Monday, December 13, 2010

Renegade in SF.

Remember this blog entry?  Well, the fair is back again, although this time its the holiday version.  I LOVE Renegade.  The fairs are always juried, so only the finest get in, which means you don't have to weed through knitted pot holders and cheesecloth wallets to get to the good stuff.  Its ALL good stuff (almost - beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all).  It's taking place this Saturday and Sunday at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco, a change from the usual Fort Mason affair.  Here's a full list of the vendors for this year.

I'll be in booth 256 this year with my succulent terrariums, which is right at the top of the map below, about a third of the way in from the entrance.  Come say hello!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cascading Bouquet.

I'll keep it short & sweet today.  This October bride wanted her flowers to capture the colors of our Laguna Beach sunset.  For her bouquet, she showed me a picture of callas and cymbidiums she liked, but wanted to add a slight cascade.  Callas are an ideal flower for this style of bouquet; and while cymbidium orchids can be a bit tough (because they have to be hand-wired in), I think we made it work pretty darn well.

Happy Sunday!

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Practical Wedding.

Being a very visual person myself, its been easy for me to get caught up in how my wedding will look.  I forget that what is equally important (if not more important) is how my wedding will feel, not only for our guests, but for meWe spend so much time going over and over the details of aesthetics... the cake, the centerpieces, the linens, the dress, the make-up... all of it is rooted in how it will look.  And as a wedding florist, obviously that's my main purpose, to help make it look pretty.  Today I came across this post from Snippet and Ink that addresses just this, reminding me to think about how my wedding will feel, and all of the unknown around it.  The entry is from a guest blogger: Meg of A Practical Wedding

If you’re reading this website, chances are very good that you’ve been called a bride for months and months. But here is a newsflash: you’re not a bride. Not yet, anyway.

For most of us, the liminal state of bride-dom lasts for about ten hours. It’s long enough to put on the dress, say the vows, transform yourself from a single person to part of a brand new family, and then party like it’s going out of style. And then it’s over, and that’s a good thing. So the question is, how do we take those ten hours and experience them to their fullest? How do we get what we need out of this liminal state, and move forward with minimal regrets and a lifetime of memories?

In short: you need to really show up emotionally, let go of all the planning you worked so hard on, and embrace imperfection.

That sounds gauzy and hippy-zen and impossible, right? Well, it’s really none of those things. So, without further ado, here are the things you should know about your wedding day that no one will ever tell you. (Except, um, I’m telling you, so you win.)

 Photo Credit: The Legacy Boutique, Flowers by Chandra Abel Designs

Your wedding day might not feel like you expect it to feel.

After reading tons of wedding magazines and zillions of wedding blogs, it’s hard not to have an idea of how your wedding day is going to feel. The thing is, that idea might be dead wrong.

First, I think we all hope our wedding day is going to feel pretty and chic. The one problem with this plan is that you can’t feel pretty, because pretty isn’t an emotion. Trouble! As my husband warned me before the wedding, it’s really important to differentiate between how wedding pictures look and how your wedding day will feel. Our wedding pictures look dreamy and beautiful, and for that I’m grateful. Our wedding ceremony, on the other hand, felt really gritty and raw. The ceremony felt intense, but not necessarily happy. And that was ok. There was plenty of time for joy at the party, and in the weeks of bliss to come.

So on the day itself, do everything you can to resist classifying your wedding day emotions as right or wrong. Maybe like me, your life will change hard and fast, in a moment of gritty intensity. Maybe you’ll ride a wave of joy, but just feel like you threw an awesome party, nothing life changing. Maybe you’ll be so overwhelmed that you’ll weep for hours. Maybe it will be something totally different, and even more unexpected. Whatever you feel, let yourself feel it. It may not be at all what you expected, and that may be a blessing.
Photo Credit: The Legacy Boutique, Flowers by Chandra Abel Designs

Your family is crazy, and that’s ok.

