A Lesson in Floral Design and Life

At 9:30 P.M. on a Monday I get a call from a nervous bride. Her wedding is in five days and her florist bailed out last minute.

I felt an immediate desire to help.

I explained to the bride that I'm already contracted for that day, however considering the circumstances I would call my wholesaler to see if they have the flowers she wants available.

P.S. Her florist did not order her flowers or have her specialty containers on hand - five days before the wedding. Essentially, her florist did nothing. I was starting from zero.

Here is how the rest of the day panned out:

At 6:00 A.M. the following morning I made several calls and was able to find ALL the flowers needed to make her:

  • 15 centerpieces
  • 1 bridal bouquet
  • 7 bridesmaids bouquets
  • 10 cocktail table arrangements and more
  • I also called additional staff to be sure they were on call to assist me

At 7:00 A.M. I call to say I can do it all. I've located the flowers needed and I will personally go find the specialty containers and vases she wants for her centerpieces later in the day.

The bride asks about pricing, so I provide her with my pricing  - $3,000 for everything, including delivery.

At 9:00 A.M. the bride says my price is higher than the previous quote she received and asks if I can do it for less. Can I do it for less?? [Cue Lee's eyes bugging out of her head] Are you kidding me?

I explain that I need a definite yes or no because I must let my wholesaler know if I am buying the flowers that I placed on hold and I only have a few hours to get the necessary items she needed because my week was already filled with prior commitments.

At 10:30 A.M. she says "no thank you." She can't spend any more than what she originally budgeted.

To recap :

The previous person quoted $2,000. This florist also previously made the bride a sample that in no way resembled what she wanted (this was told to me by the bride). However, she had faith they would come through on her big day. This was not the case - the hired florist bailed on her last minute and the price they quoted was then meaningless since they provided nothing!!

The bride was having a wedding for 160 + guests at a private residence of a friend. Rented items included:

  • Tent
  • Portable toilets
  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • Linens
  • Specialty vintage china
  • Flatware
  • Glassware
  • Caterer, etc.
  • Plus the cost of hair, make up, manicure, and countless other items

In the end, I spent about 3 hours trying to help someone I never met along with the time that my wholesaler spent confirming the availability of flowers on hand.

Lessons learned:
Try not to make the same mistake twice. This goes to the bride and everyone.

For myself, try not to make your problem, my problem and waste my time, energy and the time of my resources  all who were all on call waiting to help.

Summer Highlights

Below are just a few photos of where I've been  and some highlights of the variety of flowers, color and design so far this year: 

At The Garrison

wooden stump centerpieces filled with spring blossoms and succulents

an arbor filled with white roses, peony and hanging amaranth framed by a perfect blue sky


a glamorous Gatsby inspired wedding


At the Top of the Rock in NYC:

a fantastic phaleonopsis display

At Alder Manor:

vintage luxury; delicate shades in silver-plate compotes

At the elegant Highlands Country Club:

a tulip filled ceremony

and a bouquet so luscious it looks like a gelato display

and more...

I never tire of sharing what variety comes with each season and how lucky i am to do what I love and work with the beauty that is nature.

When Not to Do it Yourself

I've seen a lot of DIY projects on the wedding day.

Though many DIYs turn out beautifully there is one area that I strongly suggest leaving to the professionals and that is your floral arrangements.

The time and care that goes into the creation of  floral arrangements, bouquets and other personal details is usually underestimated by those not in the industry. I am no rocket scientist, however I do posses a certain skill set along with my hand picked team members and together we make the magic happen.

Flowers are received between a week to 24 hours in advance of an event depending on the amount of time they need to develop to the point when they are "party time perfect."  That time frame for a bride is some of the busiest hours of her life; between the rehearsal dinner, hotel arrangements and the wedding prep including manicure and hair styling, it's almost impossible to prepare your own floral arrangements when you have your special day ahead of you to worry about.

If you're a big fan of DIY, there is a time and place in preparation for your wedding day. My best advice is to plan ahead and get your DIYs out of the way so you have no last minute worries. If your DIY can be done more than one month in advance of your big day and packed away in a box, then do it!

One way to put your personal crafty stamp on your wedding day is on your place card table. I've seen this done with stones, keys and more. Below are a few shots of some successful DIYs from some of the weddings I've done.

Wedding Day: Over in a FLASH, photography is what lasts forever

Your wedding day will be over in a flash, but the photos taken capture the beauty and emotion forever.

You will have your family and closest friends gathered together celebrating your big day. Be sure not to leave it up to a friend who might be a great photographer or your college buddy who always has the most likes on Instagram. No, no, no - this will not be enough!

