I know what you are thinking as you read the title to this post…phew that’s some challenge! This sums up my first response when my son casually asked me one autumn evening “mum would you like to do the flowers for our wedding? we haven’t much cash and thought you may like to grow some and now that you are going to flower arranging classes?” I hasten to add I had just walked through the door after my fifth class so the prospect was horrifying.
Strange things happen in the head if you are someone who relishes a challenge. By the next morning I was already thinking “well maybe I could do a few arrangements to help out”. I have always been a glass half-full person and believed anything is possible if you try hard enough so, you guessed it, one week on I was poring through stacks of seed catalogues planning what could be grown in the time available (this was November and the wedding was in July).
Books on Wedding Flowers were borrowed from the library, thankfully the happy couple showed a distinct preference for informal ‘country garden flowers’ There was one colour constraint, no pink flowers, the bride had a total aversion to pink. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about how many of our summer flowers are pink but during my feverish catalogue searches it sure felt like about 75%. Anyway, a very nice colour scheme of purple, lilac, white and green was chosen. Seeds were sown as early as possible, the conservatory floor turned into a mass of seedlings (no greenhouse available).
Planting out was followed by several nights of worriedly running out with fleece to protect against late frost. I have never fed, nurtured and willed plants to grow like I did that summer.
By July the garden was packed with sweet peas, ammmi majus, sweet-smelling stocks, molucella, cleome, larkspur, zinnias, gorgeous spikes of antirrhinum ‘The Bride’, Cosmos ‘Purity’, white mallow and many more. Confetti was made from rose petals and lavender. YouTube was avidly consulted to fill the still yawning gaps in my knowledge and proved to be my saviour on many occasions.
Then disaster struck, a horrendous storm three weeks before the wedding destroyed about 60% of the sweet peas! completely sodden masses were hanging from the supports. With a very heavy heart and, I admit, some tears the plants had to be heavily cut back in the hope that new flowers would generate. Miraculously, everything else seemed to have escaped serious damage. The moral to this is always always have a reliable wholesaler lined up just in case things go wrong.
Anyway the week of the wedding arrived, three nerve-wracking days were spent putting together all the arrangements and transporting a van and car packed with flowers the 80 miles to the venue. Was it all worth it? you bet… the sense of achievement was fantastic, the bride and groom were delighted. A small selection of the photos show some of the arrangements. Would I do it again?…I did 10 months later for our daughter’s wedding. Look out for my second article on wedding flowers which features pedestal arrangements.
If you would like to know the full story, I would be delighted to come and talk to your garden club or society and also demo some of the techniques and tips I learned along the way.