A passion for wedding flowers...

My passion is wedding flowers... incorporating traditional floral design techniques to create a signature floral and decor atmosphere for weddings and special events on Hilton Head Island and in the surrounding Low Country of South Carolina.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy Anniversary to Elizabeth and Phillip... a day early.

It's a day early, but let's go ahead and wish Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip a very happy wedding anniversary.  They are still going strong as a happily married couple after 63 years.  This royal couple were married on November 20, 1947 at Westminster Abbey, in London.  Currently the media and the world are speculating that there will possibly soon be another significant royal wedding in the abbey... wonder who they are talking about?

Back then, she was Princess Elizabeth, and he was Prince Phillip of Greece.  However, Phillip renounced his birthright royal titles in order become a British subject.  His marriage to the princess soon followed and he was created Duke of Edinburgh.  King George VI gave his daughter away in front of a packed house at the Abbey.  The royal wedding in 1947 was a much needed morale booster for a World War II weary England.

Royal Tidbit of the Day... Westminster Abbey, not only the venue for royal weddings and coronations, is also the final resting place of many royals including Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I... the later have ordered the execution of the previous, her royal cousin who live in exile, in Scotland for several years prior to her beheading.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Budgeting for your Wedding Flowers

When considering how much you should be spending on your wedding flowers... remember this simple rule.  Your flowers should constitute on average 9 to 11% of your overall wedding budget.

To make your special memorable for you and your special guests, make sure to allocate appropriate funds to make your wedding beautiful with floral decorations.  The dress, the cake, the reception venue, and the ceremony are all enhanced by the flowers you choose.  So, don't make the flowers an after-thought.  Remember the flowers when planning the overall look of your wedding from the very beginning.

Professional floral designers, especially those like Down The Isle have many years of experience with incorporating the right flowers for the right look on your wedding day with beautiful floral accessories.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Floral Fashion

A considerable part of any wedding floral package consists of flowers used as fashion accessories.  First and foremost is the corsage.  Hardly a wedding has been seen where the mothers, grandmothers, or aunts aren't wearing some form of floral accent.  For many years the most popular flower to use in corsages is the orchid.  Orchids literally come in hundreds of colors and varieties, like the Catalaya, pictured above.  Catalays are available in white, lavender, purple, and sometimes a bronzy gold tone.

Orchids are very light weight, as opposed to say standard size roses, thus, making them much more comfortable to wear, and much less trouble when pinned to the light weight fabrics wore at most of today's more casual weddings.  Also, compared to other flowers, orchids are generally very sturdy and long lasting... allowing the floral designer to create these floral accessories up to two days before the wedding. 

Some brides may be a bit shocked at the pricing of corsages and boutonnieres when they see a wedding flower quote.  The answer for the pricing has a lot to do with the more intensive labor that goes into making a corsage.  Skilled hands are needed to create a balanced and wearable corsage, and that skill factor indicates a higher cost as more time has to go into making the best corsage.

I have to say that I do not encourage the use of standard roses in worn flowers.  Unless it is one single rose.  A corsage with more than one standard size rose, in my opinion is too heavy for a lady to wear, on her dress or on her wrist.

Other flowers besides orchids that are very usable in corsages are Stephanotis and  miniature or spray roses.  Remember, the two most important factors are wearability and durability.  Flowers that are light weight and long lasting are the best for corsages.
Above: a corsage of peach tones spray roses and variegated ivy.

If you have questions concerning wearable flowers or other wedding flower questions... contact us at

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A more formal setting ...

When the style of a wedding or event calls for a formal atmosphere, certainly the style of the floral decorations should be in order.  Considering the style of floral arrangements to be present as such a formal event is very important.  The colors present in table linens, even the intricate china and flatware patterns should be considered when choosing floral decor that will compliment, not compete with the formal setting.

More delicate flowers, both in color and texture, will compliment the setting.  Bright and even brash colors could possibly diminish the formal setting making things look a bit disjointed and out of place.   Of course, any wedding or event should have a look of having been effortlessly orchestrated.  So, do consider the setting when considering flowers to be used as decorations.  I suggest that centerpieces look complimentary to the bridal party flowers.  I don't suggest that the bridesmaids bouquets look as if they are simply carrying one of the table centerpieces.  Too many weddings I have seen, appear as if the bridesmaids walked through the reception on the way to the ceremony and nabbed a centerpiece to carry down the isle.  Remember, the overall effect should appear seamless and effortless.   Allow your florist too see samples of linen, flatware, and stemware prior to choosing the flowers.  This will help the whole look of a more formal event appear to be orchestrated with style and not too manufactured.  Remember, don't be seen trying too hard to have every last detail coordinated.

Following are a few examples, even with corsages and boutonnieres, where the overall appearance of the floral decor flows seamlessly with a formal table setting.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A touch of the Low Country...

