Saturday, August 29, 2009

Doing it Yourself

Do you look at a beautiful floral arrangement and think, "I could do that?" If so, you might be up to doing your own wedding flowers.

But keep in mind that most of those beautiful arrangements and bridal bouquets you see in pictures or magazines were probably done by professional floral designers with years of design experience and floral know-how. But if you're up to it, make the project more fun than frustrating, more awesome than awful. The keys to beautiful wedding flowers are planning every detail, getting everything together in one place, and practice, practice, practice.

If you use our tips and follow our advise, you're sure to have a good experience. So, let's get started!


Get Lots of Ideas
Look through magazines, books on floral decorating, visit fine floral shops, and take pictures of floral arrangements you like in public places. A 5-star hotel is a great place to get ideas. Go on a Saturday and you'll probably see weddings already set up. The more ideas you have, the more you'll have to incorporate into your wedding flowers.

Put All Your Ideas in One Place
There's nothing worse than finding just the look you want, then losing it because you weren't organized. So get a notebook with pockets or a manila envelope just for your flower pictures. When you're ready to start making decisions, you can toss out the photos that don't fit into your plan.

Decide on Your Color Scheme
If you have a favorite color, that's what you'll want for your wedding. But if the carpet is hideous in the room, you should probably think about a colors scheme that will help to take the eye off it. Or you may have fallen in love with some dresses for your bridesmaids. Choose your color scheme using any of these sources.

Set Your Flower Budget
The flowers are just one part of a wedding celebration. Added to the cost of the dress, music, reception, and gifts, the budget for flowers can just about break the bank. But in any wedding, the flowers set the tone, add color and fragrance, and are one of the things that the guests really remember. So don't skimp.

Select Your Flowers
Many different flowers can give the colors you choose. Will you want roses or carnations, orchids or iris? Your decision will be somewhat influenced by where you live and the season of the year. Lilacs are almost impossible to get (at a price you can afford) in January, so find other flowers that have a similar shade.

You may decide to have all roses or an assortment of several varieties. Whatever you choose, make sure the flowers are available in your locale or place a special order for just what you want.

Recruit Lots of Help
Because flowers are perishable, they have to be prepared and arranged at the last minute. If you're having lots of flowers, you'll need lots of help.

Make a Recipe to Follow
Prepare a recipe for your floral arrangements, just as you would write a recipe for a food you're preparing. Each centerpiece will need a container, a block of floral foam, 12 stems of roses, 5 stems of baby's breath, and 3 stems of ivy. Well, you get the picture. Be sure you have more than you need for what you expect to make.

Gather All the Supplies
Get everything together in a box with easy access. If you have 3 friends helping, be sure you have 3 sets of supplies to help make the work go more smoothly. You'll want to include clippers, floral tape, ribbons, floral moss, flower preservative, rose strippers if you have roses, corsage pins, vase. Once you have your recipe, you'll know what you need.

A Cool Place for Storage
You'll probably purchase and start preparing the flowers several days ahead of the big event and they'll need to be kept chilled. If it's a hot summer, reserve a room in the house and crank up the air conditioner. But don't let the cold air blow directly on the flowers.

Buckets of Water
As soon as you buy the flowers, they need to go into water. Find some tall buckets from a home improvement center or ask if you can buy or borrow some from the flower vendor or florist. A very tall bucket (about 18" tall) will help to support the blossoms on tall stems.

A Dedicated Work Area
To prepare your wedding flowers, whether you have small arrangements or large ones, you'll need an area dedicated for the task. Cover as many surfaces as you can with plastic or a carpet cover (some flowers will bleed onto the flooring). You'll need a deep sink to soak the flowers, several large tables, trash bags, a large garbage can, and a space nearby to set finished bouquets and arrangements.

Practice, Practice, Practice
No matter how simple your plan or how confident you might feel, plan to do at least one (preferably two) practice run. Purchase the flowers you've selected to construct one centerpiece and one bouquet and put them together. Keep track of how long it takes to prepare that one, then multiply by how many you'll need to make. This will give you a great idea of how much time you'll need to dedicate to the flowers when the big day arrives. You might find that you've bought more flowers than you need or that you need a fuller bow, requiring more ribbon. This is a better time to realize these things than on the wedding day.

Work Ahead
The flowers will have to be done ahead of time, but you can make bows, gather the containers, purchase candles, fill votives, fold napkins, print the wedding programs or reception menus, and assemble the table favors weeks ahead. Remember where you store them!

When the Party's Over
Ask a close friend to gather your centerpiece containers, candlesticks, decorations, votive holders, and any flowers you want to keep at the end of the reception. Be sure you provide bins, boxes, or bags and wrapping materials along with instructions on what to save and what to throw away.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Keeping flowers longer and fresher

Masthead showing Anil Ranwala, PhD.

