Flowers for a Chinese Wedding (Part 2)

It seemed like I’d spent months looking for the right place for a post-wedding bash for my son Alex and Chinese daughter-in-law Yan. The wedding took place in Beijing in September and this was the event where the U.S. relatives and friends would meet Yan and get to celebrate with us. My husband Julius and I must have visited, in person or online, every Chinese restaurant in Manhattan, and talked to many, many catering managers. Ultimately, and happily, we chose The Cottage on Irving Place and 16th Street, one block from Union Square.

Not only were the space and location perfect, the manager, Angel, agreed to close the restaurant for our party, worked with me on selecting dishes from the menu, and let us decorate with our own photos, flowers, candles, lanterns and menu cards. I knew right away I would do the flowers myself. My friend Renee Shamosh, whose lush garden could supply mammoth pink and white peonies, agreed to help, and in my garden there would be hellebores and flowering crabapple branches and ferns and exotic hosta leaves. I ordered 24 4 x 4″ gold ceramic containers for the tables and would use my jade green ginger jar for a big arrangement at the restaurant entrance. Then it rained. And rained and rained. The peonies were smashed and everything else in our gardens looked pretty terrible too.

What to do? Silk flowers. I knew Mimi of Pany Silk Flowers on West 28th Street. She’d designed and made some spectacular arrangements for my design office. I made an appointment to come in and have her design an inexpensive (under $10 each for flowers) low arrangement in one of the gold containers. Renee and I would watch and make 23 more at my house. The party was Sunday. On Friday morning, with more than a little help from Mimi, we chose the flowers to complement the red-and-gold color scheme. Then Mimi got to work, cutting the stems down to size and arranging, as we watched.

As I photographed, Renee took careful notes:
1. Cherry blossom (angled)
2. Low red poppy (angled)
3. Japanese Fuji daisy (remove leaf)
4. Two yellow calla
5. Two cattail
6. Poppy bud

Mimi created a large bouquet in the ginger jar with the same flowers plus some giant bamboo. We piled everything into the car, had lunch, went home and went to work. A floral assembly line.

The results were spectacular.

And the guests could take the arrangements home: everlasting floral party favors, along with the “double happiness” candy bags Alex and Yan had brought from Beijing,

Everyone had a relaxed, fun afternoon (for more about the restaurant and the food, read my review on Yelp) and I could concentrate on more important things than wilted flowers.

Thanks, Mimi and Renee! And thanks, Alex Federov, for the excellent party photography. And Karoline Schwartz for the gorgeously delicious cakes.

About writedesigner

Graphic designer, writer, and gardener Ellen Shapiro is based in Irvington, New York. A frequent contributor to design blogs and magazines including Print, Imprint,, Communication Arts, and Etapes, she writes about trends, issues and personalities in design, illustration, photography, and visual culture around the world.
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