Jul
08
Favorite Vendors

Favorite Vendor Spotlight: Butterfly Petals Florist


I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented and personable vendors and wedding consultants in the wedding industry. I love to refer my clients to professionals I have worked with who I truly believe will do an amazing job for them. I have a blog post dedicated to my favorite vendors, but I wanted to also occasionally spotlight each of them more in depth.

Today, meet Amanda Johnson of Butterfly Petals! Her eclectic style and over-the-top creativity is infectious and makes her so much fun to work with. She was the master-mind behind the poem-inspired styled wedding shoot that I photographed last summer, which I couldn't have loved more.

As I watched Amanda create the above arrangement in her Mesa shop in a matter of minutes, I marveled once again at her talent and the passion for her craft that oozes from her countenance. And then she sent me home with it!! Talented, passionate AND generous! haha!

Here is some Q & A to help us get to know Amanda better. Read Amanda's answers below each question:

1. How long have you been a florist?
I have to give credit to my grandmother. When I was a kid she owned a shop in Globe Arizona that specialized in all things crafts. She taught me how to wire boutonnieres, glue bouquets. I went on set-ups to the fairgrounds and Elks club. I felt really special having an "in" and backstage pass to these big events. I would explore the storage areas at the Elks club while she stapled ivy to white lattice backdrops. Sure it was tacky, but it was the time period and I thought the whole business very glamorous.

While studying at ASU for journalism, I chose to take a job with a florist because it reminded me of the time in my grandma's shop. It was a "cash and carry" store specializing in inexpensive rose bouquets. We were taught very basic arranging--grab 12 roses and stuff them in a plastic sleeve. I got bored and would play with the flowers in the trash trying to create elaborate arrangements. My manager felt I needed an outlet and, if I was going to create "arrangements", I may as well create things they could sell. The shop started carrying prom corsages and he hated corsage work. He decided I was the perfect protege to take over for him. Boutonniere and corsage work turned into wedding corsages and that naturally branched into wedding bouquets. My first wedding creations weren't very glamorous. The shop didn't carry exotics really so they were a lot of roses tied in a bow with baby's breath. I was hooked. I loved the interaction with brides and loved talking to them about their wedding, choosing colors and flowers to suit their needs. I worked at the shop for three years before pursuing a job more closely related to my journalism degree but still dabbled in flowers for birthdays and friends' weddings.

2. What got you interested in starting your business?
When my husband and I found out we were expecting our daughter, I decided I wanted a job with flexibility where I could stay home but still have something to do. I had some freelance writing work but felt I needed something else. I thought about working for a florist but really only wanted to design wedding bouquets. My husband and I came up with a plan to run a small wedding florist in our house and Butterfly Petals was born. It definitely took a while to get off the ground. We started in 2005 and I didn't get a booking until 2006. My first year I created bouquets for two brides.

3. What do you feel sets you apart from other florists in the wedding industry?
I'm a seventh-generation Arizona native and love the desert. I've become known for my work with succulents and cacti. Many local wedding and event florists work with succulents of course, but I'm drawn a bit deeper into the desert. I use cacti and cacti blooms, I use cacti skeleton for bouquet handles. I use deer antlers and antelope horn. I've pulled 150-year-old rusty barb wire from an Arizona ranch into arrangements. I'm not afraid to experiment with these funky textures and I'm always on the lookout for ways to incorporate more native plants and textures into my work.


4. What kind of flowers did you use in your own wedding? Would you still make the same choice now if you were getting married today?
Oh my wedding, what I wouldn't change for my wedding! :) I was married in 2003 and Butterfly Petals wasn't even a dream at that point. I was finishing my last year at ASU and working for a professor part-time. We used my grandma's connections and her wholesale license to purchase flowers but, lacking a place to store floral, had to wait until the last minute and just purchase what was in stock. I made the mistake of focusing on flowers in just my color scheme so I was somewhat limited. The flowers were nice, I did use irises which are some of my favorites, but a lot of the flowers I'm not a big fan of now. Had I known some of the awesome exotic varieties I've been able to design with now, there's no way I would have created the same bouquet. I also would have slapped a succulent or two in my hand! Of course you only learn from experience and eight years in the industry opened my eyes to hundreds of floral possibilities and design opportunities.

