Washington, D.C. Wedding Style: What Do Boutonnieres and Corsages Look Like?

I have so many photos of bouquets, but when it comes to boutonnieres and corsages I actually have very few images.  So here are a few I have pulled together. Some taken by professionals and some just taken by me! Enjoy and feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

 This is a double mini Phaleanopsis boutonniere with a pink bouillon wrap. Photography by Leandra

This is a double mini Phaleanopsis boutonniere with a pink bouillon wrap. Photography by Leandra

 These are examples of my "cuff" corsages.  They are wrapped in the ribbon color of the wedding and finished with delicate blooms and a small bow. Photography by Leandra

These are examples of my "cuff" corsages.  They are wrapped in the ribbon color of the wedding and finished with delicate blooms and a small bow. Photography by Leandra

 Detailed boutonniere composition. Photography by Leandra

Detailed boutonniere composition. Photography by Leandra

 Spray rose boutonniere with a touch of greenery. Rachel E.H. Photography 

Spray rose boutonniere with a touch of greenery. Rachel E.H. Photography 

 Triple mini Phaleanopsis boutonniere wrapped in ivory satin. Rachel E.H. Photography

Triple mini Phaleanopsis boutonniere wrapped in ivory satin. Rachel E.H. Photography

 White Ranunculus single boutonniere with a touch of greenery. Rachael E.H. Photography

White Ranunculus single boutonniere with a touch of greenery. Rachael E.H. Photography

 How the boutonnieres compare with a traditional wrist corsage. Rachael E.H. Photography

How the boutonnieres compare with a traditional wrist corsage. Rachael E.H. Photography

 Bouquet; Ranunculus boutonniere accented with gray Brazilia berries; and a cocktail arrangement. SKC Photography

Bouquet; Ranunculus boutonniere accented with gray Brazilia berries; and a cocktail arrangement. SKC Photography

The Flowers of the First Lady's Luncheon 2018, Presented by the Congressional Club and Certified American Grown

Impressed would be an understatement! For the last several days, I have had the honor of being a volunteer freelance designer for the First Lady's Luncheon - an event that hosts the First Lady, Congressional spouses and family members and a few other privileged guests.

 Kelly Shore of  Petals by the Shore  and Mary Kate Kinnane of  The Local Bouquet

Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore and Mary Kate Kinnane of The Local Bouquet

The event is hosted by the Congressional Club and, this year, they partnered with Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore, Mary Kate Kinnane of The Local Bouquet, and Kasey Cronquist, CEO & Ambassador of the California Cut Flower Association and Administrator of Certified American Grown.

The event showcased the beauty and variety of flowers produced here on American farms. Even I was impressed by the diversity of blooms from Juliette Roses to King and Queen Protea, from Marigolds to Zinnias and even Poppies. The flowers were fresh and stunning!

 Look at those  Alaskan Peonies !

Look at those Alaskan Peonies!

Perhaps just as incredible as the flowers was the organization and generosity by which Kelly and Mary Kate led the designers and support crew of 30 unique individual florists, American growers and enthusiasts alike.

 The theme was Arizona Sunset, the choice of flower color chosen to represent the sky.

The theme was Arizona Sunset, the choice of flower color chosen to represent the sky.

There was not one tense moment or break in harmony - which is almost unheard of considering it was an event with almost 200 tables and 50 designs! Everything was perfectly timed and anticipated.

 Can't take me anywhere.  

Can't take me anywhere.  

Designers flew in from Oregon, South Carolina, Connecticut and Alaska just to name a few.  Designers from the DMV had a strong presence throughout but there was also representation from other major cities. I especially loved getting to know Christi Lopez CFD and Carrie Wilcox, both EMC designers. Amy McManus is aways a barrel of laughs (and not at all competitive, wink, wink).

New tips and techniques were learned (hello rolling flower wall!) and many other industry stories were shared - really making the whole event a bonding experience.

 Amy McManus of  Crimson and Clover

Amy McManus of Crimson and Clover

Personally, I did not know what to expect, but I do know that if Kelly ever asks me to be a part of  her team again I am all in!

Thank you to these amazing farms for generously donating all of the flowers!

