Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Planning ahead

By: Jessica Robinson

I've always been a planner.  I have an excellent memory.  I pretty much can recall every inquiry, the details of that wedding and can tell you from looking at photos the names of our clients and where their wedding was.  Details are so important to us, which is probably why we are so good at what we do!

When planning a wedding, it's a good idea to plan ahead.  Know that during certain times of the year (i.e. Mother's day, May and June, fourth of July weekend, September and November we are crazy busy) dates fill quickly.  Because we only book one or two major events per weekend and we strive to give our clients the utmost perfection as well as elite customer service.  So, call ahead and schedule a consultation with us to at least discuss the initial ideas.  Even if you don't have a clue of what you want, we'll help you figure it all out!

We've been swamped with new inquiries over the last few weeks.  I think as the new year approaches everyone starts to think wedding again.  They are ready to spring clean, take the tree down and get everything in order for their wedding.  I LOVE meeting new couples and having to be challenged to come up with fresh design concepts.  It keeps me on my toes!  I'm thankful that each weekend is something different.  That we're NOT designing the same cookie cutter wedding every weekend!  I LOVE that each wedding is a true representation of each amazing couple we get to work with! 

(above photos by JCF & Jamie Collins Photography

A few great questions to ask any wedding floral designer:
How many events do you design per weekend?
Do they exclusively design for weddings and events?
Do they design holiday arrangements?
How many years have you been in business?
Do they have reviews you can see from past clients?  (ask for references)
Do you have business insurance?
How many times can you meet with them prior to the wedding?
Will they design samples of your bouquet and centerpiece/table setting? **Is that an additional charge?
What happens if you (the designer) gets sick or is unable to design the wedding?
What types of flowers are available at the time I'm getting married?
Will the designer deliver and set up on the day of your wedding?
Is there an additional fee for delivery and set up?

**I also find it's helpful that you understand the difference between an event floral designer vs. the traditional florist.  An event floral designer is someone who specializes exclusively in weddings.  They have tremendous experience with weddings and situations that can happen with designing wedding flowers.  Because they are exclusively designing for weddings/events, they many times have more time to devote to you as a client and know other fabulous wedding professionals.  Many times an event floral designer is by appointment only and is more flexible for meeting times.  We, as event floral designers have access to more containers, fancy ribbons and unique rental items.  We can custom create pretty much anything.  You might pay a little more (for their years of experience, customer service and so on), but the fact that you won't have to worry about a single thing is well worth every little penny!

A traditional florist, designs everyday flowers, fruit baskets, funeral flowers, has walk in clients and cash and carry customers.  Their time is focused on everyday happenings of a busy floral shop.  They don't design exclusively for weddings, so they probably haven't designed as many weddings as an event floral designer.  If your wedding falls during a busy time of year, it might get lost amongst the hustle of the rest of the business.  I've found over the years, clients have told us they inquired with their local florist, but after learning they design 8-10 weddings a weekend they got really worried.  What are the chances that you'll get the correct flowers you ordered?

I usually recommend you meet with three different companies.  Compare their pricing, how you click with the designer (it's a working relationship, you need to be happy with who you work with), see which one offers the most creative ideas.  Remember, compare apples to apples.  It's hard to go strictly by pricing, since it's all custom work and you are paying for more than just flowers.  But, remember to compare an event designer to another event designer, not an event designer to an everyday florist.  There is simply no comparison.

Friday, December 17, 2010

How the creative process works

By: Jessica Robinson

Each day our lives are surrounded and emerged with love and passion for what we do.  Which really is the cool part, because we don't really have a job....we do what we love. 
Just last night, I couldn't sleep because I was thinking about a new store possibility with the release of one of my books.  I'm constantly thinking outside the box and my wheels in my mind are turning endlessly.  One of my books is a book about New England farms and it's filled with heirloom recipes from both of our families.  It's such a wonderful book, I'm sure many people would love it as an addition to their kitchen.  So sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night and feel a great sense of urge to pick up my laptop and write, search google and so on.

I keep note pads on my night stand, in the kitchen and on our coffee table, just waiting for that creative thought that I just HAVE to write down.  I come up with new table designs by looking at fashion, the great outdoors and random things in our world.  Snow gracefully falling onto the ground from the great sky above gives me a sense of wonderfully decorated winter wonderland tables, candles glowing and fireplaces crackling.  With each different season (thankfully we live in New England) there are wonderful changes. 

