Tropical tips - Flowers for a Bahama Beach Wedding

This blog was written prior to the devastation of Hurricane Dorian. We continue to hold the distressed people of the Abacos and Grand Bahama Islands in our thoughts and prayers. 

We are sharing the blog as scheduled because the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation (BMOTA) urges travelers to keep and pursue their vacations to the islands that were not affected and remain open. In the Northwest Bahamas, these include the Bahamas capital of Nassau and neighboring Paradise Island, as well as Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Andros, Bimini and The Berry Islands.

If you dream of designing wedding flowers on the sandy shores of a tropical isle, Adam Havrilla shared your dream.

Using thousands of beautiful roses Adam and team created dreamy Bahama beach flowers for an intimate “I Do” beside crystal blue waters.

Adam discovered that even dream days have challenges.

Photo: Adam Havrilla/Artistic Blooms

“There is so much that goes into designing weddings internationally,” explains Adam.

Island logistics. Stormy weather. Procurement. Flower freshness. How can you meet island design challenges?

Adam offers these tropical tips.

International logistics

Adam Havrilla AIFD, PFCI, ICPF of Artistic Blooms in Chicago, Illinois was commissioned to create a coastal celebration at Harbour Island Pink Sands Gorgeous Beach Bahamas.

Photo: Adam Havrilla/Artistic Blooms

“Our amazing event coordinator LMG Events helped with issues prior to our landing on the island.” Work visas. Liability insurance. Assistants.

Since product couldn’t be obtained on the island, all fresh product had to ship in from Miami in a refrigerated trailer. The trailer, holding approximately 12,000 flowers, arrived on the island and was moved to the wedding site.

Ceremony flowers

A gorgeous rose arbor was designed to frame the ocean view and ceremony for guests.

Photo: Adam Havrilla/Artistic Blooms

Foam brick cages were loaded with Instant Deluxe foam and attached to an arbor structure. The wet foam cages were filled with thousands of Amnesia, Quicksand and Playa Blanca roses.

A 300-foot wedding aisle led to the arbor. Two rows of double brick trays filled with water-saturated floral foam lined the aisle. The trays were filled in advance with Quicksand roses, garden roses, gypsophilia, and assorted foliages. Then, quickly placed during installation.

A floral-filled week

The team had arrived Monday afternoon to prep for the Friday wedding.

 “I brought two amazing designers with me,” says Adam. “Three fabulous Bahamian designers joined us onsite and six individuals assisted with set-up.”  The work took about 50 hours on site, but many, many hours of advance planning.

Fabulous florals

“We were responsible for designing floral decor for over 60 guest rooms, the hotel and estate home, wedding and decompression events,” says Adam. “It was a week full of fun and fabulous florals!”

Photo: Adam Havrilla/Artistic Blooms

A trendy touch of dried bleached bunny tails added soft beachy-flair to the bridal bouquet and boutonnières.

Large crystal-clear vases of roses, white plumosa, and amaranths graced the altar and some tables.

Making it work

Adam, Tina Davis AIFD, and Michelle Oneal-babicky ICPF flew to the Bahamas together. They landed at the airport, took a taxi to the pier, boarded a boat to the island and picked up a golf cart for their week’s transport.

“Fitting three designers with luggage into a small golf cart was hilarious,” laughs Adam. The experience quickly established the trip’s slogan - “let’s make this work!”

 Adopting a can-do attitude early on was a good thing. They were going to need it.

Storm delays

One day a storm swept through creating havoc during set-up.

Photo: Adam Havrilla/Artistic Blooms

“It was quite a setback, but the show must go on,” confides Adam. “When designing in nature you must expect some excitement.” The team soon got back on track.

Reception flowers

A fabric draped cake arbor (waiting for cake) added a breezy touch of tropical elegance.

Photo: Adam Havrilla/Artistic Blooms

Roses, foliage, and floating glass orbs gave the natural wood structure a romantic flair.

Fresh garlands of flowers and foliage with candlelight highlighted guest tables. Flowers marked the couple’s chairs.

Photo: Adam Havrilla/Artistic Blooms

Sheltered teepee lounge areas added a romantic vibe to guest seating.

Flower canopy

A metal grid was used to construct the reception canopy. The base was covered in florist netting and wild smilax.

Photo: Adam Havrilla/Artistic Blooms

Clusters of white plumosa, dried bleached gyp and fresh gyp hung from the netting as an ocean-inspired floral base.

Photo: Adam Havrilla/Artistic Blooms

Over 200 glass candleholder orbs of various sizes were hung from the grid by gold bullion wire. The hanging orbs with battery-operated candles cast a magical glow into the starry night. 

The challenge?

What was the biggest challenge? Planning.

Every detail had to be planned out perfectly in advance. Fresh items. Hard goods. Execution.

“Once we arrived on the island there was nowhere to obtain floral items,” explains Adam. “We couldn’t just drive to a wholesaler and get what we needed.”

There wasn’t even a hardware store was on the island!

Fresh flower faith

The most important logistic? “Faith,” answers Adam emphatically.

“We had to have faith that the fresh flower trailer would remain refrigerated on the ship and once it arrived on location.” 

Photo: Adam Havrilla/Artistic Blooms

Designers take many things for granted when working in their own environment. Destination designers often face situations they unaccustomed to.

“We worked in a small board room and transported finished items to a suite via golf cart,” explains Adam. “On wedding day our amazing team hand carried every item down to the beach!”

Staying tight on installation times was crucial. “Everything had to be completed as close to “I Do” as possible to ensure flower freshness.” 

Plan B

The sky looked stormy again on wedding day!  Was there a back-up plan?

“Plan B was praying to the rain gods and it worked,” quips Adam. The sunny sky returned.

“Actually, a banquet room indoors was an option. But, traveling that far for a beautiful beach wedding - who wants to go inside?”

Tropical bliss

What’s the best part of designing wedding flowers in a tropical location?

While the location’s beauty and magic were a huge bonus, Adam found the challenge of pulling all the pieces together a thrill.

“I love to see a project come together especially if there are hurdles along the way.”

Sharing the love

“We could not have pulled this wedding off without Oasis products” confides Adam.

 “One of the most exciting perks was sharing our favorite products. We left remaining items with our island helpers.”

The local designers hadn’t worked with the various adhesives, cages, and preservative sprays, etc. used for the wedding.

“It felt great to share products we love with fellow designers in another country!”

Dream wedding delivered. The team spent Saturday on the beach before boarding a plane for home.

What challenges have you encountered designing flowers for a beach wedding?

Please share your comments with us below.



Stacey Markuten December 18, 2019


Stacey Markuten December 18, 2019

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