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Wedding decorations: Nichols shares love of decorating weddings

Rebecca Nichols loves to make brides cry on their wedding day.

Not because she’s an evil, malicious person, but because she loves being part of a bride’s special day.

“When I hand a bride her bouquet for the first time and she cries or the first time she sees her reception layout with all the details we’ve planned and she cries, that’s what I live for,” she said.

Nichols is the founder and creative director of Tea Olive Designs, which specializes in both full and partial wedding planning as well as all manner of floral arrangements.

Tea Olive Designs evolved out of Nichols’ previous business, Shabby and Chic Events, which she’d run for six years.

“I started out just doing vintage rentals for weddings and had a bride that couldn’t find a florist,” said Nichols. “I’d always kind of messed around with flowers so I told her that I’d do it if she couldn’t find anyone. Flowers have kind of taken over my life ever since.”

Nichols adopted the new name of her business in January.

“I love the idea of southern. Of being southern,” said Nichols.

For Nichols that idea of southerness is encompassed in the tea olive plant.

Nichols says that the sweet-smelling shrub, for which her business is named, is the quintessential southern plant. Her grandmother had one, and she’s been in love with them ever since.

One day, Nichols and her Husband, Jefferey, were driving around, thinking about new names for the business, when Jeffery just blurted it out, “Tea Olive Designs”!

“That’s it, that’s the one,” I said.

Though Tea Olive Designs is a fairly new venture for Nichols flowers have always been a part her life.

When she was just a small child, growing up in Selma, Nichols’ father sold real estate.

He would often take both her and her brother along through the large tracts of land he intended to sell or had sold, teaching them about the various species of trees that they would find growing on any given piece of property.

Apparently, the lessons stuck with them both, both Nichols and her brother eventually went through the horticulture program at Auburn University.

In a way, Nichols’ father was responsible for getting her career in flowers started.

When she was sixteen, he got her a job with the florist at the local Selma Piggly Wiggly.

“I don’t know if he saw something in me or if he just wanted to get me out of the house,” said Nichols. “It was so much fun though, I loved it.”

Nichols learned a lot at the Selma Piggly Wiggly.

“My first day on the job they had me go out and learn how to drive this huge, 1972 delivery van,” said Nichols. “ They told me to ride around the parking lot and try not to hit anything.”

NIchols’ mentor at the Piggly Wiggly, Belinda Kuhn, taught her everything she knows and now even works alongside her at Tea Olive Designs.

“We’ve kind of rekindled that team work that we had back then,” said Nichols, “It’s a lot of fun.”

Though Nichols and Tea Olive Designs are now headquartered in Prattville, Selma holds a special place in Nichols’ heart.

“This was the best place to grow up,” she said. “Typical small-town America.”

Nichols participated in Selma’s annual Pilgrimage and attended Selma High School.

Nichols also returns to Selma frequently to visit friends and family and even host the occasional flower workshop at spots around town like Arts Revive, Gallery 905 or the Selma-Dallas County Public Library.

The flower workshops are classes that allow Nichols to share her creative process with an audience and teach them that they too can create beautiful floral arrangements.

“It’s amazing to watch them find out what they can do with just a few do’s and don’ts,” said Nichols. “I’m always amazed at the beautiful arrangements everyone comes up with.”

With wedding season coming up, the next few months are sure to be busy for Nichols, not that she isn’t always busy.

“It’s always busy,” said Nichols. “People don’t realize how much time goes into planning everything.”

Not only is planning a wedding time consuming, but it can be stressful for everyone involved.

Nichols often serves as the mediator between those who can’t agree (mothers and daughters), making suggestions that she hopes will please everyone.

“It’s so much stress for them and I try so hard to take some of that stress away and just be a voice of reason.”

Not only are there high emotions to deal with when planning a wedding but the biggest hurdle is something that Nichols can’t control at all, the weather.

With an enormous chunk of Nichols’ clientele choosing to have an outdoor wedding, she has to plan for months for a day that may or may not have ideal weather.

“You have to be prepared for whatever may happen,” she said.

But despite the minor mishaps and left turns that may appear when planning and arranging a wedding, Nichols believes that it’s all worth it in the end.

“I just love being part of there special day. This is just such an important time and I’m glad to be a part of it,” said Nichols.

The motto for Tea Olive designs is, “Where details rule and creativity is fueled by sweet tea,” when it’s finally time for the bride’s big day, Nichols gets to see all of those details and all of that creativity come to life.

“It’s amazing to see it all come together,” said Nichols. “I love to see everything that just been inside my head for the past few months come to life. That’s the best part.”