I know right? You’re sitting here reading this thinking, “My family isn’t crazy, my family is lovely! And besides, it’s my wedding day so they’ll be on their best behavior.” Well, sort of. Your family probably is lovely (mine is), but you know how everyone acts in high stress situations? You know how your mom freaks out on Christmas Day about having the table set just right, and you have the brother who’s super delightful but slightly socially awkward in large groups, and you have the two uncles that don’t really get along that well after the four whiskies they always insist on having? Yeah. That stuff is going to happen on your wedding day, because weddings are stressful. But here is the thing, it doesn’t have to matter.

Being a bride has certain perks, and one of those perks is being given a free pass to not give a sh*t. If your mom starts freaking out while you’re getting ready, have a sister or a best friend who’s tasked with pulling her aside and telling her to breathe. If your uncles start fighting with each other after their fourth glass of whisky, you have permission to just turn around and walk away.

You’re not going to be able to make everyone happy, and that’s fine. For ten hours of your life, your job is to protect your own experience. Your job is to refuse to get emotionally involved when people get stressed, and to just walk away and let it go. It’s tricky, but it only lasts for a few short hours. Tomorrow you can get totally pissed at your mom when she’s acting a fool, but for today, it’s not your problem.

What happens next is so much richer.

Because planning a wedding is a giddy mix of beautiful things, mixed with a serious dose of pain in the *ss, it’s easy to get focused on This One Day We Spent So Much Time And Money Planning. But that day is not the point. Your marriage is the point. So as your wedding day approaches, remember that this too shall pass. And what you’ll be left with is your marriage, which is infinitely more beautiful than the most stunning wedding dress in the world.

Photo Credit: D2 Photography, Flowers by Chandra Abel Designs

My wedding day? It was one of the great joys of my life. But the happiest day of my life? That was probably a lazy honeymoon day with my husband, drinking whiskey and looking at castles. Or maybe it was just any old lazy Sunday, reading the New York Times, lounging around the house… and oh yeah, not planning a wedding.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Frequently Asked Questions.

Besides the food and The Dress, the most common thing your guests will talk about (and remember) about your wedding is the flowers.  Just as any bride, you want to make sure that your flowers represent the day in the best possible way.  Over the years I've learned that there are some common questions and concerns at the forefront of many bride's minds about flowers.  But there are a few things many people don't know to ask their florists in their initial meetings.  Here's some things you should ask when getting started and/or know before signing a contract to make sure the flowers are what you envision.  I'll post all of my answers to these questions as well.

Do you have a minimum?
Some florists require that you spend a certain amount in order to work with them.  I don't.

What kind of packages do you offer?
This is a tricky questions for florists as some do, some don't.  I personally don't offer any pre-set packages; everything I do is custom.  I am a little weary of florists that offer packages - no two weddings are alike.  It's a little presumptuous (and cookie-cutter) to imagine that I could offer something that would apply to multiple people just the same.

How many events do you take on per date?
This is an important one that many don't know to ask, as many florists don't have a limit.  I take only one per date.  I would be so nervous if I knew my florist had another person's wedding in the back of their mind and weren't able to devote all of their attention to the details of my day.

How do you charge?
My estimates are priced out a la carte.  In other words, each piece is itemized, so you can see exactly what you're spending on each centerpiece, aisle bouquet, and boutonniere.  Your florist should be very open with you about pricing - its your money and weddings aren't exactly low-cost.  I find that this way my bride's can allocate their budget wherever they'd like to see the most "wow".  When you get an estimate from another florist (as I imagine many brides get multiple bids), if they're just giving you the bottom line, I'd run.

Will you help us make sure the decor fits with the flowers?
This is kind of an obvious one.  But, don't be afraid to ask if your florist will meet with you additional times (and if they charge for that) to help you make sure everything fits, for example, meeting with you at your venue once you've chosen linens.

What kind of a deposit do you require?
Just like your other vendors, your florist will likely as for a deposit to hold the date.  I ask for a third once we've worked out most of the details (I say most, because some things can change, i.e. number of centerpieces) and you've received a formal estimate and copy of my contract.

I hope that helps a little bit.
Happy planning!

Photo credit: The Legacy Boutique

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christmas is coming.