5. What do you enjoy most about working in the wedding industry?
There's a rush when you click with a client. When your client describes their event and your brain starts whirring with possibilities. As the couple describes their big day I'm already mentally pulling together flower matches and I get really excited when they start mentioning unique and quirky touches they'd like to pull in. I love that moment.


6. When meeting with brides who don't know much about flowers, what is the biggest tip you find yourself giving them?
Don't fixate on a flower type. Pinterest is a blessing and a curse, it makes my job a lot easier because I can use it as a tool to inspire ideas. However, it's a land-mine of expensive floral and difficult to source floral. There's a reason bridal magazines and blogs publish gorgeous full, fluffy bouquets, they're lovely! However some of those flowers are very hard to get seasonally. In Arizona most of our weddings occur in the Fall and early spring. Peonies are a favorite with today's brides but they're really affordable and in season at the start of the summer.

So I encourage brides to instead think of the overall feel of their wedding. Is it romantic? Clean and modern? This will help guide my choices so I can pull together the best seasonal varieties. I find if my clients let go and let me "do my thing" they're blown away when they see what mother nature has to offer that time of year. Give us some color parameters (fixating on an exact color shade is another way to set yourself up for disappointment, Mother Nature does what she does) and a look and feel and let your designer create something unique for you.

7. What current trend in wedding flowers do you personally like the most?
I love that bouquets are a bit more free-form and messy. This means I get to pull in lots of fun textural floral or flowing greenery and that makes me happy. The tight, perfectly round bouquet will always be popular but letting a little mess creep in around the edges lets the flowers be themselves and really pop in the bouquet.


8. Any fun-facts that we should really know that would contribute even more to your coolness?
I'm a vintage nut. It's pretty obvious from my studio decor, but I surround myself with old stuff whenever possible. Even my taste in music is dated. Our daughter Rhiannon is named after a Fleetwood Mac song. My house is full of antique books. I especially obsess over books from the turn of the last century. It boggles my mind that this object I'm holding is over 100 years old and yet I can read it and enjoy it. Many of books are inscribed for special occasions. Seeing that spidery cursive and knowing that this little thing I was holding was someone's "big deal" gift that year...I don't know it's a goofy thrill. I spend all of my free time at flea markets and antique stores. My husband and I plan our vacations around places known for vintage shopping. His passion is old movie cameras and projectors. We have several working models and watch old 8mm and 16mm silent films. I also love old stuff that reminds me of growing up here in Arizona. I collect deer antlers and javalina skulls. It's a bit creepy I suppose, but they remind me of where I come from; hiking with my grandpa and dad and learning about the critters that share the desert with us.

Thanks Amanda for being so fabulous at what you do and making my job so fun!! Click here to visit the Butterfly Petals website!


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Jan
30
Favorite Vendors

Favorite Vendor Spotlight: Petal Pusher Florist


I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented and personable vendors and wedding consultants in the wedding industry. I love to refer my clients to professionals I have worked with who I truly believe will do an amazing job for them. I have a blog post dedicated to my favorite vendors, but I wanted to also occasionally spotlight each of them more in depth.

Today, meet Tamara Noack and her team from Petal Pusher! As florists go, I work with these guys more than anyone else. They are true artists and are clearly passionate about what they do. Everything they create is drop-dead gorgeous. To see some of the fabulous weddings we've done together, click here.

