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  • Writer's pictureCylee Ragan

Vendor Spotlight: Sarah Beach with Sunshine Garden Center

Updated: May 2, 2023

Well, hello there Wedding Blog Readers! I had an extremely full week this week- but one of the highlights was getting an opportunity to sit down and chat with one of the most creative wedding florists and venue owners I know: Sarah Beach with Sunshine Garden Center. We sat down for about an hour going through some of Sarah's story, experiences and she even shared some tips for couples on the hunt for the perfect venue and/or florist for their Big Day. So here it is, the very first Cylee Catherine Events Vendor Spotlight!

Tell Us About Your Business
The Flower Room started in 2016 with bouquets of roses for Valentines Day. In 2018, you could build your bouquet and I knew I wanted to build it up into something more but it was just a baby dream. In 2019, we got more serious. We bought a cooler and it ramped up, not so much with events, but for holidays. We decided at the end of 2019, that event florals really should be a thing for Sunshine Garden Center. In January of 2020, we had a ribbon cutting for The Flower Room. We moved the cooler to a designated room that at the time shared a room with my office, but now it had a dedicated space. We did prom/homecoming flowers. A couple of months into 2020, we offered mothers day bouquets and that really just took over the entire storefront. With everything that happened in 2020 (COVID), and as couples started to cancel or rebook their weddings elsewhere, that's where we really started to come into the wedding scene. We had an opportunity to be that florist that was still up-and-coming but had availability for couples. We could still get them the wedding florals they were still really wanting... without the waitlist! We have come a long way since then and are definitely growing. We now have a waitlist. It really is turning into the dream. The baby dream became a reality!
The event space started when I got married in the back of the property in 2011. The hidden garden got redone for that. I then had my baby shower here as well, a year and a half later. We then focused on classes and Witches Night Out events. For these events, we had a DJ and Food Trucks. In 2019, we hosted a Farm-to-Table dinner that we hosted inside the store. We turned it into a very intimate space. It was really the catalyst into 'How many ways can we use this space?!' We were able to then get our footing for questions about hosting an event here. We did our first 'non-family' wedding in 2019 and it just grew from there. We did have to reschedule some weddings due to all of the stuff in 2020, but we are back to putting focus on it.

What Started You In This Profession
I have always wanted to be in design and coming back into the business in 2009, we would design our own mixed containers from what we grew. I got to play with different colors and textures- and it wasn't planned to go the floral design route, because it was just things that needed to happen but it fueled new opportunities. I started doing custom planters for couples weddings, that they could use long after the wedding was over. If you're going to spend that kind of money on wedding flowers, you should get the most out of it. You have all sort of creative freedom when you come into flowers whether its potted, cut, silks, etc. My passion really just grew from the early events. Event Florals really allows that creative side of me to come out.

What Do You Like About Being A Part Of Weddings
It's like everyone's happy day. The wedding really is what leads up to that 'Happily Ever After', so being a part of that day that brings everyone so much joy. It really is just so fun and is such an honor to be trusted with that much responsibility on someone's most important day. Also, every wedding is so different. You never get tired of it because you vibe that goes into it is different. Each venue is so different too! Even if it's the same type of venue, different people have different things that the couples would like to capture or different ways they would like to shape the space. With flowers, the possibilities are endless!

What Tips Would You Give To Couples Looking for Wedding Florals Or Event Venues
Start to look at your options early. Even if you're not ready to commit yet, go out and look at what your options are. Look at general pricing. You do have to be a little trusting when you go to look at venues like mine- it looks like your typical greenhouse. When you look at my space it's a concrete slab with a greenhouse around it. There isn't much for couples to go on. Don't forget to also look at the vendor's social media. Looking on my social media can give an idea of what the space has been transformed for an event, and then helps you to get creative with what your event may look like in that space. Also, start a Pinterst Board. Get an idea of your own personal style first, and see which vendor style is the right fit for you.

What Questions Should Couples Be Asking When Consulting With Vendors
Honestly, just being open about what they want. Most couples ask the generic questions- What their budget is. How much is the deposit? What you need from me? Most couples, like you said, aren't sure what other questions they should be asking because they are so new to this- but that's why I ask the questions for them and direct the conversation to get them thinking. As I get into planning, all my couples get a direct line to my cell to ask anything that also comes to mind. Being flexible also isn't something that may not need to ask about, but they definitely need to be aware of. What they may be asking for and what their budget is may not align so being open to some changes to accommodate everyone is also very important.
As for event space, timeline! Ask about how early you can get into set up on the day of. Most of that is based upon logistics. As we get closer to the event, we will fill in the blanks- But if you know ahead of time you'd like a hand in decorating the space, make that clear from the start. To clarify, this doesn't need to be a detailed timeline, just a rough idea for a frame of reference.

What Was The Most Memorable Event You Provided Florals/Venue Space For
Definitely the most recent wedding we had this March. This one's vibe was a very lush, enchanted garden... mixed with a little boho...with a little bit of Burning Man... and a lot of unconventional! The week of that wedding, we had a couple of left and right turns that we had to overcome. To get this enchanted garden look, I had ordered a truck full of tropicals to be delivered the week of the wedding. I then found out the Thursday night before the wedding, that the florals had not been loaded on the truck and would not be there for another two weeks. That Thursday night we had to get really creative really fast! We hand-greened the ENTIRE greenhouse. We took some old firewood and stacked them in front of our steel beams, added moss and we had trees! We hung a wispy green along the top of the wall so it looked like tree leaves hanging down. We took dormant trees out and event hardwired leaves to the trees so it looked like they had leafed out. If we could put moss or greenery anywhere, we did. We brought in annuals we had on hand for hints of color. This was my biggest challenge but the outcome was so much better than I could have imagined. It was definitely one for the books.

What Trends Are You Seeing
Since we base everything on custom aspects, most of my couples don't want the run of the mill. They want different. Most of my clients are going against the grain a little bit. I don't know if the trends really apply anymore. Because of the uniqueness of us being a non-traditional florist, most of the couples are coming in because they want something unique and different. If this sounds like what you're looking for, I am the florist for you!

Where Can Couples Find You
You can visit me at Sunshine Garden Center in Diamond, IL at 2850 E. Division Street. I am here generally 10AM to 5PM Wednesday through Sunday. If you are looking to make an appointment for event florals or talk about renting space, I recommend calling ahead at (815) 458- 6100. I am also on Facebook (Sunshine Garden Center) and Instagram (@SunshineGardenCenter).

Thank You for reading!! Check back for another Vendor Spotlight very soon!

- Cylee Ragan
Owner & Planner
Cylee Catherine Events LLC
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