Flowers For A Wedding

When I was young, I did a fair number of weddings. The cut flower part, that is. It is a job for a young person. It is a do it right and do it now  situation.  Bridal floral work come in all sizes and shapes, but all of it comes with a substantial dose of angst and anxiety. There is a deadline. Despite the best care, cut flowers can wilt and go down at the most inopportune moment. Every florist has opened a box of roses of a color other than what they ordered. Floral work is not especially conducive to learning on the job. It is physically demanding work. Moving and carrying buckets and vases full of water and cut flowers takes strength. Arranging flowers has its creative and romantic aspect, but there is a lot of just plain hard work. That backache has to be from standing and holding flowers aloft for hours at a time. Most of that work has to be done last minute. This is all by way of saying I am reluctant to take on a wedding now. But this was a client I have known for years. She lost her beloved to a lengthy, terrible, and cruel illness. Many years later and just a few months ago, she came in to say she had met someone she planned to marry, and would I do the flowers? I met with her at the venue of both the wedding and reception, and tried to dissuade her. I made several suggestions about where she might find a good florist. She wasn’t having that. She wanted me to do the flowers, would I?  Her only request was for hydrangeas. And that she would leave the rest of it up to me. How could I not say yes?

I ordered in a selection of flowers that I thought would be beautiful weeks ahead of time. I wanted to show her my selections, and I wanted to make a test run.  Hydrangeas are notorious for wilting soon after they are cut. I ordered the hydrangea “Florists White”. This cultivar is grown for the cut flower trade, as it holds better than most in a vase. 100 stems of white hydrangeas does not seem like that many, but each one had a water bag on the stem and an acetate hat that needed removal. Each stem got a fresh cut, and an immediate immersion in a bucket of clean lukewarm water. The flowers and leaves were sprayed with AquaFinish Clear – which hydrates and seals moisture in to both flowers and foliage. One of the miracle products of modern floristry. I could have skipped that step, but I would have needed to order more flowers. The flowers then have to sit, untouched, until they dry. Only then can they be placed in a floral cooler. This prep work is known as conditioning. I like to condition them overnight before I arrange them.  Lots of work is required to get cut flowers ready to arrange. Amni majus “Green Mist” was a wild card, but the airy texture of the leaves and flowers would be a great addition to the flower selections. As much as I love the reference to the late summer garden, it was a worry if they would hold. So I ordered extra bunches. The mini calla lilies would provide great curves and mass, and were a favorite of my client.

Of course I ordered in white lisianthus. This long stemmed multiflowered cut stem is the best antidote to wedding florist worry that I know of. The large flowers stay fresh for days. They are happy out of water for better than the duration of a wedding. The petals survive anxious handling. The buds are a gorgeous greenish color. They are a beautiful foil for the open flowers. The long stems make them suitably versatile for both tall and compact arrangements.

My client thought a wedding bouquet for her was not necessary. I thought differently. Once she told me her dress was olive green, I ordered in a clutch of green and white slipper orchids. I would capture these 25 stems with some olive green silk ribbon. As delicate as they are, they all held up perfectly in water. The bouquet would be kept in water until the last second. She had but to pat the stems dry, and go. I hoped that when it came time, this simple arrangement would appeal to her enough to carry them. At least she would have the option.

Weddings ask for flower arrangements here and there, but garlands can do a great job of knitting all of the individual pieces together. There were a number of places the garland would look great. Though baby’s breath is a traditional flower, en mass it can have a fresh and contemporary look. I bought in 4 kinds of baby’s breath garland, and tested their width, density and holding power. I ordered in the best quality of these garlands, and kept my fingers crossed. They arrived 2 days before the wedding, at Sunne’s insistence. If FedEx failed to show on Thursday, a Friday delivery would be in time for the Saturday wedding. We opened the plastic, and let the garlands air out. A local florist agreed to let me park these garlands in their cooler until I needed them on Saturday.

On Friday I did all of the 14 arrangements save two. As much as I like everything done before an installation, it would be so much easier to arrange the hydrangeas on site, and put them in place.

The packing up, transport, and installation is the second part of the job.  They boxed all of the arrangements, with an eye to protecting all of the petals. They laid the baby’s breath garlands flat on the truck shelves, as they had been stored rolled up. This is a very low tech delivery system perfect for a once in a great while florist. Three of my staff did the packing, driving, placing, tying, fluffing and cleanup. Most of my work had been done the previous two days.

Three tables got moved outdoors at the last minute. Cut flowers arranged in water can handle this sunny exterior location.  I like to arrange flowers in water as much as possible.

