Katie and Michael - 10/22/16

This wedding is extra special to me. You may be wondering why. The groom is one of my brothers and I FINALLY have a sister now! I'm also sharing this on my FOURTH business anniversary, so it is definitely going to be a ton of pictures :)


I can't remember the first time I met Katie many years ago. If I was going to give it a guess, it would probably have been on our family boat. She fit into our family from the very beginning so our first meeting doesn't stand out in my memory. 

Images by  The Bearded Studio

Katie's family has always been welcoming to me. They live about 2 blocks away from me so I see them when I'm out walking the dogs. I've texted Katie the morning of the Turkey Trot and ask to run with her family, they've invited me to family dinners - all around great people that I'm glad to be connected to forever. 

Images by  The Bearded Studio

I DO remember the day I found out they were engaged! I got a text early in the morning with a picture of the two of them showing off a gorgeous new ring. Michael's caption told me he "finally locked it down," After 5 years together, I'm sure they were getting nagged a lot about when they would finally tie the knot. A few weeks later, Katie texted me late on Thursday night asking if I wanted to run the Bix with her on Saturday morning because her partner backed out. 

Images by  The Bearded Studio

We were running along the course and we were talking about various wedding related things. I remember asking if she had thought about how many bridesmaids and who they would be. There was a long pause before she said, "well, you, hopefully." I was so thrilled, suddenly the last half of the race was a little easier. 

Images by  The Bearded Studio

I was lucky enough to be included in the planning process, even getting to visit their venue before they booked it. Because I was doing the flowers as well as being a bridesmaid, they wanted me to be able to ask any questions I may have about being able to use the space. The Iowa Events Center is a huge room that we added lounge furniture in part of the space.

Images by  The Bearded Studio

On Thanksgiving, Michael and Katie asked all of us to be a part of their wedding. Brothers Nick (middle) and David (left) got fun "socks to help me tie the knot" and were asked to be Best Man and Groomsman. I got a little bottle of champagne and a Michelle koozie officially asking me to be a bridesmaid. We were all so excited to be asked to join their special day. 

Images by  The Bearded Studio

Katie carried a bouquet of white roses, free spirit orange roses, orange asiatic lilies, mango calla lilies, and orange ranunculus. I'm kind of obsessed with the free spirit roses so I hope more brides choose to use them!

Images by  The Bearded Studio

The week of the wedding, my mom and I loaded up a fully packed SUV to head to Des Moines to work on the flowers. When I say fully packed, I mean my passenger seat was fully forward and there was a box in my lap. 

Images by  The Bearded Studio

The venue was gracious enough to give us a studio room right across from the reception hall to be able to work in. Having my mom there to help made everything run smoothly and quickly. We were both surprised that we didn't bicker or anything the whole weekend! Having an "assistant" who used to run her own floral shop was a HUGE blessing. Even though I was in the wedding and doing the flowers, I don't think I have ever felt so relaxed about a wedding weekend.

Images by  The Bearded Studio

When David flew in, we put him to work too. He even made the toss bouquet! The boys loved their duties of filling vases with water beads. If you've ever run your hands through a bucket of water beads, you know it is a weird feeling (and definitely something boys would love messing with). David even mad the toss bouquet - it took him almost an hour because he is such a perfectionist, but he did a great job! If the whole doctor thing doesn't work out for him, he has a job waiting for him at LLF.

Images by  The Bearded Studio

After the rehearsal dinner, we recruited the cousins to help us put all the centerpieces out. This is when the male cousins learned that holding a vase of lilies (that has bloomed after arranging) close to their bodies leads to pollen on their shirts. They weren't super happy to learn that info, but recruiting a big group of people saved us a ton of time setting up centerpieces on Saturday. 

Images by  The Bearded Studio

Friday night, after helping me set up centerpieces, we decided to go out for a couple drinks with all the cousins and my parents. It was a lot of fun to let loose with family for a little bit before the big day!

Images by  The Bearded Studio

Saturday morning, we had to be at the salon bright and early. Mom and I were first to get our hair and makeup done. From there, we left to put the finishing touches on the reception and then meet the rest of the bridal party at the church. 

Images by The Bearded Studio

Images by The Bearded Studio

When Michael and Katie asked the groomsmen, with fun socks, to be in the wedding, their intent was for the guys to wear them on their wedding day. Everyone understood that, except Adam. So Adam proudly rocked his Nike socks, while everyone else was wearing fun socks. 

Images by  The Bearded Studio

After the ceremony, the bridal party had a blast frolicking around downtown Des Moines for group pictures. 

