Photographer Fail

Well, I knew taking a (accidental) break from photography would be a bad idea! I had a bit of a photo fail moment last week. We are working on setting up a new online shopping system for our floral arrangements at work, which of course required a photo shoot of all of our spotlighted arrangements. I was actually looking forward to this as studio photography and “commercial” work is certainly not my strong point. With a background in photojournalism, admittedly, setting up a studio intimidates me. Nevertheless, this was a bit of a “work with what you got” set up, so I figured I could handle it.

It has been ages since I have busted out all of my old camera equipment beyond the camera itself. I dug around through some of my storage to find my flash systems and some white balance cards. Shamefully, a lot of my equipment could stand to be upgraded. To put it into perspective, I’m still using 1 GB memory cards and they sell stuff with 8 GB now. Woops. Well, I guess a lot of it is older than I remembered because I had a total equipment fail moment. Both of my flash systems are so old that the battery ports don’t even work anymore. Even with the batteries replaced. I probably should have listened to the advice of not storing a battery in the equipment.  Lesson learned.

After a brief minute of panic (and a series of dollar signs flashing through my mind) I decided to improvise. Thankfully, our makeshift studio was in the garage of our warehouse so I opened the doors and utilized the natural afternoon light coming from the parking lot. I also grabbed a desk lamp, sans shade, to use as a back light. With a solid backdrop and table top there was “barely” enough light to go without the fill light (whew!). Ultimately, I really could have used a reflector or some kind of fill light but it is what it is. I will probably have to do a bit of post editing to brighten a few areas but overall I thought it came out well. Isn’t it strange how you can feel a stronger sense of accomplishment when things are thrown together successfully?

My makeshift set up of a back light, aka, shade less desk lamp. Yes, that is sitting on a pile of styrofoam

My makeshift set up of a back light, aka, shadeless desk lamp. Yes, that is sitting on a pile of styrofoam.

Traditional style arrangement of garden roses and orchids

Traditional style arrangement of garden roses and orchids

Modern style arrangement of orchids and tropical accents

Modern style arrangement of orchids and tropical accents. You can tell the clouds outside had rolled away at this point allowing for a brighter space.


We also used the brief photo shoot as double duty for an upcoming advertisement run we have in a local newspaper. The finished product with one of my bouquet shots is below. Not so bad if I do say so myself! :)

Excuse the awful iPhone photo

Excuse the awful iPhone photo

The downside to this project is that my photography shopping list has now grown by a few more items. Currently requiring upgrading:

Camera Bag



Memory cards

Point and Shoot camera (because lugging around an SLR can get tedious)



Can Christmas come sooner please!

In The Studio

AKA my (brief) encounter with the flower god himself, Preston Bailey

It is not often in life that we get the opportunity to see, much less meet, celebrities. One of my biggest “meet and greets” to claim was one short-lived elevator ride with Julia Stiles in an NYC  design store, and even then I was too shy to say hello as I was pretty sure she thought I may have been following her (oops). Thankfully, the city I live in and my business of choice has opened up that window a little bit more.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of working on a photo shoot for Preston Bailey. If you don’t know who Preston Bailey is, well, he’s essentially the king of flowers, especially in the world of weddings. His work is over the top, labor intensive, and absolutely stunning. When I first started getting interested in the wedding market my parents gifted me one of his coffee table books and it has been showcased in my living room ever since (FYI he has 5 if you’re ever interested). More recently, I have been an avid reader of his blog and love the insight he and his team can offer into this crazy industry.

The photo shoot was for a new collection of specialty linens that Preston is launching with a local Miami vendor, Nuage Designs. Nuage is one of the top companies when it comes to luxury, couture table linens. Their product is very exclusive and ships all over the world.

Photo from Nuage Designs

Photo from Nuage Designs

Our company, Parrish Designs, was selected to do some floral arrangements for the launch photo shoot along with four other florists in the South Florida area. Though the designs were relatively simple (the show stoppers are the linens), I and a lot of fun brainstorming these looks with my boss. Though I don’t generally have a hand in making arrangements, it’s always exciting when I get to put my two cents in.

As expected, the studio was a bit hectic that day. I haven’t been in a true “photo studio” setting in a long time, so it was thrilling to be around that environment again. Studio lighting and product photography was never one of my strong suits so I always enjoy getting to watch true professionals work their magic. It really made me itch to get my camera out again and start experimenting with some projects.

We set up two table scapes, a low and a tall. Though we had to keep the decor in a dramatic, Preston approved style, ultimately the shots were about the cloths not the flowers, so we didn’t want to do anything too over the top. All of these pieces were made with completely faux flowers so that the arrangements could be left behind for permanent installation.


We used the same fabric for the shade as the underlay on the table, trimmed in white satin ribbon.

