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Monday, November 22, 2010

Chuppas, Altars, and Ceremony Structures

A sacred place where ceremonies take place...and an important element of a wedding. It's the spot where the first "married" kiss is shared, the place where those beautiful vows are read, and the object of everyone's attention at the ceremony.
I love to make them...chuppas, altars, arbors, arches...whatever you call them, they make the ceremony special and each is custom to the client's theme, environment, colors, and personal style.


They can be made of just about anything for the base...natural tree branches (look out neighbors, she's at it again!), storebought branches (that's no fun!), bamboo, pvc, aluminum, copper. But the beauty truly comes from the fabric, flowers, prayer cloths, garlands, jewels, and ribbons that are added to make them come to life.

The trick to the whole thing is making it stand straight. There have been countless beach weddings where I played the role of "Digger the Dog"...digging and scooping the sand and packing it down to prevent the usually windy spot from taking it down. Sometimes it forces the tying of various fishing lines, wires, even zip ties in a pinch, just to hold it up.

Grass is harder and I usually need a shovel (and I am really not a happy camper when we forget it!) but truly the most stable place to do it. Ground also allows for a thinner base, and the ability to use natural elements that go perfectly with the outdoor environment.

Indoors? Uh oh...this is where I suggest the base be made of metal and wrapped with fabric to conceal. A squared off metal structure won't fall. Believe me, my biggest fear is that it's going to fall! If it's not made of metal, there must be a base, a planter, an umbrella stand, a cement block or anything too heavy for the average girl to tote around. But then you have to bulk up the bottoms with something...plants, fabric pooled at the ground, big florals...and these can get in the way of the ceremony space and large bridal parties.

Whatever the design elements are, we choose them to coordinate with the space. Indoors or outdoors, they can transform a simple cermony into a magical environment. Mazel Tov, Congratulations, You May Now Kiss Your Bride!

 special thanks to Nina Sutherland Photography, Darice Michelle Photography, Agnes Lopez Photography, and Naturally Photography for some of these images :)

Friday, October 29, 2010


A term used loosely for our staff, one that represents a grouping of silly terms we like to "greenerization", "grassization", "branchization", "ribbonization", and the all too well-used "votivization". Anything that I say with regards to finishing up a piece or all the pieces after initial assembly, usually ends in
"-ization". But the one with the most impact, the one that always seems to be happening at my "Orchidization".
Typically here is the situation...there's 15 minutes left before guests arrive...time for "Orchidization"! Hurry and plug long sprays of orchids into anything that holds still! We wait to add the orchids until the arrangements are on the tables because they have a tendency to break in transport. Don't forget the orchids...They're the best part!
But the use of orchids is not quite as simple as just plugging them into arrangements on our way out the door. Orchids are a staple at my shop. There are thousands of things to do with orchids and thousands of orchids to choose from. I feel like Bubba in Forrest Gump..."submerged orchids, hanging orchids, floating orchids, orchids on branches, orchids on ribbons, orchids in bouquets, orchid corsages, orchid florets on an aisle, orchids in a vase, orchids for your hair, orchid garlands, orchid leis, orchid chandeliers, orchid sprays, orchid projections, orchid plants, etc etc" I could go on for days like old Bubba, just talking about things to do with these little beauties. I love orchids, all of them, and I will use them until the last day of my designs.
 Phalaenopsis, Dendrobium, Cattaleya, Oncidium, James Stori, Calypso, Rein...there are so many it would take way too many pages to name them all. But though the names are hard to say, what they represent is simple, just simple beauty.  I was told the other day I should write a book "101 ways to decorate with orchids". Well, I suppose I could, but I'd rather keep some of these little secrets to myself!
I recently hung ribbons around a dance floor and glued orchids along the lengths. Stunning.
Bouquets and Bridal Party Flowers and Buttonholes almost always get some orchids. I just can't resist them.

I have made chandeliers of hundreds of blooms. Breathtaking.

 I have glued them to curly willow, manzanita, birch, and various cut down branches (my poor neighbors, if they only knew!) to make blooming branches in seasons when there weren't any available or when blooming branches didn't come in that color. Ethereal and Awe striking.

Centerpieces. Yummy.
I have painted white orchids peach and even a very unnatural blue when the job called for that color. Bewildering.
I have made glorious tree and dance floor hanging balls of them. Go Flower Disco!
I have floated hundreds of the florets in a pond. Poor little that algae?

The pictures throughout show just a glance of my favorite little fat juicy flower. Some designs are mine, a few from un-known sources, and a couple from my idol, Mr. Preston Bailey. But the trends, no matter what year we may be in, will always involve our curious and inspiring little orchid. Let Orchidization Rule!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Evolution of a Floral Designer

Welcome to the newest addition of the web based experience for me...a blog. Blog, bloggy, blog, blog. What's in a blog? I see them all the time and they have confused me quite a bit. Why write blogs, I mean, does anyone really care? I think they here goes!

I am proud to announce that Aime Peterson Flowers and Event Design Studios website has been live for sometime now, and clearly shows the designer that I am.I am constantly seeking out the fabulous photographers who capture my events to curate a complete portfolio of my work (since the world went digital) and am also asking that all of our wonderful brides, clients, and colleagues assist me by sending over photos of my work. ( it, email it...get it to me!)

