Monthly Archives: March 2014

Recap of NYC 2014 Chapel Designers Conference: Day Three

The final day of the Chapel Designer Conference began with a trip to the Flower Market…

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…followed by a tour of the Martha Stewart offices…

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The rest of the day was spent at the Hilton’s rooftop lounge…


Sean Low, Founder and President of The Business of Being Creative LLC, gave advice on proposals, contracts, pricing and valuing a creative business. He blew our minds…really. His thoughts and ideas made everyone stretch and think outside the box.

We ended the conference on a (very) high note…watching Sarah (Saipua) and Nicolette (Nicolette Camille) design a compote arrangement and bridal bouquets. These women are insanely talented and also extremely kind and open. Again, I was stunned by the honesty and humility shown by two designers at the top of our industry.


Nicolette explained the shapes and forms she looks for when choosing blooms.


Sarah worked on building a strong foundation for the compote design.


Nicolette shared design tips while slowly pulling together a stunning bridal bouquet.


…Nicolette’s completed bouquet…


…Sarah’s completed bouquet. Notice the huge Japanese ranunculus in both bouquets!

As the afternoon drew to a close, the Chapel Designers began saying their goodbyes. We left feeling inspired and excited…with a little sadness about leaving friends we know we won’t see for a while. Thank you, Holly Chapple, for giving everything you have to make a difference in the lives of so many.

Recap of NYC 2014 Chapel Designers Conference: Day Two

I’m writing the posts this week as a journal of sorts so I don’t forget the experiences, people and flowers I’ve encountered recently.  I hope you guys aren’t bored stiff! We’ll be back to our usual parade of stunning flowers next week. Thanks for allowing me this time to record and reflect on the last 2 weeks before we move forward.

Day Two was all about flowers and designing!  We boarded a bus and headed to David Beahm’s Studio Warehouse in the Bronx where we spent a full day designing and learning.

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Naomi de Manana, Senior Style Editor for Martha Stewart Weddings, wowed us as she designed this centerpiece while answering questions, sharing experiences and giving advice…all while being only days away from having a baby! She was delightful!


 David Beahm is known for his graciousness, kindness and generosity. He welcomed the Chapel Designers (75+ people) into his warehouse for the day. He shared design & mechanics tips, as well as advice on inventory & business. He also guided us through the process of creating a large scale installation. I’m always amazed at the humility of designers like David. He designed the flowers for the wedding of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas and continues to design for celebrity and Fortune 500 events. And he still takes time to share his expertise with other designers. I’m telling you, this is an incredible industry.



Holly Chapple spent part of the day creating 4 unique designs for The Knot Dream Wedding of Rebekah and Pete. America is voting on and will choose the floral design style for the wedding which will take place in April at the Biltmore Hotel. Holly and her dream team (as the Knot referred to them) of Chapel Designers will use American grown flowers provided by The California Cut Flower Commission for the wedding. Containers and vessels for the arrangements will be supplied by Syndicate Sales. At the end of the day, Holly was interviewed by the Knot and the completed designs were photographed. You can see the photos here. You can see the video here.


Francoise Weeks taught her signature Woodland design. I apologize for the poor photography, but I hope you get a feel for what was going on here. I was basically running around snapping pictures all day and forgot to actually stop moving before snapping! Francoise is a soft spoken artisan and I love to watch her teach. You can hear a pin drop. Designers are drawn to her attention to detail and mastery of her craft. I loved seeing these arrangements grace the hotel lobby later that evening and I watched many designers leaving town at the conclusion of the conference with their designs in hand.


One of my favorite parts of the day was lunch. Sounds like I’m in Junior High School! But seriously, we walked a block from David Beahm’s warehouse to Verde Flowers where owners Michael Gonzalez and Vanessa Polanco (who happen to be two of the nicest people) hosted us for lunch. We had a blast visiting, relaxing and browsing their hip shop. After lunch, Michael joined us and designed his own woodland arrangement.

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As I recount my time in NYC, I’m struck (again and again) by the incredible generosity and kindness of the people in this industry.

Recap of NYC 2014 Chapel Designers Conference: Day One

The night before the Chapel Designers Conference began, attendees started arriving in NYC and Vasesource hosted a welcome reception in their showroom. Unfortunately I missed the reception because my flight from Houston was delayed, changed, delayed again and changed again. Isn’t traveling fun? I heard that everyone enjoyed and appreciated the kind welcome and chance to shop for new vases at Vasesource! See for yourself…

When I finally arrived at the hotel that night, it was a stunning sight. So many designers that I consider friends….designers I’ve only known via the internet…some for years…waiting for me in the lobby. There were smiles, tears and lots of hugs. The most memorable moment came as Holly Chapple and I saw each other in person for the very first time. I can’t describe what it feels like to know someone so well after years of talking on the phone and emailing and then hug them in person for the first time. The week was off to a surreal start. Some of us headed towards Times Square…giddy at the thought of being together for the first time.

