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What to Look for When Buying Flowers

We’ve talked a lot of flower shop on SMP.  Because we think flowers have the ability to totally transform not only your space – but your soul. And amidst tips on arranging flowers to those on making grocery store stock feel special, it’s time now to hear from Holly & Mandy‘s on what to look for when buying flowers. So that all of our fresh flowers look gorg and make everyone around them smile.

THE PALETTE:  I like to pick out my favorite flower first and then use that as my palette inspiration. From there I choose others that are in a similar color family and compliment well. Contrasting colors can be nice, but I think it’s simplest to begin by working tone on tone.

FRESHNESS: This is so key in making your flowers last longer. Always try to choose the freshest looking flowers at the market. Stay away from any browning, wilting petals or anything that just looks a little tired. When you get home immediately clip 1-2 inches off of the stems at an angle and place your flowers in clean containers full of fresh water. If possible let them drink for at least an hour before arranging them.

TEXTURE: I think it is ideal to have some nice textural variation in your arrangement or bouquet. I love ruffley flowers like the ranunculus and peonies in the photos. That said, I think ruffles stand out even more when accented by a contrasting texture – for example I wired a little pine cone into this bouquet to mix things up a bit. Using mixed greenery is another way to layer in various textures.

FORAGE: Remember that every ingredient in your arrangement does not have to be bought at a flower shop. Clipping greenery from around your neighborhood is a great way to have your finished piece reflect your natural environment. It brings the outside it. I always incorporate some greenery, vines or branches from my yard.

LOOSEN UP: I feel like this is as important for us as it is for the flowers. Just remember to relax and leave the perfectionism at the door when you start playing with your flowers. There is no perfect technique so let the beauty of the flowers speak for themselves. When you arrange, keep it loose and flowing – it’s more fun for you and each flower will stand out more that way!

Photography: Mandy Busby | Floral Design: Holly Carlisle

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Halekai III House Wedding

I’m a big believer that intimate weddings are the way to go. And after the loss of the groom’s father during the wedding planning process, this sweet couple decided on the same. They brought on Orange Beach Weddings to bring their family-focused vision to life and Christopher Nolan didn’t miss a beat.  It’s a small beach affair with a whole lot of heart, and you can swoon through it all right over here.


From the Bride… Ross and I started dating in 2006, got engaged two years ago and jumped right into planning our large, beautiful, formal wedding. Unlike many, I had not been planning my wedding since a little girl – I played house and dreamt more about my future husband. Of course, with the introduction of Pinterest, that certainly changed, and I was overwhelmed with the possibilities.

Our wedding was a dream, but along the way decisions began to feel forced, and it started to feel like someone else’s dream. After all, we’d originally wanted a destination wedding on the beach but, at the time, it just wasn’t in the cards. So when we started planning our first wedding I’d often find myself saying, “I wish I could give this beautiful, half planned wedding to someone else.”

We had an awesome wedding planner—Jessica Kersey at Finishing Touch Designs—and she was wonderful to work with. She took care of everything from handling vendors to helping us come up with a great menu to finding the best tasting cake! To each his own when it comes to getting a wedding planner or not, but we certainly could not have managed the beginning of this process without her.

About six months into wedding planning, Ross’s dad went into the hospital with liver failure and he did not come back home. During that time, planning our wedding was torturous: It wasn’t fun; decisions were laborious; and we felt our focus wasn’t in the right place. So we decided to postpone until Ross’s dad’s health was in a better state. Unfortunately, that day never came and he passed away on March 10th, 2012. Our large wedding party, close friends, and family were very understanding throughout it all and we could not have asked for more support. 

A few months after his passing, Ross and I were ready to start planning again, but this time our priorities had changed. We wanted small, intimate, much more casual, and to get married in a family vacation destination that meant something, that meant a lot, to our family, the beaches of Gulf Shores, AL. Once that was decided, we hired Gulf Shores local wedding planner Jessica Wright at Orange Beach Weddings to handle everything and she more than delivered. 