In honor of  my newly found appreciation of flooding the web every which way I can with my name and company, I decided to launch this journal as well. Here, I look forward to giving sneak peeks at events, projects, and floral designs that I have created or am completely inspired by. I will also keep you up to date with general shop shenanigans, client and vendor reviews, and amazing finds both locally and worldwide. I am excited to share with each of you the things and people which make me a better designer every day.

I may be a newbie at this whole blog thing, but my work has encompassed over twenty years of thrills of accomplishment sprinkled with agonies of learning things the hard way. Do you start out saying "I'm going to be a florist and event designer?" I doubt it, and neither did I. With a semi hippie, artist inspired upbringing in the 70's, my parents were into it all...macrame, home processed photography, real silk screening, paintings and experimental designs (usually incorporating me and my siblings sprawling out on huge pieces of canvas or the like), drawing, spinning wool on a wheel, pottery on the other kind of wheel, stained glass cutting and creating huge windows with, looms, name it, they did it. But of all the memories of art inspired projects, I most fondly remember gathering pussy willows and hydrangeas of the side of the road with my mom (and sometimes sneaking into someone's yard!)...looking for the most beautiful blooms to proudly create something with when we got home.

I was going to be a scientist. I was going to be a doctor. I was going to be a professional...and that is the direction I forced myself to take all the way up into the first few weeks of college in the pre-veterinary program (Go Gators!). I needed a job and I wasn't so great at being a waitress, and the job needed to work with my ridiculous school schedule. And there it opening at A Florist in the Mall. (yes, they called it that so they could be first in the phonebook) and miss BA Cash said to me "can you make a flower arrangement?" and I, of course, said "oh yeah". Thankfully I winged it and I was hired and thrown into the wonderful retail world of floral design.

From there I was able to experience running a retail shop full of Beanie Babies (yes, you remember those don't you) and cutesy little gifts and even tuxedo fittings and rental. I worked very hard and learned artificial and dried design, jumped into the challenges of window display and shop decor, and mastered flower ordering and budgeting for the orders. I learned the hard way, how absolutely exhausting and ridiculous Valentine's Day and Mother's Day can be, how some clients aren't so nice, how some clients can't speak English, and how nice it is to escape the work room and take a delivery to a new mom and baby in the hospital. I got my feet wet with weddings...poor girls, thinking back, I really know the designs could have been better now. But this is before the world knew what we florists could do...the beginning of the internet...the beginning of Martha Stewart Living magazine (which, by the way, I have every copy including the #1 issue)...the beginning of the end for tulle (oh, thank heavens tulle is pretty much gone!).

I tried a few other shops in the college town. One was run by an awesome, absolutely crazy Italian, slightly corrupt, ex-police officer from Manhattan who was getting on in his years. He taught me how to rob Peter to pay Paul, squeak by in business by the seat of your pants, and buy directly from Miami and save as much money as possible. Poor Sal...his cursing and smoking in the shop and complete frustration from having a business slightly in "the hood" finally did him in. But, oh my!, what an amazing designer to learn from. That guy was talented! And I worked usually more for free than anything else, and struggled side by side to help get that business going, taking a tongue lashing nearly every day from that crazy old bird...until I just couldn't survive and had to get a job that had some sense of security. So I traveled around a few more shops until college was over and I was becoming a better designer and a better business woman every day, all the while still thinking I was going to be a vet. I was doing Miss Florida Pageants and weddings, set design at the local theatre, Holiday installations, parade floats for the University, more Valentine's and Mother's days, more deliveries, basically working all the time.

Amidst full on veterinary yuck, I finally just said "forget it, I'm going home". Just wasn't my thing here I go, mom's front door with big tears and a huge amount of disappointment in myself. That lasted about 2 weeks until I loudly hear "Get off your a__ Aime, Ponte Vedra Inn and Club is hiring a designer". So I went, got the job, and was thrown into the posh PV lifestyle, million dollar events, multi million dollar homes, khaki shorts and collared shirts, a new best friend and crazier-than-all-get-out designer/ boss, Chris, and the opportunity to make anything I dreamed come to life. And so there it was and there it began, inspiration has no boundaries.

So since that PV springboard that I jumped on and leaped off of after a few years of grueling 90 hour a week work, I was FREELANCE! Yay! Now I could sell it, make it, staff it, do it, and reap all of the benefits and glory of it all. Oh no, wait, that means that I am fully responsible, there's no-one to look to when I screw up, and now I am working even more this what I wanted? Like it or not...YES IT IS.
I love what I do. I love my clients (mainly because I choose them). I have cried, bled, stayed up all night many many nights, screamed, been screamed at, and sometimes wished I hadn't taken a job at all...but mainly I have laughed, cried tears of joy, and felt like I was going to burst with pride from some of the events I have created. I have made friends in the industry (and yes, a few who don't care for me so much) and lifelong friends with brides and clients, and had the luxury of making my own schedule and being accountable to me, myself, and I.

The future only holds new experience, new found wonders in the ever changing realm of flowers and event designs, and the opportunity to continually push myself to be the best at what I do. There isn't even the slightest chance that I will do something else, though the description of what it is I do may change. Flowers are my passion and they will always be what my future is based on. The possibilities are endless, and I am ready for the challenge....bring it on. Dream big, think out of the box, and never let anyone tell you that it's impossible.