bride and groom

Wedding flowers for two “planty people” at Quonquont Farm

Michele and Graham are what I like to call “planty people.” Both work in horticulture. Both love plants. And so when they asked me to do their personal flowers for their September wedding at Quonquont Farm in Whateley, but said they planned on creating their centerpieces themselves using buckets of DIY flowers, I was happy to oblige. And when they asked if they could create these centerpieces themselves in my shed…well, I wouldn’t have let just anyone do it! But I was happy to let these two do it! (And actually, I might let more people do it in the future because we they had such a great time! Continue reading “Wedding flowers for two “planty people” at Quonquont Farm”

flowers on a table

A light, bright and (up in the) airy fall wedding at The Boylston Rooms

When I first met with Grace and Chris it was clear Grace had a vision for her wedding. She wanted her flowers to be unique – mainly orange, but not earthtones-of-fall-orange – orange and blue and white – with a very special element: balloons! Giant balloons! She showed me a picture of what she wanted and since I’m game for anything I said sure…but then was very relieved when she found a balloon specialist! All I needed to do was provide the flowers and foliage for the balloons, and voila – a super special tablescape was born.

Location: The Boylston Rooms, Easthampton MA
Photos by: Trish Kemp Photo
Balloons courtesy of Jexsy Balloons
Flowers by me! Passalongs Farm

Continue reading “A light, bright and (up in the) airy fall wedding at The Boylston Rooms”

white bridal bouquet

Sam and Joe’s intimate fall wedding at Valley View Farm

Sam and Joe were married the end of September at Valley View Farm in Haydenville, MA. A perfect time of year in New England, a perfect time for flowers, and a perfect time for guests and family and loved ones to travel far and wide to our fair Pioneer Valley.

Unless it’s 2020. And we’re in the middle of a pandemic.

So plans had to change.

Some things stayed the same: September is still the perfect time of year to be married in western Massachusetts. Flowers are still at their peak. But hundreds of friends and family traveling from far and wide? Not so much.

Instead, a few friends and family. Instead, a more intimate – but still very special – celebration.

Continue reading “Sam and Joe’s intimate fall wedding at Valley View Farm”

sunflowers

2020 in Review

2020 was weird. I’m going to assume that all of you have been going through it, too, so I won’t summarize the massive impact covid has had on all aspects our lives last year, but for my little farm it basically boils down to two main phases:

PHASE ONE of 2020: ALL IS LOST AND THIS IS GOING TO SUCK! The weddings got cancelled, changed, and moved, so I was certain that I would make no money in 2020. I started my farm in earnest 4 years ago and within 2 years it was clear that wedding florals would be the best way forward for me in terms of a sustainable business model. The year – 2020 – that I thought was going to be a break-out (meaning I’d make a decent salary and be able to invest in the final bit of infrastructure I needed) was sure to be a dud. The buzz in the flower farmer groups was that we were in for it and as nonessential workers everything would have to be shut down, no one would buy flowers, and for many farms this was the end of the road. There was a lot of scared talk, particularly from farms who had several employees and who were agro-tourism destinations.

AND

PHASE TWO: IT DIDN’T SUCK AFTER ALL. The community came out for me, I continued to grow, and while some of my income was gone from weddings, more of my income came by other means. In fact, financially things are ahead of last year (though probably not where I would have been) AND it was a great year for learning, thinking, growing, and connecting. And I got my infrastructure. I increased planting, I had a lot of failure (per usual)…and I had some really great help. I am very, very thankful that I am tiny, this year more than ever. I’m especially thankful that I don’t have big loans for land or equipment or space. The stress that I’ve had has been largely based on my own physical limitations and the need to respond to the changing market. If anything, my business has grown this year. So 2021 should be very interesting!

Continue reading “2020 in Review”

weeds

2020 Flower Failure Report!

I don’t think I’ve ever documented my growing failures before, which is funny, because there have been A LOT of them. I think I’ve been embarrassed and I haven’t wanted my clients to think I’m sloppy or I don’t know what I’m doing. But when I think about it, I doubt my clients ever see the end result of these growing failures, since if I’m flowering a wedding or creating a custom bouquet I will do everything I need to – including purchasing wholesale flowers or from other farmers – to get them what I’ve promised. With that in mind, I’m hoping documenting this stuff will help other growers – especially beginners and people who are self-taught, like me – in their quest to get something – anything!- to grow.