Images by  The Bearded Studio

The bridesmaids had bouquets of free spirit roses, orange asiatic lilies and mango calla lilies. Who looks better with the bouquets? I think the boys rocked the bouquet shot!

Images by  The Bearded Studio

Of course, we had to recreate the classic Bridesmaids pose. It was harder than you might think to put your knee up and bend over awkwardly like that. The photographer, Alex, from The Bearded Studio had the movie cover out on his phone and made sure we were exactly right. That is some serious dedication!

Images by  The Bearded Studio

We were late for our Grand Entrance into the reception because we spent a ridiculous amount on time on these escalators. But it made for some pretty cool pictures!

Images by  The Bearded Studio

Our Grand Entrances were worth the wait. I wish I had seen my mom's face while I walked in with a grown man on my back, because I'm pretty sure it was a heart attack face. I didn't drop him and I didn't throw out my back!

Images by  The Bearded Studio

The whole weekend was a blast and I'm so happy to finally call Katie a member of our family! I feel extra blessed that I could be such a big part of their day on so many levels. 

Michael trying to dip was one of the funniest things I've ever seen! I hope they spend the rest of their life laughing as much as we all did on their wedding day.

Images by  The Bearded Studio

A little LLF update because it is my business anniversary! I gave up sweets for Lent so I'll be celebrating tonight with some wine and Texas Roadhouse takeout and wait to buy myself a cake until Sunday. 

My goal for the year was to book 30 weddings and I am proud to say that I have 32 on the books for the year! 3 of them I am a bridesmaid (or MOH) and a florist! It's going to be a wild year! I do still have some available dates for July - December if you're still looking for a florist. 

Many of your have met my assistant, Kelsey, over the years. LLF is both overjoyed and sad that she is going to be welcoming a new baby in June so that means she won't be around for the majority of wedding season. With that, I am training some newbies to help me out this year!!

Lexi helped me out at the Bridal Expo this year so some of you may have met her already. Jordan and Megan are former brides of mine that are also going to join the LLF team. All 3 new minions will not only be training to help with day of wedding set ups, but also will be learning how to make corsages and boutonnieres so they can help with some design work. They are the reason I am able to take on so many weddings this year! 

Year 4 is going to be full of new challenges, some really cool designs and a ton of amazing weddings! I've had one wedding in January of this year, but wedding season really kicks off the last week of April! If you don't have me on Snapchat, add me to see behind the scenes footage of weddings (and usually some cute dog pictures). I'll of course continue to post bouquet pics on wedding weekends and blog posts after I get images, but Snapchat is a great way to see the whole messy process. Snapchat name is liveloveflower (no S on the end because that was too many characters). 

I've been so blessed on this journey so far and I can't wait to see where the next year takes me!

 

10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring Your Florist

Recently, I saw an article on The Knot about the 10 questions you should ask your florist. I thought I would take a bit to make a blog post with those questions and the answers to them! You can find the original article here, but I'll go through the questions, why they want you to ask and then the answers!

1. Have you done many weddings?

Why you want to know: This is really code for: Do you know what you're doing? Experience is usually a good indicator of expertise, and that's important since it will mean they'll be able to guide you through the process easily—even if you throw in some curveballs, like asking how to create less expensive alternatives or which flowers are in season or grow in the region.

Answer - On my own, I have done 47 (with 28 more scheduled this year). Prior to owning my own business, I worked in a local flower shop for about 4 years.

Image from my 2nd wedding as a business owner - Image by  Fetography Portraits

Image from my 2nd wedding as a business owner - Image by Fetography Portraits

 

2. Can I see photographs or live examples of your work?

Why you want to know: Be wary if the answer is no. Pictures of past bouquets and centerpieces will give you a sense of whether you and the florist have the same taste. Seeing photos of their work will let you know exactly what they're capable of and how it compares with your inspiration bouquets. The trick here, though, is having them tell you if the photo was something they consider their style or if it was the couple's vision. Neither answer is bad—if you love the look, you know they're capable of making it again; if you hate it, ask to see something they think is reflective of their own style

Answer - Absolutely! My website is full of professional images of my work. I do have other photos as well that I haven't gotten around to blogging yet or in books at my house when we meet. I don't typically have fresh flowers around because I only do special event work. If you happen to be meeting around a time when I have something you are considering in stock, I would be happy to pull it out for you!

3. Have you done weddings at our ceremony or reception site before?

Why you want to know: If they have, they'll be knowledgeable about what sizes, shapes and colors work in the venue. It's also a great way to see how other couples transformed the space. If they haven't, ask if they'd be willing to do a site visit to scope it out and note any limitations. This isn't as essential as general experience and style, but it's super-helpful and could save you time and money.

