These florists are flourishing

When April Maciej got married, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the flowers in her wedding arrangements were orange.

That’s because they were made in a Princeton High School classroom as an assignment in Jessica Lupkes’ horticulture class.

Maciej, a 2003 Princeton High School graduate, turned to students in the class she took nearly a decade ago when she and her fiancé were looking for cost-effective means of hosting their wedding.

So Saturday at the Le St. Germain Hotel in St. Cloud, it was the students’ handiwork that was on display on seven bridesmaids, a flower girl and a junior bridesmaid.

Maciej, who resides in Big Lake but holds down jobs at Crystal Cabinets and Coborn’s photo lab in Princeton, took Lupkes’ class and has also gotten to know the teacher through baby-sitting for her children.

“I knew she does some weddings and asked if her high school students would be interested in doing my wedding,” Maciej said.

Lupkes says she was definitely interested.

Maciej turned to the students because she felt the experience of doing something meaningful would be good experience for them. Usually students enrolled in the class work on arrangements that are completed in more of a “practice” setting, Maciej  said.

“I thought they could get a taste of what a florist actually does,” she said.

Maciej had an opportunity to do a job shadow with 6th Avenue Floral, a flower shop that once operated in Princeton.

“The owner, Carla Simonson, then offered me a job. It was a job I got because of the horticulture class,” she said.

It was a two-way street, Maciej said.

She was able to offer the students some real-life experience and the students were able to help Maciej  cut down on some of the expenses of her wedding.

“I think they did a real good job and the price they charged me was incredible,” Maciej said.

That incredible work was done by the advanced floral class, Lupkes said.

“From time to time we’re asked to do weddings. I think it’s great for the students to see a real application of what they’re learning and to see that they’re learning some real-life skills,” Lupkes said.

The interaction between Maciej and the horticulture class wasn’t very different from the dealings Maciej may have had with a professional florist.

“I met with the couple on my own time and we began to plan things out,” Lupkes said. “I had them send me pictures of things they liked and then we worked together to get things done.”

In the case of Maciej’s wedding, they designed the flowers for the entire wedding party, Lupkes said. That included the corsages, boutonnieres and the bouquets.

Maciej turned to the experience she gained in Princeton, both in the school’s horticulture class and at 6th Avenue Floral, when it came to creating the centerpieces for the wedding reception.

He new husband is a race car driver, so Maciej  designed a centerpiece that included a single rose placed inside an oil can.