Tag Archives: wedding crap

Living in limbo

This evening, I was on the phone with a potential client who is planning a wedding for March. It’s at a beautiful venue in the area, one to which I’ve been to attend a friend’s wedding (nearly ten years ago), and her wedding coordinator suggested she contact me about the sorts of flower stuff she and her fiance are interested in for their upcoming event.

Partway through the conversation, she asked me about timing. “What do you mean?” I asked. “Oh, just how long in advance we need to be officially booked, send a deposit, that sort of thing.” I told her my policy on deposits and my usual timeline, and she told me, “I have to share something that I’m sharing with all of the vendors for our wedding so they know in advance. My fiance was diagnosed with cancer last week, and he’s starting chemo, and we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to have the wedding on the original schedule.”

My jaw dropped. “I’m so sorry to hear that,” I told her. “I’m sorry you guys are having to go through such a serious ordeal in the middle of a time that is supposed to be really happy.” I told her I’d be flexible with the timing, and would be completely understanding if they had to postpone or cancel their event. We continued our conversation about their event and my business and what kind of flowers they like, and all I could think about was how rough it all must be. I can’t even imagine trying to plan a wedding with that looming overhead, knowing how sick my fiance is and how sick he will get in order to get better. I’ve seen cancer in the movies, and I’ve sort of tangentially seen cancer in people I’ve known. Going through an illness like that is difficult on everyone, and I can see how one might decide to just put it all off. A good friend of mine in another state who has leukemia signed all the paperwork to be as married to her wife as she can be in a state that doesn’t allow for same-sex marriage, during a time when she was very ill, and they’ve indefinitely postponed their “wedding” celebration until my friend is well enough to enjoy it. But my potential client said she and her fiance agreed they’d go ahead with the planning as though he will be healthy and well enough to have their wedding in March, and they’ll continue to revisit that as time goes on.

“I thought you should know. I told all of our vendors this week,” she said. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to tell a total stranger, over the phone, that my significant other has an illness like that. This potential client has a lot of moxie. She and her fiance both do. He, for being game enough to continue the planning as though he’ll be through the chemotherapy wringer and out the other side far enough that he’ll be ready to celebrate their new family. She, for making those phone calls and for the optimism it takes to marry a person who may not be here in six months or a year. But I guess, really, anyone getting married takes that leap of faith. But not everyone lives in a state of will it or won’t it happen, will we or won’t we get married, will we or won’t we get to grow old together. I’m sending my good thoughts their way, not only because I want to see them get married but because I want them to have that new family; I want that leap in the midst of limbo to pay off.

Things that never actually happen

I’m sure that everyone who has a profession or is connected to a particular industry has nits to pick with how their professions or industries are depicted in movies or television. Last night, when I was watching a mindless 90s Julia Roberts rom-com, I realized I am really a wedding-industry professional (as weird as that sounds) because of how irked I was with everything that was wrong with the movie and how ridiculously unrealistic it was (at least, in all of the plot points that related to the wedding).

In said Roberts rom-com, Julia Roberts plays a woman who once made a deal with her best friend that if they both hit age 28 unmarried that they’d marry one another. The friend (played by Dermot Mulroney, owner of a rather unfortunate name) calls her up out of the blue one day to tell her that not only has he ‘met someone’ but that they got engaged a month ago and they’re getting married in four days and he wants Roberts to come to the weekend-long festivities. So we’ve already got one extremely unrealistic event, in that there’s a big fancy wedding happening and yet they didn’t send out invitations immediately after the engagement. Plus, Dermot Unfortunate is marrying a 20-year-old woman (Cameron Diaz) who hasn’t yet graduated college, and her father is a gazillionaire owner of a sports franchise and a sports media conglomerate. That right there is just so unbelievably bizarre that I almost had to turn the movie off, because no.

People with oodles of money could, theoretically, plan a huge fancy wedding with lots of pre-parties in less than a month’s time, but nearly all of the high end vendors in any given big city are going to be booked months if not years in advance and it’s frankly bizarre to assume that the venue, caterer, photographer, florist, etc. that works with high-end clientele would be willing to drop whatever event/s they already had on the books for this spur-of-the-moment ill-fated match between a struggling sports writer and a jillionaire’s college dropout daughter. Money can do a lot, but it can’t make up for a long-term reputation ding that a vendor would get for canceling other events at the last minute.