Hey Orange County followers!  I'm now taking orders for your Christmas arrangements.  Want a simple paveed centerpiece for your dining table?  A showy entrance design for your foyer?  A trio of petite vases for your coffee table?  Shoot me an email and we'll plan whatever you want.

Here's some helpful info:
*Minimum order is $150.
*Free delivery within Laguna Beach, $10-$20 otherwise (depending on distance).
*Deliveries will be made on the 23rd and 24th.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Here's a few photos from a pink and brown wedding with some lime green details that I did up in San Francisco back in August.  For this bride, everything that we created for the ceremony served a purpose for the reception as well... a great way to make your flowers go the extra mile.

Pomanders from the ceremony doubled as centerpieces for the reception:

The place card settings and some blush pink spray roses greeted guests as they entered the venue.

Bridesmaids bouquets became centerpieces:

As well as the bride's bouquet on the head table:

A shot of the wedding party:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The sweetest bride ever, and how to talk budget with your vendors.

Back in August, I had the pleasure of working with one of the most grateful, warm-hearted people I've ever come across.  She approached me with such a respect for my work as a designer, and knowing clearly that she'd like to hire me.  Her "but"- she was on a budget, and would I be willing to work with her on it?  My answer: Absolutely.  Times are tough these days, but weddings are still happening, although on a smaller budget than they might have been 5 years ago.  Because M approached me with such gratitude it was easy for me to say yes and make her budget work for her; I wanted to, simply because she was such a joy to interact with.

Although I've only encountered a very small handful, you'd be surprised at how many brides (or their mothers) take the bullying route when talking cost.  Some people seem to think that playing hard ball is the surest way to get a vendor to negotiate with you; I'll tell you that for me, that is the opposite route to take.  To be frank, you risk coming across as someone who will be difficult to please and even more difficult to work with.  And while work may be scarce for some, I will pass on a job if I get a sense they're going to be a pain in the you-know-what all the way down the line.  I love my work, as I imagine most wedding vendors do.  We want to create something beautiful for you and make you happy simply because we understand how important a day it is.  My point: don't be afraid to be nice while communicating your budget and needs.  Here's a great article on the topic from that's much more informative and eloquent than I could ever be.

Here are a few photos from M's wedding, photography by Amanda Bevington.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Renegade's Holiday Craft Fair - December 18 & 19.

Not too long ago I thought I lost my camera, but it turns out my lost camera was under the seat in my car this whole time!  Pretty typical of me.  So now I have a huge back log of photos from the past few months.  The first is from the LA Renegade Craft Fair back in July.  I'll be doing the Renegade's SF Holiday Fair this year on December 18th & 19th and am super excited about it.  There's always such a good turnout, and despite the fact that I keep doubling my inventory I manage to sell out of everything in the first day (so get yours quick!).  Hopefully this year I'll get it right with 400 terrariums.  Woah that's gonna be a lot of work.  Oh, and a side note to SF'ers: This year the Fair will be at the Concourse Exhibition Center, not Fort Mason.  Here's the link if you'd like more info.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Vendors. Part 1.

Originally I wanted to do a post on what I've been up to with other people's weddings - but, I managed to lose my camera somewhere between San Francisco and Laguna Beach along with all of the photos from the past couple month's work.  Oh well - I'll just have to wait for the professional photos.  Instead, I thought I'd share my planning process.  Being in the industry allows me to have a little more insight than most on what makes a good vendor.  Our wedding is still a little under a year away - but trust me, the good ones get booked up quick.  So if you find a vendor you absolutely love, book them.  That's what we did with Christine Chang (our photographer) and FortyOneTwenty (our videographer).  

Why am I not using one of the photographers listed on the "Friends" page of my website, you ask?  Because those ladies are all good friends (one of which is a bridesmaid) and I don't want to have my friends work a wedding where they should be guests.  I'm always looking through wedding blogs for inspiration, to see what other brides are seeing, and to stay on top of trends in the wedding industry.  I came across Christine in one of Style Me Pretty's blog entries before I was even engaged and immediately fell in love with her photography.  I stored her away in my head for when I was actually in need of a photographer, and emailed her as soon as I knew my date.  Well, technically I emailed her before we had a date just to let her know that I had a vendor crush on her.  Here are some of my favorite photos of hers:

 I love how she's not afraid to just get up in there and get a good shot.  She really seems to bring out an honest portrayal of her couples.  And she's pretty funny too.