Trust a professional with years of experience with weddings and life - knowing how and what to capture for the best images of you and all the details you painstakingly obsessed and planned about all year long.

I have had the pleasure of working alongside some great photographers over the years. If you're looking for someone to photograph your wedding or special life events, I recommend one of the professionals below.

Four Eyes Photography

Venues & Vendors I Love

After 12 years in the wedding industry, I have seen my share of wedding venues. Among them there are a few standouts.

Each location boasts beautiful dining rooms, superb cuisine and outstanding service.I enjoy returning to each of these venues time after time because of the attention to detail that is always paramount to the staff at each venue. If you have chosen one of these venues, please leave your comments below. If you are shopping for a venue, these should be on your must see list.

Highlands Country Club



A few other vendors that you should not miss are:


Music:  EV Band

Looking for a wedding band? Then you must have EV Band!
EV Band is New York's most versatile wedding and event band. Boasting four lead vocalists and dynamic group of talented and experienced musicians, EV Band covers a wide variety of musical genres; from Top 40 to R&B, Motown and Sinatra, Contemporary and Classic Rock, Funk, Jazz, Latin Jazz, Salsa & Merengue - they transition one genre to the next with ease. In addition they have a DJ as part of their product offerings to cover specialty music such as house and hip hop or Ethnic specialty music.  

EV Band has performed at countless venues across the NY, NJ metropolitan area and is available for travel. They have delighted audiences that include celebrities, professional athletes, senators, ambassadors.  Edwin Vazquez, the band founder, leader and drummer tailors every event  to reflect each clients individual needs and expectations. EV Band has one goal which is to provide you and your guests with an unparalleled level of entertainment, making your event unforgettable for everyone in attendance.

RSVP to Me

Looking for a wonderful invitation artist? Kelly at RSVP to Me is who you have to see!!

Marriage Milestone


On March 18th, my husband Edwin and I celebrated our 25th year of marriage.

This milestone made me reflect on what it takes to make a relationship last and on the industry we both work in. For the past 12 years I have had the privilege of being a part of a milestone event in the lives of my clients. During my meetings with clients, very often, besides flowers, the conversation often goes other life affairs including money, work, family, conflicts, choices, etc. Working out wedding details is a great beginning and if you can get through all that, its a good start!

During your marriage, you will share every emotion with the person you share your life with and over time - lots and lots of time - you will get to see a part of yourself that grows only through tending the garden that is your life.

There are lots of things that you will need in order to make it work. Primarily LOVE mixed with plenty of PATIENCE ( not my strength, but i'm trying). Today I am a completely different person than the person that I was 25 years ago; a better person, I believe, because of my husband who has been a constant source of love, support and patience (the most patient person that I have EVER known). Thank you Ed for being who you are. I love you!

Our wedding photo circa March 18, 1989 !!

Our wedding photo circa March 18, 1989 !!

My advice to you, wherever you are in your journey is....

Surround yourself with love.
Surround yourself with people who love each other - watch them and learn from them.
Surround yourself with people who love you and accept their love.
Tell them you love them every chance you get.
Show them you love them every chance you get.
...and with this practice, you will learn to love more and more.

Thank you to each of you who have been a part of my life and shared your love with me.

2013 Year in Review

Looking back at 2013 it has been a memorable year for myself, my family and my business.

On the business side of things, 2013 was another year full of Weddings, each filled with the beautiful bounty each season had to offer.

I began my blog and had a great time doing it. I was happy to receive a great response from my readers and love sharing my tips, tricks and personal life experiences that have led me to this point.

Thank you Sara, my blog tech, for helping me start my blog you have been wonderful to work with, thank you thank you! I could not have done this without your help. I'm so looking forward to next year's posts.





To my right hand woman, assistant & designer - Jodie Hamel. She has been right by my side, every week, every wedding, giving her best to make everything beautiful. She did all of this while expecting her first baby girl this coming January. What a trooper!! I can't wait to meet Henrietta in January!








My son Maxwell has been an important part of my delivery team and has been there all year long to help make all the magic come together.






A HUGE THANK YOU to both of you for everything you do, I couldn't have done it without YOU!

This year I also began representing my husband's band - EV Band. The band is really taking off and he needed someone to hold the reigns and since I have the wedding industry experience, we're keeping it in the family. This is not a new trend as my son Maxwell has been a DJ since he was about 13 years old and he also DJ's with EV Band.

Looking ahead to 2014, I will celebrate my 12th year anniversary of Lee Vazquez Floral Design and, it's hard to believe, my 25th wedding anniversary. I've been busy meeting with a whole new group of brides for 2014 and so far, 2014 is shaping up to be quite the year.

