Providing natural seasonal homegrown and freshly cut flowers for weddings is the best and most fulfilling part of my job as a flower grower. I have been lucky to go on a journey that has taken me from growing just a few flowers for myself, to making jam jar posies for friends, all the way to growing and arranging flowers for weddings. Here is my story….
The photographs above are some of my highlights from my weddings in 2016. What a journey it has been for me and my flowers!
Photography credit (bottom left, bottom right, top right photographs) Story of Love Wedding Photography by Natalie Martin
I will always remember seeing my wedding flowers for the first time. They were delivered early in the morning, before the champagne had been opened and before putting my dress on. Lifting the lid on the box in the garage where they had been put to keep cool, they took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. My mum and dads love of their gardens and my mums roses had been passed on to me. My dad had always been very good at giving my mum flower bouquets too, just because… and I grew up loving the flowers in our house and garden. On my wedding day they felt like a special gift I had been given. They were very typical of the time and structured formally as a shower bouquet, a world away from the options for flowers you can have now and what I grow for my brides! At that moment of peeking at my flowers for the first time I could never have imagined the changes to my life that were going to happen, bringing me back to the flowers that I loved and the chance to create magical wedding bouquets of my very own.
My enjoyment of gardening was put on hold in my twenties as I pursued a fulfilling career as a dietitian in hospitals in Gloucestershire, living in flats with no garden. Our first home had a tiny garden and with the arrival of my first baby girl there wasn’t much time to dedicate to gardening! It wasn’t until an unexpected relocation to Peebles and later finding our forever home that I the chance to rekindle my passion for gardening. What followed was a lot of reading, trial and error growing and learning on the job. Sometimes the challenges of the weather, slugs, earwigs and rabbits just about had me giving in to them. I was determined they wouldn’t beat me and with a lot of blood, sweat and tears by 2015 I had started to grow enough flowers that the possibility of providing them for weddings was a reality.
I had an idea in my mind of the kind of bridal bouquets I wanted to provide, full of scented garden flowers with a just picked natural look to them. A bouquet that would remind brides of flowers they may have had memories of growing up, perhaps from a holiday they had been on or their mums or grannies gardens. A buttonhole that was full of scent and a bit of rosemary for remberance. Tables of jam jar posies full of natural scented beautiful flowers to provide a talking point but not be overwhelming. A miniature posy for a flower girl or a basket of confetti full of petals, naturally dried from the garden.
In September 2015 my dreams of wedding flowers became reality with my first booking at the beautiful Hartree Estate. I was unbelievably nervous before hand, strangely not so much about the arranging which has been largely self taught and should have been more nerve wracking, but about the weather! I am a girl that likes to be organised and in control and the weather I can’t control at all! On that occasion I need not have worried, the weather behaved and once I had got those flowers safely cut I could relax a bit. I was so proud of the flowers all grown by me from tiny seeds into amazingly beautiful bridal flowers. Months of hard work in all weathers and at all times of the day had been worth it and it made me so happy that other people loved my flowers as much as I did.
2016 was my first full season for providing wedding flowers. I have loved every minute of it, the challenges, the uniqueness of every wedding, the amount I have learned. Being able to provide beautiful flowers I have grown from a tiny seed and seeing how happy they make people is just magical.
Couples who have chosen natural homegrown flowers from me for their wedding have often had their ceremonies in some pretty spectacular locations, from a windswept scottish beach, to a tipi covered in fairy lights with log fires and lanterns at the Hartree Estate or the top of a Scottish hill with amazing views. I love how weddings have evolved and now there is not just the option of a church or registry office ceremony followed by a reception in a local hotel. Now a wedding can be a reflection of a couples personality and as a girl who loves the outdoors and anything natural, vintage and rustic it is amazing to be able to be a part of these special days.
Photography credit (photograph on the right) Story of Love Wedding Photography by Natalie Martin
What have I learned about providing flowers for weddings?
The thing about growing flowers is they never do what they are supposed to do! You can’t predict them and you definitely can’t guarantee that a particular flower will definitely be in bloom on a persons wedding day, especially when you are growing flowers in Scotland. There will always be flowers and they will be beautiful but not necessarily the ones you imagine would be out at the time. The first thing I needed to do was grow enough to ensure that there would always be a plentiful supply for the weddings I do. By the end of 2015 the part of the field that was left as the girls play area had been turned into more beds for flowers and this year I have some new beds in the front garden too for even more flowers.
