Founder and owner of Verbena Designs traded in her biochemistry education to create one of the most sought-after floral design shops in the area.
By Brittny Drye
While floral design can be learned, the naturally talented undoubtedly take it to a whole other level. While studying biochemistry at Adelphi University in Long Island, Jennifer McKeon, founder and owner of Verbena Designs Inc., supported herself by working at various flower shops. It was during this time that she found she had a knack for a field beyond the lab. Trading in her stirrers for shears, her hidden talent for floral design quickly blossomed. After her experience as a freelance designer for Oprah’s florist, Preston Bailey, she was inspired to take her creative ability toward becoming an event designer.
Verbena Designs, which resides in Hicksville, N.Y., yet reaches from Manhattan to Montauk and beyond, was founded in 2003. Over the last eight years, it has gained a reputation for providing its clients with gorgeous floral arrangements and spectacular customer service, earning the Bride’s Choice Award from Wedding Wire three years in a row. “People appreciate that the staff at Verbena takes the time to create personal, unique pieces for every client,” McKeon humbly explains. “We want to make sure every detail is perfect.”
347 West John St.
Being a civil rights activist for more than a decade (she started TORCH—The Organization Responsible for Combating Homophobia—on her campus, was involved with the NYC Anti-Violence project, and has been a long-time supporter of Gay Men’s Health Crisis), McKeon’s company has sponsored and decorated for several LGBT events, including one hosted in the Hamptons honoring TV personality Carson Kressley.
From bouquets to centerpieces, Verbena Designs has contributed their green thumb in a multitude of weddings, including her and her partner’s (“Now that New York has passed the [same-sex wedding] bill, we’re daydreaming about getting married again!” she adds excitedly), and each design is customized to each client, regardless of budget. For those on the tighter end of the financial scale, her artistry lends itself to creating more stylized centerpieces showcasing just a few brilliant flowers with a unique element for high impact, maintaining the “wow” factor, but at an economical cost.
In order to create the perfect arrangement, they blend the couple’s style with the design team’s ideas. Always on top of floral trends (McKeon predicts a revisit of vintage styles with a modern twist for upcoming seasons), the team has quite the queue of ideas: “We love including unexpected elements into the design, like buttons and lace, or herbs and birch bark,” she says. “It distinguishes your flowers from the typical.”
McKeon suggests couples meet with a floral designer six to 18 months before the wedding. “Once the venue and the dresses have been chosen is usually a good time to start on the flowers,” she advises. But even for those who decide upon last-minute matrimonies, Verbena Designs can comfortably supply high-quality blooms with two weeks’ notice.
With personal attention guiding couples from petal to procession, Verbena Designs infuses weddings with memorable, perfect designs.
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