I've chosen some photos of this years work and made a little slideshow. Take a look.

Hope you enjoy!

A Year in Review: 2013 Lee Vazquez Floral Design Slideshow

Wishing you and everyone you love  a new year filled with health, joy, laughter and beauty !



Caring for Your Indoor Succulents

I came across an article on "How to Stop Killing Your Indoor Succulents" and thought it was the perfect timing to pair with my Holiday Studio Sale. I have a collection of beautiful terrariums and air plants for sale and if you missed this past Sunday there's still a chance to join me on the 15th and the 22nd!

If you've bought an indoor succulent from me  you know that they are a beautiful, low-maintenance plant and a perfect gift for just about anyone - especially those who enjoy gardening and are missing getting their hands dirty during the winter months.

Succulents are at their best in hot, dry places but there are plenty of ways to keep them healthy throughout the year, no matter the temperature.

It is best to allow your plants to soak in as much light as possible. Don't stress about watering! These indoor plants need to drain completely before getting another drink. They like to stay dry for a while - winter is a dormant time for them. Since they are not "growing," they need very little water as most die from over watering.

Join me this Sunday to check out my collection and to start your own! See you soon :)

Something Borrowed: The lengths Lee will go for weddings

As a floral designer specializing in weddings, my goal is always to please the bride.  As a friend, I aim to help in anyway I can. So when a friend of mine asked me to help with a bride's bouquet, I did everything I could to make it happen.

This friend, who assists me from time to time and has had plenty of years in the business, was in a pinch and needed my help. She offered to assist with her own friend's daughter's bridal bouquet and after collecting 2 buckets full of flowers, there was still one important piece missing - an Apricot Dahlia. I agreed to help her out, but after many phone calls and trips to local vendors I thought the search was hopeless.

That was until the day before the wedding. While I was driving  around, I noticed a beautiful garden with lots of  Dahlias - including apricot colored ones! I went up to the door and knocked, hoping the owner wouldn't mind me taking the flower. No one was home, but I just could not let that flower go.

With no one around and the exact flower I needed sitting right in front of me, I made a risky choice in the name of making a bride and a friend happy so....


I got my handy dandy flower pruners out of my car & snipped a few blossoms off!! I've been known to do a little "essential pruning" now and then - everything needs some pruning now and then. I said to myself, "there were so many blossoms, they wouldn't miss a few" while hoping there were no cameras filming me.

End of story, my friend was very happy, extremely grateful and the bride cried tears of joy when she saw her beautiful bouquet.

Every time I drive past that garden, I smile and say a silent thank you :)

( Friend, bride & location of the garden will rename nameless.)

Love in My "Everyday" Work

When two friends I've known for 19 years asked if they could drive up from Florida and get married in my garden, I was overjoyed that after 20 years of them being together, they finally were getting married. They wanted it to be small and intimate, just the two of them and the three of us - well four if you count the mayor of Piermont who married them. We obliged, even though I wanted to do more.

Just two boutonnieres, they said - something simple. I knew better - they are not simple men - they like a little bling :)

I lit a few candles, played their favorite music, made a signature cocktail and watched the sun set as they exchanged vows. It was a beautiful evening... it was perfect !

...right down to the pink flamingo purse which held their rings!

I received a lovely heartfelt note of gratitude from them after they returned home to Florida and responded exactly how I felt:


 Having the time to reflect is a wonderful thing. Your marriage is extremely meaningful, mostly to you, but also to us, to witness love as Eddie and I get to see as our "everyday" work, never ceases to amaze us.

We see it in all shapes, colors, religions, or without religion, same sex, mixed races, mixed religions, etc.

The fact that you have lived long enough to have been a part of a time where being a gay man was something you had to hide, to being able to marry Frank and get to celebrate it publicly must be quite emotional for you (not to minimize what it is for Frank at all ) - i know he faced/faces his own judgement.

I am proud to have had the experience and i'm sure Max will, in his lifetime, recall it as an important day. As you know, sometimes certain days just stick & become sort of landmarks in your life. I believe it will be that for all of us.



We are happy to have had two of our dearest friends celebrate a beautiful part of their lives in our garden and will treasure this memory for time to come.

Sarge & Frank wishing you congratulations, with LOVE, Lee, Eddie & Max.


My Stand on Mason Jar Weddings

You may have seen my Facebook post on Mason Jar weddings, ( click to view ) and my opinion remains the same.

Feel free to share your opinion.

I have nothing against mason jars and think they are many ways to incorporate them into details adding up to your wedding. are a cute addition to engagement parties, bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, breakfast the day after your wedding and maybe a BBQ party or if you are having a wedding in a barn, with long farm tables - they would work well into that setting.

