Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Hydrangea - The bluest of blue

As those of you who follow my facebook page will know, I designed occasion flowers for a 'diamonds and denim' 40th birthday party last week, which left me with a few of the very bluest of blue Hydrangea blooms to play with.

When it comes to weddings, blue is quite often asked for by Brides to match Bridesmaids dresses, but can be a bit tricky to find.  So, never being one to tolerate waste, I decided to make up a few designs which would be suitable for a Summer wedding.  I say, and emphasise, Summer.  As you all know, I feel really strongly about seasonal use of flowers and am becoming braver in speaking out about this difficult subject.  At the moment big blowsy flowers like peonies and hydrangeas are all the rage, but they are at their best bought early to mid-Summer.

Anyway, I'm not going to dwell on this too long as I have been asked to write a couple of guest posts for a well-known and well-respected wedding blogger who has asked me to cover this, potentially controversial, topic in more detail.

On, instead, with the pretties! Here they are in all their glory, hope you like them ...

A very simple, but gorgeous hydrangea bouquet - to get a really lovely round ball shape, its surprising how may Hydrangea blooms are needed!

I made a matching set of wrist corsage and buttonhole, using a very delicate lemon organza ribbon which brings out the natural colour variation in the hydrangea

A little styled shot of possible table decorations - the blue of my china teacups worked wonderfully with one of the paler blooms.  Always bear in mind that of all flowers, hydrangea is one which can have enormous colour variations from bloom to bloom.  A couple of these were deep saphire blue, where others had lemon yellow florets.  If you're looking for perfect uniformity, you won't get it!

Somehow I felt they needed to be outside, so put them in some hanging jars.  They would look gorgeous hanging from branches of a tree.

I'm currently conducting a little experiment on the longevity of hydrangea as I've been asked to use it in buttonholes for a wedding this year.  I know a lot of the magazines feature it, but I have to be honest and say I'm a bit nervous about how it 'stands up' (holds water and doesn't go all droopy on you!).  I'll publish the results on facebook either later today, or tomorrow.

'til then, I'd love to hear your hydrangea stories or any others regarding seasonality

Tracey x

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Rachel & Ali - A Peak District YHA Wedding

Hello all.  As promised, I'm bringing you the wedding of Rachel and Ali who have chosen their venue as Hartington Hall, nr Buxton in the gorgeous Peak District.  Hartington is now a Youth Hostel, but don't let that fool you - it's rural loveliness is complemented by the most gorgeous halls, reception rooms and snugs.

As you can see, not quite the YHA experience I've had in the past!  

I came to work with Rachel through one of her closest friends, Nicola, of Perfect Finish.  Nic and I met at my first wedding fayre and immediately hit it off, she was really friendly and lovely to me as I was a little bit nervous to start with.  We then bumped into each other at a second wedding fayre, where she saw my little jug table arrangements and told me that they would be perfect for her friend Rachel.

So, after a quick email exchange, Nic ordered 6 table arrangements on Rachel's behalf.  A couple of days later I bought all the jugs (just in case - I hate it when someone orders something and then you can't get them during the crazy wedding season!).  A couple of months later, Nic asked if I could add three bridesmaids posies, a wand and some buttonholes to the order! Again, we had a bit of an email exchange and then Nic came to see me to pay the deposit.  In all this time, I still hadn't met Rachel - something I've never done before and whilst I trusted Nic as the perfect intermediary, I just didn't feel comfortable designing flowers for someone I'd never met.  The relationship I have with  my Brides is incredibly important to me.  I have a very clear picture in my head of how a design is going to look, but it is essential to meet someone and go through the consultation process, in order to accurately convey any ideas to a Bride who isn't, after all, a florist!  So we met up and talked over the plans she had for her wedding.  

Now I have a theory that there are only three degrees of separation in Sheffield - and Rachel's wedding proved this to me!  It transpired that her divine dress is from Chloe at The White Room, her fabulous heirloom bouquet is by Debbie Carlisle of DC Bouquets and her hair is by the lovely Dani at Wigs & Warpaint.  All of us are part of Chloe's 'Wedding Mafia' - suppliers she considers offer wedding excellence to Brides in Sheffield.  When I told Rachel, she was delighted and said how wonderful it was to know that everyone who she had chosen was really good (her words!).

During the consultation, Rachel told me that she hates pink and wanted the table arrangements to be  natural, just-picked designs in whites, creams and greens.  I suggested adding soft greys in the form of brunia albifloria to the arrangements which would work beautifully with the platinum details of her dress and the crystals of her bouquet.  The Bridesmaids would be wearing simple dresses of ivory, so I suggested adding an element of colour by introducing the soft, ethereal blues-grey tones of lavender and bluebells - eucalyptus provided a perfect link to the greys and blues.

Here are the designs I made, which had to be all packed up for travelling yesterday as the wedding is today, Saturday 19th May ...

Three pretty, dainty little bridesmaid's bouquets, finished with lovely grey raffia

A close-up of the bridesmaid's bouquet - I used lavender, scilla (bluebell), wax flower, astrantia, roses, achelmilla mollis, rununculus and eucalyptus

A cute little wand for the Flower Girl

Ladies' buttonholes were pretty little  sprigs of bluebell, lavender, tiny white roses, ranunculus buds and eucalyptus - finished with a tie of grey raffia

The Mens' buttonholes were 'Avalanche rose', lavender and eucalyptus

The designs looked so pretty together, I couldn't resist a styled shot!

