Kimberly and Gray's Chateau Elan Wedding

Kimberly and Gray's wedding this past July was held at Chateau Elan, a winery located North of Atlanta.  The winery, with its many attractive indoor and outdoor settings was the perfect backdrop for this handsome couple.

Beautiful bride Kimberly, chose a soft color theme of white and light pink with accents of gold for her decor and the result was stunning.  At our first meeting, she brought pictures of the overall look she liked, including a picture of a floral wreath for her dog, who was to walk down the aisle. And at a later meeting, a request was made to provide some sort of tree for the reception, to be placed near the photo booth for the Auburn University Alumni guests to paper in honor of the bride and groom. Papering trees after a football win is a beloved Auburn tradition and I was happy to work this feature into the look of the ballroom - no easy feat given the glamorous look of everything else to do with this wedding.  I knew I was going to enjoy designing for this couple!

Here are some pictures of the wedding taken by Jessica Williams Studio. Our very best wishes to Kimberly and Gray!

Floral arrangements lining the aisle, placed at every row with
satin fabric draped over the columns for added color
Wearing her floral collar proudly
A great picture of the atrium wedding ceremony

Floral touches added to the staircase
The happy couple at the reception

Large arrangements for the seating tables and
another placed on the dessert table.
The photo booth area was the perfect
spot for the Auburn tree for 'rolling with a
 sign that read "Roll the Tree
 for Gray & Kimberly"

The beautiful reception ballroom at Chateau Elan

Shirley and Paul's Buford Community Center Wedding

Beautiful bride Shirley knew the colors she wanted for her wedding - coral and gold, and she also knew her budget. We met to discuss her wedding decor needs and where she might save money and I was happy to help give suggestions on alternatives for bouquets and table decor to fit her budget. She brought a picture of a small bridesmaid bouquet of baby's breath to the meeting and we quickly agreed that it would look great and save money.  

But, as sometimes happens in the floral industry, there were challenges when the shipment of flowers for her wedding arrived. All the other flowers were perfect except the Gypsophila, commonly known as baby's breath which looked like it had been picked in the field much too early with hardly any of the flower blooms open. I had never, ever seen baby's breath look that! Every single week, no matter what time of year, baby's breath comes in with large white fluffy blooms, but this time I was so disappointed in the shipment but couldn't find any replacement in the area in time for the wedding. So I went to work, trying to make the best of the situation by immediately putting the stems in water and placed them in the sun to try and encourage the blooms to open. Some of the blooms luckily started to open. You can actually hear them pop when they open and I was starting to hear lots of little pops. I'd been told that it might help to whack the baby's breath buds on a counter to help open the blooms, and it did help - a little.  Usually baby's breath is used as a filler flower and this batch wouldn't have been an issue, but in the this case, the baby's breath was the star of the show in the bridesmaid bouquets. And that's where flexibility comes into play. Normally I won't promise any one particular flower type when I give quotes, but instead give a range of types of flowers in the color desired so that if a certain flower comes in and doesn't look good enough, I've got other choices, but here I was, in a bind. It became obvious that the design was going to have to be altered just a bit, but as the buds slowly started to open, the overall look was going to remain. Thankfully the bouquets turned out beautifully, with a little help. I was very pleased with the end result.

Below is Shirley with her bridesmaids.  The baby's breath did open up enough, but was also supplemented with white roses in the center of each bouquet.

Photography by Southern Portrait and Video

Here's a picture of the bouquets and three white roses in each one helped fill out the design.

Photography by Southern Portrait & Video

Photography by Southern Portrait & Video

Photography by Southern Portrait & Video

"Is It O.K. to Use Silk Flowers for My Wedding?"

   Yes, absolutely!  Some artificial flowers, which I call 'silk' and are sometimes referred to as 'permanent botanicals' in the floral industry, look very realistic, even fooling me. And they are often more expensive than fresh - definitely not a 'cheap' alternative. Currently, I'm working with five brides that have decided to go with silk flowers and all for different reasons so I thought I'd tell you why each of these brides are choosing silk flowers.
Silk magnolia
The first bride, Nancy, is getting married at Prince of Peace Catholic Church with a reception following at The Gainesville Civic Center and she wanted magnolia flowers.  Magnolia trees are common in the South, and the blossoms from the tree can be huge and very fragrant, but the blossoms are not available from growers and I can't be assured any trees in the area will be blooming when we need them, not to mention that they don't hold up well in arrangements. So, we suggested taking high quality, very realistic looking silk magnolia flowers and working them in with fresh flowers for two large church altar arrangements at the ceremony.  She'll carry a silk cascade arrangement and for her reception decor, we're using silk flower clusters on bird cages for half of her table centerpieces, and fresh rose petals around candelabras for the other centerpieces.  A silk flower garland with large magnolia flowers will line the stair railing leading up to her reception room and silk magnolia wreaths on the reception room doors will welcome guests to a beautiful garden party look - Southern style.

