Arranging Flowers for My Sister’s Wedding —SCB

Now that we are in the final week of summer, I thought I’d take a moment to look back at the event that kicked of my own summer—my sister’s wedding in early June. When Lisa and Clay got engaged, and I told Lisa I wanted to help in any way possible (except taking photos!—I do not have the skill set to be a wedding photographer). Lisa and Clay replied that they would like me to do the flowers.

The flowers? Ack. Now, I am no florist. My experience arranging flowers was limited to grocery store bouquets, blooms gathered from my neighborhood, and other foraged arrangements. I was seriously intimidated! That said, I was not going to let these women down! I did my research and relied on my instincts, and ended up having the most wonderful time working with the flowers. Seriously, walking around the San Francisco Flower Mart gathering newspaper-wrapped bundle after bundle was such a kid in the candy store feeling!

I thought I’d share a few thoughts on my experience for other non-professional folks who wanted to create arrangements for a wedding or other event. I could not have done it without my sister’s wedding planner, Elizabeth Clayton who not only gave me endless insight and advice, but took me to the flower mart where I had access to the most amazing array of wholesale flowers.

Plan ahead: Lisa, Clay and a few others involved in the wedding set up a private Pinterest board months before the event and began sharing inspiration. It helped me tremendously that Lisa had a very specific color palette in mind. She was very open about her likes and dislikes which helped me hone in on a vision for the tablescapes and for her bouquet (unlike many weddings, I only had to create one bouquet, a boutonierre, along with the table arrangements). We decided that we liked the idea of small groupings on the tables and set about collecting vintage cocktail glasses in various sizes to fill with tiny bouquets. In the end, it was a nice mesh of formal and relaxed.

Be flexible: Lisa really wanted to feature ranunculus in her bouquet, but when we arrived at the flower mart, I could only find a few paltry stems—we were just a week or two off season. After a moment of panic, I quickly switched gears and decided to feature the peonies that were in beautiful abundance that week. Lisa had also said “no roses,” but I ended up snatching a few bouquets of frilly David Austin roses because they have a look similar to ranunculus.

Keep your cool: Literally. One of the biggest challenges for me was that the wedding weekend ended up being much warmer than we expected. I did all the arranging at our rental house in Mill Valley with no air conditioning. I had to do my flower shopping a day ahead of time in order to have time to get everything done on my own, and it wasn’t long before the peonies opened in the 80-degree heat. I moved everything to the coolest room I could find and filled my buckets with ice, but some blooms were lost to the heat. In retrospect, having an air-conditioned workspace would have been ideal.

Give yourself time: I thought I had allotted myself a lot of extra time, but it was a bit of a rush to the finish! I was so happy we had decided on the mini arrangements for the tables as they came together quickly. I managed to pull it off and rush back to the house for a quick shower and change before family photos, thank goodness.

It was such a thrill to play this role in Lisa’s and Clay’s memorable day. Once I was at the wedding, my job was done, and I was able to relax and become immersed in the love and fun of the day—it was perfect.

The photos above are all behind-the-scenes snapshots on film. My sister has posted more images from the day on her blog, and there’s a great article about my sister and sister-in-law in the San Francisco Chronicle today as well!