My first wedding flower gig this season is for my co-worker Annie and her longtime partner, Erika. With the passing of Referendum 74 here in Washington State that allows same-sex couples to finally be married and have it be acknowledged by the state, it was a HUGE honor to have been asked to do their flowers.
One of the biggest trends in weddings these days is the whole DIY concept in keeping costs down. It can be affordable, but the time and labor involved can easily stress and frustrate those who take it on. Knowing Annie and Erika, they're not at all about extravagance, they simply wanted the very basic and they wanted to use plants and flowers from their own garden that they grew. So, my challenge was to stay true to their simple requests: a bouquet for Erika, a boutonniere for Annie, their son Anders, and corsages and boutonniere for the parents and center pieces for the tables and just a few random arrangements here and there to decorate and enhance the venue.
Having been playing around with arrangements all winter, the spring push opened up a whole new palette of wonderful garden plants that would be wonderful for their wedding. With Annie being an avid gardener herself, "Why not just cut from the garden?!".
So I went at it with buckets and just gathered as much material that I thought would hold up. Fantastic Solomon's seal (Polygonatum sp), Helleborus x hybridus just reaching the stage where they're best cut, assorted greens, and even the horribly weedy spanish bluebells inspired some color and held up alright "as a cut"
The Seattle Wholesale Grower's Market in the Industrial District of the Emerald City has been such a delight to visit each and every time I come in. Having made many contacts and close friends and colleagues through the likes of author Debra Prinzing, photographer David Perry, and Diane Szukovathy of Jello Mold Farms, I'm as giddy as a kid in a candy store looking forward to what the growers have brought in and to be greeted by smiles and hugs when I visit just makes me realize how much I love what I do. Floral designer and aspiring cut-flower grower, Nicole Cortier, is the main woman behind the desk handling orders and greeting customers. I adore her enthusiasm for unique plant materials and it's so easy to just hang around and chat flowers and the future of the industry. Not only is she a next generation gardener, she could be a next generation GROWER! The beauty of all this is the fact that we're not alone in our endeavors. I've met three other young ladies in just the past year who have their sights set on growing cut flowers and I'm anxious to see if their strong interest carries them through the ups and downs of a very challenging industry.
So, for Annie and Erika's wedding, I proposed that we use soft orange Ranunculus and blue grape hyacinths. As for arrangements, they were very open to ideas and expressed their love of lilacs so I grabbed a large bunch along with some fantastic, young snowball viburnums that were still a light moss green that contrast with the deep violet color. These were grown by Oregon Coastal Flowers who have a regular stand at the Seattle Wholesale Grower's Market.
For the orange ranunculus, Nicole directed me to Ms. Vivian Larson of Everyday Flowers who was their Ranunculus and Anemone specialist and I was able to get in touch with her to place a special order for 50 stems of orange ranunculus. By coincidence, her Standwood farm was actually on the way to the wedding venue in Camano Island and I has asked if I could pick up my order and also see her growing operation!!!!!!So yeah....good times...good times!! She was so kind and enthusiastic and I admired her work ethic and remarkable quality flowers as she toured me through her hoop houses and her fields in the picturesque Skagit Valley
I couldn't help but marvel at the incredible and painstaking work involved in producing these cut blooms. I also had to get some fabulous Cerinthe purpurescens, which she cut for me right then and there! Talk about fresh from the field!!
With my floral-mobile set, I gave Vivian a hug and gave her my sincerest thanks and off I went to Camano Island to quickly put wedding flowers together.
I was actually surprised that the scent of lilacs wasn't too overpowering. Combined that with wonderful lily-of-the-valley, it was simply heaven! It felt so good to have had the opportunity to gather all these plants, meet the people who tended and raised them and now comes the part where it all comes together to celebrate a union that's been a long time coming!
After a wonderful and emotional ceremony, I was greeting with compliments and "thank yous" from so many people and I was so thrilled that they were pleased with the result. Probably the most meaningful comment someone said to me was, "You did a great job. This is so Annie and Erika!"