The weather is my biggest challenge as a flower grower for weddings in Scotland. My flowers can be growing really well only to be blasted by unforeseen snow, gale force winds or driving rain. I can control a lot of things with my growing but I can’t alter nature and the weather so I do need a back up to ensure no bride will be without flowers on her big day. I tell all my couples that whilst I will do everything in my power to provide all the flowers from my garden, in the event of adverse weather I may need to source some from other growers or wholesalers.
I only do weddings within the growing season when there will be flowers in bloom, April to September. October and March are possibilities but the chances of having to rely on flowers from wholesalers as well as my own becomes greater as well as more limited options for varieties of flowers. Sometimes even in my growing season there can be challenges. Last May I did a wedding for a lovely couple who were looking forward to their ceremony on the beach. I was well into my season with my tulips, narcissi, muscari and other spring flowers coming along beautifully and everything was looking good for my couples big day. The week before the snow came unexpectedly!
Sitting at the tea table with the girls they suddenly heard their mum shrieking ‘it’s snowing!’ I disappeared out the back door at top speed to do battle with tunnels to put over the flowers and save them from impending disaster! That was a tough week battling with the weather, being constantly vigelent and making sure the tunnels didn’t collapse under the weight of the snow. The flowers were protected well and the following week I was so happy to be able to use these tough homegrown scottish flowers to make some beautiful spring wedding flowers, including hellebores, tulips and narcissi. Amazingly my couple had their beach wedding and you would never have known it snowed the week before!
I have also learned a lot about flower girls and flowers. One of the things I was lucky enough to be able to do was provide flowers for a family wedding this year. As my children were flower girls and I was a guest at the ceremony and reception I could watch how much the flowers were dropped, thrown, picked out the bouquet and generally bashed about all day as the flower girls spent time running around enjoying themselves. I did learn for the future that tight binding and use of my most robust flowers in bloom at the time would be essential! A basket of Cloudberry Flowers confetti petals for a flower girl may well be a good option too!
Couples can choose to order buckets of DIY flowers from me to arrange themselves. One of the times this works well is if you would like homegrown flowers but you are not having your wedding locally. You can pick the flowers up a couple of days before the wedding and they keep fresh in their buckets of water until you want to arrange them. Some couples like to arrange all their wedding flowers themselves and DIY buckets are perfect for them. For others they might want to do a bit themselves. I have provided flowers in buckets for a couple to arrange on their tables which can be done a day or two before the wedding and then I have arranged the bridal flowers and buttonholes. Last year one family came to pick up the flowers and then decided they wanted more buckets and could I cut some right then? A year before I would have had to say no as there would not have been enough flowers left. It was a real turning point for me as I was able to say no problem at all. Even though I had cut their buckets of wedding flowers I still had plenty more in the flower patch.
At Cloudberry Flowers I am probably best known locally for my jam jar posies as that is where I started and I am delighted to make these for the table arrangements at a wedding. They add a bit of country garden style to your tables and the great thing about them is they are at a low level. I have been to weddings before with a great tall arrangement in the centre of the table, beautiful but it completely blocks you from seeing someone opposite you and talking to them! These table arrangements in the photograph below are all just freshly cut and arranged from the garden and ready to be delivered to a wedding.
I can provide jam jar arrangements for weddings on their own or as part of a complete package with other bridal flowers. I can also fill special vases of your own with beautiful homegrown flowers. Last year I had a bride who had her bridal flowers done by the very talented Emma from Stems and I filled vases that the bride had collected with beautiful homegrown flowers for her tables. Here is a picture from my first wedding at Hartree where the bride provided some special vases of her own for me to fill with flowers.
Natural petal confetti is romantic, beautiful, biodegradable, eco friendly and fun to have at your wedding. I have so enjoyed making my very own Cloudberry Flowers Confetti made from homegrown and handpicked petals that I naturally dry. I have experimented with different flowers I have grown from seed and different types of roses to see which dries best and now have my favourites to put together. Without the conservatory and airing cupboard at home I would never have managed to make the confetti successfully. There is a fair bit of grumbling from the girls that I have taken over the one warm room in the house with my petals. I can understand their complaints! Living in a cold old house it is nice to go in the conservatory in the summer but homegrown confetti is so beautiful I think it’s worth a bit of taking over! If I have an order far enough in advance I have also been able to adjust the petal mix to a brides chosen colours. You can collect it as much as a month or two before your wedding as it stores well if kept in a dry place out of sunlight. I have planted more roses this winter that I hope will make some great confetti and for the foreseeable future the airing cupboard won’t have any towels in it!
