plazas. We had time to visit some shops and purchase some of the famous chocolate.

For our last evening together they provided a fantastic outdoor candlelit barbeque dinner in the garden complete with Ecuadorian dancers. We all felt a little sad as our magical time together was drawing to a close. Some had very early morning flights so we said our good-bye’s. Mayesh gave us each a gift of a mohair scarf made in Ecuador. Can we just say that Mayeshwholesale completely exceeded our expectations for this trip?!!!! The trip was perfectly planned and they were so thoughtful of our every need. We all pretty much decided we want to be with them for their next international workshop – Bring it on!!!!

This was our front door where inside a fire was lit in the fireplace each night and hot-water bottles warmed our beds. The staff at Hacienda Cusin couldn’t have treated us any better. We would highly recommend this resort to anyone ever planning a trip to Quito.

A few of us had later flights out on Saturday so we had time to take a taxi over to the Otavalo Market which is undoubtedly the most important and specatcular market in all of Latin America for its outstanding shopping and cultural significance. We only had time to get through a fraction of the market but we enjoyed seeing the indigenous population and their handicrafts.

After the July publication comes out in which this workshop will be featured, we are looking forward to having access to all of the professional photos from this trip. It will be like taking the trip and feeling the magic all over again and we can’t wait!!

Many thank 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

Winter Wedding – Peoria Trailside – Fancy Florals By Nancy

With spring upon us it’s hard to imagine the blistering cold day it was for this winter wedding last January 26. As we headed out with two fully packed delivery vans the thermometer registered – 18 degrees below zero. All the wedding flowers were carefully covered with plastic but we still breathed a huge sigh of relief when we got them all safely inside Trailside Event Center.

Katelynn chose a beautiful mix of evergreen, ruscus, eucalyptus and plumosa greens for her wedding bouquet and to create a base for the beautiful garden roses “White Ohara” and dark red “Tess.” She also chose “Quicksand” a sandy mauve colored rose which has been our most popular rose for wedding bouquets over the last couple of years. To add texture and movement we used hanging amaranthus, leucadendron, pine-cones and chocolate lace flower.

What a special tribe of girlfriends!! They all looked fabulous in their hunter green bridesmaid dresses which set off the burgundy and blush bridal bouquets perfectly. The old wood candelabras were from Old Oaks Vintage Rentals and the gold chairs were from Spruce Wedding Rentals.

And can we talk about our vintage wooden ladder which we hung from the ceiling beams? When covered in ruscus and dripping with hanging burgundy amaranthus it made a sturdy base to hang the floral sprays from each side and created a perfect focal point above the ceremony site to frame the bride and groom. It’s one of our favorite hanging installations for weddings!!

Katelynn looking absolutely beautiful, braved the blistering cold and headed out in this fabulous white fur cape to pose for some photos which turned out perfect – thanks to Sarah Peterson Photography!

The entryway at Trailside was decorated with mixed greens, Hearts & Quicksand roses, carnations and amaranthus. A large welcome sign was also decorated with a floral spray. What a beautiful way to welcome guests to your wedding ceremony!

The old brick walls and original hardwood floor are so warm and inviting and created a perfect setting for our vintage antique gold stands topped with a lush menagerie of blooms and cascading greens for the showy table centerpiece arrangements.

The table seating chart was posted on this moss covered frame which we embellished with a floral spray. Katelynn and her family had so many unique ideas for wedding decor.

These plaid wraps were well appreciated and necessary to keep these gals warm and oh so fun!! Brrrrrrr…!!

Trailside has a special magic feel about the place and with Trefzgers Bakery located just one floor below, wonderful smells enveloped us as we set up and decorated the space. How perfectly handy to deliver the beautiful and tasty cakes – just a ride up the elevator.

Are you looking for wedding flowers?