So, in the interest of education for my fellow beginners/dilettantes it’s probably worthwhile to talk about what I f*cked up this year. It’s also in the interest of me, because documenting this stuff may be useful in the future and is a good exercise in reflection.

Continue reading “2020 Flower Failure Report!”

Cloudy with a chance of…happily every after!

Kylie and Anthony were married on the only rainy day of my 2019 wedding flower season – but guess what? It didn’t matter a bit! The slight rain and cool overcast skies only complimented the moody floral hues they chose for their wedding – and they and their wedding party – not to mention the staff at Quonquont! – were such troopers that their day was perfect. Cloudy with a chance of…happily ever after!

All photos of Kylie and Anthony’s wedding are by Love and Perry Photography.
Location: Quonquont Farm, Whately.

Kylie and Anthony’s florals featured the jewels of fall: dahlias! For the dahlia nerds out there: I spy Cafe au Lait, Diva, and Arabian Nights! Photo by Love and Perry.
Kylie and Anthony’s burgundy and blush color scheme is a classic – for good reason! Perfect for fall, and spring! Look at these gorgeous women! Photo by Love and Perry.
The day was a little rainy, so we had to quick change the arch installation into a pavilion installation, but luckily the beams at Quonquont are a perfect backdrop for what we had planned! Photo by Love and Perry.
So many sweet and personalized touches at this wedding! Photo by Love and Perry.

 

Photo by Love and Perry.
Photo by Love and Perry.
And now for the best part of the wedding: being married! Photo by Love and Perry.

The Very Tiny Wedding Package – because…the coronavirus!

We are living in strange times, y’all. Strange times! What we thought would be happening this month and the next few months has taken an abrupt turn for many of us. I’ve been advised as a business owner that I need to PIVOT. I guess we all do!

People who are PIVOTing a lot are my lovely wedding clients. I feel really terrible that all their thoughtful planning and dreaming and thinking has had to change from what they’d been expecting. Some folks are rescheduling and some folks are cancelling and some folks are changing what had been planned as large public events into tiny, intimate ceremonies.

Continue reading “The Very Tiny Wedding Package – because…the coronavirus!”

DIY wedding flowers @ Passalongs Farm

My husband and I met while working at a hotel that did assembly-line weddings. I was a banquet waitress and he was a bartender and most weekends we’d work at least 1 or 2 or even 3 wedding receptions. This was not a nice, historic hotel, mind you. It was a chain hotel with bad food and tired decor. It was the era of the Electric Slide and the Macarena!  Needless to say, when we decided to tie the knot a few years later we knew what we didn’t want: a wedding that in any way resembled our former place of employment.

So we got married under a tent in a local park, hired a natural foods chef caterer, served up craft beer and special wine, and a local farmer who my future mother-in-law knew from church did our flowers!  We were before our time! To be honest, we went this route because we hated the pre-planned package wedding places, but also because we had NO MONEY. I was a public school teacher in North Carolina at the time. My husband worked in a photo lab. We were pretty poor. Our parents helped us a little, but there were limits to their generosity. Our wedding was done on a serious budget.

I tell you this story because I understand and empathize with the folks who are budget conscious about their wedding. I really do! This is one reason why people go the DIY route: to save a little money.

But not everyone chooses the DIY option because of finances. Flowers are something people think they can DIY – unlike the venue or the catering or the cake or the dress. DIYing flowers is fun! Plus, it makes things a little more personal. If you have the time, energy, and enough people, it can be a special experience. Continue reading “DIY wedding flowers @ Passalongs Farm”

Wedding consultations – How it works!

I thought it would be useful to write out a little outline of how the consultation and booking process goes when asking me about flowering your wedding. For most of my clients, this is their only experience planning a wedding! And for whatever reason, the process of figuring out the florals can be daunting. Maybe you don’t know anything at all about flowers, or what’s in season when (Totally fine! That’s quite literally my job.) Maybe you’ve heard that flowers are crazy expensive and wedding florists are out to steal your money! (Ouch.) Or maybe you know what you don’t like, but you don’t know what you do!

