We had a wedding to do recently that was booked rather quickly, giving us very little time before the actual day. We found out why during the weeks that passed as we prepared for the event.
We met with the groom at The Chelsea Hotel (see: Cafe Companion). At first, I thought he was the wedding planner, since he had a clipboard with reams of paperwork and was being followed around by the hotel staff (and my gaydar went off a little bit). Lo and behold, he's the groom and he was planning the wedding, an oddity in this business. We usually have to deal with brides who want flowers way out of season or ones that don't actually exist in nature. But that wasn't the case and here he was and off we went with him on a tour of the property and he began describing what he wanted us to accomplish. It seemed to be pretty straightforward, decorate the stairwell with tulle and bows, set up simple arrangements in the ballroom where the ceremony would take place and then the usual standing bouquets in the cocktail area. Nothing too extraordinary.
Then we got to the deck where the pool is. Here he began to explain what he wanted and things got a bit out of control. Floating arrangements, reorganizing the cabanas for the dinner, covering lighting, adding lighting, hanging a hundred paper lanterns, balloon bouquets with lights inside, bringing the items from the ballroom and distributing them around the pool, adding more flowers. It began to dawn on me that this was going to be a HUGE job. We discussed some of the details and talked with the Chelsea staff and we went back to the shop to confer amongst ourselves.
So far so good. We waited to hear from the groom and we'd write up the proposal and everything would be copacetic!
NOT. GONNA. HAPPEN.
From that moment until the wedding day, we suffered through countless emails, changes, radical rethinks, colour schemes, different flowers, you name it, we heard it. Then there was the problem of glass. It seems it's a law (city, state, hotel, whoever) that you can't have glass around the pool. Our groom was insistent that we have glass containers for the arrangements. It was a battle between him, the hotel and us because we had to buy the items and it would have been cost prohibitive to keep them in our inventory and not use them. Then there were the arrangements themselves. The floral staff wasn't thrilled about the design. It's a common problem, the brides want something that's not exactly...how do I explain it...it's not what you would do as a floral designer. Mixing the wrong shapes like square bottoms with a round ball of flowers on top. You do things that repeat a theme in floral design, not mix and match.
It's just not done.
But, since they were paying, we did what they wanted. Then there was the issue of the chuppah. A chuppah is a traditional arch used in Jewish ceremonies. We have one that's quite big but comes apart rather easily. The bride and groom weren't Jewish but they saw a picture in a Martha Stewart magazine that had an arch with flowing fabrics and candles floating in glass tubes lining the aisle. That's what they wanted.
People, florists HATE Martha Stewart. HATE HER! She is the anathema of floral designers everywhere. She needs to be stopped.
So, here we were with this picture from Martha's rag and we had to come up with some sort of way of copying it.
The weekend of the wedding came (we also had two other smaller weddings that week, of course) and we went into battle mode.
First wrinkle: The weather.
Everyday that week the weather was nice but the day of their wedding, the forecast called for late afternoon showers. Not to mention the fact that it was raining cats and dogs all morning long (when I say morning, I mean between seven to nine, we do things very early in the shop). We were told they would make the decision at noon, the one deciding if we were setting up the pool deck or totally re-doing the ballroom for the reception dinner. We got the vans/trucks/cars packed and began bringing everything over to the hotel. We get the chuppah into the ballroom and notice a stage. There was to be no stage because our chuppah is so big that it wouldn't fit. Luckily, Jack had preplanned for this occasion and had a way to shorten the arch to fit. But, that required power tools. We hurriedly got the room ready, setting up the glass jars, adding water to them (a long and tedious process, each one required nearly four gallons of water) and getting the stairwell draped and the hundreds of other things we needed to do. We set up the cocktail area and began preparing the pool deck since we didn't get the word yet if they were canceling the outdoor area because of the weather.
I had run back to the shop for round two (three...four...I don't remember) of hauling centerpieces and bouquets and everything else. While I was there, the word came down from on high: The deck reception was canceled. This meant that the dinner would be held in the ballroom.
Where the wedding was taking place.
This also meant that we now had NO time to spare. Before, we would have been setting up the pool all during the day with plenty of time to get it finished before the reception. Now, we would have an hour to totally transform one room from the sparse yet beautiful wedding chamber with a chuppah (that we jury-rigged) into a paper lantern dripping dining room with a totally different look and scheme.
Battle mode turned into total panic!
But we adapted and got to business, barely getting on each other's frayed nerves and focusing on the task at hand. We had to be out of the way right before the ceremony started so we finished up and took a much needed break. A break that included martinis! We ate at Teplitzky's (Jack and I think the name sounds like a concentration camp in Poland) and watched up through the windows at the wedding party. They looked GORGEOUS! Usually you see some pretty fugly bridesmaids but everyone was stunning! We watched them enter the ballroom and finished up our dinner and cock...tails, knowing that we had to get our asses up there to scramble that room into shape.
The wedding party exited and went to the cocktail reception and we got to work. Insanity reigned during that hour, with the hotel staff and us madly whipping that room into shape. We even had valet boys hanging the paper lanterns over the dancefloor, which was being installed right underneath our ladders. It was controlled chaos and by the time we finished, the room looked AMAZING! You'd never know that they even got married in the same space. It was totally different. We got out of there just in time, taking some pictures before leaving. Downstairs, we waited for the van to come collect us and off we went back to the shop and then home.
Luckily, the venue change meant that we got everything out of there earlier and didn't have to go back at midnight to pack up. It could wait until morning.
The next morning I got to the shop early and Jack and I went to the hotel to gather our stuff. It was pretty painless and the hotel staff made it easier by putting everything together.
We did get the greatest compliments from the bride and groom, they were eminently pleased with everything. That was nice.
Considering he's the son of a senator, it's VERY NICE!
Next up: High School Reunion