Designer Spotlight On… À Votre Service

A scientist who worked on the Human Genome Project in her past career, meet Marie Danielle Vil-Young, founder and creative director of À Votre Service Events, a New York based design studio.

Marie Danielle Vil-Young
Marie Danielle Vil-Young

Jamali Garden: How did you find your way from being a scientist to floral and event design?
À Votre Service Events: After years working in science with a masters in biochemistry, I planned my own wedding and caught the wedding “bug”. Just two months after my honeymoon I started my event planning company. I was always drawn to the arts, but never thought of myself as an artist. Over the years, I discovered my talent for designing beautiful floral arrangements with very little training. Once I discovered my talent for floral design, it changed my entire perspective in terms of my goals and plans, the vision for my company, and also our approach to planning and designing luxury weddings and events.

Roses, peonies, vines, berries, and hydrangeas on a wedding ceremony tent.
Roses, peonies, vines, berries, and hydrangeas on a wedding ceremony mandap.

JG: When did you launch À Votre Service Events?
ÀVSE: À Votre Service Events was launched on August 08, 2008, and officially added floral design work in-house in August 2012. Since then, we have added ‘lifestyle’ to the brand with a retail store, and more recently, we can also be found at different “pop-up” floral shops we set up at different local malls.

Detail of the florals at a Kentucky-Derby-inspired bridal shower.
Detail of the florals at a Kentucky-Derby-inspired bridal shower.

JG: We love the ‘blue & white’ color scheme at this event. It’s classic and beautifully done. What was the occasion?
ÀVSE: This was a bridal shower for one of our brides who wanted something Kentucky Derby inspired. She gave me just about complete creative freedom with a few constraints we had to keep in mind: space, dimension, number of guests, and budget. The linen was my very first choice to start our design process, which wasn’t my client’s favorite, but she trusted in our process and our ability to build upon what we wanted to create with her in mind. For some fun, we added a few pink cushions at the tables.

The tables at the Kentucky-Derby-inspired bridal shower.
The tables at the Kentucky-Derby-inspired bridal shower.

JG: We love the pop of pink, mixed with blues and purples in your beautiful floral arrangements.
This event was in May, so it was a great time to use all the gorgeous spring flowers that are in season at that time of year. We made all the tall arrangements in a tall Polished Aluminum Urn, with some of the smaller arrangements in an Almond Vase, using Phalaenopsis orchids, purple Vanda orchids, Cool Water Roses, Hot Princess Roses, lilac, purple Lysianthus, Lovely Lydia Spray Roses, Tiramisu Spray Roses, purple Veronica, purple and blue hydrangeas, pink ranunculus, green Trachelium, purple clematis, purple delphiniums, Helleborus, tulips, and scabiosa.

A styled set up for an event property. (Photo: Chelo Keys)
A styled set up for an event property.

JG: We want to be here, now!
ÀVSE: I was hired as a consultant to help a company better market their brand. I believe in letting a product and or service speak for itself, so I created a style shoot showcasing their product which is their event space available for special events. With 22 acres of land and lake, I knew we needed to showcase the space and property in a way to highlight its best attributes. I styled the shoot to take advantage of the beautiful tree line and lake, and designed decor that would complement and add to the beauty of what already existed. The end result are these beautiful pictures that are timeless and that the company can use to promote their property for corporate and social events, and for their marketing materials from postcards and brochures, to their website and social media.

A table detail with Burro's Tail succulents and boxwood topiaries.
A table detail with Burro’s Tail succulents and boxwood topiaries.

JG: We’re loving all the details on the tables, from the succulents to the mini sculptures. What inspired the tablescape?
ÀVSE: I added ‘lifestyle’ to my brand in 2013 with a retail store to support that concept. Many of the props and details are from my retail store. The topiaries, succulents, boxwood, and cloches seemed very appropriate here since we were working in such a rustic, outdoor space; I didn’t think flowers were necessary.

Another table detail with succulents and glass cloches.
Another table detail with succulents and glass cloches.

The idea was to use greens and items that felt organic and could easily blend with and complement the environment. We wanted to suggest the idea of “farm to table” and that perhaps the succulents themselves could easily be replaced with say basil, lavender, rosemary, or other herbs, and the visual would still remain elegant and beautiful.

JG: We always love a New York City wedding. Where was this?
ÀVSE: This was one of our favorite weddings at 620 Loft and Garden on Rockefeller Center’s rooftop. This bride simply loved orchids of all types and so orchids she got! In these arrangement we used a mix of different orchid species, as we too couldn’t get enough: Phalaenopsis orchids in different colors, Cattleya orchids, purple and fuchsia Vanda orchids, cymbidium orchids, purple Mokara orchids, raspberry and blue hydrangeas, Yves Piaget David Austin Garden Roses, Cool Water Roses, Pink Floyd Roses, Black Beauty Roses, spray roses, peonies, and purple tulips.

Orchids, orchids, orchids! A wedding at Rockefeller Center's rooftop, 620 Loft and Garden.
Orchids, orchids, orchids! A wedding at Rockefeller Center’s rooftop, 620 Loft and Garden.

JG: Any good advice for hosting outdoor weddings or parties? Things to do, not to do?
Outdoor weddings and parties are beautiful but keep these points in mind to have a successful event: The weather can be an issue so proper tenting and backup plans are important. If you’re using a tent, check with the tent company and/or the town clerk’s office about permits and noise ordinances. Some other considerations may include flooring for the tent, air conditioning, fans, or heaters depending on the weather. While hosting a wedding or party outdoors can be a great opportunity to customize every event detail, there is at times a greater cost factor if a lot of rental equipment is needed to produce the affair.

JG: What is one (or two) of your favorite Jamali Garden items?
This is a very difficult question to answer, as we simply love Jamali Garden. It is always our first stop as we start thinking about design for any occasion. One can always count on your store to carry unique items, keeping up with trends as well as the classics. We can’t get enough of the mercury glassware, from the vases to the candleholders. It is a given we can always find cool vessels for our flowers, but one of my favorite things are all the natural products. We use much of the natural products to add interest to our floral arrangements going to our clients’ homes and businesses.

All Photos: Chelo Keys Photography.

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