We used the same fabric for the shade as the underlay on the table, trimmed in white satin ribbon.


The chair covers helped tie the linen shade and oversized flowers in beautifully

The chair covers helped tie the linen shade and oversized flowers in beautifully


Amaryllis, phaleonopsis and hydrangea were the focal point of the tall lampshade arrangement

Amaryllis, phaleonopsis and hydrangea were the focal point of the tall lampshade arrangement


Classic silver elements and elongated taper candles contrasted the modern-esque arrangement beautifully

Classic silver elements and elongated taper candles contrasted the modern-esque arrangement beautifully


The table scape is all about texture and neutrals

The table scape is all about texture and neutrals


Nautilus shells, air plants and orchids made for a stunning, natural, yet colorful arrangement

Nautilus shells, air plants and orchids made for a stunning, natural, yet colorful arrangement

At the end of the day, I finally had my opportunity to meet the man in charge. As expected, Preston Bailey is the nicest human being ever. He is very soft spoken and very engaging in conversation. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to snag a photo op with him, but it was a moment I’ll remember regardless. It is very apparent he and his entire team are so busy, yet it was really inspiring to see how much effort they put into everything they touch. It really is a wonderful reminder to do what you love and push every boundary you can. I can’t wait to use their beautiful cloths for an event. Now I just have to wait for the launch….

(*apologies for the iPhone photos, shame on me*)

Looking Good Mum(s)

I love flowers. I love seeing them. I love smelling them. I love receiving them. I love everything about them. But who doesn’t right? They are the finishing touch to any beautiful event and there is just something about a vase of flowers in a home that can brighten it right up.  To me, it is the perfect accessory.

For as long as I can remember, I have started every trip to the supermarket with a longing gaze at the flower display, eyeing the buckets and buckets of bright blooms. To me, they were always a “splurge” that wasn’t necessary. Sure they were beautiful, but other than sticking them in a vase and watching them die what was I going to do with them? I didn’t know how to style them, I certainly didn’t know how to care for them. Then, I became obsessed with weddings and I started working for a florist. I have since grown a great appreciation for the power of flowers. I have also learned that guess what, they aren’t that intimidating.

One of the other upsides to working in this environment is that I have begun to value the difference of truly quality blooms. I may sound like a flower snob, but there is a big difference between flowers you snag from the street vendor or your local grocery store and the ones you can get from a flower market. Some of the grocery stores in our area, such as Milam’s, Fresh Market or Whole Foods carry great product, but I don’t shop there.  I am a girl on a budget so Publix is where it’s at for me.

I have recently moved into a new apartment and decided it was time to add some life to the space (besides the breathing human I sleep next to every night). Off I headed to do my weekly grocery shopping and decided that this week it was worth the splurge. I wanted to make a few simple bouquets to place around the living area – nothing too big – but something easy to work with. Not wanting to go too out there, I also decided that a monotone, tight modern cluster was exactly up my alley. I ended up choosing some deep purple mums.

Purple Mums

These are easy to find and pretty easy to work with, plus, for a nice bonus, they are nearly impossible to kill and will last a long time. I may work for a florist, but floral designer I am not, so easy is my jam. Creating a small arrangement is super simple and I swear, anyone can do it. I started by pulling the flowers out of the bunch and separating the stems.

Purple mums 2

These mums also have numerous stems coming off of the main stem which can be a bit messy. When used in a vase, it basically translates to flowers going every which way. Again, I wanted something tight and compact, so I carefully trimmed off the extraneous stems so I just had the one or two longest and largest blooms at the top. I saved the smaller buds for later us. (In my laser focus I forgot to take pictures of the in between steps. I’m learning – next time I’ll get there)

Next, I had to select my vase. I have a few industrial/vintage style elements in my apartment, like my old wood palette coffee table and some iron bar stools, so I wanted something to go with that. For the vases, small mason jars were perfect. (Who doesn’t love a mason jar!) I filled them up with water and added the flower food from the wrapper for good measure. Any precaution to not kill these things is good for me.

Starting with the largest blooms it was as simple as just plopping them into the vase until I got a nice “fluffy” shape. I then took the loose buds and smaller stems I had clipped off earlier and filled in the gaps. Done and done.



If the “plop them in” method is causing some struggle, a great trick is to take some scotch tape (or floral tape if you are a friend of the craft store) and tape a grid across the top of the container. By placing the stems in between the grid it helps to keep them in place. This is especially helpful for shallow containers or anything with a wide opening at the top.

I especially liked the contrast of the bright green stems visible against the deep purple of the blooms through the glass. The Mason logo adds a little fun twist as well. These arrangements weren’t anything extravagant (in fact my boss would probably shake her head at the use of bloom), but I love the simplicity and the colorful addition to my living room. I placed one on my coffee table and one on my bar. I did this after work one day so the setting sun was just coming through my windows. Cue crazy photo shoot:





Something like this would be super simple and easy to create for a small dinner or cocktail party. Place them around your house or run a row of them down a dining room table. A series of vases like this could even make for a DIY rehearsal dinner decor. For me, they are the perfect compliment to appetizers at my next book club!