So far we have a huge fancy wedding planned in a really short period of time yet no invitations were mailed and vendors high-end enough for a brazillionaire’s daughter yet willing to drop other clients or events to instead do this shindig. The next incredibly unrealistic thing is that when Julia Roberts lands in Chicago (because of course a food writer can afford to fly across the country on a moment’s notice) Cameron Diaz immediately asks her to be Maid of Honor. OK, nobody does that. It would not ever, ever happen. Nobody asks a complete stranger to stand up as wedding attendant unless they’re drunk and getting married by Elvis in Vegas or something. So Julia sort of accepts? and then they go straight to the fancy high-end dress salon and Julia gets a fancy dress that already fits her pretty much exactly. Again, would never happen.

With less than a month of planning, there are several fancy parties and events leading up to the wedding (nope and nope) and Julia spends the whole movie trying to keep her Kermit Baloney from marrying Mary Sue Diaz. Then Julia’s Sassy Gay Friend Rupert Everett flies across the country for a few hours to…pretend he’s her fake gay fiance? and then leaves again? It’s all very weird. Anyhow, there’s a wedding happening “on Sunday” and yet Cameron Diaz (THE BRIDE) seems to have no interest in the wedding details. She’s not stressed out at all about the party, she seems to have completely forgotten about the main event because she’s mostly just worried about her man falling for Julia Roberts instead. Or something. We don’t see any evidence of a wedding planner or an event coordinator or the bride’s mom or anybody dealing with wedding details. Even the wealthiest 20-year-old college dropout should have SOME interest as the bride in her own damn wedding. Somehow this whole wedding is coming together and nobody is in charge or seems to have any interest in making sure it all turns out OK.

The bride and groom have a big fight the night before the wedding and they sort of break up except they don’t tell anyone the next morning when they go to the pre-wedding fancy outdoor sit-down breakfast with elaborate floral centerpieces, and Julia Roberts shows up in a long-sleeved crop top (!) and causes a big scene and then there’s a low-speed chase and a stolen catering truck and the bride goes and hides in the bathroom at Wrigley Field (!?!) and it has to be late morning or early afternoon by now, and “the wedding is at six pm!” and shouldn’t the bride in a big fancy high-end wedding have, like, hair and makeup appointments? Where is the photographer capturing the day? And Julia calls one of the other bridesmaids and tells her to ‘bring my dress to the church’ and makes sure Saint Diaz and Kermit Baloney kiss and make up. And we cut to the ceremony in the church, and somehow Julia’s hair and makeup are perfect and so is Cameron’s and it happened like MAGIC because they didn’t have any time to get ready or get dressed or anything.

Then the Sassy Gay Friend shows up again at the end of the reception and takes Julia for a spin around the dance floor after they talk to one another on cell phone the size of bricks. Because an editor for a food critic has enough money to fly across the country twice in one weekend, just because.

The Meaningful Details

Thanks to my wee business, I’ve been involved with a significant number of weddings to date. And luckily for me, I never seem to get tired of them – as a cultural construct, as a significant event, as something people spend months or years planning to get just right when it all comes down to a single day, a few hours. Many people don’t put much stock in my specific trade (flowers) because “flowers die,” they “only last one day.” Well, I can’t deny that. But I will say that EVERYTHING you do for a wedding is for one day – under most circumstances, that food won’t be eaten again for another meal. That music was only played once. Your ceremony lasted five minutes or 45 minutes or 90 minutes if you did it up with full mass in a Catholic church. The invitations got stuck on a fridge or tossed in the garbage, the cake was consumed (or not, depending on how much fondant was involved), the beverages metabolized. They say after a wedding all you have left are memories and photos. So I will agree that flowers are just another frivolous aspect of a traditional (or nontraditional, if you swing that way) wedding.

BUT. Flowers are something I find fascinating when it comes to weddings and traditions. It’s true that they only last a day, intended for a fleeting moment. But the history of using flowers in a wedding celebration, worn or carried, used as decoration, is probably as old as weddings themselves. It’s an art form using perishable materials, much like gourmet food. We use flowers to mark significant events – the birth of a baby, to note a performance well done, a graduation, a wedding, an anniversary, an illness, a death. Flowers are at once ephemeral and timeless. And for some people, flowers can tell a story.

