9/11 groom tragedy and runaway bride has not stopped Petals from blooming
When wedding planner Nikki Begg decided to start a floral design company to compliment Bermuda Bride, she had no idea just how much her new business was going to be tested.
Petals celebrates its tenth anniversary this month and despite the recession business is blooming. Ms Begg plans and provides flowers for 80 to 100 destination weddings a year, just recently overseeing the marriage of a “high-powered” US couple.
It has also branched out into a growing market for corporate flowers.
But Ms Begg faced a terrible tragedy with Petals’ first client back in September 2001.
“Our first wedding that we were designing flowers for was to take place September 15,” she recalled. “And I remember standing in Fourways Inn (the wedding location) and seeing the news about 9/11.
“We literally had thousands of roses being flown in from Boston and with all the flights in chaos I was thinking, how am I going to bring in 10,000 roses?”
But sadly, that ended up the farthest thing from her mind when she eventually learned that the groom in the planned wedding had died in the terror attacks on the Twin Towers. He and his fiancee worked for Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald, which lost 658 employees in the tragedy.
“Gina and Josh both worked there, but Gina had taken the day off to pack for Bermuda,” said Ms Begg. She said she has remained in contact with Gina over the years.
“I received a beautiful letter from her afterwards,” Ms Begg said. “She is such a strong individual with a beautiful spirit.”
Petals was soon tested by yet another crisis in its first year - a runaway bride.
The bride-to-be decided the morning of the wedding that she was not ready to marry and bolted back to New York, leaving Ms Begg to at first tell the caterers and all involved that the bride was not feeling well - just in case she changed her mind.
But after they chatted it became clear this was a case of more than just wedding jitters, and there was not going to be any marriage.
Ms Begg said her client encouraged Petals to use all the decorated tables and roses and hydrangeas that were to be used in the wedding, for a photo shoot.
New website launched
But that was ten years ago, and Petals, which began in Ms Begg’s home, has moved on and grown.
There are still mini-crises to deal with, such as hurricanes and other storms, and she faces the constant challenge of having to import flowers to the Island when time is of the essence - but there’s been nothing like the events of that first year.
Petals now operates from a design studio on Park Road, Hamilton with a team of three top floral designers who each have their own loyal following, including Marguerite Clark, who is head of design along with Kirsteen Brown and Linda Hanafin.
Parent company Bermuda Bride has been honoured by Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Magazine as making their first “A” list of Top 25 Destination Wedding Planners.
Petals is launching a new website this week, that will showcase its unique and signature designs, and even allow clients to search a database of flowers by everything from colour to variety for inspiration.
Ms Begg said the website www.petals.bm also features “exquisite” floral and wedding photos by Alex Masters, who designed the site, along with accomplished local photographers Amanda Temple, Sacha Blackburne, Gavin Howarth and Becky Spencer.
Wedding bookings up
Ms Begg said her 2012 bookings are up and several large destination weddings of 100-plus people are planned.
She said Petals works with flower budgets from next to nothing to budgets sometimes exceeding $60,000.
Petals not only arranges flowers for weddings, funerals and special events, but also for corporate offices and private homes.
“While Petals has a stronghold on wedding flowers, our focus is on conquering the corporate market,” Ms Begg said.
On a weekly basis the company places its floral arrangements in a number of offices - complementing the company’s philosophy and marketing aesthetic. Midweek they return to maintain the flowers.
Ms Begg said Petals is known for its unique floral arrangements that focus on the natural form of flowers and incorporate accents of local foliage. She noted Petals was the first to incorporate such luxurious touches as double-faced satin ribbon with their packaging.
“Flowers want to be touched,” she said. “They are not meant be contorted and twisted. Our designs have an organic feel to them, and are never confusing or complex.
“We also focus on the excellence of the flowers that we bring in. We want our floral designs to evoke an emotion, to congratulate or express joy or love or share in someone’s sadness.”
Despite dealing with love and romance on a daily basis, Ms Begg, the mother of a 25-year-old son, is presently single, but she laughingly comments that she’s the eternal optimist.
Ms Begg writes about planning marriages, and finding love in her popular blog, Confessions of A Wedding Planner, which you can find on her website and via Facebook.
Useful website: www.petals.bm