Any other tips or go to flowers you like to use around your house?




Today I Love… {7.22}

I have a strange relationship with bugs. Most of them freak me out, but some of them I find absolutely beautiful. I’ve always wanted a stunning butterfly or beetle to frame and hang on my wall, and thus these textile sculptures are just calling my name…




These are fabric textile sculptures of moths and butterflies created by Yumi Okita on the etsy shop Iro hand bags. While their shop is currently on vacation, I will just have to stare lovingly at their creations and wait my turn to snag one of these beauties.

Hello World. I exist.

So hey, remember that time two years ago when I wrote a blog post? Me either, its been a while. So long in fact that I even let my personalized web address expire. Oops! I’m even surprised to still see I have site visitors. Right, about that…
I have come to an epiphany and realized that I need to refocus my energy on this blog and shift directions a bit. Lately I have been feeling in somewhat of a funk and I think it’s because I have let most of my hobbies and joyful activities slip by the wayside. I haven’t been photographing, I haven’t been sharing events that inspire me, I had stopped reading (thankfully I can cross that off the list), the list goes on.
Obviously, weddings are what I do. I do this job day in and day out and I love it. But sometimes, thinking and breathing weddings 9-5, M-F leaves me feeling lackluster and overwhelmed. I’ve decided that this blog, byLeahMichelle, will be more of a creative space. It will be my outlet to inspire myself and keep myself motivated to work on side projects and things I enjoy.
I am still going to share those beautiful events that I do day in and day out. I am still going to share inspiring weddings I find across the internet. I’m still going to have a focus on my work, but I’m going to start peppering in some of my photography, some of my inspirations (no matter what they may be) and will also share a bit of whats going on in my life. Ultimately, I am no longer focusing on writing this for my clients and for the industry, but rather, for me.
I may lose some readers, I may gain some, but I’m not going to think about that. I’m going to start slow and see how this goes. I’m setting a goal for myself and thats what matters.

Wednesday Roundup {Dress Code}

Wedding dress codes are always a tricky thing. Casual. Cocktail. Dressy Casual. Semi-formal. Black Tie Optional. Beach Chic. What does it all mean?!? Sometimes it feels like you need a translator just to go shopping. Most often the required attire (say that 10 times fast!) is intended to match the wedding style. While it may not be practical to call up the bride and groom to ask them what they mean, you can look to clues in the invitation to help understand their “definition” of dress. For example, is the wedding in a church or house of worship? Is it outdoors or indoors? Is it at a country club or reception hall?  These hints can help clue you in to what “semi-formal” really means.

In the meantime, here is a quick roundup of common wedding attire dress codes to help you along the way:


Anything goes with this dress code, though depending on the time of day and the venue, guests should still be weary of donning jeans, shorts or tank tops.

Him: Business casual, polo and khakis or even a sport coat or sweater Her: casual cocktail dress, sun dress, separates

Beach Formal/Beach Chic

A dress code with the word “beach” included can be intended as a warning to dress for the elements. Beach formal implies that while you are outdoors, and in the sand, the couple still intends to have a more formal atmosphere for the event. In some locations, especially here in Miami, Beach Chic can also imply a “dress to impress” atmosphere for the guests.

Him: Summer suit (no flip flops or shorts) Her: formal sundress, dressy flats are OK

Semi Formal/Dressy Casual

Semi Formal attire is the most often used in the wedding scene, and when in doubt, use this style as a guide for any event. As the name states, Semi Formal is a more casual take to dress attire, offering a wider range of style options.

Him: A casual suit is appropriate, or think business casual: dress shirt and tie Her: Cocktail dress, formal sundress for daytime events, even a formal take on separates is fine

Formal/Black Tie Optional

This dress code indicates that the event is still a very classy affair, but doesn’t require quite so much etiquette as the forms below. It allows guests to go a bit more casual if they wish. Sometimes, you may even see “Creative Black Tie” which allows the guest to, well,  “get creative” with their color choices and accessories.

Him: Full suite or tuxedo if so desired Her: Long dress or dressy cocktail dress. A dressy suit is also appropriate

Black Tie

I often consider black tie as the jazzed up version of formal wear without the stuffy extras of white tie. Black Tie dress codes are also a good indication of an evening event and vice versa.

Him: A tuxedo is appropriate, or a dinner jacket, black accessories (tie, cummerbund) Her: long gown or a very dressy cocktail dress, neutrals are the way to go

White Tie

This long forgotten style is the most formal of all dress codes. While we don’t see it too much in everyday affairs in the states (think White House, Formal Award Shows), a White Tie dress code tells the guest they need to dress their fanciest of fancies!

