It’s been an age since my last post, mainly because I’ve been trying to set up a new blog. Once I’ve finished tinkering with it, I’ll post details here. In the meantime, I thought I’d share this rather gorgeous bouquet put together with flowers from my very own patch. Pink and blue are one of my favourite combinations, especially for bridal bouquets. Bouquet of blue and pink hydrangeas, buddleiah, roses, jasmine and lychnis coronaria – all from my garden!
Hannah had access to the venue the day before the wedding, so I prepped and completed all the large displays by midday on the Wednesday (the wedding was on Thursday). I left myself an hour to carefully pack up the displays ready to be transported, putting them in sturdy cardboard boxes and surrounding them with bubble wrap. Touching the petals of the flowers should be avoided (it can make them turn brown), which made placing them into the boxes really fiddly!
The remaining flowers were also transported to the barn, where we had the rest of the day to finish off the smaller vases/jam jar displays and to decorate the ceremony room ready for the next day.
We had plenty of flowers left over, enough to decorate the ceremony chairs with bunches of gypsophila and to create some simple displays for the ceremony area.
Once everything was done, we put all the table arrangements on trays labelled with the table names and left them in a cool room overnight. My back ached, my hands were sore and I was knackered, but I loved every minute – it was so satisfying to see the end result after all that planning.
After a restless night dreaming about wilting roses, I got a call from Han to say the flowers were still looking fresh and perfect. Thank god! All that was left to do was get dressed and turn up at the venue an hour early to check on the flowers and do any last-minute tweaks. The ceremony was beautiful – Han looked stunning and the flowers created a really lovely backdrop.
As the ceremony and the reception were to be held in the same room, there had to be a swift turnaround before the wedding breakfast. Once the venue staff had set up the tables, I had about 30 minutes to transport the flowers from the Pheasantry where they’d been stored overnight. My husband ferried the trays back and forth, and I styled each table. Simple tealights were placed alternately between the arrangements which really finished things off.
Hannah’s Mum made some lovely placenames using ivy leaves from her garden. She painstakingly wrote each guest’s name on the leaf using a gold pen – there were more than 100 guests, so she had her work cut out! Rob’s mum also got involved, and decorated the cake with pretty iced flowers and green satin ribbon.
My amateur floristry skills were put to the ultimate test a few weeks ago. Han and Rob are two of my oldest friends, so I was honoured when they asked me to do the ceremony and reception flowers for their wedding at Gate Street Barn in Surrey. I’ve always loved doing informal displays for my house using flowers from my garden, but creating arrangements for such a big event was a different story. It was a real buzz but has given me a new respect for pro florists who do several weddings a week.
It’s certainly not something I’d recommend taking on alone if you’re the bride. It’s easy to underestimate the amount of time and work involved, and believe me, the last thing you want is to be faffing with roses on the morning of the wedding! However, it can save you a substantial amount of money if planned properly. The best thing to do is to entrust a creative friend or relative to take on most of the work. Bear in mind that the flowers you order from the wholesaler should arrive two days before the wedding, and from that moment on, you’ll be up to your eyeballs in blooms! From the second they’re delivered, each stem needs to be conditioned (leaves/thorns removed, and each stem cut on the diagonal before placing in clean water). This takes time and a calm head, so unless you’re fanatical about flowers, I definitely suggest entrusting all the flower preparation to someone else.
All this effort can be worth it, though, particularly if you don’t have a huge budget. We decorated the ceremony area, pew ends and 12 reception tables for around £300. Anyway, here are some pics of the preparations, along with a few tips I picked up on the way. See tomorrow’s post for the finished result.
Hydrangeas have very long stems when they arrive from the wholesaler. You need to remove all the lower leaves with a sharp knife and cut their woody stems with very sharp secateurs or scissors before placing in fresh water. Hydrangeas drink through their petals, so you could either dunk each head in a bucket of water or spray with a mister. I left mine outside in the drizzle for a few hours, which they seemed to love!
The idea we came up with for the tables was to group five mismatched crystal and silver vases/votives around one larger cake stand display. It’s a strange law of design that odd numbers look more effective, hence the five smaller vases and the odd number of roses used in the larger displays.
I spent time before the wedding testing out which containers looked good together, trying to get a even amount of clear glass, silver and green votives on each table. The final groups were then stored in separate boxes labelled with the table name, which helped keep things organised.
I made these jam jar vases using coloured card and a Martha Stewart paper punch (try Ru Craft )
Once the flowers have been conditioned and vases organised, you can start arranging. I soaked the Oasis foam the evening before the flowers arrived to save time. All you need to do is drop the block of foam into a large bucket of water and wait until the block is saturated (it will turn dark green – normally takes about a minute). You then need to shape it to fit your container, removing any sharp edges with a floristry knife to create a rough dome shape. You can then secure it in place using clear floristry foam.
Once the Oasis is sorted, it’s time to start arranging. The first stage is to ‘green up’ the display with foliage. I used green and white pittosporum from a bush in my garden, plus some garden mint that added a fresh scent and splashes of zingy green. The idea is to create a rough dome shape to start building on. Cut the foliage at different lengths to avoid the dome looking too uniform.
The next step is to add the ‘filler’ flowers, adding another layer to the display. These are usually medium-sized flowers, such as spray roses, lisianthus or hydrangea blooms cut into smaller pieces.
Below, the same principle, but a larger display.
Now that the basic structure is in place (you shouldn’t be able to see any floral foam), it’s time to add the largest blooms that will form the focal points of the display. I used large garden roses called ‘Ritz’. They turned out to be slightly cream rather than white, but I think they worked well. I tried to add odd numbers of the larger flowers, so 5 hydrangea stems and 3-5 roses per arrangement. Once I was happy with the rose placement, I added a few sprigs of gyp or Lady’s Mantel, some fresh rosemary and astilbe (the feathery spires of flowers below).
