updateWe ended up writing a letter to the decorator, and we asked for a partial refund. A week or so later, we received a box that contained the flowers. They were placed in one of those plastic organic greens boxes, not individually wrapped, so they banged all around against each other in the box and shattered. However, she had packed around this plastic box carefully with newspaper and foam, so I think in a strange way she was trying to be careful with them.
There was a letter enclosed. It said that there was a miscommunication -- she didn't mean to keep the flowers from us. It's just that in this world there is too much waste, and she just didn't want them to go to waste. So, she decided to keep them for use on one of her display cakes. I'm not sure how she "knew" we were going to "waste" them, but then again, I am about as privy to her personal thoughts about gumpaste flowers as she was to ours.
It also said that the flowers on the picture we had given her looked like buttercream, but she wanted to make our cake "even more spectacular" by using gumpaste flowers. This is not true, because the cake in the picture we showed her was very obviously covered with gumpaste flowers and could not be mistaken for buttercream. We had explicitly discussed this fact at our initial meeting, so there could be no ambiguity on this point.
It went on to say how amazing and beautiful the cake was, how it was her favorite, and how when she saw the letter was from us she was excited to hear our praise, but then was embarrassed to read what we wrote. She expressed that the fact that we weren't happy with her taking back the flowers took away some of the joy she had experienced in creating the cake. (I only wish the cake had been as beautiful and amazing as she felt it to be -- the fact that it looked almost amateurishly done and used a completely different color palette than the one we showed her made the cake a disappointment, even without the flower incident. However, it did taste amazing!)
In any case, we are now the owners of a plastic box full of broken gumpaste flowers, and a guilt-trip :rolleyes:. I think she is someone who genuinely meant well, but whose judgment is just off somehow. We're going to let the whole thing go at this point.
Just to clarify: we did not return the flowers to her willingly -- they were taken, against our clearly expressed wishes, by the caterer, who for some unknown reason was acting on behalf of the cake decorator. It's certainly not worth a small claims court action (!!), but it's worth pointing out to her so that she does not do something like this again.