The garland needed a good shaking, and a little fluffing, once it was in place. The lisianthus on the mantle were kept in water until it was time for them to be added to the garland.

This was a small wedding – a perfect size for having the time to attend to all the details.

The wedding took place outdoors, between this pair of pillars.


The pillars needed to look dressed up from both sides.

a simple arrangement for the dessert table

I did hear from my client about the flowers this morning. She thanked me for all, and for insisting she have a bouquet. She thought it was beautiful and it was perfect with her dress. Happiest of all about this.

Comments

  1. Beautiful job with the wedding. Surprising that you don’t do more. I do weddings to bless others and to get my creative juices going. But you are most correct….lots of work but to hand the bride her bouquet…that’s my joy. I have never seen the baby’s breath garland before….gorgeous! Can you share where the garland was purchased from? I have some brides who think baby’s breath is an inexpensive alternative but that usually isn’t the case. I believe that roses give you more bang for your buck.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Ann, doing cut flowers for weddings is a young florist’s work. I will be 70 my next birthday. Floral work is arduous and requires intense concentration and physical strength. But I did love doing this one. The baby’s breath garland came from the following company. They wqere great to deal with, and their garlands were drop dead gorgeous. My pictures did not do them justice. https://pacificgarland.com/products/babys-breath-garland
      I do not think the price is the main issue. The main issue is the look you are trying to create. This client of mine had a more contemporary taste, and no interest in roses whatsoever. best regards, Deborah

  2. Absolutely Stunning and Original. I’ve never seen slipper orchids used this way.

  3. How lovely!

  4. Evelyn Grime says

    Brilliant, authentic and great narrative – thanks for the joy and inspiration

  5. jennifer taylor says

    You are a marvel Deborah! Once again you did a magnificent job. What a lucky bride to have you as her old friend.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Jennifer, she is an old and treasured client. Of course we wanted everything to be perfect for her. That’s what we do. all the best, Deborah

  6. I am absolutely addicted to the beauty that your mind creates!!! I look at your blog…obsessively!

  7. Pretty darn special. And you hit the nail on the head with your articulate description of doing wedding flowers. Cut flowers weren’t my thing, I’m a landscape designer. So when a dear friend asked me to do her wedding, a first time bride at age 52, I was reluctant but finally buckled. I wasn’t comfortable doing her bouquets, not enough experience there. So I suggested she have someone else do those, and leave the table arrangements and garland to me. Her only request (read demand) was “no pink”. Like you, I did a test run of arranegments to make sure I had her down. All good. I arrived early the morning of the wedding to set up, finish, get back home to shower/get doozied up, and return as a guest for the wedding. (Just a little more stress thrown into the pot) Imagine my surprise when the florist showed up with pink bouquets as I was packing up my car?? I raced home in a panic. There must be something I could do, at least for the bridal bouquet. As I stepped out of the shower, I looked through my bathroom window. The lilacs were glorious! I threw on a robe and grabbed my pruners. In ten minutes I threw together a wild bouquet of lilacs and japanese fern and bits of whatever was white in my garden, wrapped the whole bunch in organza ribbon, dunked it in a mason jar of water, and off we went. While my husband parked the car, I ran inside to find my Bridey Friend. She looked beautiful as she told me how much she loved the tables and the garland. And said, “my bouquets are ugly pink, but oh well.” I reached behind my back and presented her with my 10 minute wild bouquet. She lit up, eyes filled with tears and smiled from ear to ear. “I’ve waited a long time to be a bride. This is PERFECT!”

    PHEW. Weddings are a tough biz. Kudos to all of you who make it look easy.
    Angela

  8. It’s amazing how you work. You make it look simple, but the combination of flowers, the number of flowers and proportion of sizes, even placing the stems of the flowers in the water… It’s amazing.I’m sorry for my English

  9. Just perfect—love the garlands and bouquets. Did a wedding with hydrangeas once myself. Tricky. Just like photographing a wedding; no do overs.
    Bless you for your courage and friendship and creativity.
    Happy September.

  10. Patricia Lowry says

    Beautiful in it’s simplicity!

  11. Linda McKibben says

    So helpful! Our daughter is marrying on Feb 2020. She wants her flowers and food to be her top focus, all else doesn’t matter. Thank you for all the advice.

    Linda

  12. Wow just wow!!

  13. I love it all, but the arrangement in the nook, between the 2 garland photos is over-the-top gorgeous.

  14. Marguerite Neuhaus says

    Perfection.

  15. Beautiful and elegant, as you always do!! From another (reluctant) florist to another it’s fun to take on the special jobs and keep a hand in the business. Loved your idea of the orchids as her bouquet.

