feature story
picture-perfect weddings

Check out the winners of our eighth annual wedding contest, and catch a glimpse of the more than 150 entries we received.


Georgina and Monica Bracone
It’s Beautiful
Greensboro, N.C.

Date: Aug. 12, 2006
Ceremony and reception site: apple orchard on a farm in the Appalachian Mountains of Fancy Gap, Va.
Number in wedding party: 10
Number of guests: 80
Approximate retail floral bill: $2,000

Georgina Bracone and her mother, Monica, had one main request from the couple for this outdoor wedding. “They wanted a natural and organic wedding free of dyes and pesticides, so I used herbs and flowers I grew myself and picked from the fields on the farm [of the apple orchard],” Georgina says.

Georgina grew many of the botanicals in her backyard, in World War II gun cases she purchased from a salvage yard. The flowers were grown specifically for this wedding and were planted early in the spring to be in full bloom for the August nuptials.

The apple orchard setting, where both the ceremony and reception took place, naturally boasted a beautiful, organic atmosphere, so it took only a few floral enhancements to create the desired look. Aside from the bouquets, the bulk of the flowers adorned a charming altar, which was fashioned in the center of a tree whose trunk split into a “V” shape. Braided ropes of jute, with strands of prairie grasses, herbs and flowers attached, hung from the tree to create a natural huppah.

In addition to the visual beauty, guests enjoyed an olfactory treat. The ground was sprinkled with three varieties of mint, so when the guests walked around, the aroma infused the air. Georgina says the bridal couple told her that the herbs helped ease their wedding jitters as well.




Debbie Morales
Holiday Flowers of San Diego
San Diego, Calif.

Date: Oct. 8, 2006
Ceremony and reception site: Admiral Kidd Club, a military facility on San Diego Harbor
Number in wedding party: 9
Number of guests: 185
Approximate retail floral bill: $7,500

Not everybody can pull off an oceanside surfboard ceremony, but for this couple, who got engaged while scuba diving (the groom had written “Will you marry me?” on a wipe-off board), it made sense. The couple—the florist’s daughter and new son-in-law—had spent time in Southeast Asia and requested orchids and other tropical flowers that reminded them of that experience. Leis of green and white Dendrobium orchids adorned the “altar” along with coordinating tropical arrangements. The most tedious part, Debbie Morales shares, was ensuring that the borrowed surfboards did not get damaged. She created the horizontal spray in a casket saddle and secured it to one board with pew hooks. Twenty-two “trees,” made of brake fern and Dendrobium orchids, were created by inserting bouquet holders into 8-foot-tall bamboo shoots. The trees helped direct guests from the ceremony to the reception.


Mitzi Alexander, aifd
Absolutely Flowers
Hutchinson, Kan.

Date: Sept. 30, 2006
Ceremony site: St. Mary’s Cathedral; Wichita, Kan.
Reception site: home of bride’s parents; Wichita, Kan.
Number in wedding party: 39
Number of guests: 500
Approximate retail floral bill: $40,000
Photos by Kristin Gibbs

Floral restrictions at the church allowed the majority
of the couple’s budget to be focused on the reception, a grand affair that included 50 tables inside a 100-foot-by-140-foot tent. Each table featured a tall arrangement of fresh Dendrobium orchids, birch branches and bear grass mixed with permanent cherry-blossom branches and permanent Phalaenop-sis and Cymbidium orchids. The stems were wrapped with ti leaves, bear grass and silver bullion wire. A trio of mint-julep cups containing ‘Sophie’ roses, ‘Majolica’ spray roses, tulips, Hydrangeas, Bupleurum and more surrounded each arrangement. Kerry Sallabedra, aifd, of wholesaler Valley Floral Company in Wichita, worked alongside florist Mitzi Alexander, aifd, at Valley Floral’s facility to see the event to fruition.
Industry friends Dan Kotecki, aifd, and Dan Long,
aifd, traveled to Wichita to help as well.


Donna Theimer, aifd, icpf; Carol Willett; and Connie Spray
Joliet Junior College
Joliet, Ill.

Date: Dec. 30, 2005
Ceremony site: St. Mary’s Nativity Church; Plainfield, Ill.
Reception site: Sheridan Hotel and Banquet Facilities; Downers Grove, Ill.
Number in wedding party: 6
Number of guests: 150
Approximate retail floral bill: $12,000

Dramatic cascading bouquets created within Christmas ornaments added to the festivity of this post-Christmas wedding. The bride, whose mother, Carol Willett, had completed all four of Donna Theimer’s floral design classes at Joliet Junior College, carried a filigree gold ornament adorned with Stephanotises, Dendrobium orchids, ‘James Storei’ Aranthera orchids, hybrid tea and spray roses, and string-of-pearls (Senecio) painted gold. White pine and seeded Eucalyptus completed the look. The attendants carried similar, smaller cascades. A large bouquet holder inside each ornament secured the materials.


Suzanne Smith
Suzanne M. Smith Designs
Huntington Beach, Calif.

Date: Oct. 22, 2006
Ceremony and reception site: Rancho Los Lomas; Silverado, Calif.
Number in wedding party: 8
Number of guests: 120
Approximate retail floral bill: $6,000
Photos by Reinbold Gallery; Anaheim, Calif.

The couple desired a romantic fall-colored wedding, and although romance is easy to find in the Southern California setting, lavish fall colors are not. ‘Circus’ roses were arranged between each tier of the cake, which displayed the couple’s wedding vows in icing. ‘James Storei’ Aranthera orchids and ‘Sunset’ Hypericum joined the roses atop the cake, arranged into a miniature dome-shaped floral-foam holder. The florist, Suzanne Smith, who also won the “Best Cake Decorations” honor in our 2003 contest for a sunflower-adorned confectionary delight, added her signature butterfly accents as the finishing touch.

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