Answer - I have worked at almost every ceremony and reception site in the QC. Chances are you have a color scheme before you meet with me as far as colors to work in your venue. If there is something extensive we are planning or I haven't been there in awhile, I do drop by for a site visit to check things out. If there aren't pictures of their pews on their websites and we are planning pew ends, I definitely drop by to make sure I know the proper way to make them beforehand. 

 

4. How many weddings are you handling on the same day or weekend as mine? Will you simply be dropping off flowers, or will you be helping set up too?

Why you want to know: If your florist is handling multiple clients, you'll want to ensure they have enough staff and time to go around. Make sure to discuss your vision with the person who will actually be working on your wedding flowers. You'll pay more for a full-service florist who makes sure everything is in order the day of, but it's often worth the peace of mind.

Answer - I typically limit myself to 2 weddings per weekend. I do have one weekend this summer where I have more than that, but only because some of them are very small. I'm bringing in a designer from another home based shop in Peoria to help out. I handle all important details of your wedding. I am bringing on helpers this year for corsage and boutonniere work. 

 

5. How do you like to work with clients?

Why you want to know: Maybe you can picture your bridal bouquet, right down to the number of stems—or maybe you have no idea and would like some serious hand-holding. Find your floral match. Some florists love input from their clients, while others work better with more freedom to handpick the freshest stems or stretch the palette a little. Hire someone whose creative process matches your needs. It will make this planning step better for everyone involved.

Answer - I like somewhere in the middle. If you have pictures of what you want things to look like, that's great! It makes my job easy! Unless it is of specific significance, I prefer not to have my stem counts dictated. You may think you want specifically 22 roses in your bridal bouquet, but that may be an awkward shape. I like a little freedom to suggest flowers that fit your style and budget if you aren't set on exactly what you want. 

6.  Are you willing to work within my budget?

Why you want to know: This seems obvious, but it's not just about making sure the florist will take the job. If your budget is low, talk openly and honestly about how much you can spend at your initial meeting. Sometimes hearing "no" is a good thing, because then you can figure out how to compromise early on. Maybe it's impossible for anyone to accomplish what you want within that price range (read: you want a lush flower wall on a shoestring budget). Most florists can work with you no matter how much you have to spend, but it's important to start the conversation early—and to be open to new ideas and alternatives.

Answer - I make an effort to work within any budget. However, if you're set on a bouquet that would cost $400 and the budget for all your bridal party flowers is $500, I can suggest changes to give a similar look but on a lower budget. It's ultimately dependent on the client to determine if they like those options or if they want to try to find someone else. On my contact form, I ask for your floral budget. This helps me be prepared for cost saving ideas in our meeting, if necessary. If you need insight on floral pricing before planning our meeting, you can check out this blog post I wrote about the cost of commonly requested Pinterest items.

7. Will you be responsible for working with my venue to find out about any restrictions they may have in terms of décor and installation?

Why you want to know: You don't want to be the middleman—florists have a better idea what's needed to carry out your vision, be it indoor topiaries or a 10-foot-tall floral chuppah. Ideally, your florist will communicate with your venue directly to be sure your plans don't interfere with their policies. You also want to make sure they're comfortable handling setup and breakdown without having to involve you, since you'll be pretty busy on your wedding day.

Answer - If there are installations you want done (like things hanging from a chandelier) I will definitely contact them separately to plan that out. However, if your venue has rules about things they told you about, please bring them up in our meeting. Some don't allow real candles, some requires candles to be pre-lit and blown out ahead of time, some churches don't allow fresh petals on the aisle. With hundreds of venues in the area and ever-changing rules, I can't keep up with them all. Likely when you signed your contract, they went over those items with you to share with whomever is in charge of your decor. 

8. What other services do you offer?

Why you want to know: Most florists are actually more like event designers. You may be able to get extras, like fabric draping, lanterns, chairs, candelabras and lounge furniture, from them. Why is this a good thing? Dealing with one wedding pro rather than four or five can simplify the process and alleviate stress (sometimes you can save on delivery charges too). If they don't offer these services and you're interested in them, see if they regularly partner with a rental company. Oftentimes florists have a friend in the industry, and you can be assured the two work well together.

Answer - I have a plethora of lanterns and a few backdrops. I have a few favorite companies I like to work with for items I don't have. I have an ever growing inventory of centerpiece items but I'm not looking into expanding into furniture type items due to space restrictions. The companies I recommend are all great at what they do and easy to work with! For a complete list of who I recommend for different areas, click here

9. Who will handle setup and delivery? What about breakdown? How long will you need for both, and what are the fees?

Why you want to know: These are the sneaky line items on a proposal that can add up. A florist usually assesses your budget for flowers and labor only, so ask about these "extras" you can't really avoid. Also, make sure arrangements for pickup have been made for any rented items, like vases and arches.