Tamara and her husband, Matt, head up the Petal Pusher team and their pup, Diamond often keeps the team company at their Avondale shop:


Here is some Q & A to help us get to know Tamara, Matt, and their team better. Read Tamara's answers below each question:

1. How long have you been a florist?
We started out late in 2005 and put together some weddings for friends to help build our confidence and knowledge, then went "professional" in February 2006.

2. What got you interested in starting your business?
There is no glamorous story here. I didn't grow up around any type of floral nor did l know much about the industry. I had worked for a local catering company and once in a while I would create centerpieces for clients, and eventually created more & more pieces for some of the events. I just fell in love with it! I missed the creative arts and I just knew I didn't want to say later in my life "I wish I had"...so with all my being and the incredible support from my husband I took the risky leap and started my own business.

3. What do you feel sets you apart from other florists in the wedding industry?
I think mainly what sets us apart is that we are self-taught and don't necessarily follow "floral rules". I am a creative person and often when I am excited about a project the ideas come flooding in and I can hardly contain them!! Sometimes I even squeak out of pure eagerness when ideas flow. Matt will often fabricate custom pieces for brides & grooms simply because we can't find a vessel that suits our concept. Between the two of us (and our amazing team) we can truly create a one-of-a kind event.

4. What kind of flowers did you use in your own wedding? Would you still make the same choice now if you were getting married today?
Matt & I were married in July in Denver in a quaint wine cellar. It was magical! The Denver florist used clusters of vessels down our long tables in canary yellow florals including orchids, callas & roses with textural greens & lots of candles. I wouldn't change a thing!

5. What do you enjoy most about working in the wedding industry?
I am a person who loves change and hustle & bustle. Mostly, I love that I am inspired over and over by prospective clients, and also fellow vendors in the industry. One week, we are creating a romantic, classic wedding with all roses and the next, a modern wedding with grass & acrylic...I immensely enjoy that my weeks are never the same!

6. When meeting with brides who don't know much about flowers, what is the biggest tip you find yourself giving them?
I ask about hobbies, their favorite foods, colors & stores. Really, anything that I can pull from their personal lives to help to jump start the creative process and create a look and feel that they are comfortable with. I will show photos of past work and have them tell me what they like as well as what they don't. I also have index cards so I can show them different floral varieties.

7. What current trend in wedding flowers do you personally like the most?
Though I would like to say I don't follow trends -- especially in weddings where the event is such a personal compilation of the couple -- it is almost impossible not to be aware of trends as they are everywhere. Right now, I am liking the metallics. Gold seems to be a popular choice and I am noticing that brides are wanting more lush looks with the florals and not so much the submerged & angled outlooks.

8. Any fun-facts that we should really know that would contribute even more to your coolness?
I have a background in costume design. I had once created a sheath dress from shaved cedar. That was my first experience working with anything botanical. I love woods & pods, and if I could I would interject my love of woods in every event.

Thanks Tamara & Matt for being so fabulous at what you do and making my job so fun!! Click here to visit Petal Pusher's website!


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Jan
10
Favorite Vendors

Favorite Vendor Spotlight: Serendipity Videography


I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented and personable vendors and wedding consultants in the wedding industry. I love to refer my clients to professionals I have worked with who I truly believe will do an amazing job for them. I have a blog post dedicated to my favorite vendors, but I wanted to also occasionally spotlight each of them more in depth.

Today meet Taryn Bills of Serendipity Videography and her team! I have been working with these guys for years and they are AMAZING at what they do! So much so, that I don't even recommend another videographer. They are professional and are great at working as a team with photographers -- something I GREATLY value.

Here's some Q & A to help us get to know Taryn, her husband and business partner Jeff, and the rest of the team better. Read her answers below each question:

How long have you been in the wedding business?
We have been in business for 6 years now. Whoa just saying that is crazy. The time has flown.

