Everything’s Coming Up…Peonies!

It’s been a little while since I talked about flowers. Last I mentioned them, I was just gathering inspiration and taking note of all the fantastic florists in the Charlottesville area.

This is when I actually started to collaborate with another bride who was also getting married at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards. She found me through blogging and we chatted now and then by email about the planning process. We even met up at the vineyard for lunch one afternoon. Does that make us venue twins?

We’re both busy with time intensive jobs and were able to “divide and conquer” a little bit when it come to vendor research. For example, she had already spoken to one florist on my list and knew that she only took jobs where the flower budget was over a certain amount. That amount was a little over my budget, so I crossed her off my list. There were a few cases where we had both met with the same vendor (floral and otherwise) and it was helpful to compare notes after those meetings.


From Pat’s Floral Designs’ Facebook page / Flowers by Pat’s Floral Designs / Photo by Jen Fariello Photography

One afternoon, I visited a florist that my venue twin had planned on speaking with by phone a short time later. I pulled up to the shop and was immediately happy with what I saw. There were all sorts of rustic urns and flower pots. I passed some vintage looking pieces of furniture in the entrance and settled into a cute reception area that was full of accessories and photo albums.

I was a little early, so I flipped through albums as I waited. I knew her work from the wedding blogs, but it was fun to see images that hadn’t been blogged. A little orange cat joined me and wound up sitting on my lap as I turned the pages. I was already loving the appointment.


From Elizabeth Anne Designs / Flowers by Pat’s Floral Designs / Photo by Simply Bloom Photography

Then I met Pat Roberts. Pat and her daughter, Sherry Spencer, run Pat’s Floral Designs. I assumed working with them would blow our budget and I was happily surprised when Pat told me some ideas for getting the most out of wedding flowers. She suggested moving flowers that would be on the ends of the aisles during the ceremony into our reception space during the cocktail hour. Bouquets could be worked into the decor on the table where we’ll sit with our bridal party. Pat was also enthusiastic about alternating the look of the flowers from table to table. Some tables could have one, large arrangement and some could have three, smaller arrangements in a cluster.

One of the best things I heard was that our wedding was during the perfect time to get peonies from the area growers. I’ve got a thing for peonies.


From Martha Stewart Weddings / Flowers by Pat’s Floral Designs / Photo by Jen Fariello Photography

We went off on a few tangents. Since we both love fabric and trim, she let me see her ribbon library. She has hundreds of spools of ribbon arranged in racks on a wall. Her prize ribbon was bought from France and matched the embellishment on a Carolina Herrera gown that a past client wore.

Pat also showed me the shelves and shelves of vases she has collected and I got to meet her golden retriever. At this point, I was thinking Pat was pretty much perfect.


From Jodi Miller Photography’s blog / Flowers by Pat’s Floral Designs

When we went back upstairs, Sherry was coming home from a delivery and remarked that we had to work together because of my car. We all drive the same, unusual car. I bought my Honda Element for hauling dogs and they bought their two for hauling flowers.

When I left them that afternoon (after a hug from Pat), I remember hoping that the flower proposal would be within our budget. I didn’t just like Pat and Sherry’s flowers, I liked them. I was excited by the idea of having them involved in our wedding.


From Southern Living / Flowers by Pat’s Floral Design / Photo by Katie Stoops Photography

Well, you know I wouldn’t have written about this if things didn’t work out. The proposal came in, we moved a few things around, and wound up signing a contract.

Oh, and my venue twin? She talked to Pat over the phone and then went to meet her shortly after I emailed her about my visit. Our wedding styles are completely different (she’s talking about trees inside the venue…so cool!), but she wound up signing with Pat and Sherry as well!

Did you have any pleasant surprises when you met with vendors? Did other brides from your area help you with your planning?


Mrs. Mink

Charlottesville, Virginia
Wedding Date:
June 2012
An Open House Invite

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  1. Member
    mkim 611 posts, Busy bee @ 10:51 am

    I too, have a thing for peonies…was so sad to find out that they were out of season for my date (end of September). But luckly my florist came up with great alternative. We ended up booking with Holly, which you posted about a while back.

  2. mink Member
    mink 2178 posts, Buzzing bee @ 10:59 am

    @mkim: Oh, Holly! Her work is stunningly gorgeous. I don’t even know her, but I love her. She is amazing!!! Congratulations on booking her!

