I ran into an old acquaintance at a high school function a couple of years ago. As we briefly filled each other in on our lives, I told her that I was taking floristry classes at College of San Mateo. She asked me if I would be interested in helping her out with her daughter’s upcoming Bat Mitzvah. Though I had often provided flowers for friends, family, and charity functions, I had never accepted a professional job before. I would only have my second floristry class under my belt by the time the event came rolling around in nine months.
Then she sent me this e-mail:
... I have been meaning to follow up with you. Quite seriously, you simply MUST let me hire you for ******’s bat mitzvah.
I am generally dreading the planning of this celebration; thank goodness it's the last of three.
If I know that you will be helping, I will actually look forward to it. Amazing.
You could do whatever part of the celebration you prefer, although I would like you to do everything you feel competent at -- so maybe not the DJ part.
Invitations, flowers, decorations, table settings -- anything that requires a highly sophisticated yet playful sense of style. For years, ****** has been saying that she wants great decorations, but I have been refusing. On the other hand, if you take over, that's a different story. It could be a great way for you to experiment with some of those amazing, creative ideas of yours.
… Please say yes!
How could I not?
The best decision I made was to select classmate Tracy Lou as my partner for the event.
had a one-year head start in taking floristry classes and was taking two classes per semester. Since we both studied computer science, at rival schools, I knew we spoke the same language and had a similar work ethic. We laugh when we use engineering terms to describe our floral creations but in truth it is a convenient shorthand between us. Tracy
Since our thirteen-year-old client chose pink and green for her color scheme, I suggested using the youthful and cheery gerbera daisy as her primary flower.
We finished making the last triple-decker daisy centerpiece at two in the morning.
They looked eager to go to work on their way to the temple:
The reading (called a haftarah) for this Bat Mitzvah was about Moses parting the Red Sea, a name which some believe to be a mistransliteration from the "Reed Sea". We created a diptych-like arrangement for the bimah. Two containers were placed in a "V" shape to symbolize the parting sea.
We chose the tall green papyrus reeds because they grow along the
where Baby Moses was found by the Pharaoh’s daughter. The purple gladiola provided a great contrast to the green and brown base colors. Nile River
The occasion marked a double bat mitzvah with two girls celebrating this coming-of-age ritual on the same day. It was convenient that there were two containers. After the service they were placed farther apart on the dessert table.. Each family had an arrangement for their individual dinners. The arrangements had versatility and longevity. They lived their fourth lives as the families hosted their out-of-town guests in their homes over the following days.
The luncheon at the social hall is informal, with just a few flowers:
But dinner was more formal, complete with handmade placecards for the guests:
We were proud to transform the stark, all-beige social hall with its towering ceiling into a more intimate, welcoming, and festive atmosphere by using green and white paper lanterns. The Asian effect of the lanterns is a nod to our client’s Chinese heritage.
We made gerbera daisy topiaries for the buffet table:
On their way out, guests hanged Mazel Tov greetings on these Manzanita trees:
Our first big event came to an end. We were exhausted but overall we were pleased with the outcome. My friend wrote us an e-mail the following week:
"You and Tracy created a magical space in the room and even in the foyer. Thank you so much! I can't wait to see your next projects. Take good photos for a portfolio, and make sure you always give me credit for being your first official client!"We will absolutely always give her credit for taking a chance on a couple of new floristry students. Tracy and I were so blessed that our first official client was a dream.