What got you interested in being a videographer at weddings?
The word "serendipity" means to find something great by accident and that's exactly how Serendipity came about. Six years ago Jeff was working in Television News as a Special Projects Videographer, Editor, and Producer and got the news that his department was being dissolved and that he would be going back into General Assignment News covering car accidents and fires. General Assignment News was like a prison sentence to Jeff... He had been there and done that. So he came home that night to break the news to me and on that same night my best friend called to say she was ENGAGED! She said "Ok so I really want Jeff to be a guest at my wedding but he's such a good videographer... Can he shoot my wedding film?" I shouted "YES!!!" For years I had been saying to Jeff that we should be doing weddings!! I am a girly girl who loves all things weddings and he's a storyteller -- it seemed like the perfect profession for us. Well here was our chance.... A few months later my best friend's wedding came and at the end of the night I looked at Jeff and said "So???? What did you think???" and he said "I LOVED it!!!" and I said "Good!!" because I had a name, a website designed and a business plan. I had been working behind the scenes for months building the infrastructure of Serendipity anticipating that Jeff was going to love it. And with that we were off and running. Six months later Jeff had left news and we NEVER looked back. Everything has come together for Serendipity in such a "serendipitous" way that we just know that this is our life path and what we both should be doing.

Understandably, if a bride and groom were making a choice between hiring a videographer and having a friend video tape it, you would recommend the videography route. If you could give them only one reason to do so, what would it be?
Wedding Cinematography is a hindsight purchase. Couples will not truly recognize it's value until the day after the wedding. If there is one reason to do it here it is.... The people who are at your wedding may not be with us 10 years from now. It is not often that you get EVERY person that you love in one room together. A Wedding Film helps you not only see the sights of the day but hear the sounds from the day. You will want to hear what your mom says to you on your wedding day when she helps you into your dress or the toast that your dad gives or your grandpa laughing with delight as he dances a jig on the dance floor. These are all memories that you will not get back and you will desperately want 10 years from now.

What is your favorite thing about working weddings?
My favorite thing about working weddings is seeing each couple's personal style conveyed at their event. I love seeing that if a couple loves travel that they bring that theme into their wedding in their centerpieces, or if the bride works in fashion she has a custom designed dress and the groom is wearing sneakers with spikes all over them. I appreciate and enjoy seeing who they are and what they are about uniquely displayed at their wedding.

What would you say makes you different than other videographers out there?
Serendipity is known for it's "storytelling style". With all of our cinematographers coming from the news business we are natural-born storytellers. We are all about telling the story of the day as it unfolds. We hand craft each and every film to tell a couple's unique story. Serendipity is storytelling unscripted.

What type of clients do you typically find yourself working with?
We find ourselves working with couples who are drawn to the stories we tell and therefore their story is always awesome. We have worked with couples who have had what appear to be the most chance meetings, and ended up falling in love.

What is your favorite part of the wedding day?
Our favorite part of the wedding day is by far the first look. It is such an intimate and tender moment. To see a couple look at each other for the first time that day is just such an incredible moment. That one moment says so much about a couple and to be there to document that is a true gift.

Are there any other fun-facts that we should really know about you that contribute even more to your coolness?
Fun facts.... When Jeff was in Television News he won 12 Emmy's for his Videography and Editing. He covered stories like the ValuJet Plane Crash in Florida where he almost got his arm bitten off by an alligator while they were in the swamp covering the scene of the crash. I was a competitive high school cheerleader who was 5th in the nation in Individual Crowdleading at Nationals.

Taryn is one talented girl. With skills like that it is no wonder she runs Serendipity! I just love these guys! Click here to check out their website and some of their amazing videos!!


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Aug
29
Favorite Vendors

Favorite Vendor Spotlight: Victoria Canada


I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented and personable vendors and wedding consultants in the wedding industry. I love to refer my clients to professionals I have worked with who I truly believe will do an amazing job for them. I have a blog post dedicated to my favorite vendors, but I wanted to also occasionally spotlight each of them more in depth.