Answer - Unless it's something wild and crazy, I include delivery and setup in my prices. If it's not something that delivery would included (example - flower wall), we will discuss it in your meeting. I do offer a discount if you choose to pick everything up and do your own setup. For delivery outside 20 miles, I do charge a delivery fee.

Tear down is your responsibility, but I do offer it for an additional charge. Tear down fees would be dependent on how difficult it will be. When I send you your final questionnaire, I will ask if you want to include tear down for XX amount. Sometimes, it sounds like a good idea to do your own tear down when you're planning months ahead of time, but as it gets closer, you may rethink that. Some receptions sites allow you to leave your items there overnight for me to pick up on Sunday or Monday. If they don't, you're responsible for returning them to me by the Monday after your wedding.  

10. What happens to the flowers after the wedding?

Why you want to know: When you hire a florist, you're typically quoted a price that includes not only the flowers but also the vases or other containers you'll be renting to display the stems. This means that while those pretty blooms are yours to keep, the urns or candelabras go home with the florist. If you're interested in repurposing the arrangements for a day-after brunch, you'll want to discuss the details with your florist. They can often work the additional cost of vases into your initial proposal.

Answer - Just like this states, the flowers are yours to keep, I need the containers back. Depending on what your centerpieces are, you could have family and friends pull the bouquets out of the vases and take them home, or you could bring random vases from home to keep everything. If you want to use things at the morning after brunch - go for it! Just return everything to me afterwards. If you want to keep one of each item as-is, I can definitely charge the extra for the containers for you to keep those items. You are also welcome to supply any containers you would like to use for centerpieces, as long as you get them to me ahead of time. There are also options for donating your remaining flowers to funeral homes, nursing homes and hospitals for tax deductions. Those are options you can look into if that's something you may be interested in. 

 

I am always happy to answer any questions you may have, but I thought this would be a good way to get a lot of questions answered before we ever meet! My FAQ page also has answers to a lot of questions not covered in this post. 

Bridal Expo 2017

Almost a year ago, I decided that I would participate in the Jaycee's Bridal Expo the following January. I spent the next year scrolling through Pinterest and coming up with ideas and plans for what I wanted to do. I'm sure some of my friends and family are tired of listening to me talk about those plans, but this past weekend, I got to put those plans in to action! 

Image by  Cadenza Photo Imaging   Whiskey barrels rented from  Gracefully Vintage Events

Image by Cadenza Photo Imaging 
Whiskey barrels rented from Gracefully Vintage Events

With ombre color schemes and greenery everywhere, and my love of bling/glitter, I came up with a garden glam theme for the booth. I had a vision for what I wanted. I wanted greens and pink everywhere. I wanted a big statement piece to draw people in and I wanted to do social media promos to get my name out a little more. 

I attached brochures and business card magnets to flowers that we passed out. Brides could take a photo with their ring and promote it on social media to win a discount on their wedding.

Image by  Cadenza Photo Imaging   Brochures designed by  Leesa Dykstra Designs

Image by Cadenza Photo Imaging

Brochures designed by Leesa Dykstra Designs

The other thing I knew I wanted to do was to build a flower wall. You may have seen flower walls in celebrity weddings and all over Pinterest, and I knew I wanted it. I had a family friend build the structure for me and recruited my brother for help on the math on how many flowers to order. This wall is full of about 1500 carnations and took 3 people 5.5 hours hours to construct on site. It was the perfect showstopper piece I had been dreaming of! Flower walls are definitely an investment, but would be great for a photobooth or behind the head table at your wedding. This wall is a little over 7 feet tall and 4 feet wide. It is in 2 panels so you can use it to frame something or only use half if you want the drama it brings, without as big of an expense. The wood frame can be painted or stained any color to match your decor. 

We used this flower wall as another social media promotion, encouraging girls to take a picture with the wall and our sign to win a discount on their flowers. Our promotion side had a garland of greens around it with floral details on top. 

 

2 lucky girls won $300 off their wedding, and 2 lucky girls won $100 off their wedding! Check out the winners!

Hashtag sign by  Craft Savy

Hashtag sign by Craft Savy

I had a custom Snapchat filter designed for extra fun! I had it available Friday and Saturday throughout the entire River Center. 

Snapchat filter by  Leesa Dykstra Designs

Snapchat filter by Leesa Dykstra Designs

Snapchat Filter by  Leesa Dykstra Designs

Snapchat Filter by Leesa Dykstra Designs

We displayed a cube system with centerpiece examples in all the spaces, and a variety of bouquets on top. I wanted to showcase a number of different styles to try to appeal to brides with all different styles. 