Mellano

Gallup & Stribling

Westland Orchids

Resendiz Brothers

Kendall Farms

Ocean View Flowers

CallaCo

Holland American Flowers

Sun Valley

Eufloria

Dramm & Echter

MyriadGreen Valley

Fern Trust

Texas Specialty Cut Flowers

Harmony Harvest

Protea USA

Oregon Flowers

Len Busch

Star Valley Flowers

Thank you also to our other sponsors!

Accent Decor

DVFlora

Oasis

Nature Supply Co

The Congressional Club

 

My Time Freelancing at the White House with Laura Dowling

In Washington, there is no greater honor than having an opportunity to design for the White House (regardless of who is president or what political party you belong to).  Pretty much since its formation under the Kennedy Administration, the White House flower shop has had a closed door policy with only a few people ever getting a glimpse of its inner workings.  

 It's all about the details. State Dining Room - 2012

It's all about the details. State Dining Room - 2012

In 2009, something radical happened under the Obama Administration.  Chief Florist Nancy Clark retired and her position became available.  Rather than promote from within or simply appoint another Chief Florist, a design "competition" was held.

Several notable florists participated, but, in the end, it was Laura Dowling with her exquisite taste in garden-style design, experience with historic homes and eye for color who prevailed.

 Always watering! Laura in the Vermeil Room with one of her custom container creations. 2011

Always watering! Laura in the Vermeil Room with one of her custom container creations. 2011

At the time, I did not know Laura.  Although we had never met, we actually lived within one city block of each other.  As soon as the announcement was made, I had this feeling that we were destined to connect.

On my prettiest hand-made stationary, I wrote a little note introducing myself as an experienced designer and expressing my sincere desire to volunteer for her at the White House.

Several months went by as Laura acclimated to her new position, but one afternoon I received the voicemail.

I can still feel the smile on my face and butterflies in my stomach as I stood outside of Helen Olivia and listened to "This is Laura Dowling from the White House . . . would you like to come in this weekend?"

Ummm, Yes! What time?! I will be there!

In my mid 20s, I felt so small every time I was admitted through security and allowed to walk among the pristine grounds and below the ornate architecture. Now in my mid 30s, I felt that same sense of awe when I returned this year as a guest to view the Christmas decorations.

 State Dining Room 2010

State Dining Room 2010

The flower shop was tiny but always bustling.  Laura: two coffees in hand, a computer behind her, gorgeous florals in historic vermeil containers spread about in front of her, and always an eye on every detail.

Laura was beyond complimentary from the very first day I worked with her.  In her signature whispered tones, always encouraging me to try her style which was full of new philosophical concepts and floral angles I had never attempted in my retail design life.

 Always the best colors!

Always the best colors!

To do this, the days were long (12+ hours sometimes) but I never saw Laura tired or overwhelmed. She never complained when it was just her or her and me alone in the floral shop, often until 10 pm or later.

Once a summer she might jet off to Paris for a quick inspirational trip, but, in her words, she would come back "hitting the ground running," full of new ideas, techniques and energy.

We would endlessly debate the meaning of "modern" and wasn't garden style modern after all? 

 A design influenced by both Laura and Helen Olivia

A design influenced by both Laura and Helen Olivia

We designed flowers for the diplomatic rooms, flowers for the residence, parties and holidays. Never allowed anywhere without an escort and always under the vigilant but unobtrusive gaze of the Secret Service. It was still an awesome feeling to be virtually alone in the most famous of American interiors. No ropes and quiet all around.

 Grateful to have designed for the majesty of The Green Room. 

Grateful to have designed for the majesty of The Green Room. 

Laura shared with me what she had learned from her master teachers Gregor Lersch and Catherine Muller - always recommending that I continue my floral education by studying with them first-hand in Germany or Paris.

I was not the only designer Laura invited into the White House.  In my opinion, her volunteer program was almost above the way Laura elevated the quality of design within the White House.  Laura shared her position with so many people, teaching, complimenting, and directing all the while. This was something truly revolutionary, and, in my opinion, the way it should be.

 Me and my very prego buddy, Jen Marsh Brant of  The Green Bouquet

Me and my very prego buddy, Jen Marsh Brant of The Green Bouquet

You did not have to be a florist - you could be a cake baker (Maggie Austin), a planner (Grit and Grace), a staffer, an architect or a housewife.  Regardless, Laura had a project for you, and it probably involved a glue gun or pipe-cleaners!

In so many ways, I look at Laura as a floral conceptual artist; a woman with a vision who knew how to direct her volunteers and achieve designs that have never before been possible.

