Romona's discussion with Cleveland florist Bart Brunswick is polite but tense as they stand in the ballroom of The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland. The all-white centerpiece sample, mounted on a silver riser in the middle of a round table set for eight, isn't as full as she'd like.
"I love ya and you've got great taste, but you're being too critical," Brunswick responds. He says he can add more flowers for an additional cost or — "I hate to say it" — replace some of the hydrangeas, double lisianthus and Asiatic and Oriental lilies with less-expensive carnations and Fuji mums. Romona chooses the latter option. Brunswick reluctantly agrees to comply with her wishes.
The next day, we learn that Romona is looking for someone else to do her flowers. "Bart and I just didn't share the same vision," she later explains. David Rabinsky, the Ritz-Carlton's director of social catering, suggests Cleveland florist Kenny Metheney.
Metheney wins Romona over at their May 5 meeting with a centerpiece of Siberian lilies, roses, lisianthus, freesia, Casablanca irises, snapdragons and stock, all in whites and creams, on an antique-gold candelabra with white votive candles in hurricane globes and a table covered with an ivory satin undercloth and sheer white overlay embroidered with ivory vines, both from L'Nique Linens of Valley View. It's exactly what Romona wants: "a table setting that is both romantic and beautiful."
"He just instinctively came up with it," she marvels. "I hadn't talked to him."
Metheney says the Mount Zion Baptist Church sanctuary in Oakwood Village will be "a floral extravaganza" on Romona's wedding day. She's ordered 12 large arrangements (eight on the enormous altar, four on the aisle), four pew markers to denote seating for the immediate family and an arch at the back door to camouflage the lighted "Exit" sign. Romona will carry a French-style bouquet of gardenias, stephanotis, freesia and Vendela, Eskimo and garden roses in a bouquet-holder finished with greenery and ribbon. She chose French-style bouquets of roses and freesia for her two bridesmaids, hand-tied rose bouquets for her sisters and ivy- and rose-embellished baskets of rose petals for her two flower girls.
Like the centerpieces, the flowers in the church and bouquets will be a mix of whites and creams — the best option, Romona and Metheney thought, for a sanctuary that is anything but neutral in color.
"The church," Metheney explains, "is an explosion of blue."