Silk hydrangea
   The second bride, Shirley, is getting married at the Buford Community Center and she wants hydrangea in her bouquet but her wedding ceremony is outdoors in the gazebo and we were concerned that the hydrangeas might wilt.  Hydrangeas need a water source and can wilt quickly if they are out of water for long, so we had the option of using water tubes on fresh hydrangea stems, using an oasis bridal bouquet holder to give a constant water source or go with silk. Shirley quickly decided to go with a beautiful silk bouquet of hydrangeas, roses and orchids. Even if the temperatures are in the upper 80's, her bouquet will stay looking beautiful throughout the ceremony.  She decided however to have fresh flower centerpieces on her reception tables, which will be inside in the ballroom.

Cascade w/ peacock feathers
   The third bride, Lesleigh, is having a barn wedding out of town and wants to transport her own bouquet to the location. Her cascade bouquet will be very long with delicate white roses, blue orchids, green hydrangea, greenery and peacock feathers.  A really beautiful bouquet, but much easier to transport in the back of a car, in the heat, if it's all silk. A very wise choice and she's excited to be able to keep this beautiful and unusual design to display for years to come.

   The fourth bride, Debbie, was open to an all silk bouquet when I explained about shading variations that can occur with fresh flowers.  She wants a yellow rose bouquet with dark purple accents and it's a beautiful combination and easy to do with fresh, if the bride is flexible on the shading of the color of the purple accent flowers. I can't guarantee the exact color of fresh flowers when they arrive from the growers, because of the natural variances that can occur.  Sometimes the label says 'purple' but the flower has blue undertone or is lighter than expected. If the color is too far from the desired shade, there are floral sprays that can help correct the issues, but in general I like to say 'shades of a color' when talking about how a bouquet will look, rather than the exact color. But Debbie was very specific about the shade of purple, so she decided to go with silk where the color could be controlled.  Her bouquet turned out beautifully.

Silk navy roses with bling
   The fifth bride, Chervonne, is getting married at Chateau Elan in the atrium and she knew from the beginning that she wanted an all silk, deep blue rose and cream white bouquet, blinged out with jewel inserts.  She also wants all silk for her attendants, groom and groomsmen, but has decided to go with fresh flower centerpieces on her reception tables in the ballroom.

   I love fresh flowers, but I also really, really like high quality silk flowers. All of these brides are excited about saving their flower bouquets after the wedding, putting them in shadow boxes or on a table to be enjoyed for years to come.  As for whether the finished bouquet is less expensive than fresh, the answer is 'No'. The high quality silk flowers that I work with cost as much, if not more than fresh flowers and there's just as much time and effort put into creating the design as when the flowers are fresh. They are a wonderful alternative to fresh and I'm glad these brides are proud to go there. I'm proud too. :-)

Beautiful Wedding Venues Nearby

There has been a trend of weddings taking place in spaces other than churches for some time now. Churches often have decor, space and use limitations that other venue options don't, so brides are on the look for those venues that offer the most potential for a beautiful ceremony space, convenient reception party area at a competitive price. There are many venue choices in this area, but I wanted to share some pictures of three that impress me for their value and look.

The Gainesville Civic Center, shown below at a recent bridal expo, has a brand new ceiling draping installation and chandelier in the main ballroom.
Main ballroom of Civic Center

The Civic Center has been around for a long time and is operated by Parks and Recreation Department.  The rental price of the facility is very reasonable and I really love the new fabric draped ceiling treatment.

The Buford Community Center,  is close by and it has a wonderful ballroom that reminds me of a Chateau Elan ballroom but for much less. There's also an lovely outdoor ceremony area.

Main ballroom of Buford Community Center

The Farmhouse @ 30542 is a new venue in Flowery Branch that provides a tranquil outdoor spot. Owner Cathy Little, has expanded the outdoor area by adding a covered pole barn along with lots of charming photo spots around the property.