For our wedding, many of the flowers were grown by my mom. I used a piece of the tree that was planted the day I was born and picked wildflowers that were personally significant to me and my life to use in my bouquet. When I work with a bridal couple, if I’ve never met them I like to hear the story of their relationship and find out whether there are any meaningful details that I might be able to capture in their personal or decor flowers, whether it be something that grew in grandma’s garden, or a favorite herb, or something grown by friends or family. Recently, my cousin Scarlett and her long-term significant other decided to get married, and after being engaged a month or so they decided to get married soon and then have a big party later.

I’ve written before about Scarlett and why she is so important to my life, but let’s simplify by calling her my not-biologically-related to me sister. Technically she’s my half step cousin, but she’s also a very close friend and has known me since I was born. And so when she called me up this summer to tell me she and Jason were going to have a mini almost-elopement in San Francisco in October, I was both thrilled and terrified – thrilled, of course, that they’d decided on a wedding that would work best for them, and terrified I wouldn’t do her bouquet (or the other small personal flowers used for their tiny wedding) justice. I asked her whether she had any special flowers she might want, and she gave me free reign to do whatever I liked. After brainstorming a ton of ideas I sent a message to my sisters asking them for a bit of feedback, and what I received went along with the major ideas I’d had.

Since the ceremony was tiny and immediate-family-and-closest-friends-only, I wanted Scarlett’s bouquet to have a piece of me and of my mom and my sisters and the place where she grew up. My friend Brian’s roommate grows amazing dahlias, among other flowers, and he offered me full use of his yard’s bounty. I sourced a few additional things at a local market, and here’s the final bouquet.

Scarlett’s bouquet included homegrown dahlias in many colors, veronica (which I used in my sister Laurel’s bouquet), lisianthus (which I used in my sister Lissa’s bouquet), snapdragons and larkspur (which I used in my bouquet), three succulents (one of which grew in my mom’s yard), and passion flower vine. I used a collar of cuttings from my birth tree (a douglass fir) and from a redwood tree, because of the redwoods where Scarlett grew up. Interspersed were cuttings from my sister Laurel’s tree, and the whole thing was wrapped with a pale green silk, some of which I used 4.5 years ago to make a purse for Lissa’s wedding.

Because Jason is a lifelong cycling enthusiast, I wanted to do something to reflect that in his boutonniere. After doing some digging, I found a local community bicycle shop that gave me a small bike sprocket for free, which I spray painted silver to make it stand out more. I used a homegrown calendula, larkspur, a bit of Laurel’s tree, and broom corn in Jason’s bout along with the sprocket. I had no idea what Jason was wearing but the boutonniere ended up matching his outfit exactly.


Scarlett and Jason were married at sunset on October 20, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge at Land’s End in San Francisco. I could not be happier for them, and was so glad to be able to play a part in their celebration.

25 years

Sisters back in the day

Twenty-five years ago today, my baby sister was born. I still remember the day pretty clearly, my parents leaving for the hospital in the middle of the night, the neighbor who stayed with us making pancakes in the morning, going into the forest with my dad to help find the perfect baby bay laurel tree that would become Laurel’s tree.

Six weeks ago my baby sister got married (recap post coming on Monday morning) and moved to Ireland, but before that she worked full time as a legal secretary and volunteered as a CASA. Before that, she traveled to Ireland (where she met the man who she’d eventually marry) after graduating from UC Santa Barbara. My sister is gorgeous and accomplished and wonderful, and we all miss her terribly.

First dance

I used sprigs of bay laurel from her tree in Laurel’s wedding bouquet and in her husband’s boutonniere because I’m sentimental like that. It was a way to tie her new family to her family of origin, a way to bridge her journey from daughter and sister to wife (and maybe, someday, mother). I also made her a wreath of laurel from her tree to wear during the reception, long a symbol of victory. Laurel has been victorious in many of the achievements she’s set out to accomplish so far in her first 25 years on this planet. I have no doubt that she’ll reach every other goal she sets for herself. I love you, Floral, and I hope your new Irish family made your first quarter century celebration a good one.

