It’s rare that florists get to work a wedding where they create all of their designs on-site, and it’s even rarer for those same florists to get to stick around for cocktails and dancing. The fact that we got to do both last weekend was both exciting and exhausting. As one of our nearest and dearest friends prepared for her walk down the aisle we were busy stringing garlands, climbing ladders to dangerous heights, winding jasmine wreaths, and documenting the behind-the-scenes floral fun that went into creating this special event.
A private house and garden in California’s wine country is a pretty good place to start when planning a wedding, both for the bride-to-be and for the florists. The backdrop of rolling hills, vineyards, and the nice warm afternoon breeze was idyllic. The bride agreed that having us work on location the days leading up to the wedding was the only way to go, and we’re always extra-thrilled to work on events for our friends and family, so we were completely in. We loaded up the car heavy with fresh flowers, supplies, and wedding clothes on Thursday morning and headed north.
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Two days at the ceremony and reception location to primp, arrange, and brainstorm was almost overwhelming. In such a beautiful natural setting new ideas were popping into our brains every minute but we had a strict game plan to follow and some serious, but fun, work ahead of us. The shaded back deck of the location became our impromptu outdoor studio where three of us spent two days up to our elbows in flowers. We filled brown bottles for the table centerpiece groupings, built grand urn arrangements for the bar, designed a huge bouquet for the bride, and came up with a series of serendipitous mini-projects along the way. We also found ourselves with an unexpected (but awesome) “problem”, a peckish peacock we dubbed Fredrick who had his eye and beak on our blackberry branches.
Luckily we had some low maintenance pieces lined up, too. Pre-potted herbs were easy to set out early on the day and thrived under the hot valley sun instead of going limp like cut flowers would have, and can be easily transplanted post-wedding. We also made a special surprise herb wreath for the bride which we began several weeks earlier in our own backyard. Mint, lavender, and thyme were packed in moss and secured in a sturdy metal wreath frame where we sunned and watered it flat for a few weeks so the plants could take root, then hung it upright for the last week so out little herbs would start reaching for the sky. With a few on-site final touches, the wreath found its home against the rusted metal shed which later became the bar. Although it took some pre-planning, this piece was easy to set up and made a big impact.
Jill’s husband, Matt, was also recruited ahead of time to help us with some other key pieces including a large wreath-like chandelier that hung over the main table (which we filled with white peonies) and a custom-built two person swing, complete with the bride’s and groom’s initials carved into the seat. Personal touches like these at a wedding are both affordable and memorable.
Although time was tight, we managed to run back to our hotel room to shower and get dressed before heading back to the site where we ran around barefoot through the grass moving bottle after bottle out of the moving sun and ultimately onto the (finally!) shaded dining tables, thanks in part to some very helpful caterers. By five o’clock on Saturday afternoon we felt that we had really earned our glasses of champagne, and managed to pretend that we were merely guests for the rest of the night. What a luxury that was!