We would love to work together with you to decorate your wedding with beautiful fresh floral arrangements, bouquets and wedding floral decor. Call, text or email for your free consultation with Nancy at 309-212-6570 or

Nancy was so easy to work with from the very beginning. She had so many amazing ideas for our venue and thing I would have never even thought of! One thing that really stuck out was all the beautiful different vases and candelabras she had that we used for all of our center pieces. The day of our wedding once I walked into the Venue As Nancy was finishing setting up I instantly starting crying from how beautiful it turned out. Her flower arrangements transformed the entire venue! During the entire process I never worried once about the flowers because I knew I was in good Hands with Nancy. I would highly recommend Fancy Florals By Nancy!!!

Illinois Beautiful Fall Wedding – Robert & Amy – Fancy Florals By Nancy

The beautiful Illinois fall landscape made a perfect backdrop for Robert & Amy’s wedding photos by Brooke Alaina Photography. The dark reds & golds of the leaves blended into a lovely tapestry with the burgundy bridesmaid dresses and burgundy & blush wedding flowers.

Robert and Amy first met when they were both math majors at Eastern Illlinois University. They had several classes together and were friends throughout their college years. They connected a couple years after college and started dating.

Later they moved to Arizona and on a trip back home to Illinois, Amy’s mom planned a party for friends & family to come and see them. By this time they had been together for five years and Amy felt Robert was close to proposing but she never dreamed he would do so in a room full of people!

Sure enough, Robert started telling everyone a story about one of their first dates when he told Amy he was going to marry her one day and he was going to put the ring in a bowl of beans (they were at a Mexican Restaurant) and make her eat the beans to find the ring.

And then he did it!! Robert pulled out a can of beans and got down on one knee – Amy was so thankful that he had the ring in his pocket and she didn’t have to eat a bowl of beans to find it!!

The thing that Amy enjoyed most about wedding planning was having Robert help her make decisions; she explained that she is a very indecisive person and she really appreciated Robert’s input and knowing that it was not just going to be a day about her, but a day that they had both planned for and would enjoy together.

Amy found all the decisions to be the most difficult part of wedding planning. For her the more time she spent searching Pinterest and social media the more overwhelmed she felt with all the choices.

For her bridal bouquets, Amy chose dark red garden roses accented with a deep shade of calla lily, delicate blush roses and astilbe for contrast, mauve astrantia, burgudy agonis, seeded eucalyputs and cream hypericum berries for a delightful mix of color and textures for her wedding flowers


Amy’s advice to newly engaged couples is to start planning a year or so in advance. “Decide on your vision/theme before you start searching online to prevent wasting time looking at endless options. Also, make a timeline for what needs to be done each month to help with not feeling stressed out.”

The wedding reception was held at Bloomington DoubleTree where the tables were decorated with vases of burgundy and blush flowers to coordinate with the bridal bouquets and our mercury votive candle holders added a soft glow. The chair covers, draping and table linens by Palace Events complete the elegant look.

Are you recently engaged? Are flowers an important part of the over-all ambiance for your wedding day? Call or text us 309-212-6570 or direct email us to receive your free consultation.

Peoria Wedding – Lucas & Lauren – Fancy Florals By Nancy

Lucas and Lauren were married last November 3rd which turned out to be a gorgeous fall day! Kinard Photography documented their day with images taken along the Peoria riverfront, at the gorgeous Cathedral of St. Mary where the ceremony took place and the historic Trailside Event Center where the reception was held.

wedding day photo, bride and groom photo, wedding bouquet, bridal bouquet, Peoria riverfront
wedding party photo, Peoria IL riverfront, lavender bridesmaid dresses

Luc and Lauren met the summer after their high-school freshman year at a local waterpark where they were both working, but it took two summers of incredibly sophisticated teenage flirting before Luc asked Lauren out. He took her to a game of put-put golf and later for ice-cream. They found that their competitive natures were well matched – You would think that he would have let her win – Nope!!