I've done my share of them and gone along with the trend, but they limit creativity and design options. I have tried my best to work with them. Some weddings I've done, clients are willing to spend more on flowers, because of the "savings" on the containers ($1 jars ), where others take the savings to a whole new place thinking jars $1 + flowers $5 = very inexpensive centerpiece and a way to save money. I really do understand the costs of having a wedding and how things quickly add up and can balloon out of control if you are not careful, but a simple glass vase really doesn't cost too much more.....i can show you several!

Right: The narrow mouth on the jars limit movement and quantity of blossoms that can be used. You can go up with the flowers, making them tall, but you cant get width. The only way to make a centerpiece that is appropriate for a large round table is to use 3 or more vases and even then, in my opinion, this is not the "optimal" choice.

Your wedding is meant to be the most elegant day of your life with the most important people of your life. That being said, it should be as beautiful and elegant as possible and mason jars are not elegant (just my opinion). After all the  planning that goes into a wedding, I don't think that "cute" is how most couples want their wedding described as.

Photo credit to Maggie Heinzel Neil: This is ELEGANT & BEAUTIFUL. The mouth of this container is wide and allows for a bounty of blossoms to flow out of the vessel

Photo credit to Maggie Heinzel Neil: This is ELEGANT & BEAUTIFUL. The mouth of this container is wide and allows for a bounty of blossoms to flow out of the vessel

I do not mean to offend, only to share my opinion and encourage a little consideration. i'm so happy to help make your wedding the most beautiful, elegant and memorable day of your life.

First Impressions: Designing Your Place Card Table

Whether you have a clean and classic theme at an elegant venue or a vintage style in a unique setting, the place card table should show this off. It is the first thing your guests see when entering and should represent the look and feel of your wedding.

When you've chosen the Bronx Zoo for your wedding, and give me inspiration like ... "Safari.. Vintage .. and make it look like a display at Anthropologie"... you got me at hello!!

Below is the place card table for Jackie and Andy's vintage safari themed wedding.

On the table is vintage luggage, lanterns, boxes, a vintage Bronx Zoo banner, tropical foliage, branches, etc. Each guest was given a beautiful brass compass as a thank you !

Below: Lanterns and the moon to light the way to the cocktail hour... held in the Madagascar exhibit !

Jackie & Andy  also used vintage photos of family, including wedding photos of their parents

Another bride had a more classic, elegant venue and wanted to reflect a similar theme. The huge granite table at the entry way was calling out for a grand statement...


The MOB (mother of the bride) loved the engraved stones! One side had the guests name...the other had an engraved message. The message represented their table "number."

Share with me your desired concept and I'll take it from there!

Things to think about before meeting your floral designer

When you meet with your floral designer, it's best to have an idea of what you'd like for your special day. Some key points to have an idea of would be your colors, style and your budget.

There are so many elements that play into planning a wedding and floral design is no less important. Share with me your style and colors I can take it from there. If you tell me white and yellow with a contemporary feel, that is a great start. If you don't have an extensive knowledge of flowers, or what is available seasonally, don't worry - that is why you hire a professional.... I can take it from there!

As the designer, I make my selection based on what is available and fits your budget.

If you're at a loss as to how to establish a budget for your flowers, consider your centerpieces - they will usually use up the largest portion of your overall cost. I often suggest using the cost for a guest to attend the wedding as an average the price of each centerpiece. Next add the cost of your personal flowers and any flowers needed for your ceremony.

Part of cost also lies in the complexity and assembly of the arrangements. An arrangement using one or two types of flowers might cost less than using ten different types of flowers, however the time it takes to arrange a more intricate design is a factor that adds to the cost as well. For example...

Above is a a hydrangea and peony centerpiece. Because the large blooms take up so much space, less stems are required to create a lush full arrangement. These are not inexpensive flowers, but they do require less time to arrange, which can translate into a savings for you.

This centerpiece has so many flowers both in variety and color, that the cost was significantly more. The arrangement features hydrangea, 4-5 different shades of roses, zinnia, protea, hanging amaranths, lissyanthus, spray roses, vines, queen anne's lace, chocolate cosmos, hypericum berries, dahlia and more.There are different flowers throughout and I would need to take a 360 degree photo to capture all of the different flowers used.

Most importantly, have faith in your floral designer! It is our job and passion to know and understand how to put together your favorite colors that accentuate your style and keep within your budget!

This Season's Styles

Each wedding is unique and is exactly one of the things I love about what I do.

Below are a few examples of the variety of looks from this spring & summer weddings that I have had the pleasure of working on.