Him:  Tuxedo, coat with tails, white accents (vest, shirt, bow tie, gloves), shoes without laces  Her: floor length formal gown, be weary of loud colors

If you’re still left in the dark, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions. When in doubt, I advise leaning towards a dressier edge – it is better to be over dressed than under dressed! Plus, you can never go wrong with Semi-Formal attire!

sources: Emily Post, Emily Post WeddingsThe Knot, Martha Stewart

Simply Bridal

To follow up our guest post last week the lovely folks at Simply Bridal are offering an online discount for all of our readers. Simply Bridal is a great resource for all things wedding: gowns, jewelry, bridesmaids dresses, you name it! Use the code below at checkout to receive 15% off your order (shipping not included); discount for my readers is available through the end of the month (September 23).

Code: SBL38LM
As promised, I have some eye candy from the beach wedding this past weekend – check out this beautiful west coast (of Florida that is) sunset!

Perfect Fit Flowers {Guest Post}

This weekend is all about relaxation for me as I am headed across the state to celebrate the wedding of one of my good friends from college and lay around on the beach for a few days. Sounds like heaven! In honor of a few lazy days I am also stepping away from the blog, but don’t worry my dears I have a fabulous guest post for you!


Natalie from shows us how to pair the perfect bouquet with the dress of your dreams. Simply Bridal is an online resource for custom made wedding gowns at great prices; taking the middle man out of your wedding dress experience. Their products have been featured on blogs such as Rock’n’Roll Bride, Style Me Pretty, and Wedding Chicks.

“Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.”
~Henry Beecher

It comes as no great surprise that when a bride is planning her big day, she plans
everything so that they coordinate with each other.

Wedding dress? Check! Earrings? Check! Veil, shoes and other accessories?
Check, check and check!

You’d be surprised then, when it comes to the flowers, and suddenly, her favorite
flowers — pink roses — don’t match her favorite kind of dress or her favorite earrings.
In fact, altogether, the ensemble is nothing less than a mess.

Did you know, that certain flower arrangements match certain dresses and body
shapes? Let’s take a look at the 4 most common bouquet types (that I just learnt
about!) and see what’s best for you!

Cascade: The cascade bouquet is the most formal and traditional, with a rounded
top and a stream of flowers flowing in the bride’s hands, giving it a waterfall effect.
Larger flowers such as roses and orchids are generally the popular choice for
cascade bouquets. Cascade bouquets generally match sheath dresses.

Nosegay: The nosegay bouquet is a popular bouquet for bridesmaids. They are
simple and less dramatic as the cascade effect, but are great for brides opting for
the big ball gowns, so that it’s just not ‘too much’ with the big dress, big flowers

Arm Sheaf: An arm sheaf bouquet is cradled in the brides arms, and is made up
of long stemmed flowers such as orchids or long stemmed roses, perfect for taller
brides, or brides wearing empire or mermaid gowns.

Flower Bracelet: Although not as common as the others, the flower bracelet is
also known as a wrist corsages and are made of small bunches of flowers that are
then attached to an elastic band and slipped around the wrist. Although not very
common, it’s great for brides who’d rather not be holding a bouquet all day, and are
a great accessory for the short and flirty wedding dresses.

The cascade bouquet via Snippet and Ink. The nosegay via Snippet and Ink. The sheaf via Love Heart Weddings. The white corsage via Polka Dot Brides. The ribbon corsage via Wedding Chicks.

So whatever dress you have, there’s the perfect flower arrangement for you.

To pick out your perfect gown to match your flowers, check out our range of gowns All dresses are courtesy of SimplyBridal.

The bridal bouquet is all about complimenting the dress and Natalie’s advice is perfect for brides! Thanks Natalie!

I’ll be sharing some sneak peaks from the wedding weekend on the beach so stay tuned! Happy weekend!

Summer Spritzer

Hurricane season is in full swing which means summer is almost coming to an end. If you’re like me and itching to savor every last minute of summer sun you can, then I recommend plopping your lawn chair outside, grabbing a good book and one of these yummy cocktails to soak it all in. For serious though, I’ve been rounding up some delicious, last-summer-fling worthy cocktails (yes that exists!) that will end your season on a high note!


Frenchy Cocktail Yum! Courtesy of Intoxicology

Lemonade never tasted so good with this Petite in Pink spotlighted by Cosmopolitan

Fruity Frozen Vodka Slushy perfect for September heat via EAD living

The Clever Carrot makes this appealing White Peach Cooler

Torn between liquor and beer? A Ginger Shandy solves everything thanks to Delish.


The only thing missing now is a fabulous Caribbean backdrop. Wouldn’t that be nice!