American Grown Flowers

First Lady's Luncheon 2019 - Washington Hilton Hotel | Washington, DC

I was honored to have the privilege for the second year in a row to photograph on behalf of American Grown Flowers as they sponsored the 107th annual First Lady’s Luncheon, a bi-partisan event hosted by the Congressional Club, honoring the First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Melania Trump.

About 30 volunteers from all over the US flew in for 5 total days to help design and create the centerpieces and arrangements to highlight and accent the grand ballroom of the hotel. Over 22,000 stems of flowers were donated from about 15 farms across our country.

Two conference rooms are turned into a flower shop for several days prior to the Luncheon, and the stems are flown in. Once they arrive, they’re unwrapped and prepped, placed in buckets of water all around the room, and made ready for centerpieces, arrangements, bud vases, and more… All by these volunteers who are running on little sleep, a few snacks, and lots and lots of coffee.

Kirsten-Smith-Photography-First-Ladys-Luncheon-2019-1555-Edit.jpg

It’s so cool to watch as these talented creatives do what they do best. There were a total of 145 floral centerpieces, several arrangements for the head table, bathrooms, high-top tables for the pre-luncheon receptions, and numerous other misc. arrangements around the hotel for the event. Over 1,000 boutonnieres were created for the guests to wear also, as well as two flower walls for photo ops, and much more… It was very impressive and quite an undertaking!

I was completely infatuated with the peonies…

^ Above are our fearless leaders, Christi (co-lead, who will lead next year), followed by Kasey and Andrea of American Grown Flowers, and Mary Kate, our lead. They kept everything organized and even took us all out to a really nice dinner the evening before the Luncheon! It was nice to have that time together to get to know everyone and bond over a meal. :)

Every year there’s a theme for the decor, and this year’s was “Indianapolis 500”, hence the black and white tablecloths. Vera Bradley company donated bags for each attendee, along with multiple other sponsors who helped put on this event. Lee Greenwood was present again to sing “Proud to be an American” of course, and Kathie Lee Gifford, Nicole Mullen, and Michael W. Smith were at the pre-luncheon VIP Reception as well.

Before the Luncheon, Melania and Karen Pence came out to greet those who were closest to the podium. I was able to shake her hand and say hello, which was a really neat experience! She’s absolutely beautiful and so graceful and eloquent. She seemed so respectful of each person she met, looking them each in the eye, greeting them, and thanking them for coming, rather than rushing down the line of women eager to say hello. I didn’t get to shake Karen’s hand, but I imagine she was just as lovely. :)

IMG_4223.PNG

That last shot was snapped from a video on my cell phone. :)

The Luncheon was so nice, with speeches given by Mrs. Trump as well as Mrs. Pence, and performances by Michael W. Smith who sang a few of his praise songs, including “The Word” which I’ve always loved, and Nicole C. Mullen, who sang her song “The God Who Sees”.

It was nice to be able to attend again this year! I always love the people watching, all of the pretty dresses and shoes, and styles of everyone who comes to attend.

Thank you to Andrea and Kasey from American Grown Flowers for this awesome opportunity! And to Mary Kate and Christi for leading the team so well. It was a wonderful time and so well done!


Sponsors:
DV Flora, Accent Decor, Oasis, and The Congressional Club

Lead Designer:
Mary Kate Kinnane - The Local Bouquet, RI

Co-lead Designer:
Christi Lopez - Bergerons Flowers, VA

Flower Farms:
Bloomia, Camflor, Dramm & Echter, Eufloria, Fern Trust, Gallup & Stribling, Green Valley, Holland American Flowers, Kitayma, Mellano, Myraid, Menagerie Flower, Ocean Breeze, Ocean View Flowers, Paja Rosa, Pyramid, Resendiz Brothers, Westland Orchids

Volunteers:
Alaskan Legacy Peonies, The Secret Garden Charleston, Joslyn Peony Farm, The Hotel Florist, CW Floral Design, Petals by the Shore, Lumme Creations, Christina Flower Co, Fancy Florals by Nancy, Bramble and Bee, and more…