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Then we headed to dinner…

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L-R: Susan (Passionflower), Liz (Parsonage Events) and Eatherley (Floressence)

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L-R: Amy (Amy Lynne Originals), Lora (Sophisticated Floral), Hunter (Sherwood Design & Events) and the Botanical Brouhaha Expert Panel Member who traveled all the way from Scotland to join the Chapel Designers, Nick (Mood Flowers). Sitting to my left (not pictured) were: Tina (Living Fresh), Holly (Holly Heider Chapple Flowers) and Abby Chapple (Holly’s amazing daughter).

Day One of the conference was filled with valuable information about the industry and heartfelt words of encouragement. We met in the Helen Mills Event Space & Theater and kicked off the day with an introduction from Evan & (a tearful) Holly Chapple. Holly loves the Chapel Designers with her whole heart and sometimes requires a box of tissues when she speaks to or about them…just one reason I love her! I spoke next…about my experiences in different parts of the flower business, how I came to write Botanical Brouhaha and my love for (which led to my involvement in) the Chapel Designers. I looked out on the most amazing group of designers and stopped to snap a blurry picture to remember the moment…


Anne Chertoff, sought after wedding industry consultant and wedding media expert, shared her expertise with us at a dizzying pace. She gave advice on website content, marketing, blogging, online advertising and utilizing various forms of social media. I couldn’t write fast enough! So helpful!

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Anne with Evan Chapple

What came next, I’ll have a hard time describing to you. Jes Gordon spoke and she captivated me in a way that made the world stop for me. I was completely engrossed in her story and swept away by her honesty, authenticity and humor. I can only remember meeting someone like her one other time in my life and that was the day I designed the flowers for a wedding that was photographed by New Orleans-based photographer Julia Bailey. ( Julia photographed my son later and she shared my words about the moving experience here.) These two women exude artistry. Some of us are creative, some are artistic, some create artistic things….but, these two women just ARE art. Like living art. No apologies. No pretense. Pure artistry from the soul. And both of them have a kindness and humility about them that moves others to be better. I would give anything to relive that hour with Jes and somehow capture the emotion. Thank you, Jes. I’ll treasure the experience always. What I won’t do is have your autograph tattooed on my body like some other designer I know!

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Have to share one more picture of Jes that I believe captures her spirit…

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Hearing Debra Prinzing speak and then having a chance to visit with her over the course of the week was a real treat. Debra is an Outdoor Living Expert who has written seven books (including The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers  and Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Bouquets from the Garden, Meadow and Farm) and she lectures extensively. Debra is passionate about promoting American grown flowers, is a member of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers and travels the country connecting with designers and flower farmers. She is an integral part of the field to vase movement gaining momentum in the US.

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I was so excited about the next speaker…photographer Erin Little of A Love Supreme. I first heard about Erin from Erin Benzakein (Floret Flower Farm) last year in this post. Erin B. took Erin Little’s e-class and sings her praises…and based on the gorgeous photos of Erin’s Floret Flower Farm designs, I’m sold! Erin explained some basics of photography and then allowed the Chapel Designers a chance to ask questions and practice with their own cameras. Learning to photograph the designs you create is an invaluable skill to have when marketing a floral design business.

Isn’t she beautiful?

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Nick Priestly (Mood Flowers) and Tina Riddell (Living Fresh) found time in the afternoon to share with the Chapel Designers about their experiences running The Flower School at Mood Flowers in Scotland and Living Fresh Flower School in Ontario…

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At the end of the day as we were winding down and preparing to walk back to the hotel, I was savoring the moment when I turned around and saw a shocking surprise! Every designer I had been corresponding with since the early days of Botanical Brouhaha had made it to NYC except one. We were so disappointed that we would not meet in person this time around.  To my surprise, I looked up at the end of the first day to see Liz Rusnac (Liz Rusnac Floral Design) standing at the back of the room with her suitcase. She and several of the Chapel Designers had kept her arrival a secret. Holly and I were shocked and elated…and so we cried, of course! What a memorable moment!

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Love this video and so grateful for the precious moments captured in it…special thanks to the amazing Vicki Grafton and Megan Soh for creating the videos during the conference.

Chapel Designers Conference 2014 – Day 1 from Chapel Designers on Vimeo.