 Red Room Bouquet

Red Room Bouquet

I am not sure if even Laura realizes the impact she had on so many people and what a hole has been left for this spirit of collaboration among her designers and volunteers.  

 July 4, 2013 - All the peeps

July 4, 2013 - All the peeps

People who know of my relationship with Laura are constantly asking me about her, and if she has any projects going on that they could be a part of.

Sadly (for us) I have to relate that Laura is in full book tour mode.  After launching not one (Floral Diplomacy) but two (A White House Christmas) fabulous books, she is now in the beginning stages of her third (Wreaths: With How-To Tutorials) and is constantly on the move.

 Me an Laura at her Old Town book signing for "A White House Christmas." 2017

Me an Laura at her Old Town book signing for "A White House Christmas." 2017

Flawlessly moving from Chief Florist to celebrity floral educator, Laura continues to be my number one design inspiration. Most active on instagram, I get a warm feeling every time I see a post in which she has pushed the boundaries once again and created in a way I have never considered before.

Though I do miss our time together at the White House, and the magical place that it truly is, I feel very lucky to still have Laura in my life as a friend and mentor, and love seeing all the amazing things she continues to achieve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What You Should Know about Planning a Cherry Blossom Wedding!

As a florist living in the D.C. area, I am no stranger to the request for a Cherry Blossom wedding.  I get it; they are beautiful, romantic and iconic, but I would also be lying if I said I didn't cringe every time those two little words are uttered.  

Cherry blossom Boots

Again, yes I totally agree that when they are perfect, they are show stoppers, but the extreme seasonality, unpredictability, and conditioning care they need to properly bloom is REAL!  Not to mention, they are surprisingly expensive. :-/

Cherry Blossom branches can be found between the months of March and April, and occasionally trucked down from Canada for an early May wedding.  I know of at least one D.C. florist who will only agree to a Cherry Blossom wedding in the month of April.  Unlike most flowers grown indoors for year round production, Cherry Blossom trees only bloom once a year, and so far science hasn't found a way around this.

 These are perfection!

These are perfection!

This means that if February is hot the trees will bloom early.  If March is cold they will bloom late.  Yes, as floral experts we know how to force the blooms open or cool them to delay a peak opening. But this takes a lot of expertise, trial/error and luck!

To me, there is nothing worse than seeing a wedding of all Cherry Blossom branches unopened still in bud form or so opened that all the pretty blossoms have been lost in transit. Sticks in a vase are not really that pretty.

 Still pretty, but we lost about half of the blooms while constructing this arch. 

Still pretty, but we lost about half of the blooms while constructing this arch. 

So what can be done if Cherry Blossoms are non-negotiable? Get married between March 14 and April 21 or be open to creative solutions that might not involve the actual Cherry Blossom.

Some of my favorite solutions involve using the Cherry Blossom branches as a base and then attaching light pink "stock flower" blossoms to mimic the cherry tissue paper flowers or even silks.  Most of the time if you have a high quality silk mixed in with the fresh, your guests will never know the difference.

Cherry-blossom-escort

Another tip I offer is to stay away from branches in clear glass, the branches are so dirty they can turn the water brown in just two hours, and that is not pretty.

My last piece of advice: If you really want Cherry Blossoms, combine them in a gorgeous mixed arrangement where the Cherry is just one element enhanced by the beauty of other flowers.

 This and the two photos above are from my first solo Cherry Blossom wedding for  Helen Olivia  back in 2009. You always remember your first;)

This and the two photos above are from my first solo Cherry Blossom wedding for Helen Olivia back in 2009. You always remember your first;)

When Should I Book My Florist?

Congratulations! It's a new year, and you're engaged, could there be anything more exciting?!

 Sophie's bridal bouquet photographed by  Emily Alyssa Photography

Sophie's bridal bouquet photographed by Emily Alyssa Photography

I know the temptation to rush out and choose every vendor for your day is real.  Instead, consider relaxing just a beat and make a few key decisions first.

1. Do you need full wedding coordination or just month-of or day-of?

If you need full planning, this is a crucial first hire.  Your planner will be your go-to resource on pretty much everything, and it only makes sense to share your vision and then trust them to help you make that a reality.  

If wedding planning is an untapped passion of yours and you only need a little extra help, this can wait until you are a little further along.  Consider taking a recommendation from your venue or other professional you have clicked with.