A detail shot of those gorgeous colours

The table decorations also included ammi and bear grass for more volume.  Ammi really likes to be in water so, whilst beautiful, doesn't lend itself very well to buttonholes

Nearly all packaged up!

I made Rachel a little present of a 'throwing bouquet' - Debbie's heirloom bouquets are just too much like works of art to be lobbed across a room!

That's it! It was really lovely wedding to work and and I can't wait to see the 'official photographs' - they will be incredible I'm sure.

Congratulations and the best of everything to Rachel & Ali.


PS: If you like what you see - do let me know (in fact let me know if you don't like what you see!) it's just great to get feedback and your opinions.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Natalie and Karl - A Gretna Green Wedding

Natalie first met Lottie and I at a wedding fayre in February, when she told us that she and Karl had booked to get married in Gretna Green on 2nd May this year. She loved our wedding flowers and was really keen to have a wedding consultation with us, but was a little concerned about the logistics of travelling with flowers up to the Scottish border and how that would all work.  I assured her that this could all be done quite simply and that I had carefully packaged up wedding flowers to travel to the Lake District, Manchester and more locally, in Derbyshire.  So we booked an appointment.

During our first consultation, Natalie endeared herself to me immediately as, being the Mum and lovely lady she is, she talked in detail about everyone in the Bridal party including her daughters, her partner, her close relatives  and the needs of all the other guests - before herself!

I showed Natalie my portfolio and some magazines I had and she felt, initially, that she wanted a very simple bouquet of all ivory roses to enhance her gorgeous asymmetric, full-length, ivory dress  - embellished with lovely corsage-style roses.  Her two daughters were to be bridesmaids.  Her eldest, grown-up bridesmaid would be wearing a to-the-knee dress of ivory silk with a gold bodice and her youngest daughter, Morgan, would be wearing an ivory dress with a gold organza skirt overlay, finished with a gold sash.

Natalie went away and had a think and then bought a copy of Wedding Flowers Magazine and saw a design of soft muted blushes which inspired her to finally decide upon a combination of 'Sandstorm', 'Vendella', 'Avalanche' and 'Amnesia' roses.  I loved her idea and talked through the final details until we were both really pleased and excited with the designs.

Here is what we came up with:-

Natalie's bouquet which was so delicate and lovely

The binding point was concealed with a lovely satin ribbon and secured with pearl-headed pins

Morgan's bouquet was an exact replica of her Mums, but just a little smaller and with the addition of gold satin ribbon trails

A close-up shot of the gorgeous roses

Natalie wanted a vintage-inspired, simple wrist corsage for her chief bridesmaid, made onto stylish ribbon.  I used a large 'Avalanche' rose, a smaller 'Vendella' rose, together with sprigs of hebe and eucalyptus for texture

The guests' buttonholes were a simple 'Avalanche' rose, hebe and eucalyptus for the men and a double buttonhole of 'Avalanche' and 'Vendella' roses for the women

I made two wreath table arrangements, which Natalie gave to the 'Mums' as thank you presents -complete with hurricane lamps and church candles

I really loved working with Natalie, who adored her flowers so much so that she shed a few happy tears when she came to collect them.  Before I tell you the full story, I thought you should know that she sent me an email just about a hour ago entitled 'Mr & Mrs Smith' which said:-

"Hi Tracey

Just thought I'd send a picture from last night, we had an absolutely magical day, the flowers were perfect!

The table decorations were loved by the Mums as I knew they would.

I'll get you some other photos together

Many thanks again
Natalie and Karl"

All's well that ends well as they say - but I have to admit to a particularly sleepless night one night because of those roses. The eagle-eyed florists amongst you might have spotted that the roses I used weren't exactly the ones I ordered.  Truth be told, I ordered them, they came and they weren't of a quality that I would expect to use for my Brides.  So I got cross, in fact I got very cross - which is not something I do very often at all.  My supplier got a serious telling off! As a result, I lost a day out of my carefully planned schedule and I raced around every wholesaler I could to try and get my hands on 'best quality' roses.  

I got them (obviously) but they weren't the exact varieties Natalie had agreed upon and they were really, really tight and I wanted them open! Cue me moving them around my house into warm spots to try and encourage them to open - I had some them in the sunshine in the garden, some in the downstairs bathroom (with the underfloor heating on), some in my bedroom in the sunshine and with a fan heater on and some in the cool passageway with no lights on!!! 

My efforts were more than rewarded when I saw how much Natalie loved her flowers - which was all the more poignant as she had had an awful few days.  Following their wedding in Gretna Green, Natalie and Karl had organised a huge party at the Sheffield Ski Village on Friday.  As some of you might know, it was burnt down last weekend, leaving them without a venue at very short notice.  
They contacted local radio station Hallam FM and the The Sheffield Star and were eventually inundated with offers from lots of really caring local companies. I'm happy to say they have an alternative venue at the Magna Centre organised and all in place now but my heart went out to Natalie, having to not only find time to go to the offices of the various media to make the appeals, but having to rearrange everything from the catering to the music to the entertainment.

I'm sure they will have a fantastic evening tomorrow night - in the meantime here's the photo Natalie sent me: -

I will update you all when I hear from Natalie after their honeymoon.  

If you have had any wedding disaster stories which had a happy ending, I'd love to hear them.