Elizabeth Spencer Designs

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Null/Smith Wedding 6.23.18

UPDATE: This wedding was chosen to be featured in the 2019 Mississippi Magazine Wedding Register.

Click here to find a copy!

When this beautiful bride, Abby, and I were little (roughly 20 years ago), our moms met through Junior Auxiliary here in Corinth. Many years later, I was in dance with Abby and piano and cross country with Taylor. We're all Ole Miss graduates and soon-to-be neighbors when my husband and I finish our remodel project just a couple blocks down from the new Mr. and Mrs. Smith. 

Needless to say, my mom and I were thrilled when Becky, the mother of the bride, and Abby asked us to do wedding flowers for their June 23rd ceremony at First Baptist Church and following reception at Franklin Courtyard in the historic SoCo District downtown.

Photo by:  B. Flint Photography   Abby and her mother, Becky.

Photo by: B. Flint Photography

Abby and her mother, Becky.

Abby & Becky wanted something similar to this as the floral backdrop for the ceremony at First Baptist Church.

Abby & Becky wanted something similar to this as the floral backdrop for the ceremony at First Baptist Church.

We first met with Maud DeLes Lancaster, their wedding planner and a good friend of ours, about a year ago. Becky and Abby knew from the get-go that they wanted to use lots of blue-and-white porcelain pieces at the reception as well as dark blue hydrangeas. And for the ceremony, they wanted something different — something that would make a statement. 

We visited the sanctuary at First Baptist to get a feel for the space and to brainstorm. The massive room is painted a creamy white, so we knew we needed to make a structure with both color and size. Otherwise, it would be washed out and dwarfed by its surroundings. Becky, Abby, and Maud DeLes had given us an inspiration photo from Pinterest (shown to the left) to get our creative juices flowing. 

"Helping" my mom decorate for Charity Ball circa 1999. This was around the time I would have met Abby.

"Helping" my mom decorate for Charity Ball circa 1999. This was around the time I would have met Abby.

We immediately thought of our bamboo arbor. At the time, it was dried, tan and deconstructed, and we had never used it for an indoor wedding, but "What if we painted it gold?" my mom asked. Not only did bamboo seem to connect with the "chinoiserie" theme, but Becky and my mom shared a funny bamboo story: Back in the late 90s, when they were on a team decorating for JA's annual Charity Ball, they harvested and used tons and tons of bamboo at that year's venue, the country club. Working with bamboo, which is actually a variety of grass, can be quite a bonding experience: Not only is it scratchy and rough on sensitive skin, but it usually grows in places rampant with chiggers. 

Becky and Abby loved the idea of using painted bamboo throughout the ceremony and reception. We decided to make rectangular, gold "wreaths" out of it for the front doors of FBC to tie in with the gold arbor. Then at the reception, we planned to make a bamboo picture grid as well as a hexagon to hang above the bride's cake. We would paint them both a high-lacquer navy.

Over the following months, we honed in on several details. Our clients ultimately decided to use pale, subdued shades of pink, blue, and ivory at the ceremony and deeper-hued colors at the reception. Abby had a monogram made using her and Taylor's initials, and she wanted it painted on a large banner to hang behind the DJ. They asked us for two large food table arrangements in blue-and-white containers. Soon we were putting together an order list for our wholesaler. It included HUNDREDS of hydrangeas of the dark blue, light blue, white, shamrock, and antique varieties. In terms of flowers, logistics, and decor, this was stacking up to be our biggest wedding yet. 

Scroll through below to see some other Pinterest photos we used when planning for Abby's wedding florals.

We had several things to work out leading up to Abby and Taylor's big day: How would we make the arbor stand without being able to stake it into the ground? How was this bamboo hexagon going to work? 

As I've said before and will say again, this business is 90% engineering. Most of the time, a little experience and a well thought-out plan will get you by. But every now and then, that's just not so. 

Getting started was simple enough. We spray painted our bamboo arbor gold. Then we bought plastic planters and Quikrete from Lowe's. On a very hot day inside my mom's garage, we mixed the cement in the four planters and stuck our green metal stakes down in the wet Quikrete. We used a level and taped the stakes to the edge of a table so they'd be straight as the cement dried. The next day after the Quikrete had cured, we spray painted the planters, stakes, and even the surface of the dried cement the same gold as the bamboo. But here was the kicker: we couldn't assemble the arbor until the Friday before the wedding. After all, how would we transport it or fit it through the church doors if we assembled it beforehand? 

