I've been in business for a smidge over five years and if there's one thing I've learned (there isn't, there's waaay MORE than ONE, but it's just a saying...) it's that there is something magical that happens when you find other wedding pros that share your aesthetics, values and drive to hone their craft and serve their clients. Through our conversations, we learn, we grow and we discover things that never would have occurred to us on our own. These are the people I turn to with questions or frustrations, to share info and celebrate successes.
I love my people so dang much that I want to share them with you!
You're going to love them too!
This brand new series of videos will introduce you to wedding professionals who are amazingly good at what they do. You'll meet bakers, planners, floral designers, photographers, jewelers--people from every corner of the wedding world!
The thing I love about each of these people is the heart with which they serve their customers and practice their art. During this season of gratitude, it feels right to express thanks for these friends who inspire me, teach me, listen and learn along with me.
Sometimes we're fortunate enough to sit on the same couch for these chats. Other times we depend on technology to shrink the miles between us.
Today, I'm so excited for you to meet Sandra Costello of Sandra Costello Photography. (Go on, click the link! She's got an AH-MAZING website!) We sat down to talk about what we do, why we do it and what sets us apart from other professionals in the wedding world. Sandra is passionate about the heartfelt way she connects with her clients. Sharing herself fully with her clients and forming a deep connection with them creates a sense of trust that allows people to open up so Sandra can capture the essence of a couple and the emotions in the moment. (Seriously, look at the pictures on her website, you'll totally understand what I mean!)
Sandra's the one who urged me to put more energy into creating a heartfelt connection with my clients. Now, when people come to me to preserve their wedding flowers, I spend the time to listen and learn about their love, their wedding and how their flowers embody the emotions of the day for them. As my friendship with Sandra has deepened, it has enriched the relationships I create with my clients. And that has fed my soul as an artist as I create botanical collages that are inspired by the essence of who my clients are and the love that brought them together.
Sandra was ALSO the one who suggested we interview each other on video since it's easier to explain your work in conversation with a friend than it is do a full-on video sales pitch (and much more pleasant!). It so dang much fun that I decided to make a habit of it.
I hope you enjoy this first episode of Heart-to-Heart!
KC & Mary had brought me two coolers full of flowers from their wedding.
I pressed just about everything they'd given me and when the flowers came out of the presses, I'd joked that I might need a bigger table. Then, of course, I was quick to point out that if bigger tables were required to hold more flowers and more love then (metaphorically speaking) we should ALL have BIGGER tables!
I stood back to take in the scope of the botanicals I'd taken from the presses. There had to have been a thousand petals in front of me. I bit my lip, intimidated by the sheer volume of the possibilities.
I took a deep breath. Just as every journey begins with a single step. Every botanical collage begins with one petal.
Shhh, here's a secret...when I get a bouquet, I pick apart all of the flowers and press the individual petals. Weeks later, when they come out of the presses, I re-build the flowers petal by petal.
Watch the process here...
I had reconstructed about 20 flowers when it became clear that the 11"x14" collage KC & Mary had ordered wasn't going to be big enough to hold this botanical abundance. I sent them an email to explain. I asked them to consider a bigger piece. "Think about where you're going to hang this in your home. Do you want one large piece, or maybe a series of smaller ones?" They said they'd talk about it and get back to me.
I expected KC & Mary to deliberate awhile to consider the possibilities. I was suprised when I heard back from them the very next day. They wanted a 20"x20".
"We want to capture that feeling of abundance we had throughout the day. Not only the abundance of flowers, but love and laughing and so much fun!"
For KC & Mary their flowers represented the total joy of their wedding day and they wanted their collage to capture that feeling so they could hold on to it forever.
As much as it thrilled me to hear how excited KC & Mary were about their collage, I was a little bit terrified. No lie. 20” x 20” is a large piece of artwork when your medium is pressed flower petals.
I needed to get busy building more flowers.
After I've reconstructed the flowers, it's time to design the collage.
But, before I begin to the design process, I set an intention.
I take a few moments and sit with the flowers. I think about the people I am creating for and what they want.
I think about love; deep love that makes one person say to another, you're the one for me.
I listen to the flowers. They witnessed the moment. They soaked up the joy. The flowers were there and now they're with me, imbued with the emotions of the day.