On Laurel's wedding day

The Creepy Coke Room

Over the weekend, Dan and I flew to San Diego so we could attend my cousin’s wedding (and so I could do the flowers for said cousin’s wedding). It was a very nice wedding, about as Jesus-y as the last one, and thankfully the ceremony wasn’t overly long. The wedding itself took place in Julian, which is in the foothills east of San Diego proper. I don’t know what I was expecting, weather-wise, but I certainly was not expecting it to be quite as cold (below freezing on Saturday night with corresponding temps in the high 30s at 2 PM Saturday afternoon) or as wet as it ended up being. The ceremony was supposed to be outside, which is understandable considering how beautiful the place was, but holy cow was it ever cold. Thankfully, they made the decision on Sunday morning to move the whole shebang into the Pine Hills Lodge.

The road to Pine Hills

In lieu of payment for my work, my cousin and her fiance paid for our flights down to San Diego and for us to stay at a separate inn in Julian (not where the wedding was held, as that was booked). When we got to the place with the back seat of the rental car full of hydrangea buckets, we were let into this teeny tiny crackerbox of a room that was barely big enough for a full-sized bed, a desk, and a shelving unit; railroad-style bathroom squeezed in along the side. I spent several hours both Saturday afternoon/evening and Sunday morning working on flower stuff, popping personal flowers into the minifridge as I finished each boutonniere or flower girl wreath, and asking Dan to hold the glue gun for me because there was no surface on which I could set it down while I was working. The place was MINISCULE. Had it not been so cold, I probably would have worked outside, but as it was I could hardly feel my hands after being outdoors for only a couple of minutes.

Even smaller than it looks in the photo

For most of the day/evening, two buckets lived in the bathroom and the other two between the bed and the TV. I walked back and forth at least 29385798745 times to grab the things I needed, using the top of the mini fridge and the shelving units and the desk and the comfy chair and the bathroom sink as work space. It was by far the smallest space I’ve ever had available for doing wedding flowers, but it all worked out in the end.

At least they made the bathroom smell nice

Dan got to explore the town of Julian while I was making pretties, and he brought me back a piece of apple pie that I heated up in the little toaster oven. Julian’s apple pie is sort of like the fudge in Estes Park or the fudge on Mackinac Island: it’s the thing that everyone goes to the town to eat. I guess Julian grows a lot of apples, because not only were there apple pies sold everywhere, there was also apple cider, both soft and hard. I had my doubts about the pie (how good can a piece of apple pie BE, anyway?) but became a convert from one bite. I suspect they are all laced with crack.

Other than the bizarrely cold weather and the pretty fall color, what I will remember most about the quick trip to Julian is the decor in our wee room. It was all coke. Coke, coke, coke. Coke napkin dispensers and coke advertisements and coke cups, glasses and mugs. Coke with Santa and coke with small children.

Pretty much everything in the room was Coke-related

How about a nice frosty mug of Coke?

Coke made Santa, so Santa shills for Coke

Even the bathroom was stuffed with Coke-iness

You know you want one.

COKE COKE COKE

Even a coke trash can.

I must admit, for a room that small to be crammed with THAT much coke memorabilia was more than a little creepy. I started to wonder what might happen if you tried to drink a Pepsi in there. Probably the spirits would come out of the advertisements and eat your face, is what.

So far

Nine boutonnieres
Three corsages
Two flower girl hair wreaths
One bride’s bouquet
One toss bouquet
Three bridesmaid bouquets

Two of 17 vases lined with ti leaves in preparation for centerpieces and large arrangements

Still to go:
15 vases need to be lined with ti leaves
19 arrangements
One large ceremony piece, which will depend in large part on whether the wedding is indoors or outdoors tomorrow.

It’s cold as hell. We’re in Southern California, east of San Diego, and it’s going to get down to freezing tonight.

I am tired.

Highlights: apple pie, hydrangea fun, sparkly things.

Things I don’t understand about the DIY wedding industry

Every once in a while, when I’m in a craft store, I go down the “wedding” aisle, just to see the latest developments in DIY wedding crafts. Maybe I’ve got a more critical eye than most, but much of the time what I see is, for lack of a better term, tacky. It looks cheap and chintzy and, well, UGLY.

Maybe my standards are too high. Maybe there are people for whom the doilies and the faux boutonnieres and the tulle shaped like birds are their ideal wedding decor. But last weekend,I walked down that aisle and I saw something that was supposed to be a bouquet…holder? With fake stems that look like some sort of paralyzed jellyfish.

This is supposed to make people want to buy it?

I don’t know about you, but I would NEVER EVER want to carry something like this down the aisle. I’d rather carry nothing. I’d rather carry weeds with dirty roots. This is just…hideous.