Today meet Victoria Canada of Victoria Canada Weddings and Events and her team! From L to R: Lauren, Kaytie, Kate, Brennan, Victoria, Brenda & Kailee. Could they BE any cuter? I have been working with these guys for years and they are AMAZING! If you hire this team to plan and coordinate your day, you know no detail will be missed. I'm shooting a wedding that they are coordinating this weekend and I can't wait. The details are going to be over the top and I know everyone will be in good hands.

Here's some Q & A to help us get to know Victoria better. Read her answers below each question:

There are a million and 2 reasons to hire a wedding consultant. If you could only give one to a bride & groom, what would it be?
I think that a good coordinator will be honest with you and will help you avoid common mistakes. We have tons of ways to streamline the planning process. But most importantly in the end it comes down to this -- do you really want to be the one working at your wedding? If you have spent a ton of time with details and have a specific vision, then you need someone to implement it. We can help create your vision if you are "creatively challenged" or if you have a vision, we can take it to the next level.

How long have you been in business?
It has been TEN YEARS! OMG -- I AM NOT 25 ANYMORE! :)

What got you interested in working in the wedding industry?
Back in the day, in college, I worked for an event planner. Then my friends starting getting married and I would help them with organizing. Organizing makes me happy! I moved to Arizona and helped friends here. It snowballed and I realized I could actually do what I love for a job!

What type of clients do you find yourself most working with?
I find myself working with clients that want a well run, well designed event that is unique to their taste and budget. We tend to work with people who realize we truly can deliver the wedding of their dreams. We have worked with everyone from doctors to firefighters to baseball players to rocket scientists! We love a challenge!

What is the #1 quality you possess that makes you uniquely suited for wedding consulting?
Hmmm, well, I think there might be a few but if I would pick the one that I hear over and over, it is that I am pleasant and easy to work with. That is not to say that I am a pushover -- I do have my opinions and a backbone. It does mean that in stressful situations, you are not going to see me running around yelling "the sky is falling!" We find the best solution and do it with a smile and sometimes a joke. :)

Reason #2 is my creativity. I know you only asked for one but...I love to create an event. That seems to be the most "glamorous" part of the job but it is a small portion of what we do. I usually am drawing something out for our clients and I love to create something that is unique and well conceptualized.

What is your favorite part of the wedding planning process?
I love establishing relationships with clients. When I find out what is truly important to them, that helps me with the best part of the job -- including that one little gem that really personalizes their wedding. It does not have to be pricey but with a little effort, organization, and thinking beyond the norm, I am able to come up with some of my best ideas to help make a wedding unique and personal.

What is your favorite part of the wedding day?
Hands down, my favorite part of the day is the Dad's toast to his daughter. I have a daughter, Ella, who will be seven soon and I always think, Scott is going to be a mess when he has to walk her down the aisle. I love listening to the toast from the Dad and I have remembered many of them for years!

How did you get to be so cool that you are now included on Melissa Jill's Favorite Vendor List? (everyone's going to want to know) :)
How lucky am I that I sat next to you at an Association of Bridal Consultants meeting 7 years ago? I still remember your brochure with your red ribbon tied around it. I hope I always live up to your expectations of being "cool". I truly love working with you and respect you and your talent. I also love that you respect our efforts to enable you to do the best possible job for your clients. That is the true "cool" thing -- we work well together. Other things that you like about me and make me "MJ cool" -- I like to eat your cookies, I love to read too and share book recommendations, I know you can't eat cheese even though I still weep for that loss, and finally I think I am funny. Sometimes, I may be the only one, but you still get my humor. Finally -- I love that you shine an amazing spotlight on my passion to do my personal best at what I do -- wife, mother, friend, planner and designer.


Awww...what a great memory Victoria! I feel so blessed that I met YOU 7 years ago -- Has it really been that long!? Thanks for your friendship and for being amazing at what you do!!


