Til death do us part
Neville On The Level

Til Death Do Us Part (Or Til I Can’t Stand It Anymore!)

My goodness, how times have changed! When I first started in the floral industry and did wedding consultations, I usually got a call from the mother, who would “explain” the needs and wants of the bride, as well as her particular circumstances, should there be any. This included: previous marriages, if she’s had a child or if one was on the way, if she was marrying into a different culture, or if the couple already lived together! I was told these little nuggets so there would be no awkward moments. (Little did they know—as most of you do—that I LIVE for those moments!)

Now, pretty much anything goes and over the years I’ve seen the relaxation and personalization of weddings grow a lot. Gosh, I’ve done big weddings, small weddings, double weddings, same-sex weddings, underwater weddings, naked weddings (no boutonnieres there!), sky-diving weddings, hospital weddings, and even a “hurry up, her water broke!” wedding. So not much surprises me anymore!

When having a wedding consultation, be prepared for anything. I’ve had as many as 15 people show up—and I, of course, sent them away. Seriously, I’m not putting on a show! I remember a gal with a small baby who promptly started breast feeding said infant as we discussed her wedding. When she said that her 4-month-old would be a flower girl in six months, I asked if they were going to strap her on a skateboard and wheel her down the aisle? (I didn’t get that wedding.) I could tell countless tales of horror and disbelief, but I’m not in therapy or writing a book, so suffice it to say, I’ve seen a lot.

Brides can be a handful sometimes (well, straight ones mostly…lesbians are so great to deal with!), and now with so much information literally at their fingertips, weddings are more and more fussed up than ever for some. Bless them though, what do they know anyway, really? When I get a bride in who is wound up tighter than a $3 watch, I calmly remind her to relax a bit, enjoy the experience, let go of all that she cannot control anyway (like the weather and her dear mother-in-law) and remember that, although the wedding day is a beautiful thing, the next day she will just be a married woman—and there’s nothing special about that! (That smartens them up a bit.)

You are the expert and the person to whom they look for guidance, even when they HAVE to have a certain flower. I remember a dear petal who wanted all her flowers locally sourced (“organic, if possible”), but she HAD to have peonies—it didn’t matter how they arrived or who had to die to get them. There’s always one (or ten!), right?

Here’s a news flash! People under the age of 30 DID NOT discover succulents, ranunculus, or baby’s breath…just sayin’. Oooooh, and when I hear the word “Pinterest” I get hives! Isn’t that the new “Martha”? I really enjoy looking at the 437 photos they pinned of every variety of anemone, dahlia, or 75 round white bouquets.

Take a deep breath and let them know what will work, what won’t, what’s available, and what things cost. I worked with a lady years ago who took a wedding that needed a bouquet of about 200 lilies of the valley. Well, have any of you priced these little treasures? Even back then, they retailed for $5 each. The bride wound up with bouvardia after all.

Look, we all use buzzwords and expressions to paint a more appealing picture of what we are trying to offer, right? (“Loose and Airy,” “Elegant,” for instance.) What gets me are the words that come out of a bride’s mouth. (“Bespoke!”) Please, girl, LOOK IT UP. This simply means “made to order,” so calm yourself with your big words. ALL our bouquets are bespoke. Oh, and so we are all clear on this, “Shabby Chic” is a) SO last season and b) can translate to “Shabby-Cheap”! Unless the wedding is at a cottage, outside, or in a barn, you should leave the mason jars for pickles. But, hey, that’s just my opinion!

Huge bouquets were the thing ages ago and, unlike my belly, they got smaller over the years. Now, folks are getting back into a cascade style bouquet and even the bouquet holders are being used more than ever! I’m so pleased about this, as the do-it-yourselfers can’t use these holders as easily as we can. Even tied bouquets are looser and less structured than ever. Some bouquets in magazines look as though you’d shut your eyes, grabbed all you could, and tied them up in a bunch, with whatever landing where it may. Now, THAT’S a shabby look.

All my best with the upcoming trauma, I mean season, and remember what you offer, so you don’t suggest the same thing the next time around!

Neville MacKay
Neville MacKay, CAFA, PFCI, WFC is the owner of My Mother's Bloomers in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a design director with Smithers-Oasis North America. He designed flowers for the 1988 Winter Olympics, as well as a long list of celebrities including Glen Close, Sir Elton John, and members of the British Royal Family. MacKay appears regularly on Canadian TV and travels internationally giving presentations about the impact of flowers.
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