Packing up the flowers to transport to the venue was tricky – thank god for bubble wrap! If you want to see the finished result, check out tomorrow’s post!
A few months back I wrote about my visit to Blush Floral Design, where I photographed florist Bex preparing blue, purple and pink flowers for a very colourful wedding. It seemed a little strange to see the bride’s bouquet before she had set eyes on it herself, and I left wondering how the finished arrangements would look on the day. Well, the answer is blimmin’ stunning! Emily & Rhys got married at All Saints Church in Tilford, Surrey, followed by a reception at Groomes House, near Borden in Hampshire. Bex told me that Emily was pretty laid-back about the flowers she wanted – as long as they were colourful and fun, she’d be happy! The mixture of pink sweet peas and hydrangeas with bright blue delphiniums is a classic cottage garden combo – perfect for a country-style wedding. The wedding photographs were taken by Simon Slater (with close-ups of flowers by yours truly).
Bex holding Emily’s sweet pea bouquet the day before the wedding.
Pastel-coloured sweet peas looked fab against the deep blue bridesmaid dresses.
A beautiful arch of hydrangeas, peonies and delphiniums welcomed guests to the church.
It’s been a while since my last post, but things have been a bit hectic. Not only have I been finalising the flower order for Han’s wedding with the wholesaler (a bit of a minefield for a novice florist with no idea of pricing or quantities needed), but I’ve also been busy decorating jam jars and having a few practice runs at the larger tablecentre displays. Only a few days to go before the wedding now, so thought I’d post a few pics before writing a more detailed post. If you’re thinking about doing your own wedding flowers, I’ve got a whole host of tips to share that I’ve picked up over the last few months, so watch this space…
A display for one of the smaller tables arranged in a frosted glass dish that we picked up for £1.
I chose ‘Gletsjer’ roses for their pure-white shade, and garden mint for fragrance.
Hannah’s flowers are going to be displayed in a mixture of charity shop glassware and jam jars decorated with ribbon and hole-punched coloured card.
I used leftover hydrangea florets, gypsophila and lady’s mantle to decorate a cake stand. It might end up on the ceremony table…
I’ve been contemplating the whole jam jar/vase idea for a while, but I wasn’t sure if they’d look pretty enough plonked on Hannah’s reception tables without any decoration. I had a spare hour at the weekend, so, inspired by some lace I’d collected ages ago, I set about transforming a few plain jars into mini vases fit for a rustic wedding reception. Most of the flowers I picked from my garden were pink or purple, so I chose card in these shades to wrap around each jar before finishing off with the lace and grosgrain ribbon. I know it looks a bit homespun, but hopefully that’s the point! It’s also a fab way to bring a touch of eco-chic to your wedding (although slightly worrying to see how many empty Nutella jars were stashed in my recycling bin!)
Hydrangea – from my garden. It was bright purple last summer but has come out pink this year.
One of the best things about Twitter and Facebook is connecting with people who have the same interests – particularly if they happen to live down the road! I first saw Bex’s work when I sourced Emily and Bryan’s wedding for the real-life section of Wedding magazine back in 2009. I was immediately struck by the effortless look of her designs, and was delighted that the magazine article highlighted her work. She’s since launched Designed By Blush – her own wedding flowers business, which is going from strength to strength. I recently discovered Bex was following my blog via Twitter, and when we found out we lived five minutes from each other, it was time to get together for a cuppa and a chin-wag!
The bride’s sweet pea bouquet contained fragrant English varieties in shades of pink and purple.
Bex outside her garden workshop, surrounded by blooms.
Bex runs her business from an idyllic little workshop at the end of her mum’s garden. I couldn’t help feeling a bit envious – how many people get to wander down the garden to their ‘office’ every morning? Bex was busy prepping flowers for a wedding, and had already made up the bouquet and several reception arrangements. The bride had given Bex a very loose brief, and simply wanted fun and colourful displays – and boy, did Bex deliver! A sea of stunning pink and blue flowers were laid out in front of the workshop, including giant peonies, regal spires of brilliant blue delphiniums, sweet peas, hydrangeas, stocks, lisianthus and veronica.
How stunning is the combination of pink peonies with brilliant blue delphiniums? Bex always orders English sweet peas for their amazing fragrance.
Buckets of blue delphiniums and purple lisianthus wait to be conditioned.
A table decoration featuring sweet peas, peonies, delphiniums, veronica and lisianthus.
Now that’s my idea of the perfect office!!
Bex has developed her own distinctive style over the years, and specialises in informal, country-style arrangements displayed on vintage glass cake stands and inside antique containers sourced from eBay and charity shops. I’m also obsessed with hunting for vintage treasures, so we spent ages chatting about our favourite places for spotting a bargain! Bex and her lovely mum Beth made me feel so welcome and I can imagine every bride who comes for a consultation feels similarly at home. “I think the first meeting with a couple should be really relaxed,” says Bex. “We usually discuss ideas over tea and cakes, and then I’ll put together a quote. I always encourage brides to choose flowers in their favourite colours, rather than going for a certain look or scheme just because it’s fashionable.”
I absolutely loved this milk-churn display. Bex found the churn on eBay – a farmer had discovered a shed full of them, so she snapped them up! Such a nice alternative to a traditional urn.
A bucket full to the brim with peonies. Even the bucket matches the colour scheme!
Bex also gave me some useful pointers to consider when I’m doing my friend Hannah’s flowers this September, and even offered to help me practice arranging some tablecentres. I’ve always been a bit cynical about social networking sites, but without Twitter and Facebook I probably wouldn’t have met this super-talented and very lovely lady. Can’t wait to get together again soon for some more floral inspiration!