I hope that the new year brings blessings to all.  We are grateful for all of our past clients and all the future clients we work with.  I hope we will inspire you to create something fabulous for your wedding, a great dinner party or any family gathering.  Simplicity or over the top, we love it all!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas notes

By: Jessica Robinson

With Christmas right around the corner, lots of us are busy decorating our homes with Christmas trees and other holiday decor to create a festive feeling.  There are a few simple tips for making the most out of your holiday decorating. 

First, in our family we always get a real tree from a local grower.  AND, it's an absolute must that we head out together as a family to go and select a real tree and cut our own.  Check out the Connecticut Christmas tree growers association web site to find a tree farm in your area.  A few of my personal favorites are Dzen's in South Windsor, Karabin Farms in Southington, Steadman's on South East Road in New Hartford and Jone's Family Farm in Shelton.  Of course, I'm a little overly picky about what our tree looks like.  I want it to be full, lush and extremely fresh...plus trimmed just right.
The difference between going to cut your own and getting a "pre-cut" tree are undeniable.  When you get a pre-cut tree, they are generally harvested in October up north (Vermont or Canada) and shipped to your area garden centers, etc.  The problem is that they were harvested so long ago and many times just not fresh.  There is nothing quite like a fresh tree, you searched for and cut down yourselves.  Some of my personal favorites varieties are Balsam fir, White and Blue spruce and Frasier fir.  Look for a tree that has great green (or grayish blue color for blue spruce) color, not loosing pine needles and with a straight trunk.  (that will help tremendously when putting it up in the tree stand)  You'll want to cut it as close to the ground as you can, as to not leave too much of a stump behind.  Bring the tree home, make a fresh cut and put it in the tree stand.

Trees soak up a TON of water the first three to four days.  It's imperative that you keep watering the tree to keep it as fresh as possible.  Usually twice a day for the first three to four days.  If your tree stand dries up, the tree will form a seal and not be able to absorb anymore water.  The fresher you keep the tree, the nicer it will look and the less it will pose a fire hazard.

Now, when decorating I put the lights on, starting from the bottom and working my way up.  We prefer the old-fashioned style C7 lights.  They produce a little more heat and make my vintage spinner ornaments spin properly.  (find them on Ebay and be sure to check out Etsy for some great handmade ornaments and vintage finds as well!)  When you attach your lights, I find it gives you more depth if you weave the light strands in and out.  Meaning, you put a light on a branch inside the tree and work outwards, then repeat.  Same applies with the ornaments.  I hang heavier ornaments inside the tree, where the branches tend to be thicker and able to withstand more weight.

Pick up some loose greens at those same farms and fill your flower pots on your porch with fresh evergreens.  I usually put them on our mantle as well in a large oasis piece (ask your local florist if you can buy a casket saddle with oasis)  Sounds awful, but really works wonderful...  then I simply decorate with a ton of wonderful picked pine cones and add some lush red roses the week of Christmas. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Beautiful Stationery

With your wedding the beginning presentation of yourselves to your invited guests is represented in the invites you send out.  I am completely in Love these days with letterpress invites and all things letterpress.  It's a really old style type of printing that has come back in popularity with a bang! 

Richie Designs offers custom designed invitations and other stationery products for everyone's unique tastes.  Their designs are trendy and simply beautiful.

Clean Wash Letterpress creates the most beautiful of stationery, business cards and invitations.  Her designs are absolutely stunning and impressive.
Right in Connecticut you have Stonington Paperie and Chocolate Creative Designs. Both will design and create something spectacular for your wedding invitations, Save the dates and every aspect or detail for your wedding (such as favor tags, escort cards, etc.)

Friday, December 10, 2010

New Studio in Collinsville

The new studio is still in progress, but coming along very nicely!  I still need to shop for some silk drapes and a few extra touches.  Of course, we'll need to clean up after the contractors are done and bring in the furniture.  I'm so excited about the new studio, the move and the new life this will bring our company.  So many new things planned!  But for now, I'd thought I'd share the sneak peek at the studio after the new lights got hung.  The studio has three large windows which fill the space with LOTS of natural sunlight.  We're right in the heart of Collinsville, in the old Axe factory which is in a revitalization process right now. (the owner hopes to renovate many of the exterior buildings into cute little shops)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Farmer's Museum wedding- Part two

By: Jessica Robinson

Caitlin had a really great inspiration board she had created for us.  From that we designed many just gathered looks.  I used old aluminum sap buckets from my parent's sugar house to showcase some antique purple hydrangea I picked out of my gardens at 4:30 am the morning of the wedding.  For her centerpieces we created three different looks.  One was in wooden crates, lined with sheet moss and overflowing with seasonal flowers.  The other were a chocolate footed metal urns filled with antique hydrangea, garden spray roses and locally grown flowers.  For a simple look, we gathered bright pink and purple salvia, fresh mint, fresh sage leaves and garden roses in various sized mason jars.  Then, clustered them together on the tables.  The smell of fresh herbs is intense and wonderful for a summery wedding.

