I began the flower design by researching what kinds of flowers are available in winter. My daughter's wedding would be held at Autrey Mill Nature Preserve just north of Atlanta, Georgia, on Dec. 13th. There are historic buildings on site, including a historic chapel built in the 1800's, where the ceremony would take place. For the flowers, she wanted mostly greens, and only white flowers.
Because of my earlier research on birth flowers, I already knew that her birth flower was the chrysanthemum, and that the flower had a lot of significance in Japan, which is where half of her heritage lies. So, the chrysanthemum was a natural pick for part of the arrangements. However, neither one of us liked the "Spider mums", and I didn't really care for the little button mums for a wedding- too common. My early research online led me to what was called "incurve mums". Later I found that this term was pretty broad, and I had to narrow it down.
For my daughter's bouquet, I wanted to go with all white to set her apart, no winter greens, and a really special, delicate flower. I thought about Lily of the Valley as a traditional sweet-smelling wedding flower, but later found out that each one of those little stems would cost about five dollars and we probably needed 50. So, plan B... I saw something online about freesia, a flower that I had in my wedding bouquet years ago. It was a bit pricey, but well worth it for the beauty. I figured that we weren't paying a lot for the rest of the flowers, so we could splurge for the bride.
I decided to use the mums for the bridesmaids and the table centerpieces, and the freesia for the bride. I also added in some white roses in the design for the bridal bouquet.
The other really special flower I found was called "Star of Bethlehem", which comes out for winter. I really loved the symbolic significance as well as the design, and decided to use them for the bride, bridesmaids, church pews, and groomsmen's boutonnieres. The groom would have a freesia.
The last little addition to the design during the drawing stage were the pussy willows. I love this winter reed, and my daughter went nuts when they actually appeared to us. We are both bunny lovers, and she said the soft buds felt like bunny tails. I decided in designing that they would add a lovely whimsy to the arrangements, and I was really right.
After the drawings were done, I discussed everything with the florist who would help me order the flowers.
Luckily, we had been referred to Tucker Flower Shop in Tucker, Georgia. The consultant who was ordering the flowers for me was unbelievable, both with his knowledge, design sense, and his ability to relate to my vision. He and I hit it off just about from the start. And it didn't hurt that he was crazy about all things Japanese. He did a lot of research on all of the flowers, and we settled on white "football" mums- they gave us the most bang for the buck, and they were gorgeous.
Juniper- a whole case!
Lastly, we added a whitish green plant called "dusty miller", a purplish leaf called Agonis, and a fluffy fern called"plumosa", all which the florist had identified from a photo of a bouquet that my daughter liked.
Agonis (above) and Dusty Miller
Tree fern (shiny, above left), and Plumosa (or "Asparagus fern")
We picked up the flowers the morning of the Thursday before the Saturday wedding, and all that day was focused on the centerpieces first and then the bouquets. I figured I'd wait til Friday for the boutonnieres since once they were done, I couldn't have them in water.
Loading up the car
Luckily I had the help of a couple of her bridesmaids for part of the time, and her future mother- and father- in law were so gracious in letting me use their basement for everything. They helped me place everything in buckets and trim the ends of all of the flowers and greens, including cutting up the greens themselves into workable pieces. This was saying a lot, especially for the juniper.
Juniper and Pussy Willow
We placed the Freesia and Star of Bethlehem inside though, since those flowers needed to open a little before the wedding, so they would have to be in warm, or at least room-temp water. When all that was left were the bride's flowers in that bucket after making the arrangements, I placed them in a vase and waited until the last moment to put them together for the bouquet.
I started the arrangements with the mums, then added the juniper since it was a little tricky to work with, filled in with the rest of the greens and added the pussy willow last. Once we were done with the centerpieces they went outside because the temp outside was close to the perfect 38 deg. temp for the flowers- later we placed them in the garage so they wouldn't freeze overnight.
The bouquets came next, and thankfully there were only four bridesmaids because I was wiped out by then! They contained the same as the centeripieces- 2 mums each, cedar, pine, fir, juniper, agonis, pussy willow, and for these also I added the star of bethlehem.
Next I made the flowers that would go on the church pews- these had the Star of Bethlehem, Agonis, Cedar, Pine, Fir, and Juniper. I used the Dusty Miller mostly for these, because their stems ended up being too short for the bouquet designs and they were too delicate for rooting too much into the centerpieces.
Thursday night, I still had to finish up my daughter's hem (which I described in the previous post), so the flowers sort of came to a halt. The next morning I was up at it again making the boutonnieres, and I snuck in time after the rehearsal dinner that night to finish tying bows on all of the bouquets. And at the last minute, the bride's freesia was opening up beautifully, and late Friday night I put my daughter's beautiful bouquet together for her.
Bride's bouquet- Freesia, Star of Bethlehem, White Roses ("Eskimo"variety)
Groomsmen boutonnieres (above) with Star of Bethlehem, juniper, pussy willow and plumosa fern.
Groom's boutonniere (below) with freesia and plumosa fern
I laid out the reception plan in terms of the tables we would need to seat the guests- I had done a preliminary plan, but once I was up there for the wedding and we had a final count, it was time to put pen to paper again. It was fun to figure out where people would be and to envision making s'mores at a bonfire, tended to by an eagle scout who had made the fire pit for the site. We took a trip out to Autrey Mill the first day that I arrived so that I could get final measurements. I was having so much fun I broke their tape measure in the process! OOPS!
After all was done, I really didn't even believe all that had happened. But I am so incredibly grateful to have been such an integral part of my baby girl's wedding, and it's something we'll always share.