I knew from the start that the skills I would acquire while interning for Weddings in Vieques would come in handy, especially since I fully intend to pursue a professional career in wedding planning. I just didn’t know how soon I would have to use them… nor did I expect I would need them during my vacation off the island.
Two months into my internship, I traveled back to my home state of Colorado for my cousin’s wedding to be her bridesmaid. Her wedding was in a beautiful mountain resort tucked into the foothills of Colorado, a two-hour drive from any type of real civilization (not terribly unlike Vieques in that regard). The rehearsal and dinner went smoothly, and all was expected to go off without a hitch the next day. It wasn’t until the next morning when all hell broke loose due to one small, but very important, detail: the flowers.
I arrived at the bride’s cabin to dress and primp for the ceremony with my cousin and her friends and found my fellow bridesmaids fussing over the bridal and bridesmaid bouquets, frantically moving them all into the sunlight. The beautiful ensembles of orange lilies, white gerbera daisies and coral roses had frozen in the fridge overnight and were about as dead as bouquets could be. I knew that nothing – not even the intense Colorado sunshine – was going to revive them. There was absolutely no way we could walk down the aisle with dead bouquets. (Side note: it’s a myth that you should just stick flowers in the fridge – depending on the temp of the fridge and the temp of the flowers before you put them in there, you might be committing floral murder).
Must admit that even I panicked for a minute, until I remembered that I know how to make bouquets! All we had to do was get our hands on some new flowers… in the middle of nowhere (and I was supposed to be on vacation in “civilization,” right?). We called every shop that might carry orange flowers in a realistic driving radius and the only thing we found were 24 orange roses. I have to give my cousin credit, she was the calmest bride I have ever seen in the midst of the chaos, but everyone else was about to pop a gasket. At this point, it was looking like we would be descending the aisle sans bouquets.
In a last desperate attempt, my mother called her friend the florist in Denver (a three-hour drive from where we were located). By the grace of God, the woman somehow had all the flowers we needed and my father, who was driving up late for the wedding with my brothers, was able to pick the flowers up on his way. The only problem was that he was scheduled to arrive only 30 minutes before the wedding. Everyone else assumed we would be able to pull the really dead flowers out of the arrangements and quickly replace them with the new flowers in the same bouquets – but oh contraire, my friends, that is not how flowers work.
My dad arrived with about 45 minutes to spare before the ceremony. I’m not exactly sure how it happened – the whole ordeal is a blur of lilies, daisies, ribbons and pearl pins in my memory – but my mother and I tore apart and reassembled the bridal bouquet and SEVEN bridesmaid’s bouquets in half an hour. I will never forget the look on my cousin’s face (and the gratitude in her eyes) when I handed her a bouquet that looked even better than the original she’d ordered.
All of the panic and stress my mom and I felt about whether or not we’d get the flowers done in time was worth it because my cousin trusted me when I said I could fix it. She didn’t have to stress about the flowers while she preparing for her big day and in the end she was thrilled. And really, isn’t that the only thing that matters?
Looking back on the experience, I realized this is exactly what I love about planning weddings. I love the dresses, the décor, the venues and the flowers. I even love the hard work, the chaos, the unexpected obstacles, and necessary problem solving. But what I really love is getting to be a part of the most special day of two people’s lives and being able to solve a problem no one else could. It’s thrilling in a way I suppose. This experience also was a prime example of something I’ve been learning throughout my internship: the most important thing a wedding planner does in the face of chaos is remain calm so she can quickly and effectively assess the situation and fix the problem. She who remains level headed in a storm avoids the shipwreck. Sandy always preaches about how a well-rested wedding planner can handle any crisis – she’s right.
My internship is almost over and I’ll be heading back to the “real world” ready for any wedding planning challenge somebody is ready to throw at me. It was here that I learned you can’t really fix a bouquet without taking it apart and starting over. We’d still be there trying to make a sow’s ear into a silk purse if we hadn’t torn them apart and started from scratch. I’ve also learned a million other things and I can’t wait to put them to use in my new career.
Kelsi Welch, intern extraordinaire and flower emergency management expert