  3. Guest Icon Guest
    aa, Guest @ 11:18 am

    what was the alternative flower she suggested? i too love peonies but alas i have an october wedding

  4. Member
    bRooklynRocks 4048 posts, Honey bee @ 11:21 am

    No brides were getting married at my venue at the same time so I couldn’t compare notes with anyone. But I should also say that I love peonies. They were the one and only flowers I wanted in my bouquet and they turned out so awesome. I was freaking out that I might not get them since I was marrying the first weekend in July but my florist came up with them and I was so in love. I am getting a bit misty eyed thinking of the bouquet with all its pale pink glory :)

  5. mink Member
    mink 2178 posts, Buzzing bee @ 11:21 am

    @aa: I bet there are some dahlias or cabbage roses that might mimic the size and shape of the peony. You might want to send mkim a private message…people don’t always check back once they comment. :)

  6. Member
    mkim 611 posts, Busy bee @ 11:43 am


    We will be using cabbage roses which has the same soft look as peonies.

  7. Guest Icon Guest
    jesij, Guest @ 11:44 am

    No Fair!!! Just kidding. My wedding is just a tad too late for peonies, so I’m going with garden roses – they’re really full and look kind of like a peony. It’s not as good…but almost!

  8. Member
    mkim 611 posts, Busy bee @ 11:45 am

    oh..and dahlias as well, thanks for reminding me miss mink!

  9. Member
    MrsKeAloha 1044 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:56 am

    Although I am not wanting to have a venue twin (I know its a wedding venue but I just don’t want to know anyone else getting married there until I have) But I would love to have a fellow bride to bond with. As for vendors – oh my gosh, I was so surprised – My florist is amazing, I almost cancelled with her because she was my 3rd florist meeting and my 5th wedding meeting of the day ugh.. brain mush. But I loved the florist, just the neatest lady I felt like she new exactly what I was looking for and although we were way different in personalities she listened and knew what I was asking before I could find the right words. I am so confident that our flowers will be perfect.

  10. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 1:04 pm

    I love your florist’s work, you are going to have beautiful arrangements :)

  11. mink Member
    mink 2178 posts, Buzzing bee @ 1:12 pm

    @bRooklynRocks: Peonies in July?!? You lucky duck!

    @mkim: Hooray! You came back! I looove cabbage roses!

    @jesij: I love garden roses, too! They are really hot on the wedding blogs right now!

    @Miss Ke Aloha: I interviewed two florists and the other one was amazing, too. I’m convinced that the floral design world must be a very happy place! It seems full of great people!

    I liked the first florist and loved her vision, but felt drawn to Pat in the end. Or maybe I felt drawn to Pat’s animals!

    It’s a good thing the wedding vendors around here don’t know that animals are my Achilles heel! Between the little, red cat (that supposedly wasn’t too snugly, but sat on my lap) and the beautiful, old golden, I was ready to stay the whole afternoon!

  12. mink Member
    mink 2178 posts, Buzzing bee @ 1:12 pm

    @Mrs. Pony: Thanks, Mrs. P! :)

  13. Member
    happyface 5777 posts, Bee Keeper @ 5:29 am

    I love flowers, but a florist will be out of my price range. What I want are tulips. And I can buy seeds online and force them to flower (indoors) for May! We will be buying them next week….

  14. coyote Member
    coyote 1932 posts, Buzzing bee @ 6:59 am

    Wow, those are some gorgeous photos! We met with two florists, but I liked them both so much I’m having a hard time making a decision!

  15. Member
    WoodsyGal4 9 posts, Newbee @ 5:09 am

    I have a venue twin! A girl I work with is getting married the week before me at the same venue as me. She’s also now booked the same photographer, caterer and decorator! And her colors are similar to mine although the styles we’re going for are worlds apart. At first I found this a little bit threatening… But now I have someone to compare notes with as well, and we’re even thinking about collaborating on some extra decor purchases :)

  16. Member
    WoodsyGal4 9 posts, Newbee @ 5:11 am

    Ps the photo with the log and the floating candles is sooo close to my table decor!! Very excited to see ‘my’ ideas put together!

  17. Member
    Future Army Wife 2213 posts, Buzzing bee @ 7:29 pm

    It’s great y’all have that connection for planning. We’re using our centerpieces as aisle decor for the ceremony. Saving the monies.

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