Next, we had to harvest some new bamboo for the square picture grid and hexagon. I made a crucial mistake and didn't wear long pants or bug spray as we trudged through knee-high grass to reach our bamboo patch. I got the worst case of chiggers I've ever had. Don't ask me where on my body the bites were concentrated. 

Back in the garage, we cut 6 pieces of bamboo equal lengths and zip-tied them together, but we couldn't make the structure as a whole rigid enough to hang horizontally. Eventually, we realized this was one of those times when a good plan just hadn't cut it. That's when we visited our buddies at Bigger's Hardware hoping they'd have a solution for us. Sure enough, Nathan Adams fashioned the two ends of a long piece of 1/2-inch pipe together and a huge, flexible hula hoop was born. We spray painted it navy. On the day of the wedding, we adorned it with greenery and flowers using wire and then hung it above Abby's cake (by Lauren Hughes with Karen's Cake Shoppe) with white double-faced satin ribbon. Check out the finished product:

After the hoop was taken care of, we made an 8-foot by 8-foot grid out of bamboo by zip-tying the joints together and spray painting it navy. Maud DeLes wanted to hang pictures and greenery from it at the reception as a backdrop for the favor table. 

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As for the banner, we asked a trusted source to paint Abby and Taylor's monogram. Sandra Dobbins painted banners for my own wedding and did an excellent job. We knew she could be counted on for a fast turnaround and a quality product that Becky and Abby would love. 

Photo by:  Alex Sellers   That's me, Anna, on the ladder hanging Sandra's beautiful banner. My mom, Laura, and my husband, John Corbin, are "supervising."

Photo by: Alex Sellers

That's me, Anna, on the ladder hanging Sandra's beautiful banner. My mom, Laura, and my husband, John Corbin, are "supervising."

At last, wedding week arrived. We picked up our flower order on Wednesday and brought it to our loft for conditioning. Twenty-five buckets and 1,800 square feet of space almost wouldn't accommodate the massive order. Conditioning — carefully unpacking the flowers, cutting the ends of their stems off and putting them in clean water fortified with flower food — took nearly all day. With a cup of coffee and some music, though, it's a relaxing way to spend a morning. And revealing all the colors and textures and watching them perk up as they "drink" is exciting. 

Photo by:  Alex Sellers

Photo by: Alex Sellers

 
Photo by:  Alex Sellers   My mom, Jean Mathis, and I work in the Elizabeth Spencer Designs studio loft the weekend of the Null/Smith wedding. Do you see all the different-colored hydrangeas I mentioned?

Photo by: Alex Sellers

My mom, Jean Mathis, and I work in the Elizabeth Spencer Designs studio loft the weekend of the Null/Smith wedding. Do you see all the different-colored hydrangeas I mentioned?

Two things I've learned to do since starting Elizabeth Spencer Designs is to 1) Make a timeline for the weekend of a big wedding that doubles as a checklist so that nothing gets overlooked or forgotten in the rush of it all. And 2) Separate out the flowers by where they're going (i.e.: rehearsal dinner venue, ceremony venue, and reception venue) while conditioning. 

This cuts down on the amount of bucket-hauling that has to be done the weekend of. And — ask my mom — the less bucket-hauling we have to do, the better, happier & sweeter we are!

Photo by:  Alex Sellers

Photo by: Alex Sellers

 

 

 

 

The first item on the timeline was to make guest table arrangements for the rehearsal dinner at Franklin Courtyard. These were to be re-used at the reception, so we used hydrangeas in assorted glass containers from SoCo Event Rentals

 

Before noon on Friday, we had to make a bridesmaids' luncheon centerpiece that would later double as a registration table arrangement at FBC. The hostess of the luncheon lent us a blue-and-white bowl for the arrangement, to which we added fresh mint from our garden. It also included lilies, waxflower, roses, white hydrangeas, and white stock.

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Next, we had to get that arbor up. We unloaded it in pieces (the four pots of Quikrete with stakes, the four posts, and the top "ladder" part) into FBC, where we quickly got to work zip tying the posts to the stakes and then using both zip ties and clear Duck tape (!!) to secure the ladder on top. We filled the planters with moss to cover the Quikrete. 

That night, after the rehearsal, we made simple pew markers out of a mix of Italian Ruscus, silver dollar eucalyptus, variegated pittosporum, and white ribbon. 

Photo by:  Alex Sellers

Photo by: Alex Sellers

We attached them to the pews and then strapped large Oasis cages onto the arbor using lots of wire and tape. The bamboo sagged a bit under the weight of the soaked Oasis, but luckily it held strong. When it was time to add flowers, I climbed our ladder and let my mom hand me what I needed. For cohesion, we adorned the arbor with the same greenery used in the pew markers. The blooms were white hydrangeas as well as blush and cream roses and garden roses. They would stay fresh in the Oasis, which fed them both water and plant food. However, couldn't make the floral "curtain" until the day of the wedding as those flowers would not be in water. 