Volume 11, Issue 8 August 2009

Efficacy Test on Floralife Quick Dip® Instant Hydration Pretreatment

Floralife Quick Dip® Instant Hydration Solution is a ready-to-use pretreatment for cut flowers to aid in keeping them fresher. This unique pretreatment was specially designed for retail florists where workspace and time is limited. It is, however, also applicable for wholesale florists and growers as well. The process is very simple, dipping the bottom stem area of cut flowers into 2 - 3” of the pretreatment solution for merely one to two seconds. The treatment helps clean the stem ends and opens up the vessels inside the flower stems which carry water and flower food throughout. The end use results are enhanced uptake of flower food, quick hydration, and recovery from stressed flowers which have wilted. Using Floralife Quick Dip® Instant Hydration Pretreament aids in reducing the amount of flowers which would otherwise be thrown out by a retail florist due to stress and wilting.

An experiment was conducted at the Floralife Research Laboratory in Walterboro , SC to investigate the effects of Floralife Quick Dip® Instant Hydration Pretreatment on fresh cut roses. Flower bunches of rose varieties “Freedom’ and ‘Miracle’ were removed from the floral cooler and held dry at room temperature for 6 hours to induce wilting. The bottom of each flower stem was air cut and then immediately dipped into 2 inches of Floralife Quick Dip® Instant Pretreatment solution for 1 - 2 seconds. All leaves which would otherwise be under the water level in a vase were removed. The flowers were then placed into 1 L glass vases filled with Floralife Crystal Clear® flower food. The vases were kept in an interior postharvest room for further evaluation. Control flowers were processed the same way except the the Floralife Quick Dip® Instant Hydration pretreatment step was omitted. The hydration and overall appearance of the flowers were then observed.

At the beginning of the experiment all flowers were visibly wilted. After the flowers were placed in a vase solution the flowers gradually became hydrated and regained petal turgidity. The flowers treated with Floralife Quick Dip® Instant Hydration Pretreatment Solution hydrated much faster than the “control” flowers. The photos below show the appearance of flowers two hours after the treatment.

'Freedom' Roses Experiment photo

'Freedom' Rose
Control: No Floralife Quick Dip ® Instant Hydration Pretreatment

Treated: Floralife Quick Dip ® Instant Hydration Pretreatment

'Miracle' Rose Experiment photo

'Miracle' Rose
Control: No Floralife Quick Dip® Instant Hydration Pretreatment

Treated: Floralife Quick Dip® Instant Hydration Pretreatment

Floralife Quick Dip® Instant Hydration Pretreatment solution revives stressed cut flowers much faster than cut flowers which are untreated. It is important to keep flowers fully hydrated for greatest flower freshness and to reduce flower waste.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Brides Be Aware

Couples claim agency ruined their weddings
Rachel Welham and Andrew Oh lost thousands when a decorator cancelled contracts days before their wedding.


October 22, 2008: Affairs With Flair is registered as a business. The company had been operating under a vendor's licence for three years prior, Parisotto said.

July 18, 2009: Affairs With Flair invoices bride Shayna Wilks.

July 20: Sara Nassif deposits $825.38 into the Affairs With Flair account via money transfer. She had previously made deposits of $663.23 and $250.

July 23: Nassif deposits $250 for Parisotto's services as a coordinator on the day of her wedding.

July 24: Parisotto fails to appear at Nassif's wedding rehearsal after agreeing to attend the day before.

July 25 at 1:04 a.m.: Nassif receives an email from Affairs With Flair stating: "Please note that Affairs With Flair has filed an assignment in bankruptcy ... For more information please email us."

July 25 at 2:18 p.m.: Affairs With Flair emails Natalie McFarlane, asking whether she had paid her outstanding balance.

July 25 at 2:30 p.m.: Nassif marries Rob Hutchinson. No sign of Parisotto, who had been contracted to provide decorations and act as wedding coordinator.

July 25 at 8 p.m.: Shayna Wilks receives an email that claims to be resending a message Parisotto sent July 17, in which the decorator informed the bride of her company's bankruptcy.

July 25 at 10:48 p.m.: Natalie McFarlane deposits $1,000 into the Affairs With Flair account.

July 26: Affairs With Flair tells Natalie McFarlane they have not yet received payment.

July 27 at 6:54 p.m.: McFarlane deposits $500 into the Affairs With Flair account.

July 27 at 8:01 p.m.: Rachel Welham receives an email from Affairs With Flair informing her she owes the company $574.

July 28: Welham's fiancé, Andrew Oh, deposits $574 into the Affairs With Flair account.

July 29: Affairs With Flair informs multiple couples that the company has filed for bankruptcy. The message says: "If there are any funds available a refund may be made."