Emily's escort card table (left) at the Roundhouse Beacon Falls and centerpieces (right): shades of white, cream, blush and coral.

Stacy's vibrant summer shades at Bear Mountain: roses, peony, protea, hydrangea and stock 

Erin's cocktail table arrangements at the Paramount Country Club.

Erin's car load of bridesmaids bouquets (right): peach stock, coral and white peony and centerpieces (left) of vintage milk glass compote filled with white and coral peony, blush astible, peace and blush spray roses, dog wood blossoms and queen anne's lace.

Beth's bouquets (left) and centerpieces (below) at The Garrison: bouquets are fuchsia peony and green hydrangea bouquets. Her centerpieces are white and green hydrangea with white and fuchsia peony

Whimsical bird cages filled with shades of white, pink and lavender at the Highlands Country Club.


Kayla's bouquet: white peony and peace david austin roses at The Garrison. Her bridesmaid bouquets were peach david austin roses and dusty miller.

Mercury glass vase with white hydrangea, peony, roses and spray roses at The Garrison.


Effie and Eric's centerpieces: echeveria, mocara orchids, white mini callas and moss at The Roundhouse Beacon Falls



Effie's bouquet: purple dahlia, mocara orchis, cymbidium orchids, mini callas, fiddlehead fern, trichilium, dianthus and umbrella fern.

Its so much fun to look back and see what each season has to offer.

i'm often asked... what is your favorite flower... my answer is usually what looks best in each season. Nature offers up such a bounty of beauty that it is impossible for me to choose just one !

Local, Seasonal & "Green"

I have had my share of brides requesting their wedding flowers be sourced locally and I love that idea!!

I’m all for going green and sustaining the ecosystem along with supporting local flower farms– however, it’s important to know that when making this choice, you have to be flexible. Sure, tell me you want your flowers to be shades of cream and peach, but if all Mother Nature turns out within a 40 mile radius is purple and yellow, what then??

The choice to go green means that your wedding flowers are based on what is blooming the WEEK of YOUR wedding.

One week of hot weather followed by rain can dramatically effect what flowers are in bloom. Be ready for compromise! Local and seasonal can be beautiful as long as you are willing to possibly be surprised at what turns up! Believe me when I say, I've gone to great lengths to get brides what they want, but after many calls to my local flowers farms, there comes a time when staying local means compromising your color choices for sustainability.

Fresh herbs add a wonderful, seasonal touch!

On the other hand the flower business allows flowers to be transported from every corner of the world making many flowers available throughout the year. For example if you have your heart set on Tulips for a wedding in January or Peony for your wedding in July... I can probably get them for you.

Although ....many other flowers are only available for a VERY limited time, like lilacs or cherry blossom branches.


Flowers are grown seasonally, just not always in our back yard.I am perfectly willing to work with a bride to decorate her wedding with beautiful, seasonal flowers as long as she is willing to be flexible and perhaps a little surprised.

I’d love to hear about your seasonal, local and green weddings!

Ladybug Buzz Intro

Many of you may know me as Ladybug Lee, the flower lady. However, for those of you that don’t know – my path in life was not always surrounded by flowers.

After graduating from FIT where I studied buying and merchandising, my life took a windy path: I worked in men’s fashion, got married, worked for a catalog company, briefly tested my skills at a newspaper, became a mother, dabbled with selling Tupperware, worked at a Gymboree, bought my first house, owned an antique shop, and sold office furniture. All of that within 10 years – and then I realized how short life can truly be.

At 31, I lost my father after a long battle with leukemia and my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This became a time of self-reflection. I was ready for a career where the work would be gratifying, creative and make me happy.


After joining a class at the Rockland County Guidance Center for women in “transition” and learning more about myself and what I wanted next out of life, I then broadened my education at New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.

Although I didn't expect my journey  would lead me to floral design, I found that I loved gardening. It was therapeutic. I’d wait for the sun to rise and go out and plant and get lost in the dirt. What that work in the dirt has given me in return is that I am surrounded by nature’s beauty. I was, and continue to be, inspired by the nature and beauty that returns year after year.

I developed my business at home surrounded by the gardens I planted with a focus on embracing life and happiness.

Although it is hard work and there is lots of stress, being on a finite timeline for wedding deadlines, it is always worth it when a client sends a note or calls to express their gratitude.

I do what I do because it brings me joy to work with flowers and with people who are filled with love, ready to embark on the journey of life together.


Life is short, live happy!


I've started this blog to stay in touch and to share information and inspiration. Please feel free to share your comments. I’d love to hear about your journey and why you do what you do! If you have any topics that you would like to see covered on my blog, I would love to hear!