For our videographer I turned to the trusty Little Black Book and found FortyOneTwenty.  They have their sh*t down.  They're pretty affordable too, compared to a lot of other wedding videographers offering a similar cinematic style.  Plus, the guys just seem pretty cool.  Tony went with me to this meeting and really liked Matt, one of the three shooters, who took time out of his evening to meet with us as it was the only time that worked for T.  Oh!  And they use digital SLR cameras which are the same size as the photographer's cameras.  That means no intrusive humongoid cameras in the guests' faces while they're trying to enjoy the evening.  Which, just like Christine's style, helps give a really honest, organic portrayal of the day.  Here are three of my favorite shorts the guys at FortyOneTwenty have done.  They even strapped on wet-suits on got in the water to get shots of the groom surfing in the first one.  Talk about dedicated.

Paul & Andrea // La Jolla, CA from FortyOneTwenty on Vimeo.

Drew & An from FortyOneTwenty on Vimeo.

Tyler & Jenny // Middletown, CT from FortyOneTwenty on Vimeo.

I just want to note that none of my vendors have asked me to write about them, nor are they cutting me a deal for my wedding to do so.  I just have lot of faith in them and in their work, and am so thrilled to have them play a role in our wedding day.

P.S.  One of my clients has asked me to post a picture of me and Tony.  This is for you Stephanie!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Has it really been two months since my last post?

Criminy.  A lot has happened since then.  Like the fact that I GOT ENGAGED.  Yep.  Now not only to I get to talk about the fun weddings and fairs I am working on, I also will be waxing poetic about my plans for my own big day.  I used to think I spent excessive amounts of time on wedding blogs (all in the name of business research, of course).  That was nothing.  I now realize how easy it is to get lost down the never-ending rabbit hole of the world that is Weddings.  My fiance (FIANCE!) has teasingly noted how my productivity level has steadily declined since the day he asked me to marry him - as I am devoting more and more of my days to deciding which collection for my bridesmaids' dresses (Yay Thread!), scouting out trunk shows (The White Dress is having one this weekend ladies), picking my perfect color palate (this little gem is my secret for now), and naturally, what flowers will I choose?  And as my future mother-in-law is wisely asking, will I attempt to do them myself?

Alright, enough wedding chatter.  A friend of mine (who is also engaged, but much further along in the wedding planning process) suggested I set a spending limit on how much time I spend on my own wedding each day.  A good plan.  Easier said than done, but a good plan.

Time to get down to business.  Over the past couple of months there have been three especially fun events that I've had the pleasure of working on.  The first was a HUGE event at the Monterey Bay Aquarium up in, you guessed it, Monterey.  The event posed some challenges because of the venues ocean-friendly rules.  My clients wanted something ocean themed, but no real pieces from the sea were allowed.  Finding fake sea-themed pieces was a challenge - many of the things I came across were either covered in glitter (another aquarium no-no) or looked like a Christmas ornament.  No bueno.  Ultimately we decided to do terrariums with succulents that resembled marine plants, anemones, and other sea life.  We used a moss to cover the negative space in the pieces that looked like the fluffy seaweed that sticks to your legs when you get out of the ocean, and I bought bags and bags of synthetic sand to put around the inside perimeter of the terrarium to make it look like a teeny island and its surrounding beach under glass.  Unfortunately I forgot my camera as I often do, and only had my iPhone to snap a few shots, so please forgive the shoddy photography below.  I guess it wasn't the biggest event ever (400 guests-ish), but what made it such a large one for me was the number of tables - 90ish -versus the time we had to set up - 1 hour.  That's right, the aquarium was open to public until 6 PM, and the event began at 7:00.  We managed to pull it off will the help of the staff, and from what I heard afterwards, the guests loved them.  The photo shown is of one of the buffet pieces.

