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A Very English Affair.

It was Vix’s post the other day that inspired me to write this post.

She shared quite candidly her quandaries over her flowers and her wider wedding decor choices. Trust me, from looking at the plethora of images in her post she has nothing to worry about!

But there was one question in particular she asked that struck a chord with me – is ‘things I like’ even a theme?

You’ll have noticed if you read the comments that I responded with a resounding yes. But actually Vix’s dilemma is something I hear about (and relate to) often. Equally I’m asked fairly frequently by both friends and you gorgeous lot for help styling your big day.

How do I create a theme? How big should a styling budget typically be? How much ‘themed’ decor is too much? Do I even need a theme? Where do I start?

If I had all the time in the universe then I’d happily sit down and talk to each and every one of you but unfortunately I don’t have this luxury. In reality the answer to each one of these questions is subjective – it totally depends on you as a couple and what you feel is of the most importance.

Instead I thought I’d take you through my own process for creating a theme – in particular for my wedding last month.

Before we go any further, it’s worth pointing out that the use of the word ‘theme’ should be taken lightly. I am not suggesting that your wedding should resemble a Trekkie convention nor the set of the Tellytubbies although if this is your bag then by all means go for it. No by using the word theme, I mean a sense of atmosphere that you are trying to create on your big day.

The best place to start is with images – moodboards are your best friend. Whether they be torn out shreds of paper in a scrapbook, a secret board on Pinterest or pulled together on Photoshop, this is one way of helping you to establish your wedding look.

Laying out all of your favourite pictures side by side allows you to pick out the common threads, to prioritse what is really important to you, a way of separating the wheat from the chaff if you like and you’ll find that your theme will begin to emerge.

I actually took inspiration from my wedding venue when thinking about my theme – Iscoyd Park epitomised what I named ‘A Very English Affair’. A harking back to times past, of jolly hockey sticks, polo players, gentlemen’s clubs (in a good way!) elegance and sophistication. Girls in long silk dresses, champagne saucers in hand clutching the arms of their cigar smoking, tweed-wearing other halves.

Creating boards for each and every part of my wedding day helped me to define which parts of the decor were required at each stage and clarified my lines of thought. It also meant that I could communicate my vision clearly to my wedding suppliers – my cake designer, my florist and to my bridesmaids and the boy’s ushers too.

Shall we take a look…

A Grand Entrance

Those of you who are regular readers of my inspiration posts will already be aware that I’m a big fan of the ‘entrance’.

No… not the bride’s grand reveal as she swooshes towards her intended, although I am partial to this particular moment of the day. Incidentally, I’m guaranteed to shed my first tears upon seeing the bonny bride at the top of the aisle…do any of you suffer from this affliction or is it just me?

No, the ‘entrance’ we’re talking about here is your guests’ first impression of the day on the day itself…a taste of things to come if you will.

In most cases, the entrance is actually a physical entity i.e. the front door to the venue or the reception hall where they begin to gather before the ceremony begins and is a perfect opportunity for you to make a real style statement.

Plus you can have a bit of fun too…

When I ventured on my ‘English Affair’ journey, I was keen to integrate the front door of Iscoyd Park into the wider decor scheme – the steps leading up to the entrance made perfect shelves for theme-inspired paraphernalia and the door itself screamed out for a seasonal wreath complete with pheasant feathers.

Given that my wedding was only three days before Halloween, it seemed daft not to make the most of the gourds, swedes and pumpkins so readily available in the shops. Plus I loved the sort of Harvest Festival appeal that arrangements of these vegetables can make.

Lastly carefully displaying huge wooden boules, battered polo mallets and croquet sets along with old badminton and tennis rackets, a cartridge belt and a few crests are just some pieces that bring the rest of this set-up to life.

Here Come The Boys

Striped blazers, brogues and chinos form the skeleton of ‘A Very English Affair’ from a male sartorial perspective along with a blue through to brown colour spectrum. Bowties and herringbone shirts also have a huge role to play and beautiful pocket squares finish this look off nicely.

The key to a successful look is to ensure that the tailoring is spot on. The beauty of such a look is in the crispness and accuracy of the fit – if this is absent you’ll end up looking like an eccentric disheveled professor.

Not so hot on your wedding day.

Another tip to bear in mind is to not be too ‘matchy matchy’. Opting for different coloured chinos to a jacket looks particularly suave – equally having your wedding party in different jackets but with the same trousers retains individuality whilst being eye-catching too.

It’s all about getting the right mix of smart to casual. At our wedding, one of our guests swopped his jacket in the evening to a brand spanking new cricket jumper for a different look.

It was epic.

One thing I learnt on my own planning journey is how much the ushers appreciated being included within the decision making process for their outfits. Having shown them a moodboard of their ‘look’ they were confident enough to offer up suggestions for the ushers’ ensemble. They not only looked amazing but they felt utterly comfortable too knowing that they’d chosen it for themselves.

One word of advice I will offer you is if you do choose to describe your dress code as ‘country club’ you run the risk of stressing out your guests as they make their sartorial decisions – in particular the girls. There is also a chance that some may misinterpret country club and just go for plain country.

