My design process starts around 5am on a Saturday morning. My husband Jason and I crawl out of bed while it’s still dark, and drive to our favorite antique show or flea market. These journeys take us too all corners of the midwest, and very often New York. During these very long car rides, we mentally review what we’ll be searching for that day. I tell him any new brides that I am scouting for (Katherine in England wants pastel colored pieces and Tamara in Pennsylvania needs purple rhinestone pieces, etc). The hubby searches for mantiques (antiques that dudes would dig), and of course looks for my brooches. I set out looking solely for brooches, and sometimes pick up other things that catch my eye. I try to keep a balance of other cool vintage accessories and clothing in my etsy shop as well as my custom wedding pieces.
Photo by Bold Kreative Photography
When we get home, it’s time to log our purchases. I usually have about 20 brides at a time, so it’s crucial that I do things in an extremely organized way. Jason is always coming up with new, smart systems to help me organize my inventory, and very often, my thoughts. In my studio, I have huge shelves that take up one entire wall. When a bride books a custom bouquet, I set up a bin and label it with her name and wedding date. As I buy new brooches, I sort them by bride. There are usually quite a few extra brooches (I always keep my inventory stocked pretty well for last-minute brides). Those pieces get organized by type and color on a different shelf.
I work on one bride’s bouquet at a time. I take out all of the pieces I’ve picked out for her, lay them out on a table, and start playing with different combinations of brooches. Often, I am really inspired by the pieces themselves, and magic happens once I start playing with all of the sparkling jewels. Every bouquet is different from the last, and I don’t think I’ll ever tire of the challenge of laying out my new (old) baubles and starting on a fresh work of art. It takes a few days of working non-stop to complete her bouquet, but the entire process can take weeks because I work full time too. Sometimes, I put the bouquet down for a day, revisit it with fresh eyes, and see little opportunities to add a few great pieces here or there. The last step is to wrap the stem with whichever vintage ribbon my bride has selected. This is a chance to personalize the piece even more. For one bride, I’ve included a locket hanging on the stem with a photograph of her brother who had passed away. She wanted him with her on her wedding day. For another bride, I inserted five pennies into the wrapped handle because that was an inside joke between her and her late grandfather. Another bride has her initials on the stem, and another has an anchor in honor of her fiance who is a tugboat captain. On my own wedding bouquet, I finished the stem with a very special shower gift from a dear family friend- a beautiful sapphire and diamond delicate brooch passed down from my friend’s mother.
Photo by Bold Kreative Photography
One of the best parts of the process is when we get the photographer’s wedding pictures. There is something really spectacular about creating with my hands the piece that will be in a bride’s hands the first time her husband sees her on their wedding day. It’s always thrilling to see all of the bride’s other details and how my bouquet fits in to the big picture, and I love how each photographer captures it in a different way. The other really electrifying moment is when my bride receives her bouquet in the weeks and months before her wedding. I’ve gotten some heart-warming emails from clients about that moment, which have really moved me every time. One bride was with her mother and grandmother when she got the package, and it was so special for her to see the bouquet come to life that she cried (she mentioned that she hadn’t cried during that epic moment of trying on “The” dress for the first time, but with my bouquet, it finally felt real). That’s the kind of thing that gets me up at 5am on chilly Saturday mornings.
* * *