a floral and event design studio


Wadsworth Mansion Wedding Showcase

We spent last Sunday at the Wadsworth Mansion for their annual wedding showcase. We decided to show our versatility a bit this year and went with a super-pink and feminine tabletop and bouquet collection.

Thanks to our friend, the brilliant Nichole Michel of Coral Pheasant Stationery for lending us the great milk glass and silverplate vessels, to Candice from Jubilee Events for the fantastic pink glass sherbet cups and bread plates and to Wildflower Linen for the sexy cloths and chair covers. Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!

Grace Ormonde shoot at The Ocean House

When Grace Ormonde Wedding Style magazine asked if we wanted to participate in their tabletop shoot at the Ocean House in Rhode Island, we said, “hell yes” and got together with Candice at Jubilee Events to devise a plan. Here are a few images by photographer Matthew Wagner that really showcase some of the details: our orchid chandelier and leaf-covered charger plates with blue delphinium accents

Thanks to Luxe Rentals for the mirrored table and ghost chairs, to Resource One linen for the incredible custom chair covers (seen in all their glory in the magazine spread) and to Posh Paperie for the menu cards.

GALA Weddings Magazine Feature

We’re starting our new year with a blam over here at Datura – and the blam I speak of is an 11 page fashion spread & the COVER of GALA Weddings latest issue.

You just don’t see enough features on winter weddings, so we got together with our good friends at Carla Ten Eyck Photography, Jubilee Events, The White Dress by the Shore and Dana Bartone & Company to bring you this crisp winter shoot at the Mayflower Inn and Spa in Washington, CT.

Needless to say, we were psyched when the good folks at GALA Weddings told us they were going to feature it — and double-psyched to hear that Carla’s portrait was chosen for the cover. Since I don’t want to spoil the surprise of seeing the images in print, I’m going to post a few that that are not shown in the magazine.
A huge thanks to Carla’s team of Sara Code-Krall, Rebecca Hales and Greg Lewis for lending their considerable talents to this shoot (and this post)!

We’ll start with bouquets. Cat and I each have a bouquet featured in the magazine but, as usual, we went a little overboard for this shoot and created three others. First up – a snowflake bouquet I created using several gauges of wire, rhinestones, cut-glass pendants & blue eryngium. It’s worn around the finger – like a ring. I love that Sarah’s crisp shots of the bouquet in the snow have a completely different feel than Carla’s warm, romantic take in the center image.

Next is Cat’s magnolia branch bouquet with dendrobium orchids and rhinestones – I love the smooth, rich orchids contrasting with the rough texture of the branch and the sparkle of the rhinestones.
The first image is Sara’s and shows the luxurious black velvet handle, followed by Carla’s portrait, where Beth’s styling and Dana’s hair and makeup really shine, and Rebecca tags in with a great overhead shot showing the sparkle of the rhinestones.

And for the last bouquet, I challenged myself to use nothing but fern, babies breath and carnations – things that are commonly considered run-of-the-mill flowers – to create a bouquet that no one would think of as run-of-the-mill. I accented these flowers with metallic silver angel-hair rolled into orbs. For Max, our groom, I made a simple boutonniere of white anemone, birch and lily grass. Carla shot these two portraits and Rebecca got the detail shots of the bouquet.

Here’s a ring I made from birch bark, thistle and babies breath. I secretly thought it looked like a piece of sushi and hid it under a scarf, but Beth found it and rescued it. I also made this bracelet from lamb’s ear and ornithogalum on a flexible wire base. The ring shot is Carla’s, the bracelet is Sara’s.

And finally a few images from our table. This was my first time collaborating with Candice from Jubilee on a creative proect. She brought some milk glass, I brought some flowers and we worked together seamlessly to create this tablescape. The magazine features many detail shots of her contribution to the work and here are some images, all by Carla, of the centerpiece.

There’s lots more of this shoot to see – but to do that you’ll have to run out and grab a copy of GALA Weddings magazine!