As I was designing KC & Mary's collage, I started to giggle. There ARE joy in the flowers and it's CONTAGIOUS!
I'm following the lead of the flowers and we're having a grand ol' time here at Flora-Ly Studios.
Here's a little glimpse of the piece in process...
I met KC & Mary at last year's Valley Wed show at Quonquont Farm.
Although they didn't have a plan yet for their wedding flowers, they were intrigued with the idea that they could have them preserved.. We chatted, they took a card, and they moved on to the next vendor's table. I remember being struck by their careful intention that their wedding day reflect who they are and how they love each other.
About a month before their wedding, KC reached out. They had big plans for their wedding flowers and they wanted to be sure I reserved the presses for them.
Here's the day they came to Flora-Ly Studios with the flowers from their wedding...
They had worked with Corina at The Botaniste. Their instructions to her were riotous, colorful, bountiful bouquets and tablescapes. Boy howdy, mission accomplished! To say color and texture reigned supreme at their wedding is an understatement.
Usually, when a couple comes into Flora-Ly after their wedding, they bring me a bouquet. KC & Mary brought me two coolers full of flowers! Their wedding flowers were so meaningful to them, the idea of throwing any of them away broke their hearts. So they brought as many as they could carry!
As they pulled flowers from the coolers, they "ooohed" and "aaahed" and gushed about how this arrangement was on their table or those looked just like the ones in their garden. Clearly, their flowers evoked the joy of their wedding day and the exhuberance of their love for each other.
Here's what thrills me about what I do...I get to preserve so much more than wedding flowers...I get to create something that will capture the joy of KC and Mary's wedding day and let them remember and relive that feeling every day for the rest of their lives. That's powerful stuff.
Sometimes unconventional choices just feel right. This bloom is beautifully unconventional, 100% joy-inducing and an absolute embodiment of KC & Mary's exuberance.
When I took KC & Mary's flowers out of the presses, my first thought was, "Oh my! I need a bigger table!" You know what? The whole world needs a bigger table! We all need to make room for an abundance of beauty and unabashed joy! More flowers, I say! Bigger tables, if need be, but more flowers, fuller hearts and efferescent joy for all!
My mission now, is to use these petals to inspire KC and Mary as much as they've inspired me!
Stay tuned for the next glimpse of KC and Mary's wedding flower preservation. I can't wait to see where all this love takes us...
P.S. - Immediate gratification anyone? Fast forward to Part 2!
What a joy to have the studio so busy! A record number of couples have asked me to create art from their wedding flowers this year and lately, it's been a whirlwind of gorgeous bouquets, pressed flower petals and inspiration!
Here's a glimpse of what it looks like when life is full of flowers...
Every single wedding bouquet that comes to the studio is utterly gorgeous and unequivocably unique. Some have just a blush of color...whispering of love...
...and some flowers are riotous and joyful and shout love to the rooftops!
Every bouquet that is entrusted to me to press, preserve and make art with is an absolute inspiration. I'm so lucky that I get to be surrounded by so much beauty!
All of the gorgeous flowers get taken apart petal by petal and go into the presses. I actually had to have MORE presses made this year to accomodate all of my wonderful clients!
Here's what it looks like when I empty a press...the deconstructed and pressed wedding bouquets have a glorious, simple beauty to them.
After pressing, I painstakingly recreate the flowers. At this stage, tweezers are my BEST friend.
My intention isn't to literally recreate the bouquet, but to transform it into a timeless piece of art that makes space for the memories of a courtship, romance and wedding day; and also expresses love and anticipation for a marriage that holds the promise of two lives lived fully in tandem.
Want to see some of the finished pieces? Check out my inspiration gallery! Are you curious about how it looks like to work with me? As the studio becomes busier, the presses need to be reserved in advance, so let's talk!
So, you’re planning a wedding and you want it to be like nobody else’s. You’re looking for a baker, photographer and floral designer who’ll honor your individual style. You want to pay homage to your home town with local touches from artists you share a personal connection with.
You’ve GOT to come to Valley Wed.