To be continued…

Recap of the Francoise Weeks Woodland Workshop in Austin: Day Two

 On Day Two of the Francoise Weeks workshop, we worked on woodland bridal bouquets using the Oasis European Bouquet holder. Each designer chose a palette of flowers, moss, sticks and foliage and got to work. It always amazes me how different the completed designs look when everyone is choosing from the same materials! I have to say…my favorite part of the bouquets were the handle details. In the photos below, I propped the bouquets on a piece of wood hoping you would be able to see the details. And then I began to realize how beautiful this display would be at a wedding reception as a way of incorporating the bouquet(s) into a centerpiece. Just a thought…

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Francoise consulted with Leah as she created the bouquet below…

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Leah Werner (Texas)

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Sheri used kale to cover the base of her bouquet and lamb’s ear for a soft-to-the-touch handle…

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Sheri (Blumen Meisters Flower Market)

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I loved Jana’s creative use of variegated foliage on her handle…

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Jana Mayfield (Arkansas)

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Charlotte opted for a complete lamb’s ear base and got some advice from Francoise as she created a cascading bouquet using pussy willow.

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Charlotte Warren (Texas)

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Kathy paid close attention to detail using tiny delicate blooms and intricate placement…

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Kathy Maguire (Texas)

In the afternoon Francoise had each of us choose a sculptural piece of wood (some were fashioned into vases) and we created one last design as the workshop drew to a close.

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Rachel Maguire (New York)


A group picture and hugs goodbye…until we meet again!

From left to right: Jana, Linda, Leah, Francoise, Kathy, Rachel, me, Sheri, Charlotte

To celebrate a successful workshop, Rachel cooked one of the best dinners I’ve ever eaten…seriously…and Francoise and I spent one last evening with the Mcguires before traveling home the next day.


Love these people and loved this dinner! I jumped up from the table and snapped a picture for you guys. Is that rude?

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Rachel shared her recipes with me…have you ever tried fennel? You should!

Finocchio al Forno (Fennel Baked in Cream)


Roasted Brussels Sprouts:


Brussels sprouts, peeled and halved

olive oil

salt + pepper

Toss the Brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.


Roast Chicken


1 3-4 lb. chicken




1 cup white wine

4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

other fragrant things!

1 TBSP butter

Preheat the oven to 425. Heat the butter in a medium sauté pan. Rinse and dry the chicken, and rub with salt and pepper. Sear the chicken in the hot butter, a minute or so on each side, just until the skin is slightly brown. Remove the chicken from heat, and place lemons, rosemary and other fragrant herbs in the cavity. Add the wine and the garlic to the pan.

Bake the chicken until done, when a thermometer inserted into the thigh reaches 165.

Thank you Francoise, Kathy, Dave & Rachel for a memorable stay in Austin. And thank you to my fellow designer friends for allowing me to watch you design, photograph your work and share it on Botanical Brouhaha.

If you would like to attend a Francoise Weeks Workshop, you can click here to view her calendar.

Tomorrow we begin the recap of the NYC 2014 Chapel Designers Conference!

Recap of the Francoise Weeks Woodland Workshop in Austin: Day One

My posts this week will be a little out of the norm. I hope you don’t mind. The last 2 weeks have been full of designers, flowers, traveling and experiences that I want to share with you. The adventures began with my trip to Austin, Texas for a Woodland Workshop with Francoise Weeks (hosted by Brooke Howsley of Pollen Floral Art). As a blogger and a floral designer, the experiences of the last 2 weeks were as much about the relationships as it was about the flowers so I’ll be sharing both.

On Monday afternoon, I arrived at Mercury Hall to find Francoise and her students already lost in a woodland wonderland. It’s amazing how quiet designers become when they enter “the zone”.


Earlier in the day the designers had created hanging floral cones that would work beautifully as pew ends or as personal flowers for a flower girl or bridesmaid.


Leah Werner (Texas)


Linda Riggins (Texas)


Charlotte Warren (Texas)

In the afternoon we worked on woodland centerpieces…choosing elements from tables of gorgeous flowers, lichen covered branches, hives, cotton, succulents, veggies and plants.

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Front & back view of the same centerpiece by (help me remember!)


Linda Riggins (Texas)


Jana Mayfield (Arkansas)


Sheri Jentsch, owner of Blumen Meisters Flower Market


Leah Werner (Texas)


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Rachel Maguire (New York)


Kathy Maguire (Texas)


Charlotte Warren (Texas)

When the workshop was over the first day, Francoise and I were welcomed into the home of Kathy & Dave Maguire for the remainder of our stay in Austin. Incidentally, Dave photographed our work at the conclusion of the workshop.  The generosity and hospitality of those in the flower community astounds me. I had never met the Maguires prior to the day I arrived in town for this workshop yet they took care of me and treated me as if I were an old friend.  Their daughter, Rachel, flew in from Brooklyn for the workshop and it was a pleasure getting to know her and hearing her travel tips about my ensuing trip to NYC with the Chapel Designers.

To be continued…