Costa Rica Day 5 – la Finca Caballa Loco

Yes. That’s right. The Crazy Horse Farm – which couldn’t be a better name for our Friday shoot location. We started our day painfully early, loading up our three-car caravan to drive an hour and a half to Ciudad Colon. Aryn, Max and I drove with Larry from Stay In Costa Rica and I spent the whole (bumpy) ride making bouquets in the back seat of Larry’s SUV – at least until we reached the base of the mountain and started our ascent. We drove up past coffee fields and through the jungle, over washed out, narrow roads until we reached the summit, where we found my idea of paradise – an open-air home (with a tree growing right through the middle of the kitchen) in the heart of the rainforest.
While DD Nickel started working her beauty magic, I went to work painting Navajo, the sweetest horse I’ve ever met (yes, i said painting), while Magan stood guard to make sure he didn’t swat the wet paint with his tail:

While I worked on Navajo, more of the crew headed down the path and into the jungle to scout locations. You’ll note that even a dirt path into the rainforest is a fashion runway to this crew:

Beth from The White Dress by the Shore dressed our model Nicole in a black and white gown by Modern Trousseau with a full toulle skirt. I whipped up a bouquet using plumes from the tops of some sugar cane that was growing on property – I don’t know that I’d ever seen sugar cane fully bloomed before. Our lovely hostess, Kreysha, peeled and cut some for us – it was perfect on such a hot day. Carla first shot Nicole on a hammock on the downstairs deck – a cozy spot with a 75 foot drop and no railing.

This is Pinto – and he seemed to know that our color story for this shoot was black and white because he followed the camera around EVERYWHERE:

Our next order of business was to shoot the invitation suite and other tricky paper items created by Nichole of Coral Pheasant. Seriously, this stuff was some sexy paper and we had to do some work to do it justice. So we made our way over to the green green grass with a machete and a typewriter so Candice and Carla could do their thing. Yep. A typewriter.

After a bit, Nicole and (our groom) Oscar joined us. Then Kreysha arrived with a beautiful grey horse. After some coaxing, the horse cooperated and Carla, Katie, Sarah and Jim got to work:

After this, the rain started, so Beth quickly changed Nicole into the Augusta Jones that we’d already gotten wet on Tuesday, we hitched 3 horses to the back of a pickup truck and went for a ride up the hill to a nearby waterfall. At this point we were working fast, trying to get as much as we could in before the sun set. So we got to the waterfall, threw Nicole in the water (not literally), brought the white horse over and Candice, Diana, Lindsey and I tossed 600 orchid blooms into the waterfall. The crew shot here for only about 10 minutes and we loaded the crew up and drove back to the ranch for the last shoot of the day (sorry, I left my camera behind and don’t have a single image of the waterfall shoot).
Nicole got a new dress on, DD changed her look and they took off up the hill to join the horses. Aryn and I hung back for a few so I could put the final touches on a riding crop I was making. When I’d finished and we came up the hill and saw Nicole on the back of the horse, my first thought was, “centaur!”

It happened that Nicole had been riding horses since she was a little kid, so she was perfectly comfortable taking the horse for a spin. Bareback. And at some points with both hands free. The sky was dark and moody — it couldn’t have been more perfect.

In my downtime (ha!) all week, I’d been creating necklaces for Max to wear and the brilliant and hilarious Katie Slater obliged me by shooting them. (How hard is Max flexing here?)

All in all, it was an incredible day. Each member of the team had a chance to flex their own creative muscles and I think we all left feeling like superheroes.

Costa Rica Day 4 – Do What’cha Want Day

So, we decided to take a break on Thursday – we’d been going pretty much non-stop since we got in (with breaks for some late-night hot-tub hopping, a living room dance-party and the occasional glass of wine). Some of the crew decided to take it easy and rest up for our big Friday shoot, while a few of us just couldn’t stop. I was one of those guys.
See, there was this one dress that we initially had on the list to come along with us, but it just didn’t work out. And I loved this dress – it’s ‘Hunter‘ a Priscilla of Boston with a bolero jacket of fabric roses. So when Beth from The White Dress by the Shore suggested I make my own floral bolero, I jumped at the idea.
I’d been wanting to use these pink flowers that grow on the property at Los Suenos (Beth calls them Costa Rican hydrangea) and this was the right application for them. I asked around and no one knew what they are called, so anyone who might have an idea, throw it out there.

A little glue, half an hour and boom:

Carol, one of our models from day one and, I’m happy to say, a new friend, came over to our house and Beth dressed her in Tobi by Modern Trousseau, which is fresh off the runway and suited the high-fashion look we were going for. DD Nickel outdid herself with dramatic hair and makeup and we grabbed Carla Ten Eyck, Jim Altieri, Max LaManna & Aryn and took off to a location about 20 minutes from our place – a dirt road lined with huge trees crawling with philodendron.

