It was a beautiful day in Mid-July and I was on vacation. Was I in the garden? Touring another garden? At a garden center? No, I was in my basement carefully arranging 250 glorious hot pink roses for my sister’s wedding. And it was worth every ounce of worry and effort to see her happy face on her wedding day.
As you may recall, since she told me last summer that she wanted my homegrown hydrangeas as the bridesmaid bouquets, I’ve been worried that these tough plants would somehow succumb to bugs, disease, weather… etc. Mother Nature certainly had a go at the plants- sending us day after day of torrential rain. I was out there in long jackets and sweatpants in pouring down rain to save myself from the mosquitoes that love me, trying to shake the water off the hydrangeas so that they could stand somewhat upright. (Staking!!!)
With such warm weather I worried that they would bloom to early and be green. But they were perfect.
So, down in the basement, I was with my faux Saarinen table and a nice cold concrete floor, and 250 ‘Hot Lad[ies]’. I’d set the air conditioning at iceburg, to make sure the roses stayed cool. When they arrived straight from Ecuador, I stuck them immediately in a tote bin filled with water. I didn’t worry about cutting the stems, but I did unwrap the cardboard as soon as I could.
We ordered them from Sam’s Club, online, which offers very reasonable direct shipment of gorgeous flowers. I think my parents paid about $100/100 stems. These were very good sized roses and they lasted forever: I received them on Thursday, July 7, and the “extra” bouquet I made lasted easily until July 17. They were in great shape.
So the task: 13 centerpieces, 1 altar bouquet, two bridesmaid bouquets and other flowers for the reception hall, and last but certainly not least, the cake topper (can you hear the ominous music in the background?).
First, I cranked out the 13 centerpieces: each had four hosta leaves from my garden, basically all from one plant because every other hosta had slug holes in it (umm- rain, as I’ve mentioned). I hand-arranged exactly one dozen roses and then added the hosta leaves and tied each with a white ribbon; every one was set into small fishbowls.
The family (who was, of course, banned from the house so that I could work without interruption) stopped by to bring me some lunch, and my sister mentioned she’d like 14 centerpieces, just in case. A great idea. So 12 to go.
Once done, I set to work on the cake topper. While the family was there for lunch, I’d asked what my sister wanted for the topper, and she didn’t really know… something along the lines of “you’re the expert, do it.” Ok, then. Here was my idea, having never made a cake topper before. Take one gladware sandwich container, sans lid. Add wet foam. wrap with ribbon, encircle with hosta leaves and add roses to cover.
Once I added the roses, it was beautiful, and heavy. It must have weighed a lb. at least.
And finally, my favorite: the Altar Bouquet. This included three dozen ‘Hot Lady,’ 3 ‘Blue Mammoth’ Hosta Leaves, and 6 ‘Annabelle’- set in an enormous, heavy fishbowl. Because it needed to be seen from three sides, I made it interesting from every angle. I delivered it to the church the night before and set it in the basement- the only casualty overnight was one hydrangea stem- easily remedied by a call to my husband, Usher-extraodinaire, who arrived at the church, in his tux, with three extra freshly cut hydrangeas. Perfect.
All told, it took about 8 full hours of work to do the flowers- but a good hour of that time was spent trying to figure out how to do the cake topper, which wasn’t exactly intuitive.
It was quite a task to deliver all the flowers, but my husband was the man of the hour (yet again) and drove the flowers to the west side of Madison for the reception and the bouquets to the church in Monona. (Not to mention picking up all of the other flowers- Corsages and Bridal Bouquet).
- Hauling the bouquets upstairs
- My only regret is that I didn’t make my sister’s bouquet. I was too chicken that I would ruin it and had asked her to go elsewhere, especially with such talented florists in Madison. She did, but had liked the bouquet I made this past winter so much, it looked exactly the same as one I would have made, and it was beautiful.
- It was such an honor to do the flower’s for my sister’s wedding, but honestly, it was one of the last things I thought of as I was walking down the aisle: I was much more focused on the fact that my baby sister got hitched!
p.s. thanks Stephanie for the last photo!