Last week’s wedding was a big affair – 200+ guests at the Union League in downtown Philadelphia, with “garden-style” flowers by Nancy Saam and our team. Jane, Pat, Nancy, Chip and I prepped the day before.
Pat creates large centerpieces using spirea, peony and viburnum – gorgeous
Jane and I made some designs on 3-tiered silver trays. First, we cut the Oasis down to size and secured it onto the trays with prongs (held with floral clay.)
Then we added greens like fatsia leaf, euphorbia, hosta, galax leaf, and then flowers like Tuberose.
Finished tray is dripping with flowers like calla lilies, pink garden roses, astilbe, and viburnum. Moss is packed into the holes to complete. Oh and ‘Green Trick’ Dianthus!
Then Jane and I made a long design for the placecard table, using lots of greens like lemon leaf, huge hosta leaves, and solomon’s seal. We also added hydrangea and ‘Festiva Maxima’ peonies, from – you guessed it! – A Peony Garden. This design will be finished on site.
Now, the day of the wedding! The truck arrives, packed to the gills. Everyone lends a hand unpacking. It’s many, many trips up the small freight elevator and into the various rooms we’ll be working – the ceremony room, placecard table, cocktail area, and finally the reception area.
I spend most of my day in Lincoln Hall, where the reception is to be held. We are creating an arbor of sorts out of birch. The structure is in place, and we begin by adding a layer of leafy branches.
Birch Structure is nailed together and strengthened with zip ties where branches meet, and c-clamps on the tables.
Cages filled with floral foam are zip-tied to the branches in the front, and we begin to fill them with viburnum.
Here Nancy shows us where she’d like to see more viburnum added.
Brenda does the lion’s share of the work on this structure, and I am her assistant, handing her branches, mopping up spills, sweeping up leaves as we go. She has had 18 years of experience in the floral industry. She spends most of the day on a ladder, and if I may be honest, totally kicks ass! Unfortunately we were working so hard and moving so quickly most of the day that I never got a good picture of her!!
Brenda adds peonies and stock to our flower bower of power!
As Brenda puts the finishing touches on the arbor, I’m called away to do some cocktail area arrangements and to finish the long placecard table design that Jane and I began. I replace a few wilted peonies, add viburnum, kiwi vine, and curly willow, plus a little astilbe for good measure. Then the design is hung with votives. This is all done with such astonishing speed, I think I forget to breathe at this point in the day.
Back in Lincoln Hall, things have reached a fevered pitch. All the last minute touches are attended to – the candles lit, the tables set, our work buckets tucked away.
inside the birch / peony arbor – bridal table
Diane lighting candles – so Downton Abbey don’t you think??
One of Pat’s centerpieces in place
Our silver trays are also centerpieces
But the piece de resistance is the bridal table…fit for a royal party of elves and fairies…or Philadelphians.
All it needs are the newlyweds, and happy lords and ladies of the evening to sit under it, and fill the hall with their love and laughter. When I got home to celebrate Julie’s birthday, I showed my dad a picture of this. His response: “I guess we know Thanksgiving is going to be a lot more expensive this year!” Dad, you’re right. I think we need to create something like this arbor for our annual family gathering! You’re on construction detail. Thanks for all the great ideas, Nancy Saam!