Karen Tran Floral Masterclass…
I have always admired work of major floral designers and one of my idols has always been Karen Tran. Her work has always inspired me and made me crave the floral business more. For those of you who don’t know, Karen Tran is one of the top international wedding floral designers. Her floral work is absolutely stunning and her technique is quite difficult to achieve. She started her career just like many of us, in her garage and grew to be one of the most inspiring and sought after designers in the world. In fact, she has become so successful, that she has her own Double Tulip line in Holland named after her. Her website is filled with amazing floral designs and wedding décor that some designers dream to be part of. She started in a wedding industry and slowly transitioned into being a mentor for many designers. She has done classes all over the world from Italy, Bali, South Africa, and Australia to Mexico, Canada, and US. That’s why when I saw one of her workshops was coming up in the US, without any hesitation, I signed up. So when May 2016 rolled around, I packed my Dad and my 5 months pregnant body into a car, and we started our 11 hours road trip journey to West Virginia. Being part of Karen Tran Floral Masterclass was really an amazing experience and I would love to share my 3 day experience with you!
I woke up at 6am and couldn’t sleep because of the excitement of meeting Karen. I admired her work for such a long time and it was hard to imagine actually meeting her in person. The class was located at The Greenbrier Resort in Sulphur, West Virginia. This hotel is truly one of a kind and has so much history it was an amazing experience even visiting this place. I spent a morning wondering around the hotel grounds with my dad admiring the beauty of the hotel. Eventually I found my way to the Cameo Ballroom where the class was being held. I was one of the first once to arrive and I found a gorgeous peach-pink room with breathtaking crystal chandelier. The room was empty as other attendees have not arrived yet, so I decided to wait at the entrance to the Cameo Ballroom. Minutes later Karen arrived and greeted me at the front door. She is such a humble and nice person. All other attendees arrived and we all took our seats. Karen started our 3 day journey with her by welcoming us and promised a fantastic experience.
Most of the morning Karen spent on talking about her history, how she entered the wedding industry, about her ups and downs in the business. She shared with us some business tactics and using social media. We got tons of tips and tricks about how to run our businesses. It was very educational. After lunch, we headed back to the Cameo Ballroom to learn how to create a “Signature Style Wedding”. Karen started by discussing how to create a very sturdy base for her signature high large centerpieces. She also stressed the importance of working with the actual room where the event will take place. We always have to take under consideration the color that the actual room brings in. The Cameo Ballroom had this light pink and peach shade that had to be incorporate with the design. So Karen’s design for our Gala included light pink, a little bit of peach, ivory, gold with a gold shimmer metallic linens.
When Karen talks about a proper base for her signature high centerpieces, she’s not kidding around. These centerpieces are humongous and proper, strong, and sturdy base is a key element. No one wants a falling down centerpiece during their wedding. These centerpieces weight probably around 150 lbs if not more. It took 6 men to lift once centerpiece onto the table. While designing, Karen demonstrated her technique, talked to us about the importance of movement, texture, and variety of flowers we choose for these centerpieces. She also talked about the importance of reflexing the roses to create this type of design look. I finally understood why she calls her masterclass “The Floral Experience”. It was absolutely amazing to watch how flawless her technique is and how easy she makes it seem floral work is. After she taught us the basics, we all started designing the centerpieces. We had 6 of them to make so everyone had a chance to try out her design technique. During the designs we also worked on reflexing all the roses for the next day’s work. It was truly an amazing day. After we were done with all the work for the day, we joined Karen for a beautiful dinner with amazing views of the resort grounds.
The colors for the Gala are light pink, a little bit of peach, ivory with a gold shimmer metallic.
I woke up really tired but excited for the next day of our Karen Tran Masterclass adventure. We had a very busy and long day ahead of us. On the schedule for Day two was finishing up the signature high centerpieces and learning the tactics of “Making the Gala”. Karen also stressed to us the importance of time management. In order to create such an elaborate design we had to make sure we planned accordingly not only for the hardware and materials, but also for the labor part. We still needed to complete all 6 high centerpieces, floral runner for the main table, a huge floral wall, and numerous candelabra arrangements. It was going to be a very long day.
We were really excited about all the work that was coming our way. Half of us was finish up reflexing all the roses and prepping 4000 Hydrangeas and roses for our Floral Wall that measured 32 feet by 10 feet high. Rest of us worked on hanging up Orchid Leis on the main centerpieces and completing candelabra arrangements. I can’t stress enough how much work it was to actually complete this design. All those of you who are actual floral designs and work on weddings all the time know, that this is no easy task to complete. The prep work, structures, building the basis, design, and actual floral work can take days before the actual event takes place. All I can say is that at the end of Day 2, I was super exhausted. Being 5 months pregnant didn’t help either. But I was so proud of myself and anxious to start Day 3.
I woke up feeling a little sad that it was our last day at the Karen Tran Floral Masterclass. Even though I was tired, my feet hurt, and my hands had cuts from prepping all the flowers, I wanted this class to last forever. Day 3 was all about finishing touches before our Gala Dinner, which was the Great Gatsby Theme. On Day 3 we learning how to create the structure and different techniques of designing a Floral Wall. I must say this was one of those projects I was really excited to learn about. It is not an easy task to complete such a monstrous design. The floral wall we got to create was huge. It measured 10 ft high by 32 ft long. It held over 4000 flowers and took half a day to complete. Such a huge floral wall can cost in upwards of $50,000 depending on the flowers used – now that’s impressive! My team got to finish up one wing of the Wall which was super exciting. After the Floral Wall was complete, it was time for lunch. The weather was absolutely amazing so we were able to have a Picnic Lunch, followed by a friendly Croquet game. It was so much fun to step away for an hour from all the hard floral work. After lunch we all went into full work mode to finish up all the touches before our big Gala Dinner. As we were working, Karen continued to discuss her technique and she gave us her critique of our work. Critique is not easy but this was helpful in order to teach us the correct way of designing and to help us understand that we need to design a floral movement, and to make sure that we are looking at what we are creating and not just cut and stick flowers everywhere.
Design so that the flowers fall in front of you.
With all the techniques, tips, and difference elements of designing we got to learn over the past 3 days, Karen has always emphasized the value of trial and error in this type of design work. Her technique is not easy to achieve and it takes a lot of practice. At the end of the day, we got to experience what it feels like to be dining under an amazing floral design of this magnitude. Being able to create a movement with flowers that Karen was talking about for the past 3 days was truly eye opening experience. Not a lot of designers can achieve the look of flower movement and the right combination of floral texture.
After 3 long and exhausting days it was time to say goodbye to the amazing Karen Tran, but the experience and memories of this amazing class will last a lifetime. I am grateful for this experience, for all the new friendships, and I am proud that I had a hand in creating such an amazing design. This experience was truly one of the best experiences I had a pleasure to be part of and I hope that I will get a change in the future to do it all over again. 🙂