 
The fully assembled (yet unadorned) arbor.

The fully assembled (yet unadorned) arbor.

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Meanwhile, Jean Mathis, an experienced florist we hired to help with "people flowers" the weekend of this wedding, was in our loft working on boutonnieres and bouquets. Abby needed lots of both as she had groomsmen, bridesmaids, junior bridesmaids, and honorary bridesmaids as well as a ring bearer and flower girl. 

We used sage leaves from our herb garden for the boutonnieres as well as spray roses, waxflower, and thistle. For bouquets, we used a combination of blush and cream roses and spray roses, pale blue hydrangeas, dusty miller, white astilbe, white stock, thistle, eucalyptus, and for the mothers and grandmothers: variegated pittosporum. 

Photo by:  Alex Sellers

Photo by: Alex Sellers

Photo by:  Alex Sellers

Photo by: Alex Sellers

We decided to make the bridal bouquet ourselves since we knew it would be heavily photographed (Mrs. Jean is more than capable — and extremely talented! — but we didn't want to steal any credit from her). Abby had a few "somethings old" she wanted included in her bouquet such as a grandmother's earring and a family heirloom handkerchief. Lily, her younger sister and maid of honor, held the other earring in her bouquet. All bouquets were wrapped in double-faced satin ribbon: Abby's in white and all others in blush. 

Photo by:  B. Flint Photography   The beautiful bride and her maid of honor. Can you spot the blue earring in Lily's bouquet? It's mate was tucked into Abby's.

Photo by: B. Flint Photography

The beautiful bride and her maid of honor. Can you spot the blue earring in Lily's bouquet? It's mate was tucked into Abby's.

Early the morning of the wedding, my mom and I strung flowers and greenery together with fishing line and then tied them to the back of the ladder atop our gold arbor. I remember sitting on the floor with my coffee tediously tying these stems together as the church bells chimed on the hour. What felt like only minutes later, they were ringing yet again. Time was flying, and we still had a lot to do! 

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Finally the arbor was finished, and we couldn't have been more pleased with the outcome. What do y'all think? Comment and let us know if you'd get married under this!

We hung our gold "wreaths" (to which we'd added variegated ivy, hydrangeas, roses, lilies, and stock) with blush ribbon from the church's front doors and headed to Franklin Courtyard to finish up florals for the reception.

 

Most of our vibrantly colored flowers were reserved for the two large food table arrangements Becky and Abby wanted at Franklin Courtyard. My mom had two blue-and-white garden stools to which we attached (with floral putty, the stickiest and STRONGEST stuff ever) blue planter saucers from Lowe's. Those served as sturdy trays for lots and lots of soaked Oasis.

My mom took one side of the table while I worked on the other, and pretty soon we had a couple of HUGE and vibrant arrangements. Watch the time lapse below to see how they came together (it was so much fun!). The Blind Eye DJ was setting up and sound checking with some party tunes as we arranged — hence the dancing you may catch a glimpse of.

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After wiring greenery and flowers onto our hoop, we hung it from a hook in the ceiling and left Lauren Hughes, who made the bride's cake, an assortment of pink and blush roses, garden roses, and spray roses for garnish. 

We garnished Abby's gold candelabras by taping a tiny cube of Oasis on top then adding a little greenery, flowers and ribbon. Other guest tables got greenery and flowers in mixed blue-and-white pieces. 

In the adjoining room, where the cakes were, we loaded a mantel with blue and green hydrangeas. 

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As is the case with most weddings we work, we were busy up until the very minute the ceremony started. Especially in the summer months when it's so hot, any flowers going outside have to be put out at the last second so that they don't wilt before they're seen and enjoyed. (We actually had to change out the flowers on the door "wreaths" two or three times because it was so hot that day!)

When we were finally finished, a beautiful sunset was developing in — of all colors — shades of blue and pale pink.

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The Null/Smith wedding was our largest one to date, and we were SO honored to have been asked to provide our sweet friends with floral decor for Abby and Taylor's rehearsal dinner, ceremony, and reception. Of everything, I think I'm most proud of that floral arbor. It took a lot of engineering, sweat and time, but it was so fresh and elegant in the sanctuary at First Baptist Church. What was your favorite thing we did? Let us know in the comments!  

Congratulations and best wishes to my friends and future neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Smith!