Image by Cadenza Photo Imaging

Image by Cadenza Photo Imaging

The other side of the booth had a table set up like a dinner table with a large centerpiece, 2 box arrangements, 2 spray rose mound arrangements and a lush garland down the length of the table. It had chairs with custom Mr. and Mrs. wood signs with floral details 

Image by  Cadenza Photo Imaging   Chairs from  Laladoodles Boutique   Wood signs by  Craft Savy

I was on vacation from Claire's last week, but logged about 60 hours of labor prepping for this show and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I literally couldn't have done it without the help from family and friends with setup, tear down and running my booth. 

Photo by Cadenza Photo Imaging

Photo by Cadenza Photo Imaging

This booth was everything that I have ever dreamed of and more! I would be lying if I said I didn't tear up when I stepped back and saw it all finished. We were absolutely slammed all day! There was a line to get in my booth almost the entire day. 

SO many people texted me to wish me luck and have been supportive of me during this time. I am thankful for everyone's kind words and well wishes. 2016 was a great year and 2017 is looking like its going to be even better! I have 24 weddings booked for 2017 so far. Here's to many more!

We ran out of flyers with our promos on them so I wanted to make sure I listed them here as well!

Any wedding booked before Valentine's Day is eligible for savings!

- Weddings under $1000 receive $50 off

- Weddings under $2000 receive $100 off

- Weddings under $3000 receive $150 off

- Weddings over $3000 receive $200 off

I have 24 weddings booked for 2017 so far. Here's to many more!

 

A Johns Hopkins "Graduation Adventure"

I've been looking forward to my brother David's graduation from college for a LONG time. We've been planning the trip for over a year. The trip definitely didn't go as planned. 

I've always said that David has everything going for him. He's brilliant, athletic, good looking, artistic and musical. He's even been known to assist me with floral arranging. When he graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA and was heading off to Johns Hopkins, I knew the boy was destined for great things. I had no idea the great man he would turn in to. 

David played baseball from the time he was 7 and played in college. He started as a pitcher but later switched to catcher in high school and college. He told us at the beginning of 2016, if his baseball team went to regional playoffs, he wouldn't be at graduation. Their team motto was, "Appleton or bust!" for the college World Series. We all thought, "What are the odds of that?"

Over Spring Break, David hurt his neck and has been unable to play since. They had a great season and were in a tournament over Mother's Day Weekend to see who would be going to the regional tournament. Hopkins lost and we all assume we are going to graduation. David skyped with us and told us there was still a chance they would be going to regionals if they were picked up as an "at large" team. Again, "What are the odds of that?" Only 16 teams get picked up nationwide. So, I carry on my week excited to go to graduation. 

I went to my mom's house for dinner the day before we were scheduled to leave. I asked what time our flight was scheduled to leave. My mom tells me, "That depends on where we are going." Turns out, there was a 65% chance of going to regional playoffs. My step-dad was in the other room printing a ton of maps of different locations. "If playoffs are here, we drive this far. If playoffs are here, we won't go." At this point, I'm stressing. I don't know where I'm going on vacation or how to pack aside from "bring clothes for a baseball game." My mom promised me an adventure. And an adventure we sure had. 

I arrive at my parents' house early on Monday morning to drive to Chicago to fly out. This is the point where I learn we are going to baseball playoffs. In Pennsylvania. Which is not at all the same as Baltimore for graduation. 

Monday, we drive to Chicago and then fly to Baltimore. The baseball team was scheduled to depart for Pennsylvania at 7am on Tuesday. As David couldn't play and was going to be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa honor society on Tuesday at 10am, the coach allowed him to attend the induction ceremony and ride to playoffs with our family. Phi Beta Kappa includes the top 5% of the graduating class and a few select juniors. Roughly 90 people were inducted on this day. Phi Beta Kappa will give David a lot of great connections in the intellectual community. 

Phi Beta Kappa induction - From top left - David and I, David receiving his PBK certificate, David and his roommate Jack, David, mom and I 

Phi Beta Kappa induction - From top left - David and I, David receiving his PBK certificate, David and his roommate Jack, David, mom and I 

The journey from Baltimore to Washington, PA was about 4.5 hours. With me riding middle seat. My aunt sitting spread eagle on one side of me and my mom with her legs on top of me, using the center console as a footrest. This was not the vacation I had been planning on. 

The first game was on Wednesday. It was overcast, windy and about 50 degrees. None of us brought appropriate clothes for that, but luckily there was an outlet mall down the street from our hotel. Kevin spent the day working while us girls went shopping. The game was definitely a cold one. They played hard but unfortunately they lost. The only perk of them losing, was that now their game on Thursday was at a time we could attend instead of during a time we would have to be on a journey back home. 