On October 29th, a hand-selected group of wedding professionals from the Pioneer Valley will gather at Quonquot Farm in Whately, MA. We’ll be there to delight, intrigue and wow you with our offerings while you soak in the beauty of this 200 year old farm and relax with nibbles & cocktails.
This isn’t your Momma’s wedding show. This is fresh, eclectic and personal.
I’ll be there with my latest botanical designs. Let’s talk about your flower dreams and how we can turn your bouquet into art that you can enjoy forever.
Maybe you’re thinking about hand painted wedding invitations? Ooooh fancy! Let’s talk about too.
Bored by the choices you see for bridesmaids gifts? Or maybe you’re looking for something special to say thanks to your mom & new mom-in-law? I’ve got something truly unique to show you!
It promises to be a lovely day in a lovely place with lovely people sharing lovely things. Doesn't it just sound....SWELL?!
Have a peek at all the amazing wedding pros you’ll get to meet and buy your tickets!
Enter to win a pair of FREE tickets!
I CAN'T WAIT to meet you and hear all about the wonderful plans you're making!
I thought I was too busy to create a calendar this year. And then my customers insisted that I find the time.
One particularly insistent customer couldn’t imagine what she’d give to her beloved clients if NOT a Flora-Ly Studios Calendar of Flowers…
“Each year I purchase these delightful desk calendars from Flora-Ly for all my current and former clients to enjoy throughout the entire year – they LOVE them – and so do I!”
Alicia of Alicia J. Nichols Fundraising Counsel, Pittsfield, ME
You spoke. I listened.
This is the fourth year I’m offering the Flora-Ly Studios Calendar of Flowers—a collection of 12 postcard-sized, monthly mini-calendars that perch upon a sweet, wooden easel—perfectly suited to adorn your desk.
I start putting the calendar together in August. I begin by going through photographs of every collage I’ve made during the year. It’s a wonderful opportunity to take a stroll down memory lane. Every collage is attached to the memory of a client and their story; the woman who looooooved her pink roses; the customer whose bouquet was so enormous that we made two collages from it; and the client whose mom and grandmother used to pressed flowers—having her wedding flowers pressed was so poignant for her.
Rather than use images of complete collages (Those one of a kind beauties belong solely to the customers I made them for!), I focus on favorite vignettes from the collages I love the most and digitally re-mix them to make something entirely new.
Every month is a collection of memories from my studio and my life and I offer them to you, ready and waiting to hold your memories-in-the-making.
June’s pink Peony is from my mother’s Peony bush. Her Peony bushes were lush and tall, with blossoms the size of cantaloupes. No chemical fertilizers for these babies--they grew to epic proportions as a result of love, gentle whispers, sunshine and sheep compost. Now they grow in my garden. I'm sure they long for my mother’s whispered-sweet-nothings…but I do give them a kind word along with their sheep shi…compost.
February is a layered vision in pinks and purples created from the flowers in September's photo. I think of those layers as being like our relationships—they start out simply enough—growing richer and more complex over time.
October is always one of my favorites. This is a photo of “flower ghosts.” The faint—sometimes not so faint—images that a flower leaves on the paper after I remove it from the presses. Sometimes the marks are distinct, sometimes less so. It seems apropos to use these flower spirits for the month that holds All Hallows Eve.
After I’ve settled on 12 images for the year, I add notes or quotes to the back of each month’s card. These are like a mini-journal entry, reflective of the past year and hopeful for next—my wishes for you as your year unfolds.
There’s a trick that time plays on us, as we grow older and wiser. Somehow it seems to speed up. When weeks blend together and months fly by, I feel robbed of my right to savor each moment. That’s why I’m especially grateful that you asked for another calendar this year. It’s my chance to slow down, cherish the beautiful memories from the year, learn from the less beautiful ones, and make wishes for each day, each week, each month in the year ahead.
Just as flowers are a gift—from nature to humankind; from one lover to another; given between friends; meant to memorialize, to symbolize, to celebrate…this calendar is a gift…not FROM me, but THROUGH me. A gift for you…to keep or to share. A gift of beauty, of wishes, memories and good intentions.
Calendar pre-sale orders are now open. I print only a few more calendars than are pre-ordered and they sell out every year. Make sure you get yours by ordering before October 25th.
