Natalie Elsberry always knew she’d work in the wedding industry.
She loved the pretty flowers, the unbridled spirit of joy and just knowing that it was someone’s special, longed-for day.
“I was a weird kid,” she said with a laugh. “I liked all that cliche stuff.”
At first she thought she’d be a wedding planner. She’d be the woman with the ideas, the keeper of the wedding secrets and surprises and she’d do it all with ease and a little wedding-day magic. But that was far from the reality of being an actual wedding planner.
Natalie helped a few of her cousins plan their weddings, and while improvising is her strong suit, the sheer number of details zapped any wedding-day bliss that she hoped to experience.
For a while she thought about opening a wedding reception hall. She had the plans ready to go and had even scoped out a spot for her idea to take shape, but the more she thought about the logistics the less she was convinced her idea would work.
So, she circled back to what she really loved about weddings – flowers.
Now, eight years later, I Bloom. is her wedding industry job. She’s not the wedding planner or the reception hall host, she’s the flower lady and it’s the perfect job for Natalie.
Her days involve getting shipments of flowers delivered to her house, helping clients envision flowers for their weddings, designing bouquets and talking with various local and wholesale flower vendors.
Last year she and her husband moved their family to a bigger house to accommodate her growing business. They needed a bigger basement for production and a 3-car garage to house her industrial-sized flower refrigerator.
This year alone, Natalie and her assistants worked 79 weddings, and next year she expects to do more. It’s crazy, and good and so much more than she expected when she started out.
Flowers have always been part of her life, mostly because they were a major part of her mother’s life. Natalie grew up in a little house with a huge yard where her mother expanded her flower collection a little each year. The running joke is that after all of Natalie’s siblings get married in her parents’ backyard, her mom will convert any leftover green space to flower beds.
Gardening was her mother’s therapy of sorts, it was where she felt most at home and could relax from the pressures of being a mom with seven kids. Natalie said she and her siblings were often out gardening alongside her mother, pulling weeds or just running around outside.
As she got older, Natalie realized school wasn’t her thing. She went to college on and off for a few years at UNL and SCC, taking any flower and business courses that were available to her.
In 2006 she got married in her parents’ flower-filled backyard. She designed the flowers for her own wedding, using a monochromatic palette and filling every inch with romantic bouquets and centerpieces.
For the next few years, Natalie worked various full time jobs while she booked wedding gigs on the side. Her work started to get noticed by more than just friends and family and in 2008 she officially launched I Bloom.
The first year in business, Natalie booked three weddings, the next year she did twelve and the number has only grown from there.
This year was a little rough, she said with a laugh. It wasn’t uncommon to have four weddings scheduled for a single weekend this past June.
But busy isn’t a bad thing, she said. It’s growth and it’s what she always hoped for when she started I Bloom., even if it’s not all what she expected.
She didn’t plan on growing her business to the point where her family needed to move. Or that she’d be on a first-name basis with the delivery men who show up on a weekly basis with shipments of flowers. She also didn’t anticipate the kind of growth that would necessitate juggling being a full-time mom and a business owner.
Her days are full of flowers and excited brides-to-be, but they’re also full of cleaning up kid-inspired messes, keeping her family fed and playing her fair share of dolls with her three girls. Natalie’s office is on the first floor or her house, where her kids can go back and forth between their mom and their toys, but she can still stay on top of emails, meetings and Pinterest inspiration boards.
This is her life, and even in the chaos of growing her business and her family, Natalie said these last few years have felt like her sweet spot.
It feels like she’s right where she’s supposed to be, like her story is finally starting to make sense, it’s more than she bargained for at times, but it’s also a whole lot more than just flowers and weddings.