Remember when we talked about not hiring shitty people for one of the biggest days of your life? If there’s anything you need on your wedding day, it’s cool-headed talent with a sense of humor. With that in mind, may we introduce you to our girl Tobey: we can’t say enough about working with this one. Her talent is next-level (she was the one responsible for the crazy floral art at our styled shoot last autumn), but she’s not above joining us in squeaking out tiny F-bombs as we plot and help you pull your wedding together (private swear words must come with the territory when you really, really care about creating epic things for your clients, but either way, we found a kindred spirit with our floral queen from Whidbey). Tobey, we have some questions for ya!
Name: Tobey Nelson
Website: Vases Wild
Based out of: Whidbey Island
So, what do you give a shit about (what’s your JOB, mama)?!
I give a shit about beauty. And nature. And the importance of a wedding day. I believe in the transformative power of having natural beauty as a part of your celebration. There is some sort of alchemical magic (but really!) about plants and flowers, and being in their presence can lift a person.
It is my experience that beauty, nature & love enter into this wild chemical reaction and suddenly your “nice” “pretty” wedding is transformed into this gorgeous, romantic, comment-worthy time-out-of-time feeling love-fest. And this is all the more potent when those booms are local & seasonal – their resonance is off the charts! Having gorgeous florals and botanicals involved in your event will make it a whole ‘nother kind of day – I promise your guests will feel it!
So what is Vases Wild all about?
Style, experience, and ethics! I have been working with plants for over 26 years now, and I know just how to coax any branch or bloom into doing my bidding. And because I always make my professional commitments personal, you can feel good about your floral budget heading this way rather than a big-box shop.* First and foremost, I promise my clients exceptional service and to make their flower fantasies real. But there’s more! I am loyal as heck to my local flower farmers – I try to buy something from everyone for each event so I am always supporting them. I prioritize my employees being empowered and respected. I bring my environmental ethics to work; especially my passions for farmland preservation, sustainable farming, and non-toxic design methods. I always source local first, starting with those farmers who are 2 miles from my home. I value quality above all– ya can’t make a swoon-worthy bouquet from mediocre blooms! But as much as I love staying local, if you are head-over-heels for a bloom that is not in season here that but we can get from Ecuador – well Hola, little flower – I gotcha. But I will request that flower is found from a farm that pays fair wages and that has certifications showing they employ sustainable farming methods. And you can be sure I will have other local & American
grown greens & blooms to go along with. As for environmental ethics – I have a non-negotiable commitment to never ever use floral foam – that nasty green brick is full of formaldehyde and other very toxic compounds that never ever break down. Ick, who needs it??!! I compost all green debris (and actually use it on my mini-farm), request sustainably grown stuff whenever I can, I use organic farming methods in my gardens, and I request my farmers leave wraps off when possible to cut down on garbage.
*(Note from S&S: if a vendor doesn’t think like this, you probably don’t want them. We promise.)
Why should people give a shit about who does their flowers?
People should care as much about their flowers as they do about their food. It is all linked to the chemicals we are exposed to (you will be touching these blooms and shoving your faces into them, after all!), to the land we live on and the water we drink. Investing in a florist who supports local flower farms means YOU are investing in farmland preservation and water quality protections in YOUR OWN area! Also, making beautiful bouquets and centerpieces is an art; it demands skills, training and experience. When you hire a florist for your wedding, think of it as commissioning a piece of art, powerful though short-lived. Be proud to support an artist and farmers in your community!
What advice would you give someone just starting planning wedding flowers & decor for their wedding?
This is a day about YOU TWO. Sit down together (without your Pinterest board in front of you!) and make a list of the things that YOU really give a shit about in your own lives, and the things that define the two of you as a couple. Have a conversation about how those things can be reflected in your celebration, which (ahem!) IS about YOU! Make it a meaningful reflection of who you are as a couple, not just a regurgitation of Pinterest trends.
The sad truth is that most of us don’t have the bottomless budget we would like when putting together our wedding day! The best thing you can do is establish a comfortable budget prior to approaching a florist (or really, any other vendor). While it can be uncomfortable to talk about money up front with your vendors, this conversation while you are still on first base with each other can ensure that they give you a real, fair, attainable proposal that makes everyone’s time well spent.
Make a list of what you’d like ideally, if the sky was the limit. Then prioritize and identify your non-negotiables (one of you MUST have an elaborate sweetheart table floral display because you grew up in your grandma’s garden, and the other REALLY wants the spendy mussels appetizer because you fell in love on a mussels-strewn beach). Then your florist (can I speak in the first person? I!) will know where to splurge, and where to “get creative”. Ultimately I think you get the best results when you can give your florist the creative leash within your budget and your list – you may get more than you could have asked for!
What are you doing when you are not working?
Because I absolutely love what I do, it is hard to say “when I’m not working” – because in my “free time” I’m often chomping at the bit to be out in the gardens. I have a mini-farm on Whidbey Island; two boys, a husband & a dog that I love; and a ferocious addiction to Americanos. Frankly I can most often be found driving between the school and the coffee shop (my office, you know) – but you might also find me lurking at a nursery dreaming of flowers, working on our property or hanging with the family on any of Whidbey’s many beautiful beaches or forests.
Thanks Tobey! Cheers to 2017 and making more magic together!