The Farmhouse at 30542
Photo opportunity spots are all around the property

Construction of the pole barn going up when I took this picture.

Denille's Elegant Chateau Elan Wedding

Denille came to our very first meeting with a pretty good idea of what decor she wanted at her wedding. She envisioned an arbor, elegant flower arrangements, long satin ribbons and bling.

And oh, how gorgeous and elegant she looked, shown here with her beautiful bridesmaids.

And bouquets with long satin ribbons...
The bouquets included fragrant David Austin patience garden roses, mondial roses, calla lilies, dendrobium orchids, fragrant purple freeshia and purple stock, dahlias, lisianthus and silver dollar eucalyptus.

The ceremony and reception arrangements were made with hydrangeas, Asian lilies, orchids, calla lilies, roses, amaranthus, silver dollar eucalyptus and hanging crystals.

This picture was taken before the plum sashes were added to the chairs, but still shows the elegant look that the tall arrangements give the aisle.

Mom and Dad handing the bride over to the groom.

Getting married under a decorated arbor was one of Denille's dreams. We decorated the arbor with an abundance of fresh flowers and cedar branches. 

Another area to decorate was the fountain in the atrium where people love to congregate.

And after the ceremony the arrangements were all transferred to the reception area and utilized again.

Above is a picture of the reception room before lighting.....and below is after uplighting is added

The overall look of the room was absolutely beautiful.

Very best wishes to the bride & groom! Thank you for letting us be a part of your big day!
C E Florals

Can Wedding Decorations Be Overdone?

In my opinion, the answer is Yes for the wedding ceremony but No for reception!  I love a big wedding floral budget to work with as much as the next designer....BUT, the decor for the ceremony should never eclipse the couple. It's like a female guest wearing a super sexy white or red dress to the wedding and 'upstaging the bride' - it's a no-no. So how will you know if the decor is too much? I suggest that you do some mental transporting practice. When you see a picture of a setting you think you want for your wedding ceremony, try to visualize yourselves standing there. Yes, all the flowers surrounding you are gorgeous, but is it too much? Does it detract from the ceremony, dwarf and overpower you? Will you shrink or will you shine in that setting? I think a lot of people can't imagine themselves in the picture and that's where they need to rely on their floral designer to offer the best backdrop and decor ideas that suits them, enhancing the surroundings but also showcasing the couple in a sophisticated way. 
Grass on the wall brings the outdoors inside for a lovely wedding ceremony. Photo by Wildflower Linens:

Photo credit: Wildflower Linens

There's quite a few photos of weddings with over the top decor for the ceremony where I thought 'ee gads it's too much',  but I chose the photo above as an example of a setting that, although beautiful, might eclipse a couple due to it's size and overall impact.  It reminds me of the Coco Chanel quote about wearing too many accessories...'always take off the last one you put on'. Sometimes... less is more.  

One question many brides have is how to decide the amount to spend on the ceremony decor as opposed to the reception decor, especially with a more limited budget. Depending on the type of ceremony, I like to remind brides that the ceremony is where many of the most memorable photos will be taken and some ceremonies last a lone time so giving the guests something to look (other than the two of you) during the ceremony is nice.  And it's not just about what you want to see when you walk down the aisle. So the lesson is, don't try to go too cheap on the ceremony decor, but don't go overboard either.

I don't believe that the decor for a reception can be overdone though! The reception is all about making as much of a WOW impact as you can with the remaining budget you have. The reception is all about the party and about giving the guests (and you) something to remember. Transforming a room into as much of a magical setting as your budget allows may be a challenge but I love challenges.

Chateau Elan Atrium Wedding

Beautiful bride Dunni lives in the UK, but she picked Chateau Elan for her gorgeous wedding. Dunni and Bryan's guests arrived from around the world, many wearing colorful traditional African fashion wear and the knowledge of the colorful clothing along with Dunni's love of vibrant colors, played into our overall design for her flowers and decor.  Here are some pictures I took of the wedding.

The bride wanted a long flowing cascade bouquet and it was absolutely beautiful but also heavy enough that we placed a stand near the stage for her maid of honor to place it on during the long service. 

The bride's color theme for the wedding ceremony was peach but she also wanted lots of bold colors in the flower arrangements, so we lined the aisles with peach organza fabric (below) and then carefully selected flower colors in the floral arrangements that went well with peach.

The bride decided on a salmon color theme for their reception (below) in the ballroom and with the bold floral arrangements, the overall affect was stunning.

We send our very best wishes to Dunni and Bryan!

Tussie Mussies!

With a tussie mussie holder
I blogged about Tussie-Mussie's back in 2011 (on a gardening blog), and since they're in style for mother's of the bride and mother's of the groom, I'd thought I'd re-post some of that blog to explain what a Tussie-Mussie is all about:
A Tussie-Mussie is a tight, compact bouquet of flowers. They are great for mother's of the bride and mother's of the groom (as well as junior bridesmaids and flower girls) because they can be easily carried in your hand and they stay fresh for a long time.

I'd heard of nosegays before, but Tussies are bigger than a nosegay.  And there's quite a history behind the idea of the little bouquets - going back to medieval times, but they were especially popular during Queen Victoria's reign.

Below are three different looking Tussies. Depending on the flowers used, they can stay fresh looking out of water when they are prepared properly.

 I also love the look of several of them lined up on a table. Aren't they sweet looking?

For proper preparation, each stem is individually wrapped with floral tape before adding them to the bouquet. The greenery is then wrapped and added last and then all stems are wrapped one final time so that the bouquet is secure and easy to hold.

Some flowers and greenery works better than others outside of a water source. I left the rose bouquet to the right out of water for 2 hrs. to see how it looked and it still looked great. The flowers were all unconditioned (fresh garden cut), so conditioned flowers would last even longer.

The Tussie below is larger than the other two.

If it fits in one hand and is tight and compact, it's still considered a Tussie-Mussie.

They can also be made out of just greenery, using herbs and fragrant leaves.

I think they are just adorable!

The Not-So-Glamorous Side of Wedding/Events Floral Design

It's the end of a busy week and I've been going from one meeting to the next, feeling pulled in several directions. But that's okay - it's part of this business, which can be crazy and demanding. Then today I mentioned to a client/church friend that it was the month of March (she reminded me it was only February) and I knew it must be time to take the day off, and to breath. I don't take time off very often.

It is always a joy and honor to be a part of an event because floral design is my passion and I love helping people. But this work is tough. So I thought I'd share a little bit of the not-so-glamorous side of this business <while I'm taking time off>. So here goes.... it starts and ends with lots and lots of planning and scheduling and then a lot of hard work.

Once an event is booked, it's all about the budget and schedules that keeps us on track. A detailed cost budget, a schedule for when everything is to be ordered, designed, built, delivered and taken back down after the event. The logistics of it all can be challenging.  During down times, I source out new products and am always looking for inspiration for my designs. This means that testing products to see how they hold up under different conditions, and doing mock ups of complicated designs is extremely important. Technique is everything and it must be constantly practiced.

Below are some photos taken at a floral wholesaler. I'm always looking for the best products for my designs. 

For large events, the flower shipment can be huge and cooled storage is critical to keep the flowers at their freshest. So the timing of the shipment, and the storage of the flowers before and after they are arranged is important.  Prepping a large shipment of flowers is a lot of work too. Removing any thorns, stripping leafs and re-cutting all stems and hydrating the flowers can take hours.

The work schedule timeline then splits up the tasks of making up bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres, ceremony decor and reception decor so that the longest lasting designs are made first and stored in a cooler. Bows are made up ahead of time and floral wrap, pins, ribbon, etc. are all ready to go and within hands reach once the design process begins. Prepping creates a big mess and the design process makes another mess, so extra help and time is needed for clean up.

Then on the day of the event, which I call 'show time', we use yet another schedule - the loading schedule to optimize delivery space and determine how many vehicles and helpers will be needed. I also like to bring one helper just to take photographs. I've kicked myself on several occasions for not taking pictures of an event. Relying on the event/wedding photographer works out the best, if possible, because the photos are so much better. Finding the time to post the photos is another matter.

So, if you have the inclination to do your own wedding flowers, I hope some of the above information helps. I encourage you to practice, practice, practice, make schedules and be ready for some extra stress. It's just the nature of dealing with fresh flowers. If you'd like for us to handle your wedding or event decor, we'd be honored to be a part of your day!  We'll work within your budget and you'll be able to enjoy your day more stress-free.

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