Not all, but some brides will want to include a local, natural touch to their floral arrangements.  In the bridesmaids bouquets in the picture above, we were able to incorporate the South Carolina state tree!  The smallest palmetto fronds available were used as a backing for gatherings of bright yellow Gerber daisies.  Other local foliage's that we incorporated were fox-tail fern, pampas grass, and a moss fern that grows abundantly in the Low Country.

Incorporating some local element will add subtle hints that the bride and the florist put quite a deal of thought into the design of the floral decor.  If you are getting married in Texas, you might want to include yellow roses or something reminiscent of blue bells.  In Mississippi, remember to include magnolia foliage in centerpieces or ceremony arrangements.  In Georgia, you may want to choose a peach-toned floral palate.  Florida, well not the oranges, but orange blossoms and foliage from citrus trees such as lemon and lime trees.  The most wonderful flower, I think, for a Southern wedding... the Gardenia... beautiful white blossoms, magnificent fragrance, and available locally in May and June, commercially the rest of the year.

My thanks to Gene and Penny Williams of Images of Georgia Photography for sharing their lovely pictures of this May 2010 wedding on Hilton Head Island, SC.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Those don't look real...

I've heard many a bridal client say when looking at flower samples... "those don't even look real."  I have had a hard time deciding if that is a good thing or a bad thing.  In fact, there are some rose varieties an rose colors that are so unusual that many think the flower may be artificial.  But, in the case of the picture here, this is not the case.  Both roses featured in this massing of roses are very real and fresh indeed.  The two varieties here are Terracotta (the brown rose) and Circus (the yellow and orange).  I luckily happened on these two bunches of roses at a local market.  They are making a perfect though unusual centerpiece.  More suited to Autumn, they are the perfect roses for an Autumn theme wedding or party.  But, they were just to perfect to pass up, even in the heat of the summer we are experiencing on Hilton Head the past couple of weeks.

If you are getting married in October or November, (popular for weddings in the deep south when the weather is slightly cooler), consider these two roses for a very appropriate color/floral palette.  These two color fields would go very well with green bride's maids dresses, bronze, or a dark blue for that matter.  Adding ivory roses or a beige rose such as "Sahara" would do well to make a bridal bouquet that would fit the time of year perfectly.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Bouquet With Special Meaning

Often I have had the privilege to create a bridal bouquet for a family members wedding.  The bouquet above was for my sister-in-law and brother's wedding in 2002.  The wedding was in late October in northern Virginia.  So, the Autumn leaves were in their glory of oranges, reds and yellows.  The bride's dress was a darker toned ivory.  I chose flowers of the bride's favorite color field of Autumn oranges and her favorite varieties... roses, freesia, ranunculus, and Calla lilies.
But, what made it special?  I clipped the collaring foliage from my mother's yard in Georgia and transported them in my luggage on the air plane.  (I wrapped them in moist paper towels sealed in a plastic bag.)  Since the groom's home was the Georgia coast, I chose palmetto fronds and gardenia leaves.  The groom's (my brother) boutonniere consisted of a single, extremely fragrant Gardenia.  Since the wedding took place so far to the north, I decided to make things more special and meaningful by bringing a personal touch of home into these arrangements.
I would encourage any bride to add special touches to their personal flowers for their special day. Anything from a tiny framed picture or a Rosary can add a great deal of nostalgia to the floral accents.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Floral Profussion... and groupings of three centerpieces

When putting together a look for your centerpieces, don't thing that there has to be only one arrangement per table.  Consider a grouping of smaller vases.  For example, three smaller sized vases of varying shapes combined with votive candles can add a contemporary flair to each table's decor, without looking too "modern" in style.  A profusion of flowers and colors can achieve a stunning impact on a not so stunning budget.  Remember that all flower arrangements don't necessarily have to contain foliage.  A grouping of a single type flower clustered tightly together in a smaller vase can achieve the same impact of a taller sprawling arrangement filled with foliage and fillers such as Caspia or the more recognizable baby's breath.
Again, groupings of these vases are an interesting way to show off your personal style.  Choose your favorite color scheme, and have a few types of flowers in that color to fill each vase.  For example, if your favorite color is pink, consider this... three vases on the table... one to contain hot pink roses, one to contain a single blush pink hydrangea, and the third can hold  Lisianthus in a medium pink tone. Or, really make it interesting and have that third vase carry a color outside the pink field, say tulips in purple, green, or ivory white.  Remember to have the votive candles as part of the centerpiece.  Even though your reception may start in late afternoon or early evening, the candles can be lit as soon as the sun begins to set.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Traditional Wedding Party...