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MJ2Day


May
05
Favorite Vendors

Favorite Vendor Spotlight: Piece of Cake Desserts


I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented and personable vendors and wedding consultants in the wedding industry. I love to refer my clients to professionals I have worked with who I truly believe will do an amazing job for them. I have a blog post dedicated to my favorite vendors, but I wanted to also occasionally spotlight each of them more in depth.

Today meet Amy & Kevin Kossman of Piece of Cake Desserts. I eat wedding cake A LOT. I like to think of myself as a connoisseur of sorts in the I've-eaten-a-piece-of-cake-at-nearly-every-wedding-I've-photographed kind of way. Making wedding cakes beautiful is an art. They are sculptures really. Everyone wants their cake to be beautiful and make a statement. It's one thing to make a cake beautiful. But to make it beautiful AND tasty - that's the challenge. Most wedding cakes I encounter are beautiful. Fewer are tasty. When I tasted my first piece of cake from Piece of Cake I HAD to find out who made it. Ever since I have been recommending them. Seriously best tasting cake I've ever had. Since then I've had their cake a few more times and each time, without knowing ahead of time who made it, I can tell after tasting it.

And now I'm drooling.

Here's some Q & A to help us get to know Amy and Kevin better. Read their answers (coming from Amy) below each question:

How long have you been in business?
Piece of Cake Desserts has been in business for the last 10 years, during that time we have focused 90% of our business on weddings which has allowed us to become very specialized in the art of creating wedding cakes.

What got you interested in designing wedding cakes?
Like most aspiring cake decorators, it began as a hobby for me. It just so happened that even though I never really found myself artistically inclined, when I picked up a pastry bag, I was an artist. Who knew? I could pipe intricate details and paint on cakes - are you kidding? I've even been able to amp up my drawing skills to sketch out sample designs for brides that don't leave them running in the opposite direction. :)

What sets you apart from other cake designers in the wedding industry?
There are so many wonderfully talented cake artists in the valley, and it's always so exciting for us to see what other artists in our field are creating. I think what sets us apart from other companies is the commitment to not taking ourselves too seriously. Thanks to the humor on our FAQ page, and some of our asinine Facebook updates, we seem to attract couples who have a wonderful sense of humor which makes our job just that much more fun.

What should a bride and groom look for and consider at a tasting before deciding on a cake or cake designer?
Choosing a cake designer is a very important decision for a bride and groom, after all, the cake is still such a focal point for the wedding reception, especially now that cake designs have evolved so much within the last 10 years. A couple should make sure that the vibe they get from their cake designer feels right. Not only should they feel comfortable with their skill level, they should also feel confident in the company itself. After all they will be one of the many puzzle pieces that fit together to help their big day go smoothly.

What do you want all brides and grooms to know more than anything?
More than anything couples should know that as long as they've selected great vendors for their wedding, the overwhelming majority of the time, their wedding is going to go smoothly and everyone is going to have a great time. If something does go wrong, they are probably going to have a funny story to tell the kids :). Either way, try not to stress too much!

If you could only eat one type of wedding cake for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
I am a chocolate fan no doubt - love chocolate anything and everything: brownies, cakes, cookies - but I'm not going to lie, I am in love with our almond infusion with almond cream cheese cake. I definitely could eat just that cake for the rest of my life. But I don't have to eat just one do I?

What is the most unique cake you've ever designed?
Although we have designed many unique cakes over the years, the one that seems to get the most publicity so to speak is always our signature inverted cake. This one comes in many shapes and styles and no matter how it's decorated, either traditional or modern, people love that cake!

Are there any other fun-facts that we should really know about you that would contribute even more to your coolness?
For us, it actually doesn't get much cooler than doing what we do for a living. I mean our job is cake...that's right, cake! It doesn't hurt that we get to make amazing cakes for the best brides in Arizona. Life is good!


Thanks Kevin and Amy! So fun to get to know you more!

Click here to go to the Piece of Cake Desserts website!


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