Safari Jim was never off-duty:

This shoot felt like magic to me. There is just something about seeing an image in your head and making it become reality that’s hard to describe. Everything I make is ephemeral, fading before it’s even complete, and just having the opportunity to create these fantasy pieces is artistically thrilling, but to then see it captured and translated by such incredible artists as Carla and Jim – I can’t even describe how grateful I am to be a part of this team and to call these people my friends.

When we were done with the jacket it was time to move down the road to Kayak Jaco to make DD Nickel‘s vision become reality. DD had in mind an idea for a bird in a nest as a hairpiece and I had a suitcase full of feathers and some earring hardware…

While Carla worked her magic, I couldn’t help but repurpose the bolero and create a bouquet. I’m telling you, I just couldn’t stop making stuff:

After our mini-shoot, we headed back to the house and joined Candice, Katie, Sarah, Domenique, Diana, Lindsey, Mark, Magan, Barnabus and Vanessa for a dinner out to celebrate Beth’s birthday.

Costa Rica Day 3 – Playa Blanca in Punta Leona

Picture a caravan of rental vehicles loaded with tables, benches, flowers, wedding gowns and crew bouncing down a washed-out road toward the beach, a short hike past a green river of leaf-carrying ants and over a skinny plank bridge to a white sand Costa Rican beach. Candice, Carla, Diana, Lindsey and I got right to work while Aryn hit the beach and our sneaky friend Jim started filming.

Candice and her Jubilee crew were setting up desserts on a branch that was laying over the water when a bunch of raccoons dropped by to check us out. The raccoons here are BOLD. They were lounging on our pillows, trying on Beth’s accessories, sitting at our tablescape and playing tug of war with Jim over a bag of chips. The raccoon won.

Just as we finished setting up, a local guy came over to let us know that the tide was coming in and that pretty soon our stuff would all be underwater. We grabbed Carla (who was off shooting the inCREDible invitation suite (complete with save the date stickers and a hanging mobile-style escort card chandelier) by Josh and Stephanie from The Metal Mermaid – and dragged her over to the table to shoot. Then we got to eat some French macarons provided by Petit Bouchee.

Just as Carla finished, our models arrived – for her first gown, Tessa wore an gorgeous Anne Barge called ‘Porter’, which Beth from The White Dress by the Shore grabbed straight off the runway for this shoot:

Beth then changed Tessa into an out-of-the-box yellow gown called ‘Mira’ with a flowing skirt and dressed the two bridesmaids in yellow and green dresses all by Jenny Yoo.

By the time sunset rolled around, Beth had changed Tessa into another just-off-the-runway gown with a really cool flutter-sleeve, this one by Amy Kuschel. It had been a long day and Aryn and I both decided to just sit down and watch the rest of the action from the edge of the jungle:

Costa Rica Day 2 – Pretty Houses

Yesterday we started our day at Villa Artiv, which is located on the side of a mountain inside Los Suenos resort and is one of the most incredible condos I’ve ever seen – sleek, contemporary, glass, mirrors and with a HUGE portrait of sophia loren. This place is PERFECTLY appointed – and I’m the guy who always wants to move peoples stuff around.
Our bride for Villa Artiv was Carol, who is gorgeous and happens to run a floral design studio here in Jaco. I borrowed a technique I learned from Cat and created an unusual bouquet to complement her first gown. Beth Chapman from The White Dress by the Shore dressed her in an incredible Amy Kushel. Here’s a preview of what I made her to carry with it:

Our groom, Erick

We hadn’t planned to do a tablescape in this space, but I was so awed by the attention to detail from both the architect and the designer that I just couldn’t help but throw a little something together for the dining table:

While I was playing around with the tablescape, Beth changed Carol into a sexy short gown by Jenny Yoo, which I complemented with an arm bouquet — it was strange to be working in monochromatic white while in Central America where the natural pallette is so vibrant (but that’s for another day):

We wrapped up at Artiv and Aryn, Max and I hung back while the first wave of crew headed over to our next location – we used the time to pillage the landscape for raw material. I climbed a wall and gathered some streptocarpus vine:

And Max found some trees with these green coconut-y guys:

We collected a bunch of them and I snagged the camera away from Aryn for a hot second:

For our second location, we went further up the mountain to Casa Marlin to shoot our second model, Ivonne, in an amazing gown by Augusta Jones. The location was incredible, with an infinity pool overlooking the ocean. After we photographed her in the yard, Beth even let us get the amazing gown wet in the pool! Here are Beth and DD Nickel primping Ivonne between shots.