2. Venue

 Jennie and Don at  St. Paul's  Old Town photographed by  Jen Fariello

Jennie and Don at St. Paul's Old Town photographed by Jen Fariello

No other design plans can be made until you secure where and what time of year your wedding will take place.  Venues book up faster than anything else, and if you have your heart set on River Farm or Meridian House in May and they are only available in August, you may need to regroup.

3. Dress

 Photograph by  Lisa Boggs Photography

I can't tell you how many times I have heard, "Well, I thought I wanted a dress like this, but in the end I chose the complete opposite!"

The dress, like the venue, sets the tone for the level of formality and overall feeling of your wedding.  Knowing its fabric and cut will help inform other details as to the shape and size of your bridal bouquet.

4. Your next most important item: flowers ;)

 Photo by  SKC Photography

Almost everyone works within a budget whether it is 10k or 500k.  It is important to order the priority of flowers, music, photographer, make-up, catering, cigar bar etc. and how each item fits within your budget constraints.  Once you have decided which one is the most important, start there and continue to choose professionals in decending order.

Hint: When you come to the least important item on your list, do not tell the person you are meeting with that you don't like (fill in the blank).  If you do, you are pretty much guaranteeing a higher than average proposal. No one wants to work for someone who doesn't appreciate their craft.

So, you've read this far and are now asking, "Ashley, this is all fine but you haven't told me when I should book!" 

To make it a little easier, I will tell you my experience.  

 Giving my best  Martha Stewart  advice look;) Photo by  SKC Photography

Giving my best Martha Stewart advice look;) Photo by SKC Photography

Booking a year in advance was the trend for a long time and most of my 2018 brides have been booked for close to that amount of time. The advantage of this is the security of having everything in place and paying your deposit well in advance helps to manage the rest of your cash flow.

When you book this far ahead, however, it is completely understood that you may change your mind about everything from color to flower choice to number of bridesmaids.  That is ok!  If you have decided to make major changes, you should check back in about two months prior to your date.

 Allie photographed by  Ana Isabel Photography

Allie photographed by Ana Isabel Photography

If possible, have your florist join you on your walkthrough so you can be in the space together and make sure all of the details are covered.

Booking five to seven months in advance was the average amount of time for my 2017 brides and this was great too. When there is less time between choosing a florist and the actual date, it is easier to make confident decisions.

Two weeks was the shortest amount of advance time I have been hired to design a wedding.  If you wait until two weeks out, make sure you have a plan and are ready to sign and book as soon as you get a proposal. All speciality flowers must be ordered at least 2 weeks prior.

 August bouquet photographed by  Rudney Novaes

August bouquet photographed by Rudney Novaes

I know flowers can feel overwhelming, and for the majority of you, this is the first time that you have ever learned the names of anemone, clematis or dusty miller. Totally fine! If you can find a few good images of bouquets you love and a few photos of arrangements you hate, your florist should have no problem taking it from there.

What I look for in my brides is that they trust me to make artful selections that result in the wedding flowers of their dreams.  Nothing makes me happier than to hear, "I wasn't excited about my flowers until talking to you and now it is one of the things I am most excited about." Better yet,"Thank you so much, you have so far exceeded my expectations, I couldn't imagine my flowers would be this beautiful." True statements from real brides and what keeps me passionate about weddings and coming back for more!

 I love flowers! Truly. Photo by  SKC Photography

I love flowers! Truly. Photo by SKC Photography

If you enjoyed this article send me a note at atelierashleyflowers@gmail.com I would love to hear from you.

Happy 2018!

Mindful Foraging

Last week I found myself outside walking around looking for goodies to cut. Living in a city, not the countryside, has taught me to be very mindful of what I cut and how I cut it.  

As I was snipping away, I was inspired to share my thoughts about the subject of foraging on my Insta Stories.  Here is a quick recap in case you missed it.

 A stunning autumn Clematis from my garden.  Photo by SKC Photography

A stunning autumn Clematis from my garden.

Photo by SKC Photography

1) Please be thoughtful and respectful of what and where you are cutting.  There is nothing worse then a beautiful wild plant that has been hacked in such an obvious way that you can tell someone has been there.  Chances are good that there is a backside to the plant that you can cut freely from and will never ever be noticed.  If, like me, you live in a city, maybe there are some branches that are hanging low into the street.  Do a public service and trim those - making it easier for everyone to park.