Luc had planned to propose to Lauren on Christmas Eve when his whole family stops by before mass to take a photo in front of the Christmas tree. He invited Lauren to come early and gave her explicit instructions to come in through the garage where she would walk into the family room and find him down on one knee with his I-phone set up in place to video the big event! Lauren arrived with an armful of gifts and wasn’t able to get the garage door open so she went to the front door and rang the doorbell. A flustered Luc answered the door and led her to the family room to where he thought the spot was for the camera to capture the proposal. The proposal went off fine, but later when they watched the video, the placement was off and Luc’s head blocked the whole event. His family came downstairs and they all celebrated the happy event with champagne!!

Lucas and Lauren were living on the east coast so we did the planning for their wedding flowers through “go to meeting” chats and exchanging photos by email. As soon as we saw a sample of the bridesmaid dress fabric, we knew that the Amnesia rose’s lovely vintage lavender color would be the perfect shade. Lauren wanted lush, organic bouquets with a lot of cascading greens. We used silver $ and seeded eucalyptus along with nandina which is kissed with a bronze/burgundy cast in the fall and was a perfect complement to the purple astrantia and burgundy scabiosa blooms. The beautiful mauve Quicksand rose and the lavender & magenta shades of stock flower rounded out the bridal bouquets, and table centerpiece arrangements that Luc and Lauren loved!

Lauren found that the most difficult aspect of planning their wedding was staying in budget. She had big dreams, thanks to Pinterest but quickly realized when they started adding everything up they needed to prioritize. They each sat down and made a list of what the five most important things were to each of them. Thankfully their lists mostly matched and that is where the majority of their budget was spent.

They enjoyed the cake testing the most of all the wedding planning! Trafzger’s Bakery was chosen to bake the cake and is located on the bottom floor of Trailside Event Center.

Luc and Lauren have so many fond memories of their special day that it’s hard for them to pinpoint just one, but remembering their first look stands out in their minds! Luc was facing the river at The Gateway Building and Lauren was walking slowly in her high heels toward him when it hit her and she started crying thinking of how lucky she was to get to spend her life with him. As she reached him and he turned around, she will never forget the look he gave her in that moment…that memory will stay with her for the rest of her life.

Here is their advice to couples just planning their weddings: The priority list is the key! Figure out what is most important to you – it will make budgeting decisions so much easier. She would tell future brides this: Don’t sweat the small stuff – at the end of the day you will be married to your best friend and this day will be magical! Don’t let the color of napkins or chair choices bog you down. Over the years we have heard so many brides give this advice – Don’t sweat the small stuff!! It must be true so relax and enjoy this special time!!

Are you recently engaged and have decided that having beautiful flowers is on your priority list? Call, text 309-212-6570 or email us Beautiful flowers are our specialty!!!



Will Wedding Trends Follow Pantone 2019 “Color Of The Year” – Coral?

Pantone, worldwide color authority for the design industries, has selected Living Coral as its “Color of the Year” for 2019. Living Coral is an energizing, nourishing and life-affirming shade of orange with a golden undertone.

“We get energy from nature,” Pantone states. “Just as coral reefs are a source of sustenance and shelter to sea life, vibrant-yet-mellow Living Coral embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment.”

Sociable and spirited, the engaging nature of Living Coral welcomes and encourages lighthearted activity, symbolizes our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits, and embodies our desire for playful expression.

coral flowers, wedding floral arch, wedding decor

We looked back a few years ago to 2015 and 2016 and found we had a smattering of coral weddings tucked in between other color palettes. It was fun to look at these colorful photos because in the last couple of years the wildly popular burgundy and blush color palettes have pretty much ruled!

coral wedding bouquet, coral bridal bouquet
Barn Wedding
aisle decor, wedding decor
Aisle Decor

The wedding floral arch, bridal bouquet and aisle decor from this wedding would certainly fit “Living Coral’s” description of lighthearted, joyful, optimistic and playful.

coral bridesmaids, coral roses, coral bridal bouquets, coral wedding bouquets

We do wonder if we will see a swing back to more colorful weddings again. The shades of coral will continue to present a challenge for the floral designer just as the shade of blush has! Some brides envision blush as a very pale pink while other brides envision it as a pale peach/pink. It will be important to have our bride get a swatch/sample of the shade she is envisioning for her bridesmaid dresses and/or bridal bouquets and wedding floral decor. When she says coral, is she envisioning orange coral or pink coral?