While Carla, Sarah and Jim Altieri grab the action from the ground:

When our day was finished, we ‘borrowed’ the infinity pool for a quick dip and a glass of wine before heading back to Casa Dome for dinner and some hot-tub hopping. Here are Candice and Diana from Jubilee Events along with Magan from MMH and Beth from The White Dress.

Stay tuned for day 3 coming up!

Costa Rica Day One – San Jose Flower Market

Our first day in Costa Rica was a huge adventure. While our trusty photographers, Carla Ten Eyck, Katie Slater and Sarah Code-Krall took off on an adventure with event planner extraordinnaire Candice Coppola of Jubilee Events, Magan Hunt of MMH Marketing and Jim Altieri of Vintage Cinema, Aryn and I headed to San Jose with our host Larry Savage of Stay In Costa Rica, Beth Chapman of The White Dress by the Shore and makeup artist DD Nickel. Beth and DD spent the day on one side of the city at a luxurious coffee bar conducting a casting call for models while Larry took us on a bumpy ride through the grittier side of town to the flower market.

As soon as we hit the street, Larry realized that he wasn’t allowed to drive in the city on Mondays (something about the last number on his license plate being wrong. Don’t ask me). So we zipped into a parking lot, bribed the guard to let us leave the car and then grabbed a taxi downtown. Our first stop was a pretty average looking spot – a lot like a New York City florist, buckets of flowers, nice and neat. We grabbed a few things while Aryn wielded the camera:

Lots of gorgeous and inexpensive tropicals, but we were looking for more white flowers (you’ll see why eventually) – and Larry knew the right place to go (after he made a few phone calls and asked a bunch of folks for directions) – Mercado Centrale – a huge open air market filled with meats and fish, live chickens, geese, ducks, dried herbs

and ALL the way at the back of a building, a few flower stalls with just the right things for us.

Tomorrow is our first day of shooting. I’ll try to grab some behind-the-scenes so I’ll be up late turning those flowers into bouquets…

Pura Vida!

Best Day Ever

August 25th is my wedding anniversary. That means I get to show wedding pictures:

Aryn and I got married at Indian Hill Cemetery in Middletown. Not because it’s creepy, because it’s beautiful and peaceful and there’s a fantastic view in all directions. And because this tree was there.

Aryn’s dress was made by her great great grandmother. Aryn’s great grandmother wore it on her wedding day in 1913. Perfect.

Here’s Aryn picking her bouquet. Dandelions are her favorite.

With my kids. Album cover, right?

Best kiss ever.

We never planned what to do after the ceremony. This seemed like the only logical thing.

Our reception was at our friend Hollie’s house. Hollie owns Klekolo World Coffee, where Aryn was working when I met her. She was The Girl With The Red Hair and I was one of Hollie’s stupid little friends. It took a few years and a New Year’s Eve 1999 bonfire in Hollie’s yard, but eventually we admitted that we were in love. Where else could we have our party?

Hollie let us REALLY take over her yard. Aryn planted corn in patterns in the yard, we weeded, cut things back, rebuilt a stone wall. In fact, we strapped fallen trees from the woods to the outside of the house and grew morning glories two stories high.

And Cat and I built sculpture in the trees – mostly with vine and branches from the surrounding woods:

We got the incredible gift of a TRUCKLOAD of flowers from our main wholesaler, so we set about incorporating them into the sculpture.

craspedia, strung onto flexi-grass, and coco bark:

more craspedia and coco bark, monstera leaves, bells of Ireland, cymbidium. Aryn.

a disclaimer – these next few shots are not taken by our esteemed photographer and good friend, Laurie Klein – but we had to show the stickball (left corner) – this is Cat’s sister, Charlotte helping out the day before.

and Cat’s arch. This might be the morning of the wedding. Probably is. We were there at 4 am.

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled photographer, Laurie Klein for a few details.

This was one of my favorite things. A path through the woods led to a little clearing where we brought a couple of wooden benches and hung this: a wasp’s nest inside a structure of fasciated pussywillow. After dinner, at the bonfire, we lit the lanterns we’d hung from the trees and had a little place to escape to:

So, thanks for indulging me. We were so lucky to have all the support we did from our friends, Laurie Klein, Rick and Tara from Emily’s Catering (amazing food. amazing.) and Donna from Creative Cakes. If you want to see more, go here. We’ve got lots.