I also did a couple of weddings last month.  The first was a fun new challenge for me mainly because of the couple's choice to buck the traditional wedding cake and do Sprinkles monogramed cupcakes instead.  They asked me to design and build cupcake tiers and get creative with it.  The groom loved the look of wheatgrass, so naturally I incorporated it.  We wound up building four box tiers and stacking them in the traditional wedding cake shape, but putting white satin ribbon around the rise of the boxes, and cutting wheatgrass to fit the run.  The cupcakes were then nestled into the wheatgrass and displayed for the guests to come and grab one.  Tristan Abel was the skilled craftsman behind executing the tiers.  Above's an arial shot of the tower, along with some detail shots and a look at their centerpiece.  Also I had to include this beautiful shot by Natalie Moser of the bride with her bouquet of peonies, roses, and ranunculus.

This last event was the wedding of a high school friend.  She wanted to use blues and greens in her flowers and tie in the beach theme of her day.  The bridesmaids bouquets had tiny sand dollars throughout the green hydrangea, along with white roses and blue delphinium.  Meghan's bouquet had three full sized starfish to accompany the white mini callas, cymbidiums, sweet pea, jade roses, and blue delphinium.  


Whew.  That was a long one.  Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hayley + Steve

I had the pleasure of doing the flowers for a high school friend's wedding this Saturday.  I always enjoy what I do (even when time starts to run out and the pressure is on), but getting to do it for a friend made the job even more fun.  Hayley came to me knowing that she wanted to use bold pink as a part of her color palate, but she was torn between using lime-y green or an aqua-purple as her secondary color.  My two cents?  Use them both!  I always try to encourage brides to go with more than just two shades for their color palate.  Why?  You hardly ever see just two colors occurring in nature, and I say embrace the natural. The trend of using just two hues for a wedding color palate is coming to an end; it's time to embrace color! Hayley agreed, so we used all three.  And let me tell you, for a simple, all-hydrangea centerpiece, it was definitely the right choice.  I come from the school of thought that each flower should be appreciated and be able to stand on its own right in a piece.  The tri-color selection did exactly that; you could see the value of each stem that was added, instead of it just looking like a poofy mass.  To the right is a photo of the truck all loaded up with said centerpieces, and below a close-up to show the texture in all its glory.

Hayley of course wore white, and her maids wore the bold pink she loved.  I swapped the colors for their bouquets, giving Hayley the bright bouquet of peonies, garden roses, and ranunculus, and her girls fluffy white hydrangea (a great way to give the photos some contrast - I love an all white bridal bouquet as much as the next wedding obsessed person, but unfortunately they get lost in the wedding photography against The Dress).

Hayley before walking down the aisle and a close-up of her bouquet:

In addition to the fun of doing Hayley's flowers, I got to see a lot of faces I hadn't seen since high school which was such a treat.

Congratulations Hayley and Steve!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My favorite part of the job.

When people find out I what I do for a living, invariably one of the first things out of their mouths is "Yikes. You must deal with a lot of crazy brides." The opposite couldn't be truer. I have yet to encounter my first bridezilla. All of the couples I have worked with have been incredibly gracious and appreciative, and Megan was no exception. My interaction with her (and her mother!) when I delivered the personal flowers was the kind of moment I live for as a wedding florist. She loved everything about her bouquet, from the dark plum colored anemones and grey dusty miller, to the looped satin bow detail. She said something like, "I knew what you made would be beautiful!" Seriously, it gives me such a trill to get that kind of reaction. I think when a bride holds her bouquet for the first time, the imminence of the day sets in and emotion takes over. It's such an amazing moment to witness, not to mention the fact that something I made sparked it. Below are some photos of Megan and Nick's flowers, which I loved making just as much as I did delivering them. Photography by Kim Le.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A little preview from the Ojai wedding.

Here's a close up of a bridesmaids bouquet, along with a shot of the lucky lady and her girls.

From Chandra Abel Designs

Photography by Kim Le.