Thursday's game was sunny and 70 degrees. Perfect baseball weather. The boys played well, but unfortunately lost again. Families of seniors stood around and said goodbyes to the friends they've made through watching Hopkins baseball for 4 years. We all applauded the team as they came out of the dugout. It wasn't the finish they were hoping for, but the team acted with dignity. They didn't scream and curse, they said goodbye to teammates and their families - lifelong friends they had made over the past 4 years. Various teammates invited each other and their families to visit over the summer. It was a true testament to the bond they had created and the character of each and every one of them. 

David (in white shirt) saying goodbyes

David (in white shirt) saying goodbyes

Thursday evening, we made the drive back to Baltimore to be able to fly out on Friday afternoon. On Friday morning, we met up with David and took my aunt on a tour of the Hopkins campus. David dressed in his cap and gown as we took pictures in some of his favorite spots. He spent far too long scouting for "the perfect pole" to recreate one of his high school senior pictures. Not a cloud in the sky, the vacation gods were definitely on our side that day. 

College on the left, high school on the right. 

College on the left, high school on the right. 

"This is where I lean" - Chandler Bing or David Mampre

"This is where I lean" - Chandler Bing or David Mampre

Bottom right corner is the top of his apartment building looking out over the baseball field

Bottom right corner is the top of his apartment building looking out over the baseball field

Left - standing in the catcher spot, looking out towards his apartment, middle - dugout, right - sitting in the catcher spot

Left - standing in the catcher spot, looking out towards his apartment, middle - dugout, right - sitting in the catcher spot

Despite spending a LOT more time traveling than previously planned, it was a great trip and I loved seeing David. It turns out graduation was 4.5 hours long (from 4-8:30pm. HELLO DINNER?!?!) and the speaker was absolutely awful. I guess I prefer a bunch of travel over sitting still and being quiet at a graduation. 

From being in 7th grade, trying on my cap and gown before my graduation, to his high school graduation to college graduation, I am beyond proud to be this man's sister. He gives his all in everything he does and encourages others to do the same. 

After we came home, David and the other 9 baseball guys had a private graduation. You'll notice the amount of "swag" David has compared to the rest of the team. You can definitely tell how proud their coach is to have that group of guys standing around him. Thankfully, Hopkins is very tech savvy and produced a video of the private baseball graduation so families like ours could stream it. 

Images of actual graduation

Images of actual graduation

David graduated from Johns Hopkins with a 4.0 GPA with a degree in Neuroscience. He will spend the next year doing research and applying for med school. With a near perfect MCAT score, he should have his pick of schools. I've spent the past few days proofing his med school essays and I have to say, I teared up a bit with pride. It's been quite some time since I have read something that he has written and to say he has a way with words is an understatement. It also turns out, he was involved in a lot more activities in college than I was aware of. I'm not sure how he managed it all, he says he hasn't slept in 4 years and I completely believe it. 

Mostly, I can't wait for him to become a doctor so he can fix my migraines but I'll pretend it is all sisterly pride. The day he graduated high school, I posted a FB status talking about his accomplishments so obviously for college, I had to outdo that and make a blog post. I ended my status with "I'm proud to call you my brother! Do big things!" and I can't think of any better way to end this blog post. His last 4 years of college has lived up to that and I know when he starts med school, he will definitely be doing some big things! He's going to make a difference in this world. Do big things, David! We are all so proud of you! 

 

Live. Love. Flowers. - NOW on Snapchat!

Many of you that know me personally, know that I have been boycotting getting a Snapchat. I figure if I want to send people pictures and messages, I can just send regular picture messages. 

Recently, I've been considering getting a Snapchat for business uses. So often, people ask to see behind the scenes floral arranging pictures or previews of wedding setups. These are not pretty things. When I arrange flowers, my entire house gets trashed. These are not things I want to advertise on my Facebook page or website. Snapchat is a great way to let people into the BTS of floral design while not displaying my mess for the whole internet to see! 

 

SO, I made a Snapchat!! Now, you can add me on there to see things that are not "brand worthy" to be on my Facebook! I'll be posting pictures when I get flowers, pictures of me in my pajamas arranging flowers, Otis eating my flowers and various other floral related things! I'm really excited for this! 

Ranunculus from a wedding last week.

Ranunculus from a wedding last week.

I also plan on using Snapchat for instant giveaways and to unload some of my flowers after weddings. Facebook is so limiting with it's algorithms and how many people it allows to see my posts without paying. So often, I have a great deal on leftover flowers and only a few dozen people see the post. With snapchat, everyone can see it!

