Sunday, May 30, 2010

Blush eye candy

This wedding was pure sophistication.  The location, Lord Thompson Manor in Thompson, Connecticut.  It's set back in the woods, down a winding gravel driveway.  It's a unique venue with pretty rooms, distinctive decor and a beautiful backdrop for an outdoor ceremony.

With the stunning arbor as the backdrop for the ceremony, we filled two large urns with an abundance of white and pink delphinium, white stock, antique green hydrangea and open "Anna" roses. 
Centerpieces were a mix of high and low pieces.  Many facilities require any candles be in glass (no open flames), however this facility along with only a hand full of others allow open flame candles.  With the low centerpieces we used a low dish style container and set them on a footed cake dish.  That is a wonderful option for a dramatic low centerpiece.  You can find so many beautiful footed cake dishes at yard sales, flea markets (such as Brimfield and Elephant's Trunk Flea Market in New Milford, CT)  I personally love Milk glass and Depression glass.  There are so many unique options.

Tall curvy glass vases were filled water and white cymbidium orchid blooms with touches of pink on the throat.  At the top a large arrangement of antique green hydrangea, white hydrangea, "Faith", "Sahara" and "Patience" garden roses along with pink peonies made the perfect addition to this late spring wedding.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Summer of weddings

This weekend officially kicks off the wedding season and it feels like summer.  Crazy hot weather has made all of the peonies bloom a little early in our gardens.

The cooler is packed with hundreds of stems of pale pink peonies, "Faith" roses and antique green hydrangea.  Mother nature is unpredictable sometimes.  Last month when the volcano erupted planes were grounded and we not able to ship anything coming from Holland or other countries.  Unfortunately, occasionally sometimes things like this happen.  With our business, in situations like this it's about thinking outside the box and improvising.  Luckily we have a wide variety of wholesalers we purchase from.

This summer we're designing such unique weddings all over.  From a beautiful wedding at The Farmer's Museum to a wedding in Boston at the Boston Public Library, The Fairmont Hotel and then on the shores of Rhode Island.  I love that each wedding it's a different couple with different styles and we get the experience of working with new venues. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Selecting a wedding venue

When you plan your wedding, ask yourself "What will make our wedding different and personal to us?"  Make an initial guest list and gather some basic ideas of what your priorities are.  It's probably one of the biggest parties you'll ever have, so it's essential that it's an event that reflects your style yet doesn't break the bank.  Remember that the more guests you invite, the more everything you'll need (dinners, linens, flowers, etc.)

The internet is a wonderful tool to do your basic search for wedding venues and professionals.  But, don't judge a book by it's cover!  Make an appointment and tour properties in person to get a real feel of the facility.  Ask to take a sneak peak before a wedding, so you can see it in action and set up for an actual wedding.
Do your homework and ask every question you can.  How much is the rental fee (if any)?  Do you have the option of bringing in an outside caterer?  What comes with the facility?  (tables, chairs, linens, etc.)  Or do you need to rent things like tables, chairs, linens, china, flatware and stemware?  All of those things add up, so it might throw you over budget if you have to rent all of those items.  If catering is done on site, what are the menus available and how much per person.  Make sure you know everything that is included and any extras. (including gratuity and taxes)

As you walk into the perfect wedding venue, it's an almost overwhelming feeling that you get as you realize you've found the place that will hold the memories of your wedding reception.  Start the hunt early for the perfect venue.  If you have your heart set on a fall wedding in New England, remember there's lots of other couples that have the same thought... so book early!  Same thing applies for a wedding in the south (South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, etc.).  That is just a gorgeous time of year in the south for a wedding, so dates and venues fill up.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Enchanted Weddings book

You may have read that I've been working on a wedding book for about 2 years now.  (of course, I have a second book and a third book in the works too!)

