Tiger Lily

Downtown. 131 Spring St. 723-2808

So, what is it about Charleston and weddings, anyway?

Well, okay, besides the plantations, gardens, cobblestone streets, carriage tours, world-class cuisine, sea island roads lined with live oaks, Spanish moss, and old mansions of the American South that could make any bride-to-be feel like she just stepped foot in a romantic novel?

As both Southern Living and Elegant Bride magazine — not to mention the City Paper — have pointed out, Charleston is also home to a company that specializes in some of the very best wedding flower arrangements you’re likely to find anywhere.

Manny and Clara Gonzales, owners of Tiger Lily Florist, put the praise in perspective. “We’ve received many awards, but to be called Best of Charleston is the best of all, because this is our home,” Manny says. “We love that people will fly in from all over to see us. But knowing that people right here in Charleston vote for us is the most important thing.”

Originally from Chicago, Manny and Clara came to Charleston through their former work in hotel catering. When the time came, in 1996, to launch their own business, they chose Charleston as the location out of sheer love for the city.

The green thumbs at Tiger Lily are not only adept at embracing the season with floral arrangements for weddings, sanctuaries, just because, and, as Manny adds with a laugh, “getting guys out of trouble,” they also have a knack for the environmental green. When their business grew large enough to warrant a change in scenery, they rehabilitated the site of a long-abandoned gas station at Spring and Ashley, earning them kudos from environmental and architectural groups alike.

Unique and innovative locations are nothing new for Tiger Lily. The business, once housed at King and George, was also the first business to occupy the Charleston Visitor’s Center parking garage pods way back in 1999.

“One of our main objectives has always been to stay downtown,” Manny says. “Because of the costs associated with that, we’ve had to look at some alternative choices, but that has also worked out quite well for us.”

“For the first two years, we were really just getting our legs under us,” he adds. “But we decided early on that we were going to be the best florist in Charleston.”

They paved the way to exactly that by featuring not only traditional event favorites such as gardenias and hydrangeas but also exotic and seasonal flowers which are flown into Charleston from all around the world.

They keep clients happy with a polished, professional staff that includes experts who scour the world for flowers in season, floral designers, and an indispensable “part-time posse” ready to step in for key event work.

“The pace is much faster than people may expect,” he says. “On weekends, our people will be setting up events on the beach, in downtown mansions, and ballrooms, one after the other. The vans are constantly coming and going.”

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