2) Don't take all the blooms, fruits or pods.  If you come across a blooming plant, and it only has three blooms, leave it alone.  You never know who may be enjoying those flowers and truly they are not there only for you.  If, on the other hand, there are many blooms, take a few, but make sure to leave some that may still be appreciated by someone else.

 Foraged crabapples, are not of my favorites!

Foraged crabapples, are not of my favorites!

3) Know what it is that you are cutting! Some plants can be poisonous if touched or accidentally ingested.  If you don't know what it is, don't take it! It is not worth it!  Snap a picture and send it to your friend who knows about plants and wait for confirmation.  The alternative is not worth it!

4) Clean and prune your treasures as you hunt.  It is so easy to forget this step - and when you do, you realize you have a much bigger job on your hands at home than you intended.  You may be tempted to just put them in a bucket and "get to it later." I am here to tell you that many times "later" never comes and treasure soon becomes a stinkin' wasted mess!  If you just do a little prepping as you go along, it is much easier to be inspired once you get home.

 Quaking Grass anyone?

Quaking Grass anyone?

5) Bring some water.  This helps keep your findings alive and buys you a little extra time if you get home and are distracted.

6) Shoes, gloves, pants, long sleeves and a hat are a good idea.  Do I always follow this rule?  Umm... no, but I should! Except for being a little hot at times, you will not regret it and you will be able to venture a little further than if, like me, you are wearing flip flops.

7) Watch out for the critters!  Ticks, spiders, bees and snakes are very real things, so pay attention. The possibility of encountering one should not inhibit you from getting out into nature but just be on the look out.  I usually wait about 24 hours before bringing my "wild flora" inside in the hopes that any creepy crawlers will beg off and find a new home.  I think it works but don't really know for sure;)

8) Cut because you love being outside, not because you are just looking for free stuff.  Cut because you are looking for those unique elements that will take your design to the next level.  When you forage you will find only what is in season now, and this will be constantly changing.  Literally each week brings a new cycle that will, in turn, bring that Life Force to your designs.

 In this photo, the tiny orange berries, tree ivy and crab apples are all "foraged" materials that enhance the other four formal flowers.   SKC Photography

In this photo, the tiny orange berries, tree ivy and crab apples are all "foraged" materials that enhance the other four formal flowers.

SKC Photography

Venue Walk Throughs, Just Do It!

I think it is no secret that I am a curious, curious person and I love new information!  

So, since I finally made the decision to start a company of my own I have been emailing and meeting with some of D.C.'s top wedding professionals.  Let me tell you, it has been FASCINATING! But, that is not what I am going to write about today.

Today, I wanted to share with you a little bit of advice that Janice Carnevale of Bellwether Events gave me on one such a meeting, "Go to the Walk Throughs!"

Side note: Do you know Janice? She is lovely! Totally chill while remaining clued into the pulse of D.C.  She is one smart cookie! Plus, she seems to know all the key players.  Check her out on Instagram.  Now back to your regularly scheduled blog :)

The walk through is an excellent time to really look at a space and see what can be added (or scratched) to enhance the experience.  

In the picture below, Sofia is hanging greenery to a light fixture at Restaurant Eve.  Even though I had been there a million times, I had never noticed that it would be a fun place for an installation if I hadn't gone on the walk through.

 Photo of Sophia adding greenery by   Erin Tetterton

Photo of Sophia adding greenery by Erin Tetterton

A walk through is also a great time to meet the other vendors and coordinate how to make the day run as smoothy as possible.  

You can also tweak your color palette to make sure the florals and permanent room decor are integrated.  The burnt orange chairs definitely influenced the floral color scheme.

 Restaurant Eve in all its dutch master glory by   Erin Tetterton

Restaurant Eve in all its dutch master glory by Erin Tetterton

So, the bottom line is, your event will only be better if you take the the time to schedule a venue visit with your florist!

Photos of Jennie's beautiful rehearsal dinner were shot by Erin Tetterton

 

Just in case you were wondering who is this fabulous photographer, Erin Tetterton? That is her at work in the pic below.  Pretty stinkin' cute right?! Erin currently lives in Alexandria and she #HatesWinter!  Erin also specializes in Cathedral Photography and love love loves the interplay of shadows and light.   She recently organized an artistic photoshoot that was Rococo inspired and featured on 100 Layer Cake. Also a mother, a painter and a lover or art, she is a multitalented! Thanks Erin:)

 iPhone photo by Ashley

iPhone photo by Ashley

Another little note of thank you to my amazing bride Jennie for letting me be a part of her Old Town wedding weekend, and letting us photograph and share her pictures!