Today, I dropped off my new business cards at La Belle Vie Bridal Salon. Betsy is awesome if you're in need of a wedding dress and you can pick up one of my fabulous new cards while you're there! My cards are covered in pink glitter. Is there anything better than that?!?!

When you work floral design part time out of your home, its not pretty and organized like you see on a tv show. It's me (usually in Christmas pajamas) designing floral arrangements until 3am. It's stems and buckets all over my house. It's one dog sitting on the couch staring at me and the other sneaking off to take flowers out of buckets. I'm glad that enough people care enough about me, and my workflow to follow me, because I think this is going to be a lot of fun! Thanks to everyone who encouraged me to do this!

Now, go add me! liveloveflower

 

 
 

3 Year Anniversary!

3 years?!?! THREE YEARS?!?! I'm torn between, "Has it been 3 years already?" and "Has it only been 3 years?" It has been an absolute whirlwind of falling in love with the 26 couples I have worked with so far.

Many of you don't know how I got started in this business and I figured my anniversary would be a great time to share! 
Many, moons ago, my mom worked in a local flower shop in high school. Several years later, when I was in pre-school, she owned a flower shop that I spent time in after school. This is why I always say that my love of flowers is in my genes. When I turned 16, I started working in the same local flower shop my mom worked at in high school. I worked there for about 4 1/2 years through high school and part of college. I left when I got promoted at Claire's.

Fast forward a few years, and friends started getting engaged. They all knew of my previous employment and asked me to brainstorm ideas with them before their appointments (this is when Pinterest was just starting out). After appointments, some of them showed me their floral estimates and asked what I thought of them, how they could save money, etc. In March of 2013 (the 14th to be exact) after I was giving corsage ideas to a friend, while at work, I decided I should be charging for my advice! I even made it FB official that I wanted to get back into florals in the near future. 

I spent the next few weeks brainstorming ideas for business names with my best friend (now turned day-of assistant) Kelsey. I knew I didn't want to use my name, maybe because my name is already alliteration but honestly I have no real reason I didn't want to use Michelle as a part of my business name. I love the phrase "Live. Laugh. Love" (because what 20-something hasn't at some point) and I just kept coming back to Live. Love. Flowers. I knew one of the reasons I kept coming back to it was because I knew I wanted to feel like a friend to my couples. I often share photos of my own life on my FB page and I wanted them to feel connected to me as more than just a wedding vendor. I had an idea for a logo using a gerbera daisy and the colors black and hot pink. 

I made a mockup of the logo that I wanted using a Google stock image and an app on my phone (high tech right?!?!). On April 6th, I had a "lady date" with Kelsey and she brought me hot pink gerbera daisies. One of those became part of my original official logo . Kelsey's boyfriend (now husband) Daniel created my original logo and business cards for me! You can check out my cell phone logo and Daniel's original design here! 

My original vision on the left, Daniel's image on the left using a real flower :)

My original vision on the left, Daniel's image on the left using a real flower :)

On April 14th, I decided I had nothing to lose and decided to just go for it! I bought a bunch of flowers from grocery stores and made various mockups of arrangements all night. I also started my FB page that night. I thought I might do a friend's wedding here or there but had no idea it would take off like it did! 

My first picture on my business page. A bucket of various flowers and my 2 happy helpers checking it out

My first picture on my business page. A bucket of various flowers and my 2 happy helpers checking it out

A few weeks later, I officially became a business when I filed for my TaxID number. Within 3 weeks of making my Fb page, I had my first inquiry! AND it was from a total stranger. We emailed back and forth for a week or so and I learned her wedding was in June, just a few weeks away and she was unhappy with her previously selected florist. I met with Tonii and her mom at Panera and we talked through some details and got to know each other. I am forever grateful she chose to take a chance on me!

That year, I took 2 more weddings, ironically the same weekend at the end of September. Both of them were friends with Kelsey and Daniel. The 1st wedding of the weekend never had an in person consultation. Since then, I have had 4 weddings book with me without an in-person consultation, so if you are long distance, I am totally comfortable doing things without physically meeting. The 2nd wedding of that weekend was the girl to whom I gave corsage advice to prior to opening. During the summer and the fall, bookings for 2014 started taking off. I was so shocked when a lot of them were strangers! I goaled myself to do 10 weddings in 2014. I fell a little short of that goal and did 9 weddings, but was still very proud of myself. 2014 was also the summer when I did the flowers for Kelsey and Daniel's wedding AND stood up as the Maid of Honor. I was seeing serious growth and many of my couples were taking advantage of my referral program. With this in mind, I set my goal for 15 weddings in 2015. I did larger weddings in 2015 than in previous years and ended the year with 13 weddings. 

