Monday, August 9, 2010

Living the florist-relative's dream -- in the last minute!

Sometimes it looks for all the world that your fondest wishes won't come true.

As a floral designer, why wouldn't I want nothing more than to use my skills to bless my family?  So six weeks before my nephew, Andrew, marries Lizzy in Redwood City, California, I give word through his mother--

"I'm so sorry, I know it's late, but it's been nagging on my heart.  PLEASE let the bride's family know that if they need ANYTHING having to do with flowers, I will do it!  Whatever that may be!" 

A serious offer, indeed.  Well, nobody gets back to me.  At all.

The day before the wedding, John & I arrive in sunny California. 

"Honey, I don't know how I'm going to get through this.  What if I don't like their flowers?  I can't say a thing, and I can't do anything -- but I could have, if only..."  

My dear Husby understands all too well.  It's hard for me to exercise control not to straighten other people's pictures, even.  Flowers?  Oh, man.  Every honest florist will tell you that we're the worst critics of each others' work.  We don't mean to be.  I think it comes from our own inner desires to always improve in our craft, so we analyze the work of others.  Not always benevolently.  What can you expect from a bunch of artists?  Happy for Lizzy and Andrew, I was secretly dreading Saturday, but only because of the flowers, and my own perfectionistic sense of helplessness.

I meet the mother of the bride at the rehearsal dinner.  Her name is also Julia.  We chat friendly-like for about thirty seconds and then I blurt, "You know, Julia, I was totally prepared to be your Floral-Love-Slave.  If you still need help, I'm happy to pitch in." 

Visibly surprised, she asks, "Is that offer still on the table?"  Julia tells me how she purchased bachelors buttons for the boutonnieres, blue hydrangeas, veronica and white miniature calla lilies for the girls' bouquets, gardenias for hair, and baby's breath to fill in, ALL from vendors at the San Francisco Flower Mart (Dang!  I missed the chance to shop at the world-reknown Flower Mart?!  The Florist's Mecca?!).  She and her small crew of sisters were planning to do the flowers in the morning.

In the next minutes I remember arranging for a 9 a.m. ride to the bride's family home, where the celebration would take place in the afternoon.  I'm excited, and still a little nervous.  But a love slave is a love slave, nonetheless.

The temperature in the morning shade is cool and comfortable, so I set up a small work station on the back porch, with Julia's flowers and supplies close at hand.  She is not just busy, but crazy-busy, so I pick her brain for "who needs what for flowers," and with a hand-scrawled checklist, I dive in, freeing her to direct the last-minute decorating in the back yard

In short order, I'm struck with how sweet, good natured and helpful are Julia's sisters, Charlotte and Barbara.  They agree to let me do "the things that are a little more difficult," while they work on the centerpieces.  Juila's daughters, Lizzy and Becky, work on cupcake-frosting, and decorating the buffet area-- all-the-while closely attending to any little thing I needed, like a dish to float & hydrate the gardenias, a box to put the finished corsages & boutonnieres in, and a pen & paper to write the flower tags.

You don't need a play-by-play of the entire morning, but I'll tell you my favorite moments:

I'm wiring and taping the bachelors buttons, so that they will hold up all day. It's standard procedure.

1).  "You're WIRING the bachelor buttons?"  Julia and her sisters stare in amazement.  "Wow, that's so professional!" 

I giggled to myself.

2).  This is a fabulous back yard.  I can't get over the great plant material.  Spider plants, ivy leaves, jasmine vine, agapanthus in full and perfect bloom, climbing roses, variegated pittosporum, and some really cool, sizeable, striped grass.  Would they mind if I used some of this stuff?  After awhile I stopped asking, because the answer simply became, "Whatever You  Want to Do!!"

That was so fun!  The yard's the limit!!

Here are the photos.  What a joy to be able to serve my nephew and his new family.  And to make forever memories, too!
Andrew and Lizzy
Lizzy's sister, Becky
A close-up of Lizzy's Bouquet

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