If you’d like to purchase 25 or more calendars to give as gifts, you’ll enjoy a 25% discount on your order. For my corporate clients, I offer the option of customization with your logo on the back of each month’s card.
Order calendars in small quantities here…
Order 25+ calendars here…
Brides often think of greenery as the filler between the flowers, but in truth, there's a quiet elegance in a leaf, a fern, some Dusty Miller. Greenery creates a soft, fresh romance all on its own.
If your dream wedding is simple, elegant and fresh, greenery is the way to go! Pro tip: something magical happens when you mix fresh greens and pressed botanicals. The resulting alchemy is textured and timeless, elegant and elevated.
Just feast your eyes on this gorgeous inspiration photo shoot (which I was invited to participate in) that combines fresh and pressed greens in every element of the wedding design!
Amanda Sandford of A Styled Fete Wedding Design, asked me to create some pressed greens and flowers to support her vision of an old world botanical collector—with specimens in luxurious wooden display cases and under glass cloches—creating a hushed sense of leaning in, paying close attention and drinking in the details of Mother Nature’s perfect work.
I pressed white Peonies, Queen Anne’s Lace, Astilbe, Eucalyptus and Dusty Miller, which were carefully placed among the place cards to create a breathtaking display. So simple! So stunning!
The delicate detail of the pressed botanicals against the dark fabric encourages guests to lean in, hushed, and admire their beauty.
Peonies press beautifully, evoking the paper flowers you made as a child. Can't you practically smell the clean, sharp eucalyptus?
These pressed greens were placed between sheets of custom cut acrylic to create a lush and intricate wedding invitation. Can you imagine getting this in the mail?! Such a gorgeous way to say, "Come! Something special is going to happen and you'll want to be there!"
All these ideas are simple, elegant and absolutely achievable for your wedding! Think green, think pressed botanicals and create something unusual and stunning that will amaze and inspire your guests!
See ALL the photos of this soft & romantic wedding inspiration at RuffledBlog.com.
Special thanks to the entire vendor team that made this photoshoot come together so beautifully:
A Styled Fete
Forget Me Not
Bridal Gown / Veil
Emily Taylor Rogers
The Baker's Table
Makeup by Emily Dimant
L. Priori Jewelry
Wild Flowers By Design
Hair and Makeup by Nikki
“The life of man is a self-evolving circle, which, from a ring imperceptibly small, rushes on all sides outwards to new and larger circles, and that without end. The extent to which this generation of circles, wheel without wheel, will go, depends on the force or truth of the individual soul.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
The circle is without beginning and without end. Ripples on the surface of the water, emanating out from a single source—a raindrop, a pebble, a water strider as it glides impossibly on the surface of the pond.
Since the ancients gazed upon a full moon with wonder, mankind has been fascinated with the circle, its perfection and the timeless mystery of that perfection. Mandalas are circular designs from the Buddhist and Hindu traditions that symbolize the entirety and utter completeness of the universe.
The recent eclipse is a fleeting moment in a dance of heavenly orbs—one circle passing in front of another.
I have spent countless hours drawing and painting circles in the hopes of coming as close to perfection as possible. Dipping the brush in ink and swirling around on the paper is meditative and satisfying. Circles are in us and of us and around us physically, metaphorically, spiritually.
When I begin to design a circle collage I feel the tension between being bound within a one foot diameter and the freedom that comes from allowing the beauty of the petals to guide me as I pay homage to the love they represent.
Large and small, light and dark, cool and warm elements balance and harmonize, like the balance we strike in marriage. Separate, but together. Two people, one and one—now, each more than they were alone.
Constant and unbroken. Unquestionably whole. The Circle is a beautiful and fitting design to preserve your wedding flowers.
The Flora-Ly Studios Walk series began with a walk in the woods.
In 2016, I created a series of botanical collages for the Mount Grace Conservation Trust. I would walk their land and gather flora along the way to bring back to my studio and press. The long, horizontal stretch of the resulting pieces reflects those walks. They were an abstract recreation of the Mount Grace trails.
When I hung the pieces for exhibition, my goal was for each guest to relive those walks in the woods. I wanted each person who viewed the pieces to be moved to remember their own thoughtful meanderings down those same trails. Or, or perhaps the collages would bring to mind the sun dappled forest paths of their childhood. The pieces were meant to be evocative of the smells, sights and sensations of walks from the past. By joining the past with the present, I intended to create a timeless feedback loop of memory and emotion.
