Florist’s arrangements surpass all expectations

DEL MAR — Mae Chan’s floral arrangements are like limited edition art. Since she only provides her services for 18 to 20 events a year, anyone who is a client can consider themselves fortunate.
Maritha Sears asked Chan to do the flowers for her wedding at the venerable Salt Air Club in Santa Monica. She envisioned a vintage, garden look with an arch made with willow and hanging orchids, and bouquet and table arrangements that incorporated peacock and ostrich feathers.
“In our initial meeting, I showed Mae my LookBook, which was quite different from most, and we instantly began working in the direction I wanted to go,” Sears said.” Some wedding vendors and professionals try to tell their clients how things should be done, but not Mae. She was already working on the designs the minute our initial meeting ended.”
Sears said the brainstorming and creative flow continued, with the two exchanging ideas and inspirations via e-mail.
“On my wedding day Mae surpassed all of my expectations,” Sears said. “The willow and hanging orchid arch was done ‘to the nines’ as were the bouquets, floral arrangements and decorations. I was overwhelmed when I saw how Mae artfully transformed the venue into a beautiful place for memories.”
Chan says pulling everything the day of the event is her favorite part of the job.
“You plan this wedding for months, back and forth in e-mail, and meetings, and it all comes down to five hours the day of the wedding,” she said. “I always love seeing how happy the bride and groom are.”
Chan says an important part of her job is keeping pace with new trends like the vintage ambience Sears requested with simple, classic designs.
“For this look I use milk glass vases with a single flower, like a large dahlia, in each vase,” she said.
Another popular trend is succulents (spineless cactus) in wedding florals which can later be planted in a garden or pot.
Many brides request “green” weddings in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint by using exclusively local flowers. This avoids fuel consumption during transportation.
Other brides, like Sears, add their own unique textures by incorporating feathers or requesting that their bouquets be wrapped in burlap.
“After I put everything together I think, ‘Wow, that’s really nice!’” Chan said. “These brides have their very own ideas, and I am so open to learning from them.”
Chan got into the floral business 20 years ago, working at Flower Hill Florist her last two years at San Diego State where she was a business/marketing major.
“After graduation, I couldn’t find a job,” she said. “The owner wanted to let go of the business and sold it to me at a reasonable price. At 23, I owned Flower Hill Florist, Fairbanks Florist (a kiosk in front of post office) and another flower kiosk in Miramar.”
Chan learned floral design by studying the professionals at her store. Later, an allergy to flowers forced her to go out of business.
“When I joined Seacoast Church (Encinitas), I was asked to do flowers for the altar once a week,” she said. “It was a fun, creative outlet. Every once in a while I’d do a wedding for a friend.”
Three years ago she went back into business again, on a limited basis.
“With four kids, my number one priority is being a mom,” she said. “But it works out because weddings are typically on the weekends.”
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