At the end of 2015, with 11 weddings on the books for 2016 already, I set my goal of 16 weddings and decided to go through a little rebrand. I wanted to spice up my logo and finally invest in a website. It seemed like my business was here to stay and investing was a good idea. I found Leesa Dykstra through a small business professionals group on FB (The Rising Tide Society). Buying her branding services as a Christmas gift to myself has been on of my all-time favorite purchases (I always tell my dog, Armani, that he is my favorite purchase). We still have a few items we are working on and I'm so excited to wrap up this project soon. 

My beautiful brand board!

My beautiful brand board!

I am SO proud to say that I have MET and SURPASSED my goal for 2016 and I am still booking! I've already done 1 wedding this year and this week officially starts wedding season. I have lots of weddings to look forward to this year, but I think I'm most looking forward to my brother's wedding in October! July of 2016, I have been asked to teach a class on flower arranging at the library. I am SO honored to even have been asked to do that! More details will come soon if you want to sign up! 

I have 2 already booked for 2017, including being a Maid of Honor in one of them! 

NOW, it wouldn't be an anniversary post if we didn't talk about celebration! I'm having a celebratory cake (obviously!) BUT I am also reserving my booth for the Bridal Expo in January! I've always wanted to do it and I am committing to it!

 
 

 

I am also celebrating by disabling the messenger on my business FB page. It will now have a Contact Me tab (see below) that links to my contact tab on my website. I much prefer to communicate via email and this will keep everything in one place. It makes it so much easier when I want to reference something later on. Email is much more reliable that the FB Pages app (on my end) because it doesn't always give me notifications. This is going to help keep my life more organized and keep me more sane. You can always email me at live.love.flowers1@gmail.com!

Computer View on the left, Cell Phone view on the right

Computer View on the left, Cell Phone view on the right

I would like to invite you to celebrate with me by giving away $30 off every new booking priced between $500-$1000. For new bookings over $1000, you will get 3% off your wedding! Weddings must be booked (contract signed and deposit paid) by Mother's Day! This is an exclusive offer for people who care enough to read my blog. I will not be posting any fliers on FB, just a link to this blog post. 

3 years. 26 couples. Strangers. Friends. I feel like all these couples have made my lives just as beautiful as I made their weddings. This has been the adventure of a lifetime and I can't believe how fast my business has grown. Thank you all for your support over the last 3 years. Here's to MANY more! Here's a look back at some of my weddings over the last 3 years! 

In summary, not every business starts out with the perfect business plan, the perfect branding package and website. Sometimes you just have to give an idea a shot and grow and learn at the same time. I knew that I wanted to do flowers as a hobby, I had no idea it would grow into such a successful business. If you have something you want to do, go for it! What's the worst that can happen, you give it a shot and it doesn't work out? Best case scenario, you grow into a great business and do what you love! Thank you all so much for all of your support for the last 3 years! Now, time to eat some cake and prepare my flowers for Saturday's wedding! :)

 

Happy Launch Day!

I can't believe I have a real life website! When I started this business (kind of on a whim) in 2013, I had no idea it would grow to the point where I would need a website!

 
Live Love Flowers - Happy Launch Day 1
 

First off, I want to thank my web designer, Leesa, for all of her hard work creating my new logo and this website. I came to her basically just telling her that I love glitter, pink and gerbera daisies. She hit it out of the park with my logo on the first try and I love what she's done with my site. Check her out at leesadykstradesigns.com if you're in need of a new logo or website.

 
Live Love Flowers - Happy Launch Day 2
 

I want to thank everyone who has been on this journey with me the last few years. My mom - for giving me the "floral gene," my best friends for letting me constantly bounce ideas off of them and helping me with set-ups, my boyfriend for listening to me endlessly talk about flowers and craft projects and often helping me with them, and my dogs for keeping me company as I spend my nights creating flowers and for keeping the mood light at floral appointments.

 
Live Love Flowers - Happy Launch Day 3
 

Thank you to my whole friends list on Facebook and everyone who follows my business page for caring enough about what I do to have it fill up your feed. Thank you to everyone who has booked with me and everyone who has referred others to me. In summary, thanks for being on this journey with me. It's been a hell of a ride and I can't wait to see where it goes from here. I hope you'll continue to join me on this adventure.If you love me, and my site, please click around and let me know what you think. Share it with your friends if you think they will like it too! In 2015, I did 11 weddings and have 15 on the books for 2016 (so far). My blogging goal is twice a month, so be sure to check back frequently for more fun!

 
Live Love Flowers - Michele Signature