Looking back through photos of weddings we have done, it is interesting to see how the bouquet design style has changed in popularity also! Five years ago, the round ball of flowers (pictured above) were still being requested by brides for a more formal look.

The round ball has given way to a more natural garden style bouquet with lots of greens and textures for wedding and bridal bouquets and other wedding decor such as table centerpieces. As a designer this is a style that I especially enjoy doing. Anyone can put together a round ball style of flowers for bridal bouquets and wedding flower decor, but it takes a little more skill to create the lush garden style bouquets that have become so popular.

 coral bridal bouquet, coral roses, coral wedding bouquet

You can see how the coral shade is a lighthearted and fun look as shown here in these coral wedding photos!!

Looking at our 2019 weddings we already have booked, we can see that burgundy and blush are still going to be very popular shades (as well as the classic white.) It is nice for us to do a variety of wedding color palettes and also a variety of bridal bouquet styles as it keeps our job interesting and as they say, “variety is the spice of life!!”

“Representing the fusion of modern life, Living Coral is a nurturing color that appears in our natural surroundings and, at the same time, displays a lively presence within social media.” – Pantone

There are many choices for shades of coral in roses including garden, standard and spray. Gerber daisies are another choice for getting some coral color into the floral palette and my personal favorite for coral color is the Coral Charm Peony.

Are you recently engaged? We would love to meet together with you for your free consultation to find the perfect wedding flowers to create your vision for your wedding day.

Use the “Book A Consultation” button at the top right or simply call, text or email us direct at 309-212-6570 or

xoxo, Nancy

2018 Highlights for Central Illinois Wedding Florist – Fancy Florals By Nancy

As the year draws to a close, we look back over the months and realize how amazing this year has been for us. We had the privilege of creating wedding floral bouquets and wedding ceremony and reception decor for many wonderful couples – many of those weddings have already been featured in our blog posts.

wedding bouquet, bridal bouquet, wedding flowers
bridal bouquet, garden style bridal bouquet
bride and groom, wedding photo, bridal bouquet

In addition to creating wedding floral designs, we have had several highlights that made this past year so memorable.

1 – The Knot Best of Wedding “Hall of Fame!” – After receiving The Knot Best of Weddings 4 years in a row you are inducted into the Hall of Fame. We can only thank our sweet couples who took the time to leave us a review and help us win this honor.

2 – A Winter Styled Shoot – We have done styled shoots before, but never in the winter. In the middle of January we collaborated with a couple of other vendors (Old Oaks Vintage Rentals and Personal Touch Sewing) to plan several vignettes which were photographed by Lynne Peters. Part of that planning was making preparations for typical winter weather in the middle of January as we did hope for snow. We were blessed with a beautiful mild day and no sign of snow, but hey we’ll take it!! Several of the photos have not been published yet as they are being submitted to wedding blogs for publication.

Dessert buffet for wedding reception with cake and cupcakes and also flowers and greens spilling out of the buffet drawer.
Bohemian wedding decor using vintage buffet for desserts with flowers and greens spilling out of the buffet drawer.

3 – Another exciting highlight that happened in January was a trip to Hope Flower Farm in Virginia where I had a 2-day floral intensive with the famous Holly Heider Chapel. I learned so much from Holly. We had so much fun foraging together on her farm and creating in new and exciting ways. My favorite arrangement is pictured below – my first attempt at a Hogarth Curve which will be published in a Floral “How To” book by Florist’s Review.

