Four Hundred Weddings and Counting…
Yes, it’s true. I have created the bouquets for over four hundred weddings over the last few decades — something I would not believe myself if I didn’t have all those boxes of photographs and files to prove it. Therefore I can state emphatically that the work of a wedding florist is nothing short of grueling. Exciting, challenging, rewarding, too, but most definitely grueling.
This is the once-in-a-lifetime event for a bride and groom that will live in memory for the rest of their lives. But no pressure at all on the florist or anyone else involved in making sure everything goes off without a flaw….
If you’ve never been involved in planning a wedding, I will not be able to convince you just how massive, how elaborate, how all-consuming this whole grand enterprise happens to be. The flower aspect alone is a mind-boggling tactical effort that involves literally thousands of details to be discussed, pondered and specified – every one of them significant to the overall outcome.
Initially, there are meetings with the clients, scheduling of venue visits, discerning the bride’s flower preferences and lists of bouquets needed, inquiring about photographers and bakers, and deciding on number of guests who will attend — all of which influence the flower decisions.
And there is the announcement of the colors the bride has chosen, something I anxiously await because color influences everything and flowers usually contribute most of the color to a wedding!
There are many hours spent making diagrams and floor plans and carefully itemizing and budgeting flower costs and other expenses. And then there are the smaller, seemingly endless choices to be made, as well:
Wrist or pin-on corsages? Size of bridal party bouquets? Length of flower stems in the hand-held bouquets? Type and color of ribbon to wrap them?
Any special adornments to the bride’s bouquet? Bows or streamers or plain? Silver, crystal or gold accessories? Color of attendants’ gowns, men’s suits or tuxes, color of ties and vests…and the list goes on.
Number and size of table centerpieces? Time of cake delivery? Who puts flowers on the cake, florist or baker? How many candles and where do they go? Who lights the votives?
And all of that is just the florist’s part!!!
I usually create a sketch for myself of all the specific bouquets in the flower order. This helps me to visualize the scope of the project – and it both calms me (because I can actually SEE and count what has to be done) and on the other hand often puts me into shock when I see what I have actually committed to!
Off to Market
Finally, after months of planning all those details, I do a final check-in with the client, make my final buying lists and diagrams, place my orders and off to the flower market I go to obtain all those glorious flowers. And the intense physical phase of the work begins.
It’s 3:44 a.m. and off I go (with my daughter/assistant) on the two-hour dark-of-night drive to the San Francisco Flower Market, one of my favorite places in all the world.
It’s now just after sunrise, my little VW is packed to the roof, and my daughter is smiling bravely while thinking to herself: “Mom, this time you’ve gone too far. We’ll never fit it all in!” And yet, once again, even though we can’t see out the windows, we manage.
After another long drive, we arrive at my workshop and although we’re sleep-deprived and needing breakfast, there’s not a minute to stop to rest. All the flowers have to be unpacked onto tables, thousands of stems re-cut and put right into water buckets, sorted and kept fresh for several days as they are transformed into beautiful wedding bouquets.
Flowers, flowers everywhere…
Intense focus and concentration are required during this process, not to mention very precise management of our time. Every one of the many thousands of petals, stems and leaves must be examined and touched – often more than once – as every effort is made to keep every single flower at its peak of perfection for the wedding day.
It’s Show Time!
After a couple of days and nights spent creating all the beautiful bouquets and arrangements, and whether we are ready or not, the morning of the wedding comes, and we’re faced with another huge task: that of MOVING all the pieces to the site of the wedding and reception. This effort includes packing every arrangement and bouquet safely and securely, keeping them as cool as possible, especially bridal party flowers…all the while trying to think positive thoughts and keep the relentless stress from overwhelming us as we race to meet our deadline.
Finally, the culmination of it all, as we arrive at the venue with the flowers! As we unload and carry them to their designated places, it never fails to stun me to see how all the flower bouquets and arrangements literally transform the venue and infuse it with living, breathing color and life!
In the end, this work has taken every ounce of strength and inspiration we had to give, and yet through our exhaustion, it is so very amazing to see, with absolute wonder, what we have accomplished – and to see the happiness on the face of the bride as her flower fantasies come to life before her very eyes. And that is always my biggest reward.