Last June brought with it the biggest moment in my life so far: our wedding. It goes without saying that it was the best day of my life and I honestly wouldn't have changed a thing about it; including the fact that I spent about an hour with my heels completely sunken into the lawn, or cramming ourselves and dresses into my cousin's boyfriend's car as we'd forgotten to organise our own transport to the venue, or driving a van full of flowers down the a3 in a serious rain storm the day before! All jokes aside, it was everything we could have ever wished for and was actually a very smooth-running and relaxed day. One thing I was particularly interested in was of course the flowers! As any florist knows, the dream of what you want at your own wedding changes constantly and is really important. Maybe some girls dream of their dress or shoes, but I was thinking about vases, buttonholes and table centres long before the big day!
The venue we chose was the beautiful Southend Barns in West Sussex, which is an old barn that has been turned into a wedding venue, with gorgeous natural beams and pretty English gardens amongst tasteful contemporary touches, like the polished concrete floors and huge glass doors in the reception barn. The team here were truly excellent. You can visit their website here www.southendbarns.co.uk
After much deliberation, I decided to go for quite a bold colour palette to stand out against the soft greys, blues and natural tones of the barns. The main colours were, peach, cream, coral, pink and lilac - sounds like a lot but I was delighted with the overall look. Flower wise, we had: tall & low table centres, tall vases in ceremony room, bridal bouquet, 4 bridesmaids bouquets, 110 buttonholes, fresh rose confetti, side table vases, FIVE GOLLLDD RINGS (ignore that one) gin bottle votives, and a Floral Frame 'photo booth'!
Here's me ready to drive down ...before the rain.
I wanted to make some of the arrangements for our wedding as this was important to me but I couldn't have possibly made them all in time or have got up even earlier on the day itself to make my own bridal bouquet- I would have been covered in green and extremely stressed! I did as much as I could but it was thanks to a very talented colleague and friend of mine Laura Spicer from Timothy Dunn Flowers (where I also freelance) that everything was finished to such a high standard and she did the PERFECT job on the bouquets for myself and my lovely bridesmaids. For my bouquet I chose coral charm peonies (my all time favourite flower- they change colour as they open and go from a deep coral to a softer peachy tone), peach sweet peas, a selection of peach/pinky O'hara garden roses (again with an amazing scent) and 'Sarah Bernhardt' pastel pink peonies to tie through with those used in the girls' bouquets. Each vase at the wedding had some of the same colours as the next without being totally matching. I also opted for very minimal use of foliage to give a greater impact. Here are some pictures of the bouquets...
For the bridesmaids, I wanted to complement the dusky blue dress colour so I went for paler tones. We went with the beautiful 'four seasons' cream rose, 'Sarah Bernhardt' pink peonies, cream sweet peas, peach O'hara roses and some heads of 'Omega' phalaenopsis orchid. Orchids are another favourite of mine and they featured pretty much everywhere! I don't think you can beat an orchid for a naturally stunning flower that has impact as a plant, stem or just a tiny head. They also come in thousands of beautiful varieties and are ideal for weddings as they don't flop too quickly and are elegant and have a certain sense of luxury to them. Our bridesmaids looked incredible and the flowers were the icing on the cake for me.
On the subject of orchids, I also decided to use them for our buttonholes. Not only did I use cerise 'Happy Valentine' heads for my Groom and his groomsmen but I personally made 100 buttonholes for each and every guest! In hindsight I probably shouldn't have left myself this job to do the night before the wedding, but I'm so pleased I did as it was great to see everyone wearing them on the day.
At the end of the aisle I wanted two big vases on plinths for a simple and bold statement, rather than lots of little bits. These included tall peach eremurus or 'fox tail' lily, 'Green Goddess' and pink calla lilies, vanda orchids, pink hydrangea and phalaenopsis 'Red Lips' which added to the flowing shape.
Expertly executed by Laura Spicer
We opted for simple white drapes from www.tohaveandtohireweddings.com which added the extra white elegant touch we wanted. The team came and installed the drapes and removed them exactly as I requested - perfect hassle free styling service.
After the ceremony, we had a 'confetti moment'. I asked my bridesmaids, Jo, Laura, Carolyn and Lorna to break up hundreds of roses and hydrangeas to use as fresh confetti on the day, which looked lovely but was actually quite heavy when it all got thrown onto us! I probably should have spent days drying out individual petals but I definitely wasn't up for that! It was quite a funny moment for both of us on the day anyway!
After lots of G&Ts and photos we moved into the reception barn for the meal, speeches and evening music. We had 12 tables and I decided it would be best to alternate the table centres high-low-high-low to add a bit of variety as well as making sure we had a low vase on our round top table so we could see everyone and they could see us (as much as I hate being the centre of attention I knew this was a good idea!).
Here are the table centres...
The taller vases included lilac delphiniums, pink astilbe, coral charm peonies, pink hydrangea and hanging 'happy valentine' phalaenopsis orchids. The vases were lined with striped 'white star' leaves.
I didn't manage to find a detailed pic of the low vases but I love this one above. Here you can see the amazing coral peonies have opened and faded with 'marzipan' hydrangea and 'golden treasure' phalaenopsis.
We also had lots of little vases dotted around the venue, inside and out, on the bar, in the loos, on the coffee tables- everywhere was flower-full and it was lovely to see. We also collected gin bottles which were used as vases for individual peonies etc, dotted around the bar areas. Collecting these 'vases' was a real problem for my husband who famously hates gin. (HA!)
The very final floral element to the day was my favourite. I knew I'd need help with the flowers as I'd set myself a pretty ambitious task, so when I came up with the idea of making a floral frame, I thought what better way to save time than to use artificial blooms. And that's exactly what I did (with a few fresh orchids added the day before - did I mention I like orchids?). I decided that funny photo booths weren't really my thing and I wanted to incorporate flowers into more pictures at close range and so the flower frame was born. The staff at Southend Barns hung it up for us without hesitation and it was a great extra feature in the room. Some of the pictures we ended up with were hilarious too! Here are two taken before the day began by our brilliant photographer Kevin Watkins...
If you would like a bespoke floral frame, please email me for details: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have upwards of 1500 photos of our wedding and I could honestly look at them all every day. The flowers were a massive part of the day for me and I couldn't be happier with how everything turned out - the husband's not too bad either!
With massive thanks to
Timothy Dunn Flowers - blog post on working with this team coming soon!