Hogarth curve floral arrangement in garden style with mauve roses.
bridal bouquet

4 – We were absolutely thrilled to be chosen again to be among the volunteers designing for the Congressional Club’s First Lady’s Luncheon in Washington D.C. We were privileged to not only help design all the floral decor but to also get to attend the luncheon this year. Even though it was disappointing that First Lady Melania Trump was hospitalized and couldn’t attend and be the key speaker, Vice President’s wife Karen Pence filled in and gave a wonderful speech and tribute to our First Lady.

2018 First Lady's Luncheon Karen Pence speaker.

5 – In May we took part in our first styled shoot/tasting at Pear Tree Estate which put us on their preferred vendor list. We tried out the new “pillow” mechanics (which I learned at Hope Flower Farm) for our 36″ tall trumpet vases as well as the low compote vases on the tables. It worked well and more importantly made delivery easy. We have some of these tall designs booked for the 2019 wedding season.

Wedding reception decor using tall clarinet vase arrangements spilling over with greens and pastel blooms.

6 – This past summer I entered my first design contest (not counting my college ISFA entry). The contest was sponsored by Alexandra Garden Rose Farm along with Florist’s Review Magazine. I was blessed to be among the first 100 entries and for that received a free box of beautiful pink Constance garden roses to use in my design submission. I didn’t imagine winning… but much to my delight and surprise I found that my entry won not only 2nd place but also the Reader’s Choice Award!!! The winning photo was taken by Racheal Schirano.

The prize for winning 2nd place is 1,000 stems of garden roses … the prize for winning the Reader’s Choice Award is 1,000 stems of garden roses!!!! I feel like I am in a beautiful dream as the boxes of fragrant beauties keep arriving. Thank you Alexandra Rose Farm!! I am loving this magical experience and hope to try each and every one of the varieties they grow!

Garden rose constest prize roses from Alexandra Garden Rose Farm.

7 – A few months ago, I was contacted by J. Keith White, AIFD and asked if he could use my winning bouquet photo (in a cropped format) for the Florist’s Review magazine’s January issue – American Trends Forecast article. It is a surreal feeling to have one’s photo right alongside these famous designers…Laura Dowling is a former White House florist. I am completely humbled that my creation was chosen for this honor even if it was only for a very small part of the article .

Alexandra Farm Garden Rose Contest - 2nd place winner Nancy Zimmerman.

8 – We were invited to participate in another styled shoot just a couple weeks ago. I love the opportunity to have creative freedom to design something to enhance the vision. We received some beautiful photos of our work by Brooke Zitnik. (see below) The styled shoot will soon be featured in “CHI thee WED”, a Chicago wedding blog.

bridal bouquet, garden style bouquet, bespoke bouquet

9 – And last but not least we received notice that for the 5th year in a row we have been selected a “Knot Best of Wedding Vendor.” Again it is only possible by the many couples who take the time to leave us reviews.

From the bottom of our hearts we sincerely thank each one of our couples for entrusting us with the opportunity to help make your special day beautiful!!

We are so excited for 2019 and are looking forward to some new floral adventures which we will be posting about soon. If you have recently become engaged, we would love to have the opportunity to hear about your vision and prepare a floral proposal for you.

Call, text 309-212-6570 or email us direct at

XOXOX, Nancy

Blush and Navy Fall Wedding At Kickapoo Creek Winery: Fancy Florals By Nancy Peoria Weddings

Cody and Megan were married the end of September at  the charming Kickapoo Creek Winery located close to Peoria, Illinois.  While in high school  Cody was a good friend of Megan’s neighbor (Tyler) and because she was very close with Tyler and his family, his house was the hang-out spot and was actually where Cody and Megan first met.

Wedding photo, bride and groom, wedding day, wedding bouquet

They dated four years while in high school and college, but because they were separated by college, the distance started to tear them apart and they eventually broke up and dated others.  Their family still thought they would get back together but neither of them thought that would happen.

