Beyond Bouquets

Transcending traditional floral design.

Photo by Mark Edward Atkinson

Couples planning weddings with designer Shawn Marie Cossette, owner of Beehive Events in Scottsville, will need to contemplate much more than what flowers they like best.

She wants to know much more about individual tastes, spending anywhere from two to four hours with her clients.

“I will ask them to tell me their favorite museum or place to visit,” she explains. “I want to know what kind of clothes they like and anything else that will give me a sense of the things they are attracted to in order to create a unique space that will reflect the couple, and not an event they might have seen on Pinterest.”

Working with mood boards and mock-ups, Cossette coordinates with wedding planners to create settings that transform ordinary spaces with sometimes dramatic and sometimes subtle natural elements curated to blend with light and architectural nuances for extraordinary design effects. Some extravagant and elegant examples of her work include Japanese magnolia reception space walls, botanical valances for a fall reception at Montalto in Charlottesville, rose bedecked garlands of Virginia greenery looped just below the billowed ceiling of a white-tented reception space at a private home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and drapes trimmed in roses for a wedding reception at Castle Hill Cider in Keswick.

For the floral designer who began her career providing weekly fresh floral arrangements for Hollywood glitterati in California, the wedding business has been a chance to express her love for design and nature.

Cossettte and her husband, David Dienner, live on a farm in Scottsville, home base for their business, Beehive Events, which provides full-service design, décor and tent services. A 5,000-square-foot barn serves as her studio. Other farm buildings are used to store items, including chairs, tables, linens and light fixtures, just to name a few, and Cossette also raises flowers and herbs she uses in her arrangements.

“Virginia has a great climate and long growing season for many perennials and herbs,” says Cossette. “Viburnum, magnolia, dogwood and so many garden flowers all provide lovely backdrops.” But she also uses varieties such as bittersweet, which is grown in Wisconsin, and others that can only be found in Holland, South America, and in other parts of the U.S., depending on many floral sources around the globe cultivated over the years she has traveled and worked with clients to create unique wedding designs.

“You have to be a bit of an adrenaline junkie to do this work,” she says, recalling one wedding she recently designed just outside of Charleston. The floral design included an arbor of Annabelle hydrangeas, peonies, roses and greenery, and centerpieces that combined apricots, peaches, mint, basil, verbena and rosemary with peonies and garden roses.

“We got there on Wednesday and began work for the Saturday wedding. Guests from out of town were arriving early and everybody was talking about the flowers. They couldn’t believe we were working on them for days,” Cossette says laughing. “It doesn’t just happen on Saturday morning!”

This article originally appeared in our Weddings 2018 issue. 

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