I couldn’t choose a favourite wedding from last season. They were all so unique, beautiful and special in their own way. I loved being able to work with different combinations and varieties of flowers with each wedding. That is what is so unique about using homegrown flowers, a wedding one week will have completely different flowers to the next as the season moves on. I had so many milestones from travelling with wedding flowers to a different part of Scotland, making my first flower crown, using different decorations from twine such as silk ribbon in my bouquets, learning how to transport buttonholes in water, using my homegrown roses in bouquets, making large volumes of confetti for weddings. Next year I know there will be new challenges too and I am looking forward to learning new things and working on the skills I have already learned.
Here are some of my favourite homegrown seasonal bridal bouquets from 2016.
Travelling and storing flowers in summer overnight was a new challenge for me. Just to be completely on the safe side I had the car as cold as possible for the couple of hours journey north. We were frozen through by the time we got there but the flowers were just fine! Initially I had planned to use a garage to store them in as it would be safe, secure and I thought cold as my one was at home. I had not thought at all that my garage works at home for me as it is made of old stone and is very cold, a new build homes garage connected to the house is warm! I was able to speak to the hotel and use their cold cellar in the end, but it did make me think for next time. I loved the combinations of flowers in this wedding bouquets with feverfew, cornflower, lavender, sweet peas and nigella all bound with different shades of lilac plant dyed natural ribbon or twine. The flower girl posies were bright and cheerful to go with their dresses and the sweet william, cornflowers and hare’s tail grass worked really well in the buttonholes, which had survived well in a little water overnight.
Flowers in your hair as a bride can be stunning. My challenge has been finding homegrown ones that are robust enough to last out of water and stay in place during the day. I can provide individually wired flowers for a brides hair and the hairdresser can add these in as she does your hair.
My biggest achievement from a floristry point of view was making my first flower crown. I had to teach myself how to make these and did many a trial run before working out which garden flowers were robust enough to last out of water and cope with a windswept hill where the ceremony was going to be. I knew I wanted the crown to be beautiful, scented and also minimalistic. You can make flower crowns with large flowers but I wanted my crowns to look subtle and delicate. I was able to use some beautiful smaller flowers and herbs to make it and the best bit for me was my bride later telling me she had still been wearing it dancing at night! It lasted all that time and proved that homegrown flowers can be robust as well as delicate.
Photography credit (top photographs and bottom left) Story of Love Wedding Photography by Natalie Martin
As well as providing the bridal flowers for weddings I can also provide confetti and natural rustic buttonholes or ladies pinned corsages for guests going to a wedding. Please just get in touch anytime to order these all year round. Today I have just been putting together some buttonholes for a winter wedding.
Here are a selection of buttonholes I have made and at the bottom of the photographs is one of my ladies corsages with homegrown roses and my individual boxes of confetti.
So what next for Cloudberry Flowers and my seasonal homegrown flowers for weddings?
My diary is starting to fill up with bookings for 2017 and 2018 but I still have availability if you would like to get in touch. I am happy to take bookings for DIY buckets, jam jar table arrangements and confetti as well as fuller bespoke packages for you.
Each of the weddings I have to look forward to are all unique, some with just requests for confetti or buckets of flowers and others for a full wedding service from growing the flowers right through to arranging them. I am excited to be providing the flowers for weddings at the Hartree Estate, located close to the town of Biggar. It is a stunning location for a wedding with exceptional hospitality, food and entertainment and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Here at Cloudberry Flowers I can help you with your wedding and you will be choosing flowers that have been grown with a whole lot of love, dedication and passion. From a tiny seed you could have flowers like this…..
For more information about Cloudberry Flowers Weddings please take a look at my Wedding page on this WordPress site. You can also get in touch via email for a copy of this years wedding guide and more information about what I can provide for you.
Email: Catherine at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07813700786
If you would like to find out more about weddings at The Hartree Estate, their website is http://www.hartree-estates.co.uk
You can find out more about Natalie Martin’s Wedding Photography at her website http://www.storyoflove.co.uk