I started writing after several of our clients repeatedly said "You are so knowledgeable and you have to write a book for anyone planning a wedding!"  So, I started jotting notes down.  My mind is overflowing daily with pure experience from helping couples create beautiful weddings and events.  Our company has become so much more than a floral design company!  Each year, I have fully coordinated deserving couple weddings from scratch to fruition.  Every little detail, far beyond flowers was coordinated and brought to life, by yours truly.  My knowledge of which are the best wedding vendors, which rental companies we love to use, what is the best wedding venue (from barns to grand hotels) is vast.

(this hand-tied bouquet features "Juliet" and "Phoebe" garden roses and bubble gum color peonies, wrapped with ivory satin ribbon and accented with a Vintage French dragonfly pin)

There are some amazing wedding books, written by some of the most amazing floral designers, including Preston Bailey, David Tutera and Collin Cowie.  But, most of their books are simply an array of fabulous images of weddings and not much written information.  Plus, for the majority of the population planning a wedding, they are simply not weddings anyone could afford to create.  So, I set out to create a book which couples could gather and absorb information from along with a ton of inspiration to create a wedding uniquely styled just for them.

I have notepads in the kitchen, by the bed and in the living room on our coffee table.  So at any given moment, when a thought HITS me... I can take notes.  I write down everything!  It's kind of funny too, where my ideas come.  Usually right as I close my eyes and the day has ended, all of my thoughts start rolling around in my head.  (sometimes Scott will catch me up at 2 or 3 am typing away on my laptop because I just cannot control the urge to type)

You'll notice most of the big named designers have "co-authors" for their books.  So, like anything else I'm unsure of I googled "co-author" in Connecticut and came up with a lady in West Hartford, named Susan Omilian.  I wrote her an email and asked her if she could co-author my book and she said "No.  You write it and I'll edit your work."  So the writing and editing began.  She's coached me through every little aspect of writing, how to put together a book proposal and how to get a literary agent, etc.  I feel blessed to have found her and that she has worked so very hard with me.  Of course, it takes a very motivated person to write such a book in this economy.  I push forward and know that this is something I can accomplish.  I have complete faith in my writing and in my ability to sell this book to a major publisher.

Susan is now helping edit my second book.  Which is a complete secret... since the subject is so incredible and I think this might be even better than the first!

Writing a book and running a wedding company is definitely a task.  One that I simply love!  It's about managing my time.  Thank God for an amazing husband that gives the kids baths and plays with them while I type my little heart away at night.  Mostly during the winter months, where I can have my feet on the coffee table and my toes warming up from the glowing fireplace.  (I knew there was a reason I insisted upon buying a house that had a fireplace, seriously... it was number one on my list!)

I'm working on big things.  We have the most amazing (and unique) book tour planned, filled with some of the best wedding professionals all over the country!  I'm also working on a few photo shoots for Style Me Pretty blog and our blog.  So, you can see the prettiest of things and know exactly what every bloom is along with some of the most unusual stationery, cakes, etc.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Touches of Vintage charm

You might ask, "what gives you inspiration?"  Honestly, everything that surrounds me in life brings inspiration.

I bought this cute little pair of warm, cozy (and fuzzy) slipper socks.  They are deep espresso chocolate with raspberry color tips..putting them on, I just had this thought.  Why don't we do an amazing table setting with dark chocolate linens, layered with texture and dramatic hot pink flowers?!  The breeze rolling through the trees makes me think how can I make our "tree" centerpieces become more real and more dramatic?  So when we were in Atlanta we picked up so many fabulous things like copper leaves to hang in the autumn from "tree" centerpieces.

For one of our 2011 deserving couples, Scott will be creating a custom canopy of salvaged barn wood, which we will decorate by draping organic cotton muslin fabric over it and adding touches of greenery and Antique purple hydrangea along with garden roses.  I love taking old and making it into something new and exciting.  Texture of the old wood brings interest and adds detail.  I remember thinking as the texture wood boards were being removed, and my dad said he was going to sell them... NO! I'm saving every little piece for weddings.

I'm making my shopping list now for this July at Brimfield.  We have a fabulous wedding at the Boston Public Library this fall we'll be looking for old wooden crates and lots of old glass bottles.  I'm in the hunt for Tiara glass in Amber color for a touch of vintage style in an absolute stunning venue!  Since they are using a book and stories theme I might get a few old books to create something unique.  Thoughts are still running through my head.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Flower budget

It's a question that is asked so very often: "How much should we set aside for our flowers?"  The answer is sort of complicated. 