 

Why are Wedding Flowers so Expensive? The Top Five Reasons.

"Why are wedding flowers so expensive?" This is a question I get a lot, and I wanted to take a quick moment to break down the different factors that contribute to a $$$$$ flower proposal.

5) The venue is over an hour away. When you choose an amazing location like a vineyard, chateau, or private estate, the extra costs of transportation, work space and on-site labor just add up.  

 Photo by Tim Co of   I Heart New York Photography

Photo by Tim Co of I Heart New York Photography

4) You don't want an in-person or detailed phone consultation.  Florists are people too, and, just like you, we are looking for meaningful connections and want to like the people we are working with.  If we can't meet or at least have a good phone conversation, it is impossible for us to form a personal relationship with you.  If there is no relationship, then there is no reason to want to give you the moon and the stars (at your budget).

3) A complicated or popular color palate. It may not make sense, but certain colors of flowers are more expensive than the exact same flower in a different color. Crazy, right? It all has to do with supply and demand.  During the height of wedding season, white peonies can be four times as expensive as fuchsia and the same goes for a Juliet Garden Rose.  Also, to create an arrangement of all red, there are relatively few "high end" filler flowers, so each flower is more expensive.  If you are on a budget, seriously consider white and green. You can be sure to get the most bang for your buck with that combo!

 A special bouquet for The White House 

A special bouquet for The White House 

2) Out of season flowers.  Please, please, please don't ask your florist for Lily of the Valley in August or Dahlia's in February because even if we can get them, they will be so expensive, puny, and lacking of Life Force that we will all be disappointed:(

 Cafe au Lait Dahlias in all their glory!

Cafe au Lait Dahlias in all their glory!

1) Pinterest! Yes! I love Pinterest.  In fact, it is one of the first things I ask my couples, "do you have a Pinterest board?"  However, with the rise in styled shoots, photos that have gone viral are usually really, really expensive. Truly, they are done only for the photos and it is a vicious (yet beautiful) cycle.

 Screenshot of some   Pinterest   Inspo

Screenshot of some Pinterest Inspo

Here is where your in-person consultation comes into play. . . if you show your photo to your florist and are willing to be flexible with the flower choice, a good designer will be able to look at what you like and find the essence of the bouquet to make you happy:)  

While there remains no good substitute for those black and white anemones, chances are that you can still have the bouquet of your dreams without starting your new life in debt!

If you have made it this far, I hope you have found my tips and suggestions helpful!  I would love any comments, questions or feedback you feel like sharing!  

Send me an email at atelierashleyflowers@gmail.com, I would love to hear from you!

 

Source: http://www.floretflowers.com/2014/07/farme...

On Creativity

I share my secrets.  Yup, you heard it here first.  I absolutely love telling people how I did something or where I bought something or what I am thinking about doing next.

 I love this acrylic painted succulent as a new twist on the green plants!

I love this acrylic painted succulent as a new twist on the green plants!

Often, I have mini discussions with my husband, Will Willis, about maybe not sharing so much, or maybe not putting an original idea on social media for all to see and *gasp* "steal."  In the end, I do it anyway.

 Will Willis and me:)

Will Willis and me:)

Why?? Because I am a creative person.  And if you have ever taken an art history class, you know there is no such thing as an original idea anyway (See Postmodernism).  

I have just decided to trust people to be "good" and hopefully give me credit if I have inspired them in some way.

 I used   Design Master   Rose Gold to spray the branches before the blossoms developed. LOVE this!

I used Design Master Rose Gold to spray the branches before the blossoms developed. LOVE this!

Also, for me, it is a way of clearing out the old and making room for new.  I want to keep evolving!

It is my opinion that the people who don't want to share are probably not truly creative and worried that they will never have a good idea again, and (again IMO) this is no way to live!

You only have one life, so be free, be generous and be creative!

 An arrangement created by   Laura Dowling   at The White House in which I painted and glitterd succulents for the 4th of July!

An arrangement created by Laura Dowling at The White House in which I painted and glitterd succulents for the 4th of July!

What's All This About The Rising Tide, Community over Competition and Tuesday's Together?

