For Evelyn Cuellar, the most crucial step in her quest for bohemian bridal flowers came when a friend sent a link to Candace Dawn’s Instagram account.
“I knew I wanted her to make my wedding bouquet,” said Evelyn.
The bride and the designer met and soon got down to work.
“When brides contact me, we normally start off with their vision for the wedding, colors, and the date of the wedding,” said Candace of The Cactus Star. “We talk budget and I see what we can do to fill those wedding floral dreams within their budget.”
On the day Evelyn married Simon Cuellar last autumn at The Wildflower Barn in Driftwood, she carried pink snapdragons, burgundy mums, red roses, seeded eucalyptus, baby eucalyptus, and two kinds of succulents (Echeveria and hens and chicks).
“Candace ran with those [initial] ideas and knew what I had in my mind and executed it so well,” said Evelyn. “Once I finally got to see my bouquet in person, I was amazed at how much work and effort she had put into it.”
Evelyn shared her beautiful flowers in an Instagram photo of her big day, and it’s visible in another photo shared by her groom (pictured above). As one might expect, the beaming young bride and the stunning flowers alike drew praise from folks near and far.
“My family and friends thought it was such a pretty bouquet. They thought it was different from your typical bouquets, what you usually see. The even cooler thing was when I told everyone that I could save the succulents and replant them. They’re planted now, and every time I see them it’s a reminder of my perfect wedding.”
“Making bridal bouquets is one of my most favorite parts of my job,” said Candace. “It’s such an honor to be a part of the couple’s big day.”
More than Just Weddings
Assembling bunches of flowers for brides is only one piece of Candace’s growing cacti-and-succulent business, however. She also makes affordable custom arrangements and regularly hosts “Succulent Saturday” events at San Antonio’s Feliz Modern boutique. With the hardy plants turning up on everything lately from fashion runways to throw pillows, Candace relishes this particular design trend.
“I’ve been loving cacti and succulents for a few years, and I am excited that they’re getting lots of attention now,” she said. “They are so unique and easy to care for when in the right lighting environment, so it only makes sense that they would rise to popularity. I think last year pineapples were the big design element. This year, it’s absolutely cacti.”
Beyond the plants themselves, where does Candace–a Texas native who is raising three boys with her husband, Justin–draw her own creative inspiration? Well, as a child she learned to love plants in her grandmother’s greenhouse. More recently she credits Joanna Gaines, the co-host of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” show, for helping to bring “‘plant lady’ status to a higher level.”
“The way [Gaines] stages homes on the show with plants everywhere is really inspiring,” Candace said.
“Julie Juden is a huge design inspiration for me,” Candace said. “I have succulent envy a lot since she lives in sunny California, the perfect state for gorgeous succulents. Connie Milan has a gorgeous feed, too. A few other people I follow are Loft Creative, Botanical Bright, and Mike Pyle.”
No “Green Thumb”? No Worries.
As 2018 rolls along, Candace is noticing a subtle shift within the cactus craze.
”I’m seeing more and more faux succulents and some of them are actually really realistic. Faux plants are a great option for the ‘black thumbs’ crowd or for if you want plants in an area of your house that doesn’t have proper lighting, such as a bathroom. I myself have some faux air plants in my hallway, one that gets zero natural light. Speaking of air plants, I see them growing in popularity this spring for sure. Hanging planters are also very on trend and look lovely hanging in a bright corner or in front of a window. Check out [any of the big box retailers like TJ Maxx] for affordable plant containers. The best containers for cacti and succulents are ones with drainage holes.”
For those us who’d prefer to bring home a living plant, Candace has a couple of favorite area nurseries to recommend for DIY garden types: Shades of Green on Sunset Road in the Alamo City and Spring Creek Gardens in Spring Branch. Of the later she says that they “have a magical greenhouse and a great selection of house plants, succulents, and cacti. It’s just north of San Antonio, but absolutely worth the drive.”
Pamela Price is a freelance writer and author who lives somewhere between semi-rural Boerne and the big city of San Antonio, literally and metaphorically. She, too, loves a good cactus.