Fall weddings are not the norm for me; in addition, this request came from from gardening friends and colleagues. Jonathon Hofley, publisher of the well-known magazine The Michigan Gardener, and owner of Motor City Publishing, and his part-time art director and full-time firebrand fiancee Celeste were to be married. I instantly started fretting about what all from the garden would not be available for their date, but I need not have worried. Lucky for me, they liked the idea of sticks, grasses, mosses, vines and seeds-in season. Framing the doors of the church, starkly bare beech trees are set in pots finished in mood moss. These trees supported a smattering of white roses, visible from far away.
This gorgeous Melkite Catholic church needed little in the way of decoration; the beautifully vaulted white-walled interior was formally appointed with iconographic paintings of figures central to their faith. I found four 3″ beech that had not survived the season in my landscape supplier’s bone yard; they would be destined for another kind of life. Bare grapevine garland would be dressed up with bitterweet vine and the rose “Hollywood”. No other white rose opens so beautifully, and stays fresh longer, out of water. The pews we marked simply with sprays of grasses with seed heads intact, to which we added orange and white roses. The dressy olive green double faced satin formally acknowledged the space, and the occasion.
Even the bride’s bouquet included delicate birch branches. Variegated miscanthus grass and hosta complimented the orange freesia, ranunculus and roses. The bare stems were dressed in braided satin ribbon; the contrast in materials is particularly lovely.
Shades of red, orange and white came primarily from roses; the season for garden flowers had passed. Always with flowers for a wedding reception is the crucial issue of placement. Flowers that obstruct the view across the table are unfriendly to conversation between guests. As reception venues are rarely personal, its important to create a mood and aura specific to the occasion that is evident upon entering the room. That first impression is important. How the airspace is handled creates an overall impression of happy anticipation at eye level for the celebration to come.
Stout bundles of willow sticks get my flowers in the air. The rustic fiber pots filled with hemp fiber make an unmistakable reference to the garden. The metal pole set in concrete not seen here is an apparatus which keeps the flowers aloft securely.
The generic quality of the room fades away; what is left is a celebration of saturated fall color, and a very important event involving family and friends. The tabletop level decor has interest and presence which will please the eye, but not obstruct anyone’s view.
Bar tops were simply decorated with clusters of roses fruits and vegetables. Peppers and peaches take on an entirely different aspect, out of the garden or the kitchen. The ability to visualize materials out of context can expand your decorating repertoire. Orange bell peppers are not only delicious, they are strikingly attractive.
Celeste provided the table numbers, the calligraphy of her own hand. Large pieces of mood moss, when grooved, made naturally beautiful stands. The fresh green acorns-another nod to the season.
The effect of these flowers is so enhanced by the company of a length of bittersweet vine. The vine creates a visual context for the flowers. The creation of a visual world complete and believable is a daily challenge in the store; important events demand this too.
It is hard to go wrong with flowers-no one disputes how beautiful they are in their own right. But the support from the sticks enabled me to generate some atmosphere.