2017 WAVE Awards Spotlight: Lee James Floral Design

By : Billy Manes
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Lee James, he of Lee James Floral Designs Inc. on North Orange Avenue, loves the smell of roses in the morning.

“You know, my mom had a beautiful garden, and I grew up in English gardens, so the passion for me has to do with more than just the bride,” he says.

James launched his enterprise on March 1, 1992, thanks to the assistance of interior designer Sam Ewing. He was given a storage room from which to operate his craft. He did almost too well, to the point that Ewing, legendarily, asked him to leave.

“Then in one year he said, ‘Get out. You’ve taken over my space,’” James says. “I owe Lee James to Sam Ewing.”

Has the new thrust toward gay weddings changed the process for the gay florist to the stars? Or has it made things more difficult?

“There’s a little bit of both,” he says. “The wedding industry, the generations have changed. I just celebrated 27 years of Lee James. And when you back it up, weddings were different, they were opulent, it was a big celebration. We still have our country club brides, we still have our debutante brides. Back when I started, Daddy was bringing his daughter in for her wedding. Your brides today are living in their 30s, maybe they’re living on their own, they are career-oriented. Instead of dropping a few thousand on a wedding, you’re buying a house. It is a celebration, but they’re also more sensible about what they’re doing with that money.”

“Of course now we have gay marriage, and we have a lot of wonderful people coming in to do it, and I think that’s just fantastic,” he adds. “My philosophy has always been, ‘I don’t care if your wedding is $500 or $500,000. You should be treated with the same respect, because that’s your dream, no matter what your budget is.’ Honestly, I find that the $500 brides are nicer, they’re more appreciative of what you do, and you don’t have to kill yourself when you’re doing something that they want you to do.”

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