Making "I Do" Go Smooth

By: Christopher Wang
Bucks County Courier Times

On her own wedding day, the bride is the last person you'd expect to see assembling floral centerpieces minutes before the ceremony's start. That's nothing unusual for Debbie Young. The Warminster resident rushed back from the hairdresser to put the finishing touches on decorations for her and her sister's double wedding 18 years ago.

Was she stressed? "No, not really," Young said. "That's my business; it's what I'm used to doing."

For more than 20 years, Young worked as a floral designer, envisioning and creating flower arrangements for all types of events. Last July, however, she decided she'd had enough of the holiday-driven retail business. Instead, she took her wedding-decoration experience and started Distinctive Designs, helping couples coordinate their wedding accessories.

"It's more convenient for a bride to come to one place," Young said, who works out of her Warminster home. "It makes the job of planning much easier."

Spilled across Young's kitchen table are binders bursting with sample invitations, photographs of past designs and wedding-party gifts. She helps brides select and order their wedding gowns, and even has an array of jewelry to sell for the occasion. "So I can coordinate some kind of theme," she said. But flowers are the core of her business, she said, something she's always loved as she was growing up.

"Most girls come in and don't know much about flowers," she said. "They bring in a color swatch of their dress and we pick a design for it."

Though Young says her end of the wedding planning is like second nature, all the usual stresses of behind-the-scenes work are there. She meets with her clients six to nine months in advance, but the most critical decorations - the flowers - arrive just a day or two beforehand. That's when the questions start streaming through Young's head. Will everything be delivered on time? Are the flowers the right color? Will the lilies bloom in time for the wedding?

"Delivery is always the most hectic," she said, adding that there's usually three or four locations involved. "If I go to the church and there's another wedding coming out, I have to get in and out quickly so the guests don't see me."

Eventually Young wants to turn her business into a full retail shop, a niche in the wedding-planning market with few other companies, she said. But for now she'll work out of her home, putting together floral designs in her basement workspace.

"Girls spend lots of money for their weddings," she said. "They want good service for the wedding of their dreams."

Distinctive Design's Tel: 215-357-0771 Web: www.distinctivedesignsforweddings.comEmail:
debbie@distinctivedesignsforweddings.com
Christopher Wang can be reached at 215-949-4189 or at cwang@phillyBurbs.com