You will see a fair amount of pictures from this particular wedding on this blog.  It's about my only point of reference for what I consider a "traditional" wedding party.  Since these black and white photos are of my parents' wedding in 1964, I have a fair amount of insight to the details of this particular wedding.
Some things have changed.  For instance, you rarely see such a large wedding party anymore. "Five on Each Side", I would call it.  That is, 5 bride's maids and five groomsmen... when I start a wedding I normally ask the bride... "o.k., how many on each side?"  Another change is the fashions... these bridesmaids dresses were definitely made to the style of the early 60's... and the Maid of Honor's being a different color.  Typically these days, especially on Hilton Head Island, the gentlemen tend to go for more casual wear, suits, sometimes no jackets, and ever popular with our beach weddings, most attendants will be wearing flip-flops!

Some things have not changed.  I notice that even back in 1964, it was popular to mark the first pew with some sort of decoration... here there are bows on the pews... and still today, the ever popular ivory or white ribbon bow is a festive, economical and function (to indicate where the parents are to sit) decoration.
I would encourage any bride to bring old photographs of their parent's or grandparent's wedding with them to a floral consultation, just to see if some theme's from the past can be incorporated into their modern celebrations.  Replicating your mother's or grandmother's bouquet is a very moving and special tribute to a special person in your life.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Traditional Wedding Flower Technique

So, what is an example of a traditional wedding flower technique?  One of the most used is what I would call the "wire and tape" method.  In the past was a limited list of flowers that were typically used in bridal bouquets.  Orchids, Stephanotis, Lily of the Valley, carnations and to some extent roses.  Most of these flowers were usually available year round.  Since the oasis filled bouquet holder had not been invented yet (the holder came into use in the late 1960's), most florists constructed their bouquets by wiring and taping each flower and joining them continually until the bouquet achieved a cascade or round nosegay shape.  Often the more delicate flowers like Lily of the Valley and Stephanotis were hard to find in out of season months, so silk or cloth (artificial) forms of these flowers were added.  Also popular in the 40's, 50's, and 60's were the addition of puffs of tulle, sprays of seed pearls and ribbon... lots and lots of ribbon.  Typically too, most bridal bouquets contained only white flowers, going along with the general theme of white for purity for all things bridal.  Another aspect of having a bouquet of this construction was that after the flowers were wilted, dried and gone there was still much of the bouquet left over in ribbon, wire, tulle, and other decorative trinkets.  We at Down the Isle like the idea of having mementos of the special day left over, a keepsake for many years to come.

Pictured here is my mother's bouquet, as it was placed on the cake table at her wedding reception in November, 1964.  Her bouquet was wire, tape, ribbon, tulle, pearls, cloth Lily of the Valley, white Fuji mums, and a center focal point of a Cymbidium orchid corsage (more on the corsage in the the bouquet in a later post).  Her bouquet, after being caught by my aunt at the reception, spent the next 30 years or so in the original florist's box it was delivered in.  Over the years the flowers disappeared and the ribbon and tulle became fragile, but there was much leftover, and it was evident that it had been a bridal bouquet.

Brides who are looking to have some retro element to their wedding should consider having their bouquet be a replication of their mother or grandmother's bouquet... for old time's sake.  Finally, here is a picture of what is left of my mother's bridal bouquet, some thin ivory ribbon, love-knots tied around tulle and small sprigs of cloth Lily of the Valley, and two small sprays of seed pearls shaped like tiny flowers.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Down the Isle ... the beginnings of a dream come true.

Down The Isle ...

Welcome to my dream...

My passion is wedding flowers.  Probably from the first moment I saw my parents wedding photos and noticed the bouquet of flowers my mother was carrying, I became fascinated by the concept of floral decorations for weddings. I has been a dream for some time to operate my own design studio, and finally, with enough support and inspiration from family and friends, I am ready to be my own boss.  Of course, a lot of details go into planning floral decorations for a wedding and I am certainly up for the challenge having designed weddings in San Francisco, CA, and Hilton Head Island, SC.  Now, however, it's on my own terms.  I want to create floral decor for weddings that are distinctive in most of their elements, adding that extra something special to each wedding design, that will set it apart from every other wedding.

I hope to incorporate more traditional design techniques in the making of my arrangements.  Many new tools and techniques for wedding floral work have been developed in the past few decades, but, I am a purist when it comes to style and mechanics.  I firmly believe that when done correctly the old methods of design for wedding bouquets is the most secure... yes, more time consuming, but there are some methods that persist mainly because they work. 

Color and texture play a great part in my designs as well.  An event designed with the bride's favorite color; combined with other colors in the same field, bring to life a floral atmosphere the the bride and groom and their guests will always remember.

From here on I will be posting photos and commentaries on various wedding floral arrangements.  Please leave a comment.  And, contact us if you are interested in having your wedding floral arrangements designed and created by "Down the Isle".