July 30: In an email, Affairs With Flair tells McFarlane that they had "no funds available to be returned to clients."

Source: Documents supplied to the Star by clients of Affairs With Flair

Decorator denies she solicited new clients while telling others she'd gone bankrupt
August 08, 2009

Staff Reporter

More than a dozen couples say their weddings have been fouled up by a Toronto-area wedding decorator who left them hanging – some just hours before their ceremony – after collecting thousands of dollars in payments.

Seventeen couples contacted in a Toronto Star investigation say they doled out payments totalling more than $19,000 to Mississauga-based Affairs With Flair, which began to cancel some contracts two weekends ago, while appearing to continue requesting and accepting payments from other clients.

"It was supposed to be my dream day," said Shayna Wilks, who says she lost more than $1,900 to the company, which was contracted to provide the linens, backdrops, flowers and other decorative items for her July 26 wedding at The Old Mill Inn and Spa in Toronto.

"I worked so hard and saved a lot of money for this day. And then this person came and took it all away."

Anna Parisotto, the company's owner and operator, said in a telephone interview this week that her business is in trouble and she is filing for bankruptcy. She denies taking payments from some clients while informing others she was going out of business – and cancelling their contracts.

"I was setting up weddings and I was having major panic attacks," Parisotto said of the final weeks in July, adding, "There is no money. My bank records will show that."

Wilks said she was given no hint of the trouble plaguing Affairs With Flair until July 25 – the night before her wedding.

That evening she received an email from the company. Attached to it was what appeared to be another email, dated July 17, informing Wilks that the company was filing for bankruptcy and would be unable to service her wedding. The message in the new email said simply: "resending to ensure e-mail was received."

Wilks says she never received an email dated July 17 warning of impending bankruptcy. She did, however, receive correspondence from the company after that date, including an invoice and email on July 18 requesting payment of the $933 outstanding on her account – which Wilks says she paid in full two days later.

"I literally stopped breathing," Wilks said of the July 25 message. "I was in a huge panic."

Between July 25 and July 29, other couples received similar messages from Parisotto, stating she was filing for bankruptcy.

Copies of email money transfers by clients indicate Parisotto's company continued to request and accept payments from some clients even as she cancelled services for others.

Bride Natalie McFarlane paid $1,500 in two transfers: one on July 25 and another on July 27. She was told of the company's bankruptcy on July 29, days ahead of her Aug. 1 wedding. McFarlane says she lost about $2,700 in total.

Another couple, Andrew Oh and Rachel Welham, said they made a $574 payment on July 28, a day after Parisotto had petitioned them to pay up or lose her services.

"She kept on telling us that (July 28) was the last day for us to pay her," said Oh.

"She just started demanding the rest of the balance."

The next night, July 29, Oh received the same email Parisotto had sent to other clients, informing them that Affairs With Flair was going bankrupt. The couple's Aug. 1 wedding went ahead as planned, but they had to scramble to find another decorator and florist.

Another bride emailed Parisotto on July 28 to say the Affairs with Flair website was down. Parisotto replied: "I know it's being updated. I will be sending you the updated invoice shortly. Will you be able to place another deposit to catch up?"

Parisotto, who said she has been in the wedding planner business for four years, insists she stopped receiving payments after she began to email clients to inform them of the bankruptcy on the morning of July 25.

In an email to the Star this week, she said: "Since the notice has gone out to brides about the bankruptcy there (has) been no deposit made to my account."

The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada said there is no record as yet of a bankruptcy claim, but that it can take up to 30 days to process. Records show Parisotto filed for personal bankruptcy under her maiden name, Anna Maria Francavilla, in 2001, listing $38,797 in liabilities and $900 in assets.

Parisotto said the 2001 bankruptcy was related to a divorce.

Parisotto has sent several more emails to couples, asking for patience while she sorts out her financial mess. The couples say Parisotto has refused requests to speak to her trustee, whom she said will keep them abreast of her situation.

Some couples have sought help from police, but were told the matter is a contractual issue for the courts.

Sara Nassif, who reported her loss of nearly $2,000 to both York and Peel police, said she wouldn't want her money back at the expense of another couple.

"If she were to pay me back, it would be dirty money," said Nassif, whose father paid $4,000 for replacement decorations after Parisotto cancelled her contract 13 hours before Nassif's July 25 wedding ceremony.

"It would just be another bride's money."

As a result of the money lost, some couples were forced to settle for a wedding short of their dreams.

Others, like Wilks and her now husband, Chris Carson, were forced to cut back on their honeymoon.

"There's no excuse for what I've gone through or what other brides are going through," said Wilks, adding she felt sick to her stomach and cried every day for a week after her less-than-ideal wedding. "She's taken more than (money) from me. She's taken the first days that I'm supposed to be happily married."

Nick Kyonka can be reached at