European Influence

In the 17th and 18th century, or the Baroque period, floral designs were massed and over-flowing.  In paintings, the designs would show each of the flowers facing outwards in a symmetrical shape.  Containers would range from ceramic jugs to Oriental porcelain vases.

In this design, I used lilies, iris', dahlias, alstromeria, 3 roses and a sunflower.  In the 18th centuries, the designers weren't able to be as picky with their flowers as we can be.  They used everything, including the stems with extra leaves, as filler.  The challenging part of this design for me was to not clean up the flowers and take off the broken and dying flowers.  I also stayed away from manipulating the steel grass to give it a more organic feel.  I am very pleased with this design and the best part is, I can come up with it any time I want with the flowers in my garden!


The Learning Curve

People have asked me to post photos of my class projects that I do every week.  I am in two floral design classes currently.  One is a basic review for me, and the other is learning new techniques.  Last nights class, we went over radial designs.  The thing with radial designs is that all the flowers need to be radiating out of one central spot in the design.  Its up to the designer if he/she wants it to be in the center, off to the side, etc.

The challenge for me, was to create a design with very few materials on hand.  I had one stem of leather fern, one stem of lemon leaf, 3 dahlias, 4 carnations, wax flower, poms and steel grass.  Since I had such a small amount of covering materials, I decided to design close to the foam to guarantee maximum coverage.  

I started by taking the stem lemon leaf and broke it down to single leaves and layered them diagonally across the foam.  Then I took the fern and broke that down and layered it in the opposite direction with one side a bit larger for some drama.  I then took the dahlias and created a focal center piece and used the was flower and the green poms as extra coverage.  I then wrapped the steel grass in bouillon wire and created a repetitive frame for the design.  

Here's how it turned out:

This piece would be great for a cocktail table at a special event or for your coffee table.  I will post tonights project tomorrow...stay tuned!


Next stop...

Our next stop on the Sonoma valley tour is the St. Francis Winery located in Kenwood, California.  This mission styled winery has breath taking views of Hood Mountain and the valley.  The ceremony site is on the lush green lawn surrounded by the vineyard.  The reception hall is in the Dining Room which opens up to a stone patio or can be closed and cozy with a tile-lined fireplace.

The venue holds up to 150 guests or 200 if the ceremony is not on site.  Prices range from $6,000-$9,000 depending on the date.  You have complete run of the grounds from 6pm-11pm and can keep partying past midnight, for an added fee.  St. Francis does require employment of a coordinator from A Dream Wedding and exclusive use of St. Francis wines, which are, in my opinion, pretty tasty.

Private events can range from 20-220 guests.  Its a great location to have small corporate meetings or even a family reunion!

I'd give this venue 3 out of 5 stars.  Its easy to get to, charming, the staff was pretty friendly and its fairly reasonable price-wise for this area.  Definitely a place to stop and visit and consider for your event!



This past weekend, I was whisked away on a romantic wine tasting weekend.  Starting in Healdsburg, we made our way down the beautiful Sonoma Valley.  There are so many beautiful venues in this part of California, and I thought it would be fun to review them over the next couple of weeks.  First stop: Dry Creek Valley:

Michel-Schlumberger is nestled in the hills of Dry Creek Valley near Healdsburg.  Dry Creek Valley is known for its amazing Zinfandel grapes, and the Zins at Michel-Schlumberger were some of the best.  Typically this winery is tasting by appointment only, so make sure to look into that before you head out there.  We did not know this when we drove into the parking lot, but thankfully another nice couple had an appointment and let us tag along.  The elegant courtyard can hold up to 120 guests.  Its a bit small for a wedding, but definitely a great place for a private dinner or corporate event.  Just in town for a visit?  On Friday evenings they have live music playing in the courtyard for $5 per person.  The staff is also extremely friendly.  We had their social media guru join us for a glass of wine and chatted about the vineyard.  Definitely a must see on this tour!

Next up we move further down the valley to Glenn Ellen.  Stay tuned!


