LAURIE: A few weeks ago, the magazine I work for celebrated its 20th anniversary at the deliciously scandal-tinged James Beard House, with a dinner cooked by four great New York chefs who’d been featured in our pages: Gray Kunz , Pichet Ong, David Burke and Wayne Nish. I had wrangled the talent, handled the beverage donations, made sure the champagne donor’s table runner and branded silver bucket were properly displayed, hired a photographer, approved the menu, found gifts for the chefs, written the promotional copy, made sure each chef had the “dinnerware” (a.k.a. plates) he wanted, and set the seating chart. On Thursday afternoon, all that remained was to buy and arrange the flowers for 11 dining tables. I barreled into this task with something like false confidence, or perhaps a loaves-and-fishes complex, while in the process learning a lesson about the limits of my DIY wedding vision.
I stopped by a local bodega with better-than-average flowers and bought two dozen Gerber daisies and five or six bouquets of something delicate and lacy, with lots of green leaves. This cost me just over fifty bucks. I did not have much of a budget to work with, and still had to buy pizza for twenty-five cooks and waiters. I returned to the Beard House and ran right into Sal, the relentlessly energetic, positively hilarious House event coordinator. He’s the person I would want as my wedding planner, if only he did that sort of thing. (And if only he would take his payment in maple syrup, the sole commodity I seem to possess in abundance.)
Anyway. Sal happens to come from a family of florists, which is really, really lucky for me, because I had not purchased enough flowers, and didn’t know what to do with what I had. In Sal’s hands, with the help of some hefty, expensive-looking vases (courtesy of House vase sponsor Waterford, dontcha know), my fifty dollars’ worth of deli selections became eleven entirely respectable bouquets, all in the space of about 15 minutes.
And I learned that I don’t know enough about arranging flowers (yet) to try and do it myself the day of my wedding. And that it’s going to cost some money. And that we don’t have a vase sponsor. (Yet?)