After the dress has been decided upon, the hair and makeup sorted, next on the bride’s list are flowers; the bouquets and arrangements that will reflect the mood of her wedding,
The language and symbolism of flowers is never so important as when they are chosen for a wedding, the most romantic of occasions.
Nosegays were known as “talking bouquets” or “flower poesy” during the Victorian era, when they became popular. A tussie mussie (a small circular bouquet much like a nosegay), carries symbolic meaning based upon the language of flowers, where particular flowers represent specific sentiments. They were commonly exchanged by lovers, who sent messages to one another based upon the flowers used in the bouquet.
Flower symbolism originated in Asia and the Middle East, where certain flowers were associated with spiritual themes. This was often reflected in Asian Art. The language of flowers was first introduced to England in the early 18th century by Mary Wortley, Lady Montague, whose husband was Ambassador to Turkey, where flowers long carried hidden meaning, A rose was not simply a rose. By the Victorian era, almost every flower had a specific meaning attached to it, which has carried over into our time.
Traditionally the bride would hold the bouquet, and the maid of honor would hold it during the ceremony. These days, both bride, maid of honor, bridesmaids and flower girls all carry bouquets, some extremely elaborate and a far cry from those early nosegays.
One tradition remains intact however. After the wedding the bride will toss her bouquet over her shoulder, and it is believed that whoever catches the bouquet is the next in line to be married
Shelia Ross has been speaking the language of flowers for several decades and the floral creations she turns out of her studio are a testament to her fluency in that mysterious tongue, as you can see from these shots, taken at the El Monte Sagrado Resort one morning last week. (Shelia also did the flowers for Angelisa Espinoza’s wedding at El Monte.)
Sheila is a master of Event Floral Design and Hand-Tied Bouquets which she studied in Paris. She also studied Ikebana in Japan. When she first arrived here in Taos from Albuquerque, she opened a small storefront on Guadalupe Plaza, called Simply Shelia, but these days she works out of her home studio, preferring the flexibility that allows her to come and go as she pleases.
Shelia is also a travel guide for Sun Tours in Albuquerque, and when we met for coffee recently, she’d just returned from Spain.
With over 40 years of experience in her craft, Shelia’s Floral Designs are truly special. Each arrangement is unique and an interpretation of the individual client’s vision. Her aesthetic is known as European Design, where the flowers dictate their placement. Truly Flower Poesy.
Shelia consults with her clients long before the Event or Wedding date, and encourages them to bring images.
“These days a lot of brides collect images on Pinterest,” she told me, “so they’ll refer me to their Board, but as I always tell them, it’s entirely dependent on what flowers are available seasonally, otherwise the cost skyrockets.”
“I can of course get flowers out of season,” she smiles. “Somewhere the flowers you want are growing, but it’s going to be a lot more expensive.”
She also clarifies that (as with any artist) her designs are going to be a little different from what is depicted in the images they bring.
“I’ll use them as a sort of template,” she explains. “But it’s never going to be exact.”
“It’s more about capturing the feeling, the essence.”
Shelia’s done big weddings and small ones. Several at the El Monte Sagrado Resort as well as in Taos Ski Valley, and she’s even done one out at Taos Pueblo, where the couple were married on the Pow Wow grounds.
When I arrived with Bill Curry to shoot her putting together the final pieces for jeweler Jen Weddle’s intimate ceremony in the Sacred Circle, she was consulting on last-minute details with the El Monte’s Event and Wedding Planner, Melisha Sales, who is the dynamo behind the scenes at all the events and galas held at the Resort. Although Jen lived here for sometime, she has since returned to Houston, but chose Taos for her Destination Wedding.
Melisha came to Heritage Hotels from the Angel Fire Ski Resort, where she headed up the Food and Beverage department. Her background in Hospitality brings an awareness of the need for a personal touch in making each event unique and special.
We followed Melisha and Shelia out to the grounds where Shelia was decorating the arch for the ceremony, before heading back inside to capture a few images of the bride, her maid of honor (McCormick Gallery Director Jamie Garrison), and bridesmaid’s getting their makeup done by Linda from Spirits of Beauty.
The bouquets Shelia had made for the women were in the room with them, so Bill was able to get these beautiful shots you see here, before they all headed back to their rooms to get dressed and ready for Jen to tie the knot in Taos.
Jen Weddle’s jewelry is available exclusively in Taos at the Michael McCormick Gallery.
For more information on Shelia Ross and Taos Floral Designs, please visit her site linked below this post. Melisha Sales can be contacted by visiting the El Monte Sagrado also linked below, along with Bill Curry who loves to shoot weddings if he’s in town!
All photographs by Bill Curry