  16. Stunning. No one else could have done this.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Sue,I have a certain point of view-and that appeals to you – and me! But I see floral work that I really admire-that I could never do. One of my favorites-Sarah Ryhanen. Her instagram is @saipua. Her work is divine. all the best, Deborah

      • Deborah, when I remarried, at 56, I flew Sarah across the country almost solely to make my bouquet for our 40 person city hall wedding. She did two arrangements to mark out ceremony mark, and some bit for our restaurant reception, but that bouquet will stay with me forever. Every penny was worth it. http://amidprivilege.com/2014/01/flowers-florals-house/

        I think she’s given up weddings now.

        Your flowers are art. Thank you for showing us this.

  17. Nella Miller says

    Oh Deborah! I have been doing this for the past 15 years or so…I couldn’t had written any of it better! Angst and
    stress till the very last second but the rewards worth it!
    Just like everything you do, this is so lovely..
    Most of my favourite colour and choices of flowers I use over and over..
    Loved this read this Labour Day Monday before back at it this week!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Nella, thanks for your letter. It seemed like an an appropriate topic for labor day. Floral work is incredibly labor intensive, but you are right. Those flowers make people happy. I like that part. There is a lot of satisfaction to be derived from making people happy. I will be back to the landscape tomorrow, and hope it will be a while before I have another request for cut flowers! all the best to you, Deborah

  18. Cindy Coghill says

    Stunning!

  19. Silvia Weber says

    Dear Deborah,
    Of course the wedding flowers were gorgeous, you did them. Flowers are important, no need to tell you this. I’m glad the bride persuaded you to take on the project, as is the bride. Hope the rains held off for her.
    We’re having a lovely, cool Labor Day weekend hereabouts.
    XOX.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Silvia, I think the both of us were happy with what transpired between us. She had a perfect evening-party cloudy and comfortably/perfectly warm. So happy for her. best, Deborah

  20. Oh my, oh my , oh my.
    Very elegant…really lovely….you have a fine touch….luxurious.
    Compliments to all !
    Lyn

  21. Just beautiful! Thank you for sharing your process!
    It helps me appreciate the beauty and respect the artistry all the more!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Karen, the process of providing stellar cut flowers for a wedding is a big job. This wedding was of a size I could handle. And I am so happy for my client-that feeling infused all of the work of it. best regards, Deborah

  22. Laura Gardiner says

    All of what you did was wonderful! Absolutely beautiful! Thanks for showing us what can be done with a simple white and green theme.

  23. nancy zichterman says

    Oh my Deborah! this is one of my favorite posts (of many favorites 🙂 ) She must have been thrilled with the results. Thank you for showing us and including us in this beauty.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Nancy, The both of us were thrilled with the results. That’s what happens when there is a relationship hovering over all. I wanted this day to be as close to perfect as possible for her. I am so happy for her. best, Deborah

  24. Janie Levinson says

    Deborah, you are amazing! Absolutely perfect in every detail and the wedding bouquet was amazing. I see why your client only wanted YOU.

    Janie Levinson

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Janie, she was indeed quite sure that she wanted me to do the flowers. She told me so. That was a call I could not ignore. I did my very best. She stopped by while I was there setting up. The sparkle in her eyes made me happy. This was a joyous occasion. I was happy to have a small part in that. best regards, Deborah

  25. I love all of this, especially the bouquet.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Keri, that bridal bouquet might be the best I have ever done. That my client told me she did not need a bridal bouquet made me think through all of the possibilities. In my opinion, she was a bride who needed a bouquet. Doesn’t every bride need a wedding bouquet? So I made one for her. I think the choice of flowers, color, and style was appropriate to her. She thought so too. So happy those orchids made it to the wedding ceremony. all the best, Deborah

  26. The flowers were wonderful! The Baby’s Breath garland was perfect. Happy to hear the bride carried the exquisite bouquet you made. You made her day very special!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Jeannine, it was her day. I was happy to be a part of that. So many things made that day special. Her friends and family. Her groom’s friends and family. A gorgeous venue. Great weather. But yes-that bouquet was my most striking contribution to the day. I doubt either one of us will ever forget that bouquet. best regards, Deborah

  27. Dr.sharon mckenna says

    Oh, that I were to marry again, and have you do the flowers!
    sharon

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Sharon, do no even think of getting married again! I trust that you and your husband are happy. No need for flowers from me. I do believe the flowers we did for this wedding were beautiful. May the both of us enjoy the flowers, and the story. best regards to you. Deborah

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