I am fortunate to work with some amazing professionals in the wedding industry and I love being able to refer them to you. I’m excited to introduce you to Mel Day, owner at Dogwood Tree Floral Designs. Mel is a consummate professional with an amazing talent. He’s artistic and has a creative eye that just seems to come naturally to him. And he’s a sweetheart, too!
He’s been featured in Weddings Magazine, Southern Bride and Groom, Weddings Unveiled, Carolina Bride, The Knot, and Our State Magazine and his roster of clients truly reads like a “Who’s Who” and includes Governor Beverly Perdue, former President Gerald Ford, Governor and Mrs. James Hunt, Governor and Mrs. Michael Easley, Senator and Mrs. Dan Blue, Arnold Palmer, Miss America Heather Whitestone, The Jimmy V Foundation and fashion designers, Adolfo and Bill Blass.
Here’s what Mel had to say in a recent interview:
Q. How long have you been a floral/event designer? Where did you get your training and/or experience? How did you become interested in working in the wedding industry?
A. I have been in the floral design business for 35 years. I moved to New York from Raleigh in 1976 with a background in art and interior design. I began helping my friend Martha deliver and set up events with her business, Martha Meier Designs. One of her clients owned a huge disco/supper club, Les Mouches, as well as a very well to do “Gentleman’s Club” in a building on Manhattan’s east side. The men’s club was celebrating its anniversary with a very elaborate event—flowers everywhere! Some of the arrangements were so large they had to be created on site. Martha was running out of time and asked me to do one of the arrangements. She laid out the flowers for me and I arranged them; she came back and was very impressed with my work. She then took me under her wing and taught me floral design. So I literally fell into this field. I had never thought of doing this for a living and now cannot imagine doing anything else. And I love that my first arrangement was done in a New York brothel!
Q. What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
A. Working with Mother Nature is always a surprise. You never know how big or how intense a flower color is going to be when you open the shipping boxes. It is like Christmas every day!
Q. What unique quality or qualities do you possess that sets you apart from other floral artists?
A. Listening. I have been in this business for so long, I am very proud that I can do any type of floral design. So I listen to my client’s vision for their event and then do my best to make that happen. I never force my own style on a client. I will advise them, however, if I think they are going down the wrong road!
Q. Finish this sentence: “I wish more brides/couples would…”
A. …be more relaxed during their first consultation, especially when discussing their budget. We work with all budgets and it really helps in designing their wedding if we know what we have to work with. We are here to help!
Q. What is the best piece of advice you can offer to brides/couples as they plan their wedding/reception?
A. Hire professionals so you can relax and enjoy the day. You have one shot at this, so let us handle the stress for you!
Q. What current wedding/floral trend do you like most? Dislike most?
A. I love the return of low arrangements on seating tables. Also mercury and mirror glass containers are big this year.
Q. What inspires you?
A. Nature inspires me. I love scoping out various foliage and flowers as I am simply running errands.
Q. How do you keep your ideas fresh?
A. Various personalities help me keep my ideas fresh. I love talking with clients and getting a sense of their style. That gives me a ball to run with!
Q. What is your favorite wedding memory and/or your most embarrassing wedding story?
A. My favorite wedding memories would be flying down from New York to do my Niece and Nephews’ weddings in NC. They were the catalyst to get me to move back to NC. I received so many compliments from that! I can’t think of any embarrassing wedding stories that happened to me personally. I do have tons of funny stories, though, and wish I had kept a journal all these years. It would make a great book!
Q. If you could compile a WEDDING FAVES list, what would be your:
- Favorite wedding song? At Last, Etta James
- song NOT to include on a reception play list? Achy Breaky Heart!
- Must-use flower? Roses and Garden Roses—they have such a variety of colors!
- Menu item? Lobster and filet
- Drink? Kettle-one martini with blue cheese olives
- Wedding Tradition? Bride and Dad’s dance—that gets me every time!
Q. Besides designing floral arrangements, what else do you do with your time?
A. When I am not working on flowers, I am working on my house and my garden.
Q. What are 3 things you can’t live without?
A. Family, Coke-a-cola and Cats!
Q. Are there any other fun facts that we should know about you that would increase your “coolness quotient” even more?
A. I’ve danced the night away at Studio 54, back in the day! Good times! I could tell you such stories….
Maybe one of these days I’ll get Mel to share some of these stories with us. It sounds like they would keep us all well-entertained.
A special thank you to Mel for taking time out of his busy day to share with us. Here are a few photos of Mel’s gorgeous work from a wedding I photographed at Cafe Luna last spring.