A woodland trail is much like the aisle you walk down to join your true love in marriage. Both are a procession through a sacred space; both showing the way down an oft-trodden path—the direction marked by the footsteps of those who have gone before us. Rather than wander directionless through the forest of life, you have found your path, your way, and you are ready to walk it.
Carrying a bouquet down the aisle on your wedding day is a tradition that goes back centuries. During the time of King Henry VIII, brides carried a bouquet of herbs that were later used in a celebratory feast. When you choose to preserve your wedding bouquet in the Walk design, you honor the path that guided you to the discovery of love; the grace of tradition; and the beauty of commitment.
To hang a Walk botanical collage in your home is to give yourself the gift of revisiting that walk down the aisle, a daily reminder to cherish the events that brought you to this life. More than a memory, it serves as a reminder that this path is a life-long journey and while there may be challenges along the way, there is much beauty—if only we’re wise enough to stop and appreciate it.
Flora-Ly Studios’ Walk is 36” x 10” of floral meandering, a timeless work of art that represents the way you once walked alone and celebrates how you now walk side by side, mindful to stop occasionally and appreciate the moments of beauty along the way.
This Walk is comprised of Dahlia, Queen Anne's Lace and Hydrangea. Three flowers balanced in a thoughtful and rhythmic way.
Have you heard the news? Flora-Ly Studios now offers hand painted wedding invitation suites! Do you have any paper lovelies that could be elevated with the stroke of a paint brush? Below, I’ll show you HOW I do it, but first, let me tell you WHY.
I don’t remember a time when a paint brush didn’t feel like an extension of my soul. Long before I thought to call myself an artist, painting was second nature to me. And so it made sense that I should go to art school. After studying fine art at Syracuse University, I went on to work with fiber, flowers, and more traditional mediums, making murals and commissioned pieces in the hours between teaching art to children and raising my own. When I took over my mother’s business, I relegated painting to my personal time, not thinking to incorporate it with the work I was doing with pressed flowers.
Last year, my son Keegan proposed to his then-girlfriend Emily and the two began to plan their wedding. In the glow of their joy, the universe took a break from bigger doings and took a moment to speak to me. What it said was unmistakable. My gift to Keegan and Emily would be made of botanicals and brush strokes. Of course, I would do their wedding flowers (and press them afterwards), but I would also hand paint their wedding invitations!
The three of us spent a few evenings around a table with paints, paper, excitement and joy as we planned out the design. Emails, sketches and more excitement followed. And then, the plan was complete. I was going to create one hundred and twenty 5”x7” invitations; RSVP cards; event cards; envelopes (sending and return); thirty rehearsal dinner invitations; place cards and table numbers; each a unique piece of their vision. Every single one, painted by my hand.
Over the winter, after my work was done, I painted. I laid in branches, then leaves, blue hydrangea and wispy, baby leaves. Mesmerized by the rhythm of painting, I meditated on my son, his love, the enrichment of our family and the new chapter that lay ahead for all of us.
Here is a few minute video of the making of 1 out of 120.
When the entire suite was finished, Keegan and Emily were thrilled to send each person on their list an original painting made just for them, inviting them to share in their happiness.
The joy of this creative act was deepened by the love I have for my family, but it began with the feel of the paintbrush in my hand, the colors at my command. It felt natural and RIGHT.
When something feels so right, you want to repeat it. Over and over. Lucky me! By offering this service to other couples, I can!
I get to paint and you get to send your guests an invitation as unique as your love, hand painted with the same care you’ve taken to choose every detail of your wedding. And they’ll know, the moment they open that envelope that something very special is about to happen and it’s your wish to share it with them.
So, let’s talk, email, sketch and sit around a table (real or virtual :). I’ll listen and interpret your ideas with brush and color. I’ll help you create original paintings to call your loved ones to your celebration. Painted just for them.
Your special time is now. Let’s get started!
Whether the medium is pressed flowers or watercolor, my passion is your love.
A glimpse of a sample of every piece created, from envelope to place card.
I'm Linda, keeper of the flowers.