“All they’d ever seen was a sketch of the wedding rose arbor,” says Rick Davis of Amaryllis Floral and Event Design.
He’s explaining why his clients were so thrilled with their flowers.
Rick shares the story of how an amazing 40-foot rose arbor and impressive 50-foot rose planter were designed for the couple’s elegant wedding reception
It started with a simple sketch Rick drew for the clients. Add in thousands of roses, cases of floral foam, boxes of foliage, a stack of wooden boards, and a cattle panel.
Did he say “cattle panel”?
That’s crazy! What could a ‘cattle panel’ have to do with this beautiful rose arbor?
“Don’t be afraid to take a chance,” says Rick. “I’ve built my career on crazy ideas.”
His crazy ideas, hard work, a team of talent, and ‘can do’ attitude built Amaryllis Floral into one of the premier floral design and event producers in the Washington, DC area.
“The answer we’ve taught everyone in our studio is ‘Yes! We’ll take care of it,” shares Rick.
How did they ‘take care’ of building a 40-foot long and 10-foot wide rose-covered arbor?
A Super Simple Solution
“It’s super simple – we have carpenters who built the arbor structure,” says Rick. We bought a cattle panel from the feed store and it fit perfectly into a slot on the frame.”
“No design prep is allowed in the venue so all the work was done in the studio,” explains Rick. “All of the carpenters and six of our designers worked to create an intricate design.”
Floral foam placed in key spots on the cattle panel anchored the floral materials.
A breath-taking 3500 stems of Tibet roses and Majolica flora bunda roses along with six cases of southern smilax and grapevine filled the gorgeous rose-covered arch.
The massive rose arbor wasn’t the only larger-than-life design created for the event.
Setting the Stage
Setting the stage for evening entertainment was a 50-foot long flower planter.
“The stage planters are custom pieces we made for the venue,” Rick explains. Troughs were built into the planters to hold bricks of floral foam.
500 spray roses, 300 hydrangea, and 50 bunches of tree ivy and huck were used to create a long, narrow design.
How can you keep hydrangea fresh? Sharon offers these tips.
Low centerpieces were designed for round guest tables allowing guests to connect over candlelit dinner conversation.
Connect with Your Customer
Learning how your customer lives help you to connect with them, Rick suggests. “You can enhance their quality of life with the appropriate flowers if you know how they live.”
He adds to that customer connection by letting them know how he lives.
Rick and Christopher Vazquez, his husband and business partner, live on their farm about an hour out of the city. They commute to the city daily.
On Sundays, Rick posts photos of the farm’s animals on his personal Instagram page, giving followers a glimpse of how he uses nature to counterbalance his hectic business life.
He applies that same down-to-earth, fix-it strategy to his event business.
Be a ‘Fixer’
Often Amaryllis-designed events are not inexpensive. Why are clients willing to invest in working with this prestigious firm?
“When things go wrong you want a fixer,” explains Rick. “We have the ability to fix things when things happen.”
That ability to ‘fix’ comes from Amaryllis Floral’s staff of 65 full-time employees. Five are carpenters, five staff members work in the art department, four in textiles, and nine are floral designers.
The remaining staff includes office production, installers, fleet and warehouse support. Freelance floral designers and production staff are hired as needed per event.
Rick often helps clients to get a grasp of their ‘flower investment’ by putting the expense into context with overall wedding costs.
Caterers, cake bakers, and other wedding professionals offer pricing on a “per guest” basis. Rick does the same.
During the consultation, he first mentions how much they might spend per guest on event decor, rather than giving a ballpark estimate.
“Suggesting to the client a cost of $300 – $400 per guest for event décor helps soften the $300,000 estimate that is coming later,” he confides.
Rick offers other insights that can be helpful to floral professionals.
- Create focal points. Go for a high visual impact when guests are arriving. Don’t spread your money around the reception in smaller centerpieces. Think bridal bouquet. Escort card tables. Something that says “Wow!”
- Flower quality is what you want to concentrate on more than buying local vs importing. Flowers aren’t necessarily cheaper in season, but the quality can be better.
- The look of a venue matters. You get more bang for your buck working with the décor of the space you’re in. A traditional space? Use traditional flowers. Modern space? Design with a modern flair.
- Knowing the client’s dislikes is as equally helpful as knowing what they love.
- Encourage couples to focus on the big picture and the details will fall in place.
Rick’s Best Advice?
Rick offers surprisingly simple ‘best advice’ for executing large floral installations at Amaryllis Floral and Event Design.
“Don’t forget to put ladders in the truck. They come in handy when installing a large structure,” Rick answers with a laugh.
“No one is perfect. Yes, we forgot the ladders!”
He also recommends having support staff at base camp. “It saves time when you need something from the shop on a busy day … LIKE A LADDER!” 🤣
What’s your best advice for selling, designing, or executing large floral events?