If you are reading this, then you probably already know that I am a floral designer who launched her own business this January.  (If you don't know me, scroll down to the "About Me" blog just before this one.)

What you might not know is that one of the first things I did in that month was call all of my amazing friends who had already started their own businesses and try to get some good advice.

 Ha Ha! Me on the phone:) Photo:   Lisa Boggs

Ha Ha! Me on the phone:) Photo: Lisa Boggs

It was on just such a Girl Boss phone call that Becca Zver of Milsom and Bloom told me I had to join The Rising Tide Society.

 This is a screen shot of   Milsom and Bloom's   Instagram

This is a screen shot of Milsom and Bloom's Instagram

"The Rising Tide? What's that?" I asked.  Becca went on to explain that it was an online community of like minded creative individuals who focus on "Community Over Competition."

This is a concept I love.  In fact, my desire to give people honest, candid advice, even if it causes me to make a little less money was one of the reasons I wanted to be in business for myself.  

 In April, The Rising Tide held an online summit that raised money to build two schools with   Pencils of Promise  .

In April, The Rising Tide held an online summit that raised money to build two schools with Pencils of Promise.

Sounds counterintuitive, and don't get me wrong I believe it is very important to make a profit, but I am hoping that I will be able to make money and be true to my core values.  Time will tell, let's hope I am still blogging in a year!

It is also a great place to look for other D.C. wedding photographers or D.C. wedding planners or any other D.C. wedding vendors who share similar principles.

So, I could go on and on about Natalie Franke and her creation, The Rising Tide, but if you click on the links above, I think she could probably explain it much better.

 A screenshot pulled from   NatalieFranke.com

A screenshot pulled from NatalieFranke.com

This brings me to Tuesday's Together, an online group with community opportunities that actually meet in person once a month to go over small creative business related topics.

This week, I attended my first gathering at The Unicorn Pub (got to love that name) in D.C. where Adam Mason gave a talk on SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  

Adam talked about the importance of Alt Tag and File names and tools like Clicky and Yoast, and a lot of other stuff that I am pretty sure went right over my head! Oh and blogging;)  He has also started a podcast, The Bearded Tog, so go check that out if you're curious for more.

So once the work part was over, Adam and Brittany Collier (The Washington DC Chapter Organizer) opened the floor for discussion and then mingle time.

I ran into Erin Tetterton, Tiffany Rivera, Rebekah Disch and made some new friends with Ana Isabel and Nicole Nespore.  There were probably about 20 other people that I didn't even have a chance to meet but would have liked to.

All in all it was a very interesting experience and I plan on attending again.  Great job guys, and thanks for creating something us creatives needed and then not charging us for it!

 This is unrelated, but I just liked this picture from my last trip out to California!

This is unrelated, but I just liked this picture from my last trip out to California!

Source: http://www.risingtidesociety.com/

About Me

Family. Flowers. Sweets... And if I'm being totally honest, reality TV.

Hi, I'm Atelier Ashley, at least that's what my friends have been calling me lately. But that's ok, I like it. I also like desserts, emails and a hundred other things I could tell you about.  Instead, I am going to try to focus on why I decided to open my own shop.

 This is me on my wedding day outside of  The   Alexandrian Hotel

This is me on my wedding day outside of The Alexandrian Hotel

My son Finnley will be a one year old on June 21.  I insist that he is a Gemini (like his mama) even though it could be argued that he is technically a Cancer.

To say that life has changed would be cliche, to say that having a baby rocked my world in ways that I couldn't have imagined would be an understatement.  Recently, I learned that the brain literally changes after childbirth. Hmm, good to know.

 Finnley and me at the Yayoi Kusuma exhibit at the   Hirshorn Museum

Finnley and me at the Yayoi Kusuma exhibit at the Hirshorn Museum

For the last 10 years, I have been perfectly happy being a lead designer in other people's shops.  Life was easy. Go to work, make beautiful things, go home, paint and craft.  No real responsibility, no real reward.

I had planned to take a year off to just be Finnley's mommy.  But about three weeks in, I knew that without flowers and a creative outlet, I was not my best self.  So I started scrambling.

I tried this, then that.  Planned for this, then planned for that, but nothing was really coming together.  Floundering, it soon became clear to me that the time had come to take a chance and go all in on starting a studio of my own.