The bride carried a hand-tied bouquet of white dahlias, patience garden roses, locally grown millet and wrapped with wide ivory satin ribbon.  The groom's boutonniere was a simple dahlia bloom wrapped with a touch of natural twine.  The bridesmaids carried a garden mix of purple statice, purple dahlias, creme de la creme roses and garden spray roses.  Each was wrapped with a fancy chocolate ribbon with copper sequins, then vintage rhinestone buttons for added detail.
 Salvia and fresh mint (from First Bloom Farm) was so pungent with aroma.  Really a great choice for this particular wedding. 

We created a "family tree" with manzanita branches in tall cylinder vases and purple mokara orchids.  The bride created her own DIY escort cards of flower seeds in envelopes.  We strung natural twine from the two trees and then hung each escort card with a wooden clothes pin.  (pick up the clothes pins at Walmart for $1.39 for 50 clothes pins) Natural twine can be found at your local Home Depot or hardware store.  We dressed the escort card table with chocolate color burlap (JoAnn Fabrics $2.99/yard).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Farmer's Museum wedding- Part one

By: Jessica Robinson

This past August we traveled to Cooperstown, New York to design a wedding for Caitlin and Mike.  Along with an incredible group of wedding professionals (some of the very best in the industry) we created magic.

Caitlin and Mike applied for our deserving couple contest back in 2009.  They were going through some family issues and struggling financially.  Mike was leaving his job to go back to school full time and they were living off of one income.  They are such a loving couple, devoted to their family and to each other.  We couldn't of selected a more grateful and truly deserving couple.

The setting: The Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown, New York.  They were married in the chapel on the grounds, Cornwallville Church.  Then the reception following in the barn at the museum.  The Farmer's Museum is a spectacular venue that has deep roots in New York State's rural history.  The museum is set on 120 acres of pristine farm land which has been a working farm since the 1790's.  The Farmer's Museum is a private, non-profit educational organization.

Since many guests were traveling, we created cute out of town guest bags.  We filled natural burlap bags with tissue paper, then added raspberry rhubarb jam from Lamothe's Sugar House, bottled water, Crunch and munch, rasinettes and lavender oatmeal soap from Goat Boy soaps.  I picked up prepackaged "thank you" notes at Walmart (less than $2 for 10 cards) and attached them to the handle of each bag with a wooden clothes pin.

Along with Jennifer from Cookie Creatives, we created a really awesome candy station.  She hand made caramel/chocolate popcorn, sea salt caramels, homemade marshmallows, chocolate dipped pretzel rods and three different kinds of chocolate bars.  We added maple lollipops and maple salt water taffy from the sugar house to the display.  I also made my parents famous Maple farmhouse chocolate chip cookies and placed them in jars for guests to help themselves to. (which by the way, I developed the recipe for!)  I had picked up large pickle jars with wooden lids at Ocean State Job Lot for $5 each.  The other glass jars came from Walmart (or you can get them at Target) for $10-12 each.  Jennifer also hand decorated sugar cookies with the couples monogram on and flowers.  We displayed those in vintage wooden trays amongst all the candy jars.  I picked up wooden tongs and metal scoops at Walmart.

For a little candlelight romance, the staff at the Farmer's Museum helped us hang green oxidized metal lanterns with real candles.  We used thin copper wire to hang them from little eye hooks that were already in the wood beams.  Since the ceilings were so tall, it helped to break up the space and add some drama.

Vendors who donated their products and/or services:
Jessica's Country Flowers (event coordination and floral design)
Justin & Mary Marantz
Cookie Creatives by Jennifer
The White Dress by the Shore and designer Modern Trousseau
ABC Cakes
Lamothe's Sugar House
Goat Boy Soaps
Hartford Florist Supply
First Bloom Farm