It's all a personal preference.  But, most of our couples have flowers on the top of their list and they budget approximately 10-20% of their overall budget for floral decor.  As with any wedding, things just seem to add up. 

At your initial meeting, expect to spend about an hour or two with us.  We'll ask you all sorts of questions about the style of the wedding, what your tastes are, what type of atmosphere you would like to create, etc.  We want to get to know you both and understand every aspect of what is important to you.  I think it's a great idea to do some homework prior to us meeting and rip out things from magazines, create inspiration boards on Style Me Pretty blog or My Kate Parker Wedding.  There are so many great books to get as well. Check out the wedding books on Amazon.

When you select your wedding date, it's a good idea to research it a bit and see if there are any major holidays during that week.  Flowers are more expensive around popular holidays such as Mother's Day, Valentine's Day and Christmas and Easter.

During our initial consultation, tell us everything you have dreamed about... and we'll go from there.  I'd rather you tell us what your dream is and we can pull so much inspiration from that.  For every one of our weddings or events, we create custom designed concepts.  Which means you as a couple are so very different from our other couples and therefore your wedding should reflect that!

Obviously what effects the overall floral design pricing is the type of flowers that are being used in the wedding, how many stems we need, hard goods needed and of course, how much labor is involved.  My suggestion to couples looking to achieve a full and lush look without breaking the bank is to use things in season and use a maximum of three types of flowers.  Things like hydrangea are big and fluffy and take up space.  I love the simplicity of things like gerbera daisies in simple glass bud vases mixed with a ton of votive candles!

We're working on a few photo shoots to give everyone a little bit of pure inspiration.  More details to follow.  We'll be describing everything in detail so you can know what we did, what we rented and what flowers we used!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Weddings in the summer

With spring here and summer approaching there are a so many options to make your event pretty!  This weekend is Brimfield Flea Market.  One of the largest flea markets in this area!  You will find a HUGE selection of collectables and old goodies to use for decorating your event.  One of the hottest trends right now is vintage charm, touches of old added to new.  I personally LOVE that look!

Some things that make stunning vases for a simple and understated look are:
Peanut Butter glasses
vintage style drinking glasses or dessert cups
Mason jars in various colors
Lu Ray
Tiara glass (which is this absoultely gorgeous amber color glassware! but also has some other colors)

If you don't have time to hit the market, try local yard or tag sales (check the news paper listings)
Ebay is also another great place to purchase anything vintage, but remember the shipping might cost you just as much as the item itself!!

Adding single blooms, such as dahlias, zinnias, gerbera daisies, garden (cabbage) roses or orchids make a simply gorgeous statement.  Add a ton of candle and you've got the most romantic setting ever!  Of course, for most of our weddings these little vases are an addition to the main centerpiece.  Adding that touch of detail and drama.  The more detail the better!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Weddings in New England and beyond

With a wedding business in New England I find that the opportunities have become endless.  We are fortunate to travel all over New England designing weddings and to New York, plus next year we'll designing weddings further away as well. 

We are networking with some fabulous wedding professionals, some of the very best you will find in this area!  We'll be designing a photo shoot at La Cupola Ristorate & Inn, in Litchfield, Connecticut in July along with sweet creations of Kelly's Sweet Rewards and Jamie Collins Photography capturing all of the styling!  I'm looking forward to seeing what Jillian Sullivan from Fizz Paperie comes up with for the menu cards, etc.  She's a wonderful stationery designer!  I've designed two really fabulous table settings that are to die for!  Garden elements, yet sophisticated and simply romantic!  With bouquets and unusual boutonnieres to coordinate.  Sara Faella will be creating some pretty unique accessories for the models hair and taking care of all their hair & makeup needs!  So excited to see what she comes up with!

This bouquet has "patience" garden roses along with an abundance of white cattelya orchids and white sweet peas.  Regina B. designed her incredible broach for that added bling to her bouquet.  Regina B. offers the most lovely bridal jewelry you can wear for the wedding and then wear after wards for dinner parties or a fun girls night out!  Look for more incredible images from this wedding on Style Me Pretty in a few weeks! 

It's just in the beginning stages of planning, but we'll be working with Candace Jeffrey Photography and Larissa Lake Makeup Artist for a fabulous photo shoot at Winvian.  We'll be meeting soon to bounce off ideas to each other and come up with something amazing, I'm sure!  Winvian is such a unique venue with various options for your reception.   Their gardens and the entire property are perfectly manicured!

We have a fabulous wedding at the Boston Public Library this October working with 14 Stories.  The wedding is going to have a very romantic feeling with touches of autumn.  The Library is such a unique venue.  It's like the dinning hall in Harry Potter's movie.  We'll be clustering a large amount of pillar candles (faux) around the book shelving near the ceiling and adding a pop of color throughout the gorgeous centerpieces.

We're so very fortunate to have the opportunity to design some of the most amazing weddings!  You'll see some of these weddings in my new wedding book Enchanted Weddings.  I'm working on details now for an incredible book tour.  Some big surprises are coming with the release of this book!  I wanted to write a wedding book couples could gather fresh ideas from to create their own distinctive style.  Featuring real weddings with suggestions to plan your own from where to rent linens, unique floral designs and some of the best wedding professionals in the industry.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Gardening Organic

From the very beginning of Jessica's Country Flowers, we've grown many thing in our gardens at the farm.  Now, more than ever we grow a wonderful variety of dahlias, zinnias, gerbera daisies, succulents, herbs and even berries which we use in our weddings and events. 

This week I'll be prepping our large annual garden, preparing the soil and turning the rich, earthy matter readying it to grow some of this years most amazing blooms!  We'll be planting heirloom tomatoes, lettuce, sweet corn and a huge amount of dahlias, zinnias.  We'll also be adding to the perennial gardens, with more clusters of colorful lupine, mint, bee balm, lavender, peonies, pee gee hydrangea and grasses.  I LOVE being able to go out to the gardens, while I'm designing a wedding and having creative freedom to pick (fresh) a few twigs of unripe blueberries or a hens & chicks to add to a boutonniere for texture!

What makes our company unique is that love for true unique design.  The overpowering sheer passion we get when a couple comes in to meet with us with a venue we've never been to.  Or having to come up with a design concept that is overwhelming and brings a challenge.  That makes me better as a designer and just keeps things fresh!

This week we'll be putting design concepts together, brainstorming on a few photo shoots and meeting with a bunch of new potential clients.  I'm happy to say that we'll have a few features coming up on Style Me Pretty blog soon.  I'm so, so proud to say there are many VERY exciting happenings for Jessica's Country Flowers this year and next.  We're working with a fabulous PR person to create an incredible book tour and thinking outside the box for some fabulous ideas to promote my new book Enchanted Weddings!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

La Cupola Ristorante & Inn

One of my absolute favorite venues in Connecticut is La Cupola Ristorante & Inn.  It's located in the historic, Litchfield, Connecticut.  Drive through the picturesque hills of Litchfield and on the outskirts of that you will find La Cupola overlooking Bantam River.

The charming granite house was built in 1849 and they took the time to have the newly dining and banquet hall to create the same look.  La Cupola offers three different rooms to accommodate an intimate reception for 35 guests or larger parties for 100-200 guests.   Have your cocktail hour outside under a white tent, overlooking the pond and Bantam River.  Sit on granite benches and take pictures with a beautiful backdrop.

Four charming guest rooms have been added in the original 1849 granite house to provide lodging for wedding guests and a complimentary room for the couple.  The elegant foyer balcony and staircase provide the perfect entrance as guests arrive and enjoy cocktails.

What I personally LOVE about La Cupola Ristorante & Inn is the hospitality, the incredible (I really mean INCREDIBLE) food and that it's such a welcoming place.  Come, be yourself, sit, relax and enjoy the world around you while you sip on a glass of wine and soak up the surroundings.  That you are the only wedding for the day and they won't rush you out the door.  If you want to enjoy the clear summer sky, looking up into the stars you can have the wedding in a tent.  Enjoy cocktail hour downstairs and move upstairs for a romantic candlelit dinner or so many other options. 

I love that the owner (Frank Rosa) is so very involved and that you become family!  That each wedding or event, becomes personal and menus get created just for your event.  La Cupola is such a unique venue, so very flexible and accommodating to your desires.  (You can have long, rectangle family-style tables or choose round tables)  You can utilize a part of the venue or the entire place!  It's completely up to you and your vision.  Call Frank Rosa for a personalized tour of La Cupola Ristorante & Inn.  860-567-3326

We're planning an amazing photo shoot at La Cupola this summer with Jamie Collins Photography and Kelly's Sweet Rewards.  Two utterly talented ladies!  I'm so very fortunate to be teaming up with them!  I'm setting up the most amazing table setting with touches of lavender, peachy/pink garden roses and buttery yellow flowers.  Romantic, sophisticated yet understated.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Photo shoots for next year

I've always been the type of person to plan every little detail, to perfection!  We're planning some of the most beautiful photo shoot weddings ever!  We'll be teaming up with some of the most talented wedding professionals in the industry!  Photo shoot weddings are so fun, networking with the best companies and thinking outside the box on every shoot!

Round Hill House, Washingtonville, New York is one of the prettiest venues around!  Loving all of the details that we're coming up with.  Details Wedding and Party Planning will be helping us with this along with Sarah Drake (who custom creates the most gorgeous invitations!) and the amazingly talented Jamie Collins Photography!  Purple roses along with peachy/pink cabbage roses with garden hydrangea will cover the arbor the couple gets married under.  Touches of vintage charm will be added with old drinking glasses as mini vases.  ABC Cakes will be designing a custom creation for this couple and I'm sure it will be sinfully delicious!

No Eye Has Seen Photography will be capturing all of the elements at Harkness Memorial Park for the next shoot.  A Little Imagination Cakes will be creating a wonderful cake for the couple.

We'll be heading up to The Barn at Gibbet Hill for a fabulous fall wedding with an abundance of rustic detail but, sweet sophistication.  Joyelle West Photography is the wonderfully talented lady who will be capturing this wedding. I ADORE barn weddings!  With touches of farm, rustic, romance and simple gorgeousness! Barn weddings can be so very beautiful, bringing touches of city into the country.  A true New England wedding. 

 (Yun Gen Photography)

One of the most unique sites we've recently visited is the Boston Public Library.  I visualized SO many things there.  Of course, they do not allow any real candles so we'll need to use a ton of pillar candles that are battery operated.  (but they really look so very real now)  It's like you walked into the Harry Potter movie with books on shelves up around the perimeter of the room and stairs going up to that ledge.  I visualize candles sort of floating all around the room

These photo shoots give us the opportunity to design some of the most unusual table designs and think outside the box.  I absolutely LOVE new challenges and having to stretch my imagination!  We have a few new things in store for the 2011 season.  We've been asked to design weddings beyond New England, which is really exciting! 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Exciting happenings!

We just finished a DIY wedding in Middletown, Connecticut.  Such incredible bouquets and boutonnieres.  I took two purple button mums, twisted a galax leaf behind them and wrapped a natural twine around the stems. 

The bouquets took on a "just gathered" look.  They were simply gorgeous!!  With 'cool water' roses, blue veronica, mini green hydrangea, deep eggplant color purple mini calla lilies and lavender sweet peas the with touches of purple button mums, the combination was just beautiful!  Detailing on the stems with natural weaved ribbon and touches of twine.

We are now working on the details for a wedding in Charleston, South Carolina.  Which is at the absolutely STUNNING venue Boone Hall.  We are so excited about all of the details to this wedding.  Here are a few weddings that are giving us inspiration.    I absolutely LOVE this wedding!  Southern charm style with chandeliers hung from the earthy beams in the barn and garden roses galore!