Yes folks we’re talking gilets and wellingtons. You have been warned…

Aisle Style

Short of draping each chair with patriotic flags and placing a tennis racket and hunting horn on each seat, it was always going to be slightly trickier to convey the ‘English Affair’ theme within the ceremony.

Opting for a decadent urn filled with an organic clutch of foliage from the local hedgerows was a must, as was a runway of candles to light my way to my beau. Both of these elements were in keeping with the theme due in part to the sense of tradition that they evoked.

And then I took Vix’s approach… which is to pick and choose from the things you really like and integrate them into your day.

I don’t want to give too much away at this stage but I will say that there were specially selected antique bells (an Irish Tradition), the most wonderful order of service complete with Edwardian style silhouettes and copious amounts of confetti.

Dinner Is Served

A sumptuous dining experience like the evening soirees held at Downton Abbey is exactly what this theme is all about.

Using trophy cups for floral centrepieces rather than conventional vases as well as elaborate silverware, mercuried silver textures and cut glass are surefire ways to obtain such a look.

I’m a huge fan of decadent linen and this theme is really where tablecloths and napkins really come into their own. If you’re looking to create impact in your venue, then choosing striking linen as opposed to standard white cloths is cost-effective way of doing this and is bound to get your guests talking.

Dining by candlelight is integral to this set-up, since it takes the culinary experience to the next level. Try mixing different sets of silver candlesticks on each of your tables and use dinner candles in similiar hues to your linen. It’s worth mentioning here that it’s best to utilise a palette of no more than three colours to prevent unnecessary clashes.

Attention to detail is crucial to ‘A Very English Affair’; in fact it’s the subtle layering of different touches that will really ensure that you nail such a theme. For example hunting for period menu holders at car boots and on ebay will add an authenticity that perhaps more modern pieces lack. If it’s possible, try designing your table names and place names to reflect the theme too.

Whilst cigar favours for the boys and sugared almonds in antique champagne saucers for the girlies might seem a little outdated in theory, if enough care is taken and the right components are brought together then these treats can look irresistible.

Trust me folks.

A Floral Banquet

I’m not sure how many of you have seen the film Atonement – if you haven’t then hot foot it to your local DVD shop and rent it out sharpish.

There is a point to this…bear with me.

There’s so many elements that I love about this screenplay but it is the flowers that appear during the drama that stand out so strongly for me. There’s a heady, decadent, fecund aura that surrounds them, the last hurrah of summer if you will.

In fact it is the organic, unruly nosegays that the main protagonist in Atonement scoops from the garden that sum up ‘A Very English Affair’. Think soft English peaches and blousey pinks, teamed with rich plums and muted greens.

Old garden roses thick with aroma, berries and fruits scooped into urns and old kitchen jugs full of lush foliage are just some of the ways to describe this theme. You see this style shouldn’t be overly engineered nor too stylised. The success of this look depends also on the quantity of flowers that you use too – more is always more.

Lastly floral crowns and ample corsages for the bridesmaids finish this ‘theme’ off perfectly. Such arrangements pay homage to days of yore, of England’s golden era.

So what do you think folks?

Has this concoction of images helped you to pinpoint your own wedding theme or just muddied the water further?

Conversely, do ‘themed’ weddings make you want to run for the hills in horror?

And of those of you who have already married, how easy for you was it to select your wedding day decor? Were you working to a clear plan or was it something that you decided as you went along?

Lastly is it just me or does anyone else wish that the time-machine would actually be invented? Here’s hoping anyway…

All my love Lolly xxx

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Blooming Lovely

One of my enduring memories from when I was a wee one was catching one of the most beautiful bouquets I had EVER seen from the hands of a stunning bride who I believed was a princess.

Granted I was stood about 3 feet away from her and she more or less handed it to me rather than tossing it over her shoulder. I should mention here that there was also an absence of overexcited females jostling for prime catching position in case you’re picturing me as a miniature Vinnie Jones having elbowed my way to the front.

Nonetheless for the rest of that day I felt special, like I’d been given access to an exclusive club because I’d caught the bouquet. Not even going home in my M&S vest and pants, having been divested of my bridesmaid dress because it was rented could tarnish my little glow of glory.

That was the best day.

I’ve always believed that my triumphant catch was the catalyst for my life-long obsession with beautiful blooms and especially with wedding day bouquets.

So allow me to indulge this weakness of mine and let me show you lovelies some of the best arrangements out there in wedding land (in my humble opinion).

I want to hear about which ones are your favourites.

Which style pulls at your heartstrings?

What colour scheme have you selected for your big W-Day?

I’m all ears…

Carte Blanche

There’s something beautifully exquisite about white blooms. Elegant in their simplicity, they possess a sophistication that is hard to surpass. Milky-white flowers are usually heavily fragranced too providing you with a double whammy sensory experience.

White bouquets are wonderfully versatile in several ways. Not only can you guarantee that they will perfectly complement your gorgeous gown – chalky-white flowers are also more or less available any time of the year which means that you should nