Random notes & offerings...        
Jan 11, 2014
I have been browsing through some photographs and have selected a few of my favorites from last year's work.
So many beautiful color combinations and such an array of styles, It's hard to choose just a few!

It has been a while since I've been able to update here. The website builder tool has been pretty much non-functional for months! Let's hope all the bugs and kinks have been corrected. I'll test the waters with a few photographs from an charming April 6th 2013 wedding right here in Chesterfield at the Olde York Country Club. Enjoy...
Dec. 2012
A taste of what we have in the shop. Merry and bright... Why not?
Note  the Cody Foster items and the new line of candles by Thyme's.
Very sought after, both.
12-12-12...
Once in a blue moon kind of date.
Appropriate, given the attention I've given this blog lately! This year has been full of challenges and surprises. Most were wonderful and joyful, others not so much...
I thought I might make up for lost time by posting a variety of photos from events this year. I have had a terrible luck lately getting good images from brides and photographers, and that is such a disappointment. The main reason I got so lax with the posts was my waiting for photos from our beautiful Spring weddings that never materialized.. Here's a sample of some we did get!
Nov 27, '11
Posted by Ted

These amazing images are from a wedding we did this spring. They were taken by Drew Noel Photography. I chose these pictures to show how comfortable and at ease the girls look with their flowers. This is due in part to the skill of the photographer, who clearly made everyone feel very relaxed and allowed them to be themselves. We can take some credit too. This style of bouquet was chosen because it allowed us to use the brides favorite flower, Orchids. The light, breezy, fountain or wand effect featured her orchids by grouping them at the base of the bouquets and used less costly, but still interesting and graceful materials like the orchid colored boronia, waxflower and calcinia heather. Boronia is only available for a few weeks in the spring and I prayed we would have it for Courtnee' because I knew it would match and compliment the attendant's gowns perfectly. It also gives a bouquet movement, in that the wiry stems sway gently as the bouquet is moved about. The  accent of tangerine and gold were added to give a bit of pop. We didn't want things to get too matchy.  The budget was respected and our bride made happy with bouquets that she loved, featuring a flower she feared might be out of her reach. The flower girls did not appear too happy with the positioning of their flowers. I guess you can't please everyone!

Behind the scenes at our Ocean Springs wedding
Nov 8, '11
Posted by Ted

Ginger Ann and Robert's Ocean Springs wedding: The Evolution of an Event (and a design team)

Many of you will recall my posting of pictures from Ginger Ann and Robert's Ocean Springs, Mississippi wedding this spring on our Facebook page. We are so pleased to announce the very well read and popular wedding blog  Style Me Pretty has chosen to feature the beautiful photographs by Kristy Dickerson from this event in their archives. This is a rare and singular honor. Jon and I are very pleased to share it with you. I would also like to share the story of how we came to be involved in this stellar event in the first place, my first impressions of the Deep South, and a bit on how the logistics of long distance event planning works.

As I have shared before, Jon and I came to know each other via social media (Twitter). Ginger, the bride’s mother, and Jon had met many years before at a cocktail party and had become fast friends. This came as no surprise to me after meeting Ginger. She is a wonderful, fun and  extremely artistic lady, who, as an event planner, has also overseen many gorgeous soirees of her own design. Jon also met the bride's grandmother, JoJo, in Birmingham as she came to stay as a "refugee" from hurricane Katrina. The estate where this beautiful event took place was JoJo and her husband's home and it, along with hundreds of miles worth of their neighbors, had suffered considerable damage from the storm. We saw that some of these neighbors were so much less fortunate geographically. The devastation from this storm has many areas surrounding Ocean Springs wiped clean still of any standing structures. We passed mile after mile of open beachfront just west of Biloxi where all that remains still are a few trees and naked footings. Jon, Ginger and JoJo had planned and overseen the wedding of Ginger's sister, Lee Dicks (old family name, this is as far south as it gets, remember). This event took place just after the grand old home was restored to her former stateliness. This wedding also occurred around the time Jon and I were getting to know one another by his visiting my farm monthly, a week or two at a time. He would drive up, dogs in tow, and immerse himself in all things Jersey during the down times in his event schedule. I watched him plan Lee Dicks' wedding on laptop, feverishly emailing the bride, her mom, vendors, wholesalers and the like, ordering, suggesting, confirming and re-confirming down to the smallest detail. Aside from a handful of larger scale events, my method with most weddings was far less complicated. It usually involved two meetings with the bride whereby we would discuss wishes, budget, colors, etc., and that was that. Many of my brides were siblings of former brides, or bridesmaids and were often more than happy to give me carte blanche and have that much less planning to do. I was in awe of the size and scale of Jon's project and the level of attention paid to each detail. I was in constant contact with Jon when Lee Dicks' wedding was being set up. I was concerned for all because the date they had chosen was also the day the gulf was expecting a violent cold-front-driven batch of seriously nasty weather, no Katrina, but reason for serious concern, nonetheless...particularly if you are planning a large-scale outdoor event. I recall one phone conversation the day of her wedding when Jon said to me calmly, while chandeliers clinked loudly overhead, "I have to go, the sides just blew off the tent.." This would be the point where I would be rolling on the ground swallowing my tongue... Aside from some  logistical changes (ceremony moved from the bulkhead outside to inside the house) the event was a success, and was enjoyed thoroughly by all. Delicious, memorable lemonade was made from lemons. Jon was corralled by JoJo, Ginger, and Ginger Ann and made to promise that he would return to do Ginger Ann's wedding. He had already shared with them his plans to move to New Jersey, but they insisted..

When Jon moved here the following September, the plans for Ginger Ann's wedding were already starting. Ginger was sourcing containers, stationery and linens in Ginger Ann's chosen color scheme of pewter gray and mustard gold. The theme was to celebrate the resilience of the ancient live oak trees on the estate that had once again weathered the very worst mother nature had to offer. Another element to the design was to incorporate a collection of beloved birdcages into the overall design of the event. Jon worked via computer daily making lists of flowers and recipes for each of the many dozen floral pieces we would have to assemble. These things need to be figured out to down to the last flower and piece of wire when working on a remote site. There is no "stealing something else from the cooler" or "running to the wholesaler" when you are working in a two car garage and have neither nearby. When we arrived in Mississippi six days prior to the wedding, the first thing we did was check out our workspace, inventory our containers and supplies, and order in the refrigerated truck that would serve as our cooler. The following morning we made our way to the wholesaler in New Orleans that was handling our cut flower order Jon had placed many weeks before. Every box was opened and inspected and several "must have" last minute additions were pulled from the wholesaler's offerings for that week. We had also packed and shipped several hundred stems of lilac from our farm to this wholesaler, who, in turn, unpacked and processed them for us. Our salesgirl said once they were unpacked she had to guard them with her life! Lilacs are a very rare commodity this far south, and every florist on the gulf wanted to get their hands on our heirloom and French double lilacs! We made arrangements for the delivery of the product and we were off for a quick late lunch in the French Quarter and then back to the estate 100+ miles away.

The days that followed were an absolute blur of activity. We were joined by our helpers Sarah Emma Hall (also a  noted wedding planner) and florist extraordinaire, Sybil Sylvester. We unpacked, processed and inventoried thousands of stems of flowers, set up our impromptu work space, prepped containers and set out to design the many pieces that Jon had sketched out and assigned to us. Jon, at this point, was utterly consumed with the logistics of getting all the many truckloads of hardware (tents, tables, bars, chairs, fixtures...) in place. The estate has only two entrances and the main gates would not allow the passage of the largest trucks. The alternative entrance had a circuitous drive that placed many landscape features in dire danger of trampling by truck tire. It was an extremely delicate ballet getting it all in place. All of this under the watchful eye of the bride's aunt, who spent a good portion of the week waving her arms wildly and screaming "Stop, STOP!!" and "No, no, NO!!" while simultaneously trying to calm her two hundred pound-ish Brazilian Mastiff and keep him from eating the (mostly, by now) terrified rental movers. The Brazilian Mastiff, come to find out, is a dog that was bred centuries ago almost exclusively for the task of retrieving run-away slaves. I'm certain that Aunt Dixie had far less nefarious reasons for choosing her beloved Monte ("mountain" en Espanol, moy "apropos"), but he did strike fear in nearly everyone he came upon, including dog-lovin' me. Ginger Ann's aunt Dixie was the keeper and protector of the family estate after JoJo passed away, and takes her responsibilities very seriously. Sybil, Sarah Emma and I kept our heads down and plugged along as the waves of mayhem passed before us. All the while Jon and Ginger calmly and serenely pointed and placed each piece into it's carefully planned position, allowing Dixie to be Dixie. I thought at one point during the week, "You really could not make this stuff up if you tried." I had never before been privy to the wonderful quirky eccentricities that enamor so many to the South and its people. It's a very complex stew (maybe gumbo) of tradition and  undying love, pecking order and conflict. I let it surround and wash over me as if I had been plopped into the middle of the best wedding movie ever, at least since "Steel Magnolias".  I was falling head over heals in love with, and increasingly amused by, this fascinatingly complicated cast of characters.


The very best moment of the week for me, was also the moment I fell madly in love with this bride. I could feel our "just-the-ever-so-teensiest-bit-evil" souls connect. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am utterly powerless, and am possessing of zero restraint, when the occasional "all-to-serious" moment is lying before me, ripe for a little off-color levity. The magic moment happened Friday, as we all (family and helpers), enjoyed a very nice luncheon, one of many exquisitely prepared meals by Doretha, the family's housekeeper. As we sat at the dining room table eating and exchanging niceties, the bride and groom entered the house. "How did you make out?" asked a clearly anxious Ginger, as Ginger Ann and Robert entered the room to join us. "Well, not so well. Apparently you need 48 hours to get a marriage license."  A very "lively" discussion then ensued between the Gingers regarding the explicit and historical prior knowledge of that information, and the embarrassment of having a daughter potentially "be married" very publicly without any actual government permission to do so. Heads at the table went side to side in rapt Wimbledonian fashion as the exchange took place (in a very measured, genteel, manner, I must say). It came to an end when Ginger Ann got up from the table and headed for the stairs. She turned back toward us as she reached third-step-up podium level. Clutching the banister, Ginger Ann made her final matter-of-fact, declaration, "Well, the good news is, the blood work came back in time. We're not related, and I don't have syphilis." ( The last word being extra emphasized.) She tossed her hair and ascended the grand staircase leaving her mother looking across the table at all of us with the most flabbergasted and endearing "Well!... did you ever?" look on her face. I very nearly gave myself a hernia holding back the explosion of laughter I felt entitled to. Much head shaking and laughing erupted (more than likely from me snorting) and all was, sort of, back on track again. "Well then..."fake" wedding it is, whatever..." A very, very elaborately-planned "fake" wedding...

As the week came to its end the activity intensified. From late Friday through Saturday morning the pace was feverish and exhausting. All of the portable floral pieces needed to be moved and placed into the house. A few of the more grand and complicated designs like the entrance bower, the foyer arch, the large hanging-votive-laden center hall arrangement and the mobile-like melange of eucalyptus boughs, bird cages and flowers in the tent ceiling needed to be constructed in place, quickly. The fact that many of these pieces had to be made working from 12 to 20 foot ladders added to the amount of time needed to be allotted to them.  Other designs like the large oaken grape-gathering trugs and centerpieces had to wait until after the placement of Ginger's exquisite choices in linens. The combination of wind, very warm temperature, and a clear greenhouse-like tent in tropical noontime heat would mean a certain death to many of the more delicate "breath of spring" type flowers in our recipe list. Coral Charm peonies, French tulips, lilacs and forsythia are not at all built to withstand tropical temperatures. Our set-up schedule was designed expressly to keep these elements under refrigeration for the longest time possible. In the end, having four well-seasoned professionals was key to this event going off without a hitch. Each team member had seen before, and dealt with, all of the little issues that inevitably arise with an event of this size. Less-seasoned designers would have spent much precious time chasing down answers to these issues. Each of us respected each other’s ability and skill and set about doing each element individually, or as a team, as directed. Artists of any kind are not naturally team players. It's just not part of our DNA. That we worked so seamlessly together is in large part to Jon's careful delegation of work. His strong suit is grace under pressure, so aside from the exquisite vision he and Ginger had designed, it was he who made sure all of the vendors played nice with one another and kept all of the queries and concerns from the family answered, and dealt with, promptly. At this point Jon knew me well enough to know that I possess a MacGyver-like quality. If it can be envisioned, I will find a way mechanically to accomplish any gravity-defying design. I'm the "fix-it-fast" and "make-it-work" guy, so my tasks were mostly those that presented the biggest challenges physically, logistically and mechanically. Sybil has the most discriminating eye of anyone I've yet to meet in my field. Each angle and flower must be magazine cover perfect before she will release a design. It was for this reason Jon chose her to assemble the pieces that would receive the closest scrutiny in person and by the photographer's lens. She did all the bridal party work and helped gently tweak anything she helped with into perfection. Aside from being a wonderfully talented designer, Sarah Emma has the most lovable, infectious, "can-do" spirit. It was she, in Jon's absence, who remained most aware of where we needed to be schedule-wise. She, most determined to pick up the slack in any way she could, allowing Sybil and I to concentrate on our fairly complicated and time consuming tasks. She was in perpetual motion the entire week and would not rest until we were on schedule for each day. This job could not have been accomplished by a greater number of less-skilled designers. There, very simply, was not enough space for a larger team to do the sort of things we did. We had to move as quickly and as efficiently as humanly possible. Likewise, one more set of trucks delivering from an off-site location would not have worked either. The estate could barely handle the number of trucks and people already involved bringing in the food, bathrooms, lighting, band equipment, etc. One more truck would have easily broken the camel's back. There was a queue of trucks formed out on the narrow street awaiting their turn at the gate as it was. A team like ours, a lean, mean, on-site, designin' machine, really was the only way to go.


As I look back now at the images of this event, the unsung design hero of this event is the mother of the bride. The overall ethereal, "breath of spring...  lighter than air" feel of the event are due, in large part to Ginger's masterful choices of transparent tent and chairs, table cloths that fluttered with the lightest whiff of breeze and the silvery reflective quality of the votive candles. These things, along with dozens of other little touches that subliminally reinforced that feeling of weightlessness were everywhere you turned. Even the levitating empty birdcages and chandeliers hung high in the branches of the old oaks were suggestive of something set free to drift aloft. Then, add to all this, the display of fireworks floating high, then pausing and temporarily imparting their colors on this assemblage of clear and reflective, then also reflecting back onto the water...magic. In reality, we were simply adding beautiful icing to an already delicious, light-as-a-feather confection. Before anyone accuses me of shamelessly brown-nosing the bride's mom, let me share another of my more endearing personality traits. I am possessing of a whole quiver full of "Mr. Blackwell" type arrows. I am the first to gush uncontrollably when I see any artistic endeavor that I find perfectly exquisite. I am also the first to bluntly offer criticism when I feel something has missed it's mark, or could have been better if not for... This event was styled exquisitely, and much of that was due to Ginger's obvious artistic gifts and her high level of participation.
 

As it turns out, setting up a florist camp on the estate was also an incredible opportunity for me: an opportunity to partake  in and observe all things wonderful and magical about the Deep South. I had traveled to and stayed in nearly every one of the United States except Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana up until doing this event. We flew into and stayed with friends in Alabama.  The Guice estate lies on the Bay of Biloxi in Mississippi. We drove through Louisiana and had lunch in New Orleans. It was like a fast-paced Southern culture crash course.  Being from New Jersey, I know what it's like to have your state or its people unfairly maligned for the sake of a cheap joke. This part of the country, like New Jersey, seems to get more than its fair share. Every area has its shortcomings and not-so-fabulous people. I ran into very few of those here. Instead, I discovered endearing traits and subtle Southern eccentricities that the locals seem to take utterly for granted. Some things that stood out for me were the general overall politeness and good cheer. That legendary Southern hospitality (true!) and the ability of many Southern women (including the "help") to look so perfectly put together, despite myriad good excuses to look otherwise. The almost religious homage that is paid toward food and it's preparation.  That devotion to, and unconditional love of family described best by one of my favorite Southerners, Actor/Comedian, Leslie Jordan. He says, (usually with a sweeping arm gesture), "We are not.., at all.., ashamed of our crazy relatives, no, we put them out on the front lawn for display!"  I could name a whole host of other things, but I'll spare you. Our clients here could not have done more to make us comfortable. They assiduously saw to it that our every need was attended to. Ginger, with me particularly, was on a quest to see to it I sampled as many Southern delicacies as could be consumed in one week’s time. I had poboys, Doretha's (to-die-for) chicken, crayfish, shrimp, pimento cheese and many uniquely Southern salad-type dishes. At the reception I over-filled myself with quail, turtle soup, oysters (oh!, the oysters...), more shrimp, all checked off by Ginger. " Ted, are you sure you tried everything over on this side? How about down by the water?" The hospitality shown to us by this family suggested not just "good manners", but that they sincerely wished for your eager return. The family also took interest in, acknowledged and complimented our work even as it took shape, not just at the end of the set-up. I'm sure all four of us on this team can remember times when we've given above and beyond the call of duty, only to be left questioning "I wonder if they liked them?" These folks were pleased with our work, appreciated the effort involved, and were happy to let us know it. I was pulled aside by the father of the bride at the very end of the wedding evening and thanked heartily and very sincerely for how happy we had made "his girls" today. He dropped his macho guard momentarily and corrected himself, "I loved it too. Everyone does. It looks like a movie set...We'll remember this forever."  I said, "Thank you, Charles, and you are more than welcome. That is exactly what we were hoping to hear." I'm sure Jon received an equally heartfelt and personal thanks as did anyone else involved in this memorable day. Like Charles, this will be an event I will remember forever as well. It was the first big job that Jon and I did together. It was the first time I had met some of the dear friends and family he left behind to come here. It was a baptism by immersion of sorts for me into that mysterious deep well that is Southern culture. It was, quite simply, and for many good reasons , unforgettable.