At a total random time in both of their lives, they connected just to talk and see how each other was doing.  They soon found they still had feelings for each other and realized that they had just needed time apart to grow up and know what it was they wanted in life.  Getting back together was the best decision they both have ever made, but they feel the time apart actually helped them grow into a deeper relationship and they now realize they were “meant to be!”

Cafe Au Late dahlia, wedding bouquet, peach bridal bouquetBride and groom photo, wedding photography

On a frigid December day a year before they were engaged, they were at Navy Pier helping their best friend’s proposal happen.  Cody told Megan, if I ever propose it will be in the summer when it’s not so cold.  But a year later on a cold beautiful snowy day at Brookfield Zoo – Winter Light Festival, Cody asked for their photo to be taken in front of the big Christmas tree and after the photo, Megan turned and there was Cody down on one knee!!!

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Megan wanted Cody to be a big part of the wedding planning but found that Cody didn’t like the same colors she had thought about for the wedding color palette.  Cody came up with navy blue and Megan found that she really liked it paired with light gray tuxes and soft colors for the wedding flowers in peach, blush and light pink.  Megan knew she wanted some sparkle, and the theme really came together when they added the touches of gold.

weddingdetails, weddingdecorwedding backdrop, floral arbor, wedding arbor, altar decor

What Megan enjoyed most about wedding planning was including Cody in all the major decisions, and having almost a year to make the plans.  A lot of people told Megan that the bride usually makes the decisions, but she knew she wanted to make most of them together as a couple.  Seeing Cody get so excited and having his support was her most favorite part.

just married, bride and groom photo, wedding decor, floral arbor, wedding backdrop decor

The guest list turned out to be the hardest part of wedding planning for them.  It was difficult standing up to their parents and reminding them that it was their day!!  Once everyone was on the same page, it became a lot easier.  We have actually had many couples tell us this –  that the guest list and working it out with their parents was the most difficult part of wedding planning.

Head table decor, Mr. and Mrs.,, groom chair, bride and groom chairHead table decor, bridesmaid bouquets on head table

For her wedding bouquets Megan chose the beautiful Cafe Au Late dahlia, blush, peach and light pink roses, stock, wax flowers and blushing bride protea along with a mix of eucalyptus types.  The table centerpiece arrangements and the wedding arbor backdrop were created with those same blooms also adding in some hydrangeas, larkspur, snapdragons and carnations with other assorted greens.

navy bridesmaid dresses, blush bridal bouquets

Denise Petersen, the day of coordinator/decorator supplied the gold vases, candles and other wedding decor and we created large and lush floral arrangements to decorate the wine barrels used to decorate at the winery.

winery wedding, wine barrel decortall centerpiece arrangement, wedding decor, wedding reception decor

Megan’s favorite memory of her wedding day was their “first look.”  She remembers standing at the end of the vineyard looking at Cody while he was turned around and just waiting to be able to start walking toward him and finally giving him a big hug.  She also fondly remembers their first kiss when the officiant said, “you may kiss your bride.”  She felt like there was nobody else in the room – just her and Cody!!

wedding decor, floral arbor, wedding backdrop

Wedding planning advice from Megan includes:  “Never forget the reason why you are doing all the planning!  There are times it definitely gets stressful, but try to keep in mind that everything will go by so fast; everyone told me that.  During our engagement when I started to get overwhelmed with all the planning, Cody was the one I leaned on and that made it easier.  On the actual day there are so many little things you won’t even be thinking about – you will be in the moment with your family and friends and that is when you get to enjoy every single moment.  We were so thankful to have a day of coordinator/decorator so that we didn’t have to worry about a thing!wedding photography, bride and groom, wedding flowers,
Are you looking for beautiful and lush wedding bouquets, reception table centerpieces and other decor?  Call, text or email us at 309-212-6570 or

Photography by McConnville Studio 


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