Alena Scrocca — with Tesi Bridal Boutique in Ventnor — modeled a bride gown during the Bliss Bridal Expo in February. To see more vendors, go to

Anthony Smedile

Flowers are never ugly.

Even the corpse flower — titan arum, a giant flower that emits the odor of rotting flesh — is revered. When it blooms, it makes headlines. Seriously.

So, it’s totally OK that we don’t have a florist. I mean, it’ll be beautiful no matter what, right?!

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My mom and I met recently with two florists — and now we’re just waiting for their proposals. Can’t wait to see them: The one showed us centerpieces of clustered, oversized martini glasses filled with blooms. It was so cool.

I woke up at 8 a.m. one Monday and drove to Philly to meet with them — this takes commitment, because I am notoriously a night owl. My mom had set up two appointments sparing me a lot of the grunt work. (Thank you, Mom!) Which is good, because at

8 a.m., I’m really, really tired.

Joel and I had, of course, spent the weekend driving all over creation.

(When Joel and I first started dating, a friend who used to marvel at my weekend travel plans — “First, I’m going to Philly to see my family. Then, I’m flying to Seattle for two days and then I’m coming back” — well, he just shook his head when I told him Joel was driving up to Hoboken so he could meet up with some friends, driving down to Kentucky on Friday and would be back for work Monday. “Sound like anyone?” I said.)

This pre-florist weekend wasn’t any less hectic. I worked a few hours Saturday then we drove to Manhattan, slept in Sleepy Hollow, went down to Philly on Sunday via Red Bank, back to Northfield — and then, with the help of an ENORMOUS cup of coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts, hauled my tuches back to Philly.

Grooooooooooooooan. But, what can you do? Marriage isn’t for the faint-hearted.

I found myself sitting at the florists, spouting words like “lavender” and “cascading,” but not making much more sense than that. I did learn that the calla lilies with deep purple throats are called Picassos — which is fun — but not much else.

Lucky for me, I had done my homework.

To prepare, I met with Joseph Neidinger, the Secret Garden Florist, of Linwood, and he offered the following advice:

1. Pick colors that are in season.

Certain colors go with certain seasons — pastels in spring; reds, oranges and yellows in fall. To get pastels in fall, for example, would be difficult and more expensive.

2. Pick flowers that are in season.

Some flowers are always available because if they’re not grown locally, they can be flown in.

Roses and calla lilies are available year-round.

Lilacs or peonies? Not so much. I've been told peonies — the ubiquitous big, fluffy bridal-magazine flower — can’t be done in August. And if you have your heart set on lilacs, think spring. An out-of-season flower just won’t hold up as well, Neidinger said, even if you can get it flown in.

3. Pick a flower that can hold up.

Tulips flown in from South America will never hold up in the August heat. Other flowers, such as hydrangeas and Gerbera daisies, need a good water source — use them in centerpieces, not bouquets.

Your florist should be able to advise you further, given your taste.

4. Pick your flowers wisely.

You want flowers where pictures will be taken, Neidinger said, which is why the groomsmen and mothers wear boutonnieres and corsages. But you can find out what your venue will supply so you can spend your dollars wisely. Venues may provide votives, mirrors or linens. Churches may provide pew bows — can’t hurt to ask, ladies.

5. Go local. Weddings — like so much else — are about relationships. You want a local florist who knows the local venues, Neidinger said — hence, the long drive to Philly.

Online vendors can be deceptive, he cautioned. Magenta may not be magenta. An arrangement may not look like its picture, etc.

In general, I think it’s important to pick a florist who can adapt to both your vision and your needs.

Stay tuned for when I pick mine.

Three months to go!!!

I’m not the only one panicking, as it turns out.

My mom — who planned my sister’s wedding in three months — sent me six emails Monday between 10 and 11 a.m. Each one about a different subject, and each one was more urgent than the previous ...

What kind of flips-flops should we get?

Have you ordered the bridesmaids dresses yet?

Do we need hand towels in the portable bathrooms — I hear paper is really messy.

(The answer to all three florists happened to be “yes.”)

I mentioned it to Joel, and it turns out he’s freaked, too. Everyone tells him: Don’t worry. But he’s worried. Plenty could go wrong — although, we disagree on the likelihood of him forgetting pants. That’s OK.

Planning a wedding is 8,000 decisions. I’m not panicked because not only am I taking them one at a time I’m starting to see the picture in my head.

Besides, we’re not doing too badly. Three months to go, and all we need is a florist!

If you are planning a wedding — yours, your son’s or daughter’s — let me know how it’s going by emailing

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