The inspiration for our wedding stemmed from the merging of three areas: Our original color palette of navy blue, ivory, and fresh green; the laid back vibe of our favorite beach; and the goal for our photos to not look dated in years to come.  Finding the stunning pale blue and white Halekai III beach house was the ideal start to the planning process. We knew it was the perfect place to host our large families for a week of relaxing and celebrating, as well as a fantastic backdrop for the ceremony and reception on its private beach.  Along with the original color palette and flowers (peonies, succulents, and hydrangeas), we were able to add in a nautical vibe with large lanterns, bistro lights, and driftwood as well as navy blue stripes on some décor. Along with Jessica, Etsy and Hobby Lobby were integral in pulling it all together.

I couldn’t begin to put a finger on my favorite detail of the wedding. I absolutely loved how everything came together (including the indescribably perfect, God-sent weather!). The large chalkboard program allowed us to honor our former wedding party and our loved ones who couldn’t be with us. I loved my dress and the guys looked stunning in their tan suits and navy ties. The food, especially the pancetta mac & cheese and truffle oil deviled eggs, was outstanding—guests were dragging leftovers out of the fridge late that night.

There were so many sweet, wonderful moments throughout the day, too: getting ready with my sister; my dad, happy and reluctant, responding “her mother says I have to” when asked who gives me away; and struggling to put Ross’s ring on the wrong hand and then trying not to laugh too loud. But I think my favorite is Ross singing along to the entirety of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice Baby” and not missing a word. I love that guy.

On top of all of the perfect details, what made the entire week so special was our family and friends being there to celebrate with us. We got to spend days lounging on the beach, celebrating two family birthdays, eating some great seafood, and all with those closest to us. A few special people, some still with us and some not, could not make the trip, but we are reassured in their support and are so grateful for those who could be there. We got to hear some hilarious and heartfelt toasts; Ross’s Uncle Ron was able to perform our ceremony; cousin Lilly hula-hooped to “Baby Got Back”; and we danced the night away with our best friends. It absolutely made our wedding what we wanted it to be – a friends and family affair.

Photography: Christopher Nolan Photography | Wedding Dress: Proposals | Floral Design: Dale Tatum | Wedding Cake: A Specialty Bakery | Invitations: Minted | Ceremony Venue: Halekai III House | Bridesmaids' Dresses: After Six | Catering: Villaggio Grille | Event Planning: Orange Beach Weddings | Groomsmen's Attire: Jos. A. Bank | Hair : Reflexions Salon | Save the Dates: Caligrafia Bella Shop - Etsy

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Russell Crossroads Wedding

I’ve come to find the more colorful the wedding, the more giddy I get. Take this Alabama beaut, for example. It’s bursting with shades all over the pretty little rainbow, yet every bit as elegant as a black and white affair. M. Elizabeth Events is the genius behind this wedding day design with Simple Color on board to capture. Ready for more? Make yourself comfy cozy in the gallery right here.


From Simple Color… Lindsay and Will’s wedding was a perfect mix of rustic charm and southern elegance. Thanks to the ridiculously talented team at M. Elizabeth Events … along with an all-star lineup of wedding vendors … we were treated to one of the most beautifully detail-oriented events we’ve photographed in awhile. Everywhere you turned, there was something lovely to photograph, from the moment we started shooting with Lindsay and Will while they got ready … to the last kiss in the back of her grandfather’s 1944 pickup truck as they drove off into the night. The ceremony was held under a gigantic oak tree in the middle of a field at Russell Crossroads … with a stunning evening reception to follow at the Stables!

Photography: Simple Color | Videography: Holloway Productions | Flowers: HotHouse Design Studio | Cakes: Barb's Cakes | Stationery: Amberly Shelton | Catering: Happy Catering Company | Hair and Makeup: Brittany Benton Massey | Lighting: Design Productions | Entertainment: Moon Dance | Ceremony Seating: P.E.W.S. | Ceremony and Reception: The Stables at Russell Crossroads | Planning: M. Elizabeth Events | Rentals: Event Rentals Unlimited