So – here’s how it works:

One, a phone call or an in-person meeting. I get lots of emails that are like: I want a bouquet, 3 bridesmaids’ bouquets, 4 boutonnieres and 15 centerpieces. My colors are white and pink. How much will that cost?

My reply is always the same: I would love to help you with this. Do you have time to talk?

The truth is I could probably guesstimate prices (or a range of prices) based on a list of what a couple wants for their wedding, but I consider what I do to be a little more (actually, a lot more) than filling a laundry list of what you need for wedding flowers. Not only do I ask what you need, but I ask what you want for wedding flowers. What’s your vision? What’s your dream? What do you love? Hate? What are some words to describe the look? What’s the vibe? Are you stressed about your budget? Do you have no idea about flowers and really want guidance? Do you know what you like but don’t know if it’s in season?

NO PROBLEM. I can help you with all of it.

Two. I write a proposal. The proposal includes every item you’ve told me you need, some of the inspiration pictures you’ve sent me, and pictures I’ve found as well. Everything is listed a la carte. When you get it, realize it can be a bit of a rough draft.

Why? I base the proposal on what you’ve said you wanted. Sometimes it is higher in price than you expected it would be. Sometimes we don’t have the total numbers. Sometimes I give you several options at different price points because you don’t know yet if what you want is in your budget. All of which I understand, and I hope you understand as well. You’ve never priced out wedding flowers before! If it’s too high – let me know! I can usually think of ways to get a great look at a lower price point. I have many tricks up my sleeve and I’ve worked at most of the local venues, so can offer suggestions based on my experience. We can revise and revisit the proposal until it’s where you need it to be. We can actually revise and revisit the proposal even after the contract is signed (see #3) – no problem. The proposal is a working document and the only time it’s set in stone is a month before your event (see #4.)

Three. The next step is to book me! If you liked talking to me, if you’ve looked at my other work, you’ve heard good things about me and you think I’ll do a good job – let’s get it in the calendar! To book, I send you a contract via DocuSign, you sign it, and then you send me a nonrefundable deposit. The deposit goes towards the wedding flowers, and it essentially saves your day. I rarely will do more than one wedding a weekend, and it’s even more rare that I do more than one wedding in a day. Because of this I will not hold days unless I have the contract and deposit in hand!

Four. Final details. Once I’m booked then you can ignore me until about 6 weeks before the wedding. If you want to contact me, please do – I’d love to talk to you or see new pictures or ideas! But we don’t really need to talk until 6 weeks out. I’ll send you an email with the current version of the proposal and make sure that everything is as it should be. I’ll get your final numbers (12 tables or 13? an extra flower girl? one less groomsman? ) and make any tweaks or changes we need to make. At 4 weeks from your wedding the remainder of the payment is due and after that point you can add to the flowers, but you cannot take away. That’s because I’ve likely purchased or ordered anything I need to source out, and I’ve gotten my staffing in line, should I need staffing.

And that’s it! About a week or two before the event I’ll get your timeline, if you or your coordinator hasn’t already sent it, and we’ll work out where I’m taking the bouts and where you’ll be when you need your hair flowers, and then we’ll all look forward to your amazing big day!

Sound good? Let’s get started! Email me and we’ll make time to talk!

Farm, flowers, and work work work work work work…2019 in review

2019, for me, was a year of work! Which is not a bad thing! If you’re doing work you love, you’re hardly working, am I right?

Maybe.

We built a studio! It has been so lovely to have heat in the winter and a/c in the summer. After living in this for 9 months it sure doesn’t look like this any more! I’ve managed to fill it up and already wish I had double the space. It’s a huge improvement over my shed!

This was a year of exponential growth here at Passalongs Farm. I almost tripled my wedding work. I more than tripled my growing area. I built a studio that had electricity, air conditioning and heat!!  I stopped doing farmers’ markets (mostly) but doubled the flowers I sold by the road. I hired people to help me! (That was a big step.) I put more money into my farm, but bought more product elsewhere. I started a reflowering project, where I re-made flowers from weddings into small bouquets for folks in local nursing homes. I went to two growers’ conferences. I worked. I worked a lot. I learned as much as I worked.

Continue reading “Farm, flowers, and work work work work work work…2019 in review”