MILWAUKEE — Prime wedding season in Wisconsin is increasingly carrying over into fall and winter.
A woman-owned floral shop on Milwaukee’s East Side has done thousands of weddings in its nearly 20 years in business.
Belle Fiori is run by Emily Neubauer, a master florist who’s always had a passion for flowers.
“My mother swears my first word was pretty, and I was pointing at the flowers on the kitchen table,” said Neubauer.
Every day, Neubauer pairs pretty with precision. She creates every flower arrangement with creativity and efficiency — and a touch of messiness. As she trims the stem of each flower, she lets it drop to the ground, much like eating peanuts at the ballgame: casual and carefree.
“It is a 100% like eating peanuts at the ballgame,” said Neubauer. “I’m going to use that next time somebody is bothered by them.”
Surprisingly, the floor was tidier than most days. She said she avoids discussing the floor on Valentine’s Day, when the bustling business leaves the entire floor of her shop covered by a carpet of leaves.
“Often you can’t see the mat underneath all the leaves,” she said.
This marks her 19th year as a flower shop owner. But it’s not all roses and daisies. She said the job can be demanding. Wedding season has become year-round.
The floral industry is crowded and competitive. Neubauer said she’s been able to thrive by putting the trust and loyalty of her customers first.
“By telling them what flowers they’re going to have, what colors they will be, and getting them to trust us, and know we want their flowers to be beautiful just as much as they want their flowers to be beautiful,” she said. “Then we have a chance to build a relationship and have a friendship with someone.”
Neubauer said she’s handled some worst-case scenarios. She said “bridezillas” occasionally make appearances, but the team at Belle Fiori ensures that mishaps are kept a secret, thanks to their remarkable recovery skills.
“And no one ever knew their wedding flowers fell down a flight of stairs,” she recalled. “It was a panicked moment.”
From birthdays to farewells, weddings to everyday acts of love, Neubauer said she’s ready to arrange her blooms for just about any occasion. She said it’s the customer interactions that bring her the most joy.
“Many of them told us during the pandemic when Milwaukee closed the non-essential businesses that we were essential,” she said. “So, I felt very proud that they appreciated our product that much.”