 Glorious slow grown flowers

Glorious slow grown flowers

That was in January and it has been full steam ahead.  If I'm being 100% honest, I will tell you that it has not been entirely easy to find clients.  I spend a good part of my days reaching out to wedding planners, venues, photographers and other wedding professionals to let them know I have gone out on my own and would love an opportunity to collaborate with them.

 I got this great packing tape from   Sticker Mule

I got this great packing tape from Sticker Mule

Surprisingly, or not surprisingly, it has been the love from other established florists (shout out to Lisa Sommer of Petals and Promises in particular) that has sent brides my way and helped me to start filling dates on my 2017 calendar.  I couldn't be more grateful.

The autonomy of being my own boss is motivating, but the ability to offer designs, creative ideas and budget friendly solutions is even more empowering.  

It feels good to say "yes" and know that I can deliver what I have promised.  

Local Flowers and Meeting Ariella Chezar

In Boston, I took a Saturday afternoon Master Class with Ariella Chezar in which we were bestowed with some stunning flowers.  Green and salmon tulips, fragrant hyasinths, bulbous ranunculous, apple green hellebore and the most delicate peach centered daffadils I have ever encountered.

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Aalsmeer, Where your Non-Local Flowers Fly From

Before you read this blog, click the video below!

Above is the AWESOMENESS that is Aalsmeer, the world's largest flower auction.

"The Aalsmeer Flower Auction building is the second-largest building by footprint in the world, covering 518,000 square metres (5,580,000 sq ft; 128 acres). Flowers from all over the world – EuropeEcuadorColombiaEthiopiaKenya, and other countries are traded every day in this gigantic building. Around 20 million flowers are sold daily." -Wikipdeia

Aalsmeer is located among the rows and rows of colorful flower fields that make up Holland on the west coast of The Netherlands.

 

Tours of Aalsmeer are held twice a day for the huge agrotourism industry. As a floral designer, I had some inside connections and was lucky enough to snag a private tour from FleuraMetz. Oh boy, did we start early!

 FleuraMetz's climate controlled trucks lined up and ready for delivery.

FleuraMetz's climate controlled trucks lined up and ready for delivery.

The complex is so large that we had to travel by car from the FloraMetz office to the auction floor.

Auuction Mover Floor

"The auction is set up as a Dutch auction in which the price starts high and works its way down. Bidders get only a few seconds to bid on the flowers before they are sold and passed on to the new owner." -Wikipedia

It was amazing to see flowers in hundreds of varieties - even some I had never seen before!

That's me, eight and a half months pregnant with Finnley!  Lots of people told me to stay home, but I knew I couldn't miss this amazing adventure!  Should you ever get a chance to take this tour, you won't be disappointed!

Ashley Aalsmeer

Next Week:  Locally Grown Flowers

Destination Wedding: On Location in the Dominican Republic

Ok, sooo . . . the title of this blog is a little (no, a lot) misleading.  There is no real bride and no real groom, there is actually no wedding at all . . .  but I am a destination florist and I am on location in the Dominican Republic.

 Destination florist on location at  Club Med Punta Cana  in the Dominican Republic

Destination florist on location at Club Med Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic

I might be crazy, but instead of spending this week forgetting about flowers and weddings, I have been turning my vacation into the perfect opportunity for an island inspired shoot!  If you like flowers and creative ideas, you'll enjoy this "destination wedding blog."

 

The Dominican Republic is quite large by island standards and has so much to offer.  We landed in Punta Cana and drove five hours to Samana.  This part of the island is more rugged and has lots of natural elements.

Photos of Samana by Adam Cath

 

After several days of fun in the sun, we got back in the car and returned to Punta Cana, via Santo Domingo.  With all that driving, I was ready for a l'Occitane spa day!  

SpaDay

 

Imagine what it would be like to say "I do" with views like these!

Ahh, and let's not forget the signature cocktail!

plumeria champagne

I hope you enjoyed a small glimpse of what the Dominican Republic has to offer. Nos vemos mas tarde! (See you later!)

Next Week: Flower fun with Baby Finnley

A Flower Artist's Statement

Once upon a time, flowers were not considered Art.  They were the inspiration for paintings, contributors to medicines, or the maskers of odor, but not themselves Art.

This has most definitely changed.  In fact, I would argue that flowers have become another medium of Fine Art Sculpture, and it is as a Fine Art that I approach my work as a floral designer.

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