I am so excited to share this inspirational shoot with you. The whimsical styling of this shoot will forever nurture and showcase the importance and beauty that lies within floral styling. My hope for you is that you will leave feeling captivated by this handcrafted bouquet and deep tones for the perfect season. McKenzie was the creative hand behind this bouquet. This story will follow McKenzie’s chance to experience the moments she hopes to give to her brides as she plays the role of a bride herself. I hope you enjoy reading her reflection of our day. I promise you will be inspired by her words, captivated by the bouquet and in awe of her ethereal glow within the photographs.
Story By: McKenzie O'Grady
“There’s only sacred ground. The only holy place is where we are.” –From Anne Lamott, Imperfect Birds
I think about all the times in life that feel like living prayer—of tiny moments of fleeting perfection (like finding the perfect words in a book), and the big and sought for moments (finding the love you have always pursued). I think one of these moments could be that moment when a bride receives her bouquet. As a floral and event designer I am, admittedly, biased. But I know what I’m thinking when I create a bouquet: what my private prayer is for each bride. I want, somehow, to give her flowers she has dreamed about since her girlhood. I want the moment I hand them to her to be soft, tender, and sweet. I want that moment, that transaction, to feel like a blessing.
I think about this equation—how my hands are used to fashion the stuff of her dreams—and I find it magical. Before I touch a flower, I ask God to bless and use my hands. I ask that they be used to make more than flowers: that they be used to make moments. I wonder, when I hand them to her, if she will be happy, or dazzled, or if she will cry. Sometimes, as I’m holding a half-formed bouquet, I daydream. I think someday that a little girl will look at photo albums, and see pictures of her mother holding flowers. I wonder if mother & daughter will ever talk about that moment. Maybe not, but maybe yes.
In this hope, I know I am not alone, because I have met kindred creative souls. Bahareh Ritter is one of these: a photographer who captures so much more than photos and so much more, even, than moments. Through her photos, you can see faint outlines: glimmers of what I imagine is the soul of each subject. No amount of technical skill can achieve this. Something in her spirit reaches to her subjects, and communes with them. Her guidance is so sweet & kind and, dare I say, intuitive & spiritual. Her photos are the keepsakes I will share with my children, someday.
I know this because Bahareh reached out to me to create images that employed light, flowers, setting, and soul to tell a bride’s story. All of these elements would come together, in exquisite choreography. Though Bahareh asking me to style the flowers was privilege enough, I, however, would also be playing the bride in this collaboration, holding my own bouquet. This is a position I have not been in before, and the thought made me anxious. But when I met Bahareh, she was immediately dear to me. This collaboration would not be about anything I could offer, or create. It was about the friendship that instantly flowered between us. When she invited Celia Yenor into our collaboration, the spirit became all the sweeter. Celia’s hands blessed the flowers I brought, as she expertly wove them into my hair and styled stray bits on site. Together, I knew that we were doing more than creating a compelling story about light, and flowers, and weddings. I knew that the story was happening to us, writing us, as it were. We were at the mercy of a moment that was bigger than we were.
Together, we ventured to one of the most resonant places we knew: Palo Duro Canyon.
Time lives differently here. You can stand anywhere in the canyon: on its floor, its rim, or at the edge of some lavender mudstone, and feel that where your feet are on holy ground. We knew that the canyon’s shrubs and bushes, its vastness and enclosure, would set the perfect stage for a bridal moment. A bride walking here—in gown and with flowers—would look like some vision. A rugged setting, and a vision of flowers & silk. It was the perfect balance of spirit and earth, praying and staying grounded. Of staying steady the path, and walking in faith and anticipation of grace.
For our reverie-filled photos, I wanted to create a bouquet that looked and felt as though I had gone walking through the canyon, and stooped low or reached high to gather all of my favorite elements. Of course, my bouquet would be filled with wildflowers and grasses that dot the canyons walls and its rims. But if I could, I would gather so much more. I would gather stories & essences. The pinks and siennas of the rocks. A spray of juniper berries, and the spices their berries release. I would slip in silver-blue grasses and tiny, absorbing pods and cones. Between flowers, I would tuck in fistfuls of leaves from the cottonwoods, after they’ve turned in fall. (looking down on them, you would feel as though some invisible hand had tipped a jar of saffron, and let it run, a golden thread, against the canyon floor.) And I would be able, through my bouquet, to impart to you some of the essence of all the stories that have played out here. Of wild horses and fireside folksong. Of birds warbling their songs in morning light. So many stories, told through or set against nature.
Most of all, my bouquet, and our photos, would tell you about the Palo Duro sky. As the sun sets, the sky turns pink and citrus and gold-dusted. This sky is an intense threshold: looking at it, from this rugged patch of earth, you are neither here nor there but blessedly in-between realms. A sky like this gives you a hint of the eternal. Of things your heart has always longed for. A sky like this reminds you that you are a pilgrim on this earth, and your belonging is elsewhere: higher, and beyond conception.
Bahareh, Celia, and I chased that light as fast and fiercely as we could. We didn’t know if we would make it, but we made it to the top just in time—just before the sun set. We had only a moment to capture our photos, our vision. But a moment, as ever, was enough.
Standing against this sky, suddenly the urgency to “make it happen” melted away. Somehow, some invisible choreography brought my dress, my flowers, and the sky into gracious harmony. Suddenly, something shifted. The moment became more than aesthetic: it became inspired.
Standing on the rim, I saw everyone and everything that mattered surrounding me. Bahareh’s voice was not one of a stranger, but a friend: it’s as though I had known this voice always, and was just waiting to meet the person it belonged to. Celia’s hands coaxed and guided stray flowers and hair into loving submission: she soothed me and brought a gracious spirit to the photos. I felt the silent call of my creativity. I held my work, the beautiful work that came into my life & healed it. My family was there to watch, and I felt their love in every breath and in the soul of all things. And I could sense the invisible hand that shaped my life and every moment leading to this. I could sense that love shining not only in the distance, where the light was, but in my heart, where every prayer was suddenly before me, answered, in the form of my life.
I got to experience, firsthand, the kind of moment I always want to give a bride. For a moment, I stood on the other side of the equation, and it made me realize why I do this. This is what wedding artistry is about: seeing your invisible hope made visible. It is about a moment of divine fulfillment. Linen, lighting, flowers, and the elements of styling join with the elements of your story. You see all of those private prayers answered and little-girl dreams realized. A moment of fulfillment, as you hold your wedding flowers, as you stand beside everyone that matters. Beauty—the elements of a wedding-- can be a gateway to the eternal. They really can.
As creatives, we want every element of beauty to give your life and your prayers back to you. We want yourwedding to feel like your favorite song. Your cherished hymn. Your childhood longings. Like the moment that is going to heal your life and free you from your fears.
Your life is leading somewhere, beyond imagining. Some moments just reveal that to you more than others.
A woman-made language would
have as many synonyms for
as the Eskimo does
-Written by Olga Broumas, “Caritas”
Florist: McKenzie O'Grady of The Daisy Chain Studio
Hair Styling: Celia Yenor of Muze Hair Studio