Winvian Editorial Shoot 2

We came back to Winvian in the fall, but this time Cat and I spent the day, creating some things on site and setting up more elaborate ceremony locations. It was a looooooooong day – we arrived at 8 am and didn’t leave until 11 pm! The weather was alternately gorgeous and rainy, but we stuck with it and shot outside whenever the sun came out long enough to dry the grass. Jacklyn from JagStudios was a trouper, making sure everything we made got shot (even if it meant lighting it with candles and shooting it at 10 pm…outside…in the cold). You’ll see.
We started the day in Winvian’s ‘Camping’ cottage — a cozy spot nestled in the trees with floor to ceiling glass walls and trees built into the decor. It felt like being out in the elements (except for luxurious bed and top shelf mini bar). The enclosed back porch even has an outdoor fireplace for marshmallow roasting. THIS is luxury.

I’d made this bouquet at home without knowing which cottages we’d be shooting in and it was just perfect for the feel of this space.

yes, she is INSIDE the cottage here. Imagine getting ready to walk down the aisle in a room like this

How ’bout that ‘tent’ bed? And look at that dress. And the ceiling. And the windows. And how beautiful my wife is. AHHHHH! It’s visual overload.


Okay, a quick trip to the bathroom and we can leave Camping and make our way to Industry. This is the tub.

This next cottage is a tribute to Connecticut’s steel industry – sleek contemporary lines, smooth leather — all in blacks, whites and greys. Our model for this cottage was Sharalynn Decker, Miss Connecticut.

We chose minimal accents for the room, simple orbs of rose petals and aluminum wire, softened with a few scattered petals:

Cat created this fan-shaped woven bouquet of lily grass with green trick dianthus, craspedia, lisianthus, mokara orchids and gloriosa lilies. love it.

Sharalynn didn’t have a lot of time to give us, so Bridal Trousseau changed her into this (amazing) vintage suit and Jacklyn took her for a walk outside to catch some of the foliage and beat the rain! No flowers here, but I couldn’t resist the suit (or the image).

While Jacklyn was busy shooting the morning away, Cat and I had been erecting and decorating an arch overlooking Winvian’s pond — we covered the arch with southern smilax and hung vases of kale, amaranthus and rosehips from it. The aisle is chocolate velvet lined with winter squash, mushrooms and asparagus.

aaaaaaaand….Cat again with this European cascade of lily grass with kale and mokara orchids. Simple, dramatic and graceful. She’s brilliant.

One more bouquet before we go back inside — Cat’s cranberry cascade:

This is a long post, right? Well, it was a long day, trust me. While Jacklyn shot the arch, Cat and I set up our chuppah on the opposite end of the pond, but before she could shoot it, the rain came and we ran inside. The models had all been redone and put in fabulous new dresses and Jacklyn snapped a few shots in Winvian’s main office building, just because it was pretty.

This dress needed a more traditional bouquet, so I threw together some cherry brandy roses, fiddleheads and dianthus:

Aryn’s holding a bouquet I made of green trick dianthus with red mokara orchids. Like moss without the mess!

Now it’s getting dark, we still haven’t shot the chuppah so Cat and I decided to hang some vases from it with candles, we also happen to have a ton of floating candles in the van from a previous wedding, so we got to work while the ladies got changed again and the headed off to shoot in the Connecticut Yankee cottage (one of my absolute favorites — based on the Twain novel, A CT yankee in King Arthur’s court). Look at this bed.

Here’s a veil I made out of lily grass, hypericum berries and mokara orchids. Could I have a better model for this? I think not.

And I made some shoes to wear with the veil

And another pair (actually this is the first pair I made — they didn’t work with the veil, but I couldn’t leave them home, could I?)

And now, at last, 10 pm or so, Cat’s been outside trying to use dead grass to keep the candles on the chuppah lit for well over an hour. It’s freezing cold, the models are exhausted, Jacklyn’s exhausted, but we all trudged down to the pond and got these (completely amazing) shots:

Then we drove the hour home and CRASHED. But the truth is, I really couldn’t get to sleep. My mind was racing with everything we’d done — all the images in my head, in Jacklyn’s camera — seeing things I’d only vaguely imagined become real. Only one thing to say. I love my job.

Thanks for coming on the ride — leave us a comment below so we know you’re watching!