Destination Wedding Guide

Destination weddings are usually very intimate and low stress, but there are still a lot of things to think about while going through the planning process.   Here are a few tips from the mind of a wedding planner (and the internet):
Hire a Local Event Planner:  Hiring a local planner who knows the area and will have references for vendors isn’t necessary but it is probably the easiest way to plan your destination wedding.  They know the area, will have references and know which vendors to work with and which to avoid and they can handle all the to do items that require an in person touch.  To find a planner, visit or other wedding planning sites.
Create a website:  Having a website will keep your guest in the loop.  If you decide to go all digital, it can also save you money on printing invitations. Places likeThe Knot or Wedding Tracker have some great features for a customizable wedding website.  However, its good to remember that there are some folks out there who are digitally impaired and will need some sort of paper invitation or a push to get on the digital wave.
Save the Date cards:  Save the Date cards are extremely important in a destination wedding.  You want to give your guests enough notice to plan their trip and book their flight and hotels in advance.  The usual time line for “Save the Dates” is four to six months.  
Think of the guests:  I know its not number one on your priority list since it is in fact your day, but little touches like having a list of “Things to do” for your guests makes your wedding memorable for everyone.  Research the local attractions around the wedding site and include them in your invitations. 
Transportation and lodging:  A transportation plan is very helpful, especially for a beach or tropical wedding.  Look into renting a shuttle to take guests from their hotel to the wedding site and back.  Also, a list of hotels and other places to stay are very helpful.  Look into booking a block of hotel rooms at a discounted rate and let your guests know how to get in on the deal.  
After Wedding Receptions:  A great way to continue the party and include friends or co-workers that couldn’t make it to the wedding is to have a reception at home.  They can be as low key or fancy as you want them to be.  It all depends on your tastes and budgets!  
Gifts:  Extra luggage is expensive now-a-days.  If you are registered anywhere, make sure guests know how to get those gifts to you.  Whether its sending the gift to your home or just getting a gift card to the stores you are registered at.  Other options are to have guests donate to your honey moon fund  or to a non-profit organization that the two of you feel strongly about. 
Insurance:  Tropical destination weddings could mean hurricane’s or other inclement weather and can you trust the airlines with your gown? Um...probably not so much.  Several sites suggest wedding insurance. A few places that offer insurance are WedSafe or WedSure.  For more information on wedding insurance go here or here

Check it out:  If finances allow, a quick vacation to visit your destination will help you get a feel for the big day.  Before you go, have a list of action items like:  finding a venue, a florist, an officiant, catering if its needed, etc.  Make sure to try different restaurants in the area and find the one that will suit you best for a reception.
Weddings at Sea:  If you aren’t big on planning everything and searching tirelessly for respected vendors in your destination, consider a cruise.  These are typically all inclusive and the price can’t be beat.  
Tweeting and Other Social Media Uses:
I will be talking more about Social Media in wedding and event planning in a later post, but social media is a great tool for destination weddings so I decided to touch on it in this post.  For guests that aren’t able to make it to the big event, you can have a live streaming feed using tools like UStream.  Update the guests with a link to the live feed, and your friends and family can watch the ceremony and even parts of the reception like the toasts, or first dance.  You could also set up a Twitter account to allow friends and family to send you there well-wishes from afar or even upload pictures they take during the day.  For something fun at the reception, have a tweeting station set up with a projector and screen so all the well-wishes and photos of the day can be viewed by everyone.  If you don’t want to bring all that equipment with you, find a local place that will rent it out or see if your venue has it on hand.


Mission City Opera- Gala fundraiser

Last October, I offered to donate several floral arrangements to help raise funds for Mission City Opera.  It was a masqued ball so I decided to incorporate masks into the designs.  The colors were up to my discretion as long as they were bright, so I used bright pinks, yellows, oranges, reds and purples in the designs.

There were four large pieces that had costume masks in the design.  Gladiolas, roses, hydrangea and peacock feathers gave it a bright and cheery feeling.  Here is one of them:

 At the sign in table, I thought it would be fun to have a pave design.  I enlisted my friend Kim to help since she is a genius with pave designs.  Using carnations and spray roses, we came up with this:

On each of the tables, I decided to go simple.  Two mini calla lilies in purple and orange and yellow fringe tipped tulips were place in a bowl with aqua gems and a immersible light.  Simple but very pretty.

It was a fun event, and the flowers were a hit.  I love working with these bright colors.  I find them extremely sassy and eye catching.  Peacock feathers are also a favorite item for me to work with.  Hope you enjoyed these pictures!

Stay tuned for next week when I will discuss using Social Media in your special event.