Our mid-October Brides...
Oct 25, 11
What a busy mid-October this has been for us!  So many beautiful brides in such a short stretch of time. We are often asked "How many weddings will you do in one weekend?" The answer is, "It depends". There are a number of factors that we need to take into consideration in order to keep things running smoothly. It depends on the potential size of the affairs, the number of people it will take to set them up, the distances we have to travel and the amount of refrigeration space the finished designs will require until delivery. There are certain large jobs that require "all hands on deck." When we are approached with an affair that will require our full attention, we close that date to anything other then the smallest of wedding jobs (say, a brides bouquet, groom's boutonniere and flowers for parents). We also need to keep in mind the potential for the unforeseen, like funeral work that may arise when scheduling our work. We are committed first to maintaining the quality of product and design. We are obsessive about timeliness, knowing that your wedding day is probably scheduled down to 15 minute intervals, and we will not be the cause of everything going awry. There are situations, on occasion, that have us in knots. One of these situations is the potential for more brides in one weekend than we can safely handle.  We are, at times, approached to do another wedding on a weekend when we are already fully booked. I find it heartbreaking to turn someone away, especially when it is someone I've known for years or who's family have long been devoted customers. But, at times we must. There is a finite amount of work we can physically accomplish in one weekend and maintain high quality. Another potential glitch for us is the wedding or large event held on a busy "florist" holiday (for example,  Mother's day, Valentine's day). We simply cannot (will not) turn away hundreds of our regular customers in order to do a large wedding on Valentines day. There are florists who do only events, and these are the people for you.

 Should you wish to have us do the flowers for your wedding or event, please reserve your date as soon as you know it! All the little details can be filled in later. Some hesitate booking because they have not established firm numbers of attendants, guests and tables, or have not completely worked out a budget yet. We can give you lots of options in any realistic budget and are not at all afraid of, or put off by, a tight budget. Happy planning!




Oct 3, 2011
It is with great pleasure and heaping helping of procrastination that I announce and launch this website. My dealings with the world of technology and computers only began only about 4 years ago, so your sympathies regarding my primitive skills are appreciated. Anyone who knows me can vouch for my prior genuine aversion to all things technical. I was the last man in New Jersey to own an answering machine and still have no fax machine. I was sure these gadgets were going to be a "flash in the pan". I am just old enough to have never touched a computer while being educated. For many years after I saw them primarily as a very expensive means by which people annoyed each other sharing bad jokes via email. This resistance toward modernization was partially due to my mother's resistance to doing any bit of the flower shop bookkeeping in any way other than the "by hand" method. She was with me from the very beginning. She was my rock, my muse, and always, my very best friend. I felt she should be able to perform her adopted job in any way she saw fit.

When my Mother passed away in '07 (Breast Cancer), I suddenly became aware of the virtual impossibility of my continuing to book-keep by mom's method. Between my duties with the shop, the farm, looking after dad, and now, the books, something had to give. I took the plunge and joined the rest of humanity already humming along at warp speed, light years ahead of me, tech-wise. I studied computer tutorials, hooked up to the internet, signed up for twitter and dove in, feet first. The rest, as they say, is history. I befriended and followed many journalists so to more efficiently keep up with world and national events. I befriended and followed many luminaries in the wedding, event and floral business to compare notes and commiserate with as things took a turn for the worse in our industry (and many others). It was via this networking that I found, and became fast friends with, Jon. Through the course of our communications I learned his booming event production company had been hit , despite his incredible talents, especially hard. It seems counter intuitive that an almost exclusively high end clientele would so abruptly reel in spending and so much more so than "just folks." For an assortment of reasons (portfolio plundering, hurricane Katrina, not wishing to look "ostentatious" in bad times etc.) that is exactly what had happened. Jon and I were from very different worlds, professionally. He from the high end world of  well heeled, lavish, southern belles and debutantes, me from, well, here...We were a little envious of each other, I think, in the beginning of our friendship. He had a stellar client list that I admittedly drooled over, and I had a relatively quiet, bucolic farm life that he had always dreamed of for himself. We both now have an existence that more closely matches our prospective dreams. The power of the internet...

We intend to use this page as a bulletin board of sorts to keep you abreast of things we are doing, flowers we are growing, trends we are seeing and frankly, anything else we feel like sharing. I hope you find it interesting and visit us often, here, and at the shop. Mom used to tell apologetic flower shop browsers that "You don't have to need anything to come in and visit, we are happy just to see you and say hello!"  I can assure you, She truly meant it, and so do I.

                                                                                                                                                             Ted