Meet the experts behind the Franklin Park Conservatory photo shoot
Owner, Flowers on Orchard Lane
Janet Reese's uniquely creative talents have wowed people in an almost unimaginable number of ways. First, the Westerville native was an assistant portfolio manager on Wall Street. Then, she became a jewelry designer whose work was featured in Vogue and sold in New York City's highest-end stores, from Bergdorf Goodman to Henri Bendel. Next, she opened an upscale women's clothing boutique in the Florida Keys. Finally, she landed in the flower business. Now back in Columbus, Reese and her husband (along with seven full-time employees) run Flowers on Orchard Lane.
Weddings comprise about 90 percent of their business. Reese and her staff have even been flown to places from California to New York to gives brides their dream dcor. Sitting beside a wall full of thank-you cards from happy brides, Reese looks through albums of weddings like a proud momma, smiles, and quotes Emerson: "Earth laughs in flowers." Flowers, she said, can set the tone for a whole wedding, making it soft and sophisticated or fun and funky. "We get excited about every wedding," Reese said. "Because every wedding is different. Every personality is different."
Owner, La Petite Fleur
Jan Kish is known for the impossibly extravagant, so it's no surprise that when former University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler's son married a Columbus girl, they called on Kish for the wedding cake. And she delivered: The reception featured intricate, three-dimensional replicas of both Ohio Stadium and Michigan Stadium. Kish, whose family is Hungarian, was a foodie from a young age. "There was always good baking going on-good food," she said. "So I was immersed in that." Even after she earned her English degree from the University of Oxford and spent 10 years working in cardiology, she couldn't resist the culinary pull. So she studied at one culinary school and two pastry schools and opened a catering business that grew into two restaurants.
But eventually Kish chose to focus on her passion-cakes. Her amazing creations-her most expensive fed 800 and cost $32,000-have garnered national media attention. And they're not just pretty: Her most popular flavor recently won the best-tasting cake on TLC's reality competition "Ultimate Cake Off." "You eat with your eyes first," Kish said. "(But) if the follow-through isn't there, it's a huge disappointment." To top things off, Kish also performs reception sabering, which involves her slashing open a champagne bottle with a sword-like weapon. She enjoys helping make fairytale weddings a reality. "If you can do that," she said, "you've achieved your mission."
Owner, Girls in White Dresses
Nothing pleases Courtney Leister more than matching a bride with her dream dress. So, inevitably, one of the most stressful parts of her job is witnessing an opinionated relative or friend try to push the bride into a look that doesn't fit her style. That's when Leister and her staff diplomatically intervene. Leister's advice usually goes something like this: "It's got to be your style. This is a dress you're going to move in and rock the whole night-you're not just going to be standing like you are in a dressing room." Leister is both a fashionista and a businesswoman, having worked in the corporate world as a fashion consultant, retail buyer and purse designer before running her boutique. She always envisioned having her own shop, and loves the creative side of her work. "I'm styling the client for the most important day of their life."
Owner, La Jeune Mariee
During visits to the public library as a little girl, Lindsay Fork insisted on checking out Modern Bride and Brides magazines. She obsessed over glossy photos of wedding gowns and remembers falling so in love with a beaded St. Pucchi ballgown that she tore out a page from the borrowed magazine and saved it. "I've always been a hopeless romantic," she said. Fork now channels that passion into selecting the sophisticated collection of gowns that line the racks at La Jeune Mariee. Though she has an eye for fashion, Fork holds a degree in entrepreneurship from Xavier University and worked in sales and marketing before taking over the boutique in 2008. "The one question I consistently get asked is, 'Did you study fashion?' " Fork said. "I think you have to have a business background." But it's the emotional side of her business, she said-like seeing delighted brides in their chosen gowns-that's most rewarding.
Shop Manager, Big Rock Little Rooster
Kristin Cooke felt like a princess on her wedding day. "I was fortunate to have the most amazing wedding, and what made it amazing was the fact that everybody was supportive every step of the way," she said. "I was number one." Six years later, she believes that every bride deserves to feel the same way. Cooke and shop owner Rebecca Reeder take a no-rules approach to styling their clients. "It's whatever the bride wants," Cooke said. "When she comes in and asks, 'What am I supposed to do?' our immediate response is, 'What do you want to do?' " That question has led to some edgy, non-traditional looks, such as pairing cowboy boots with a high-fashion gown or forgoing white for a black cocktail dress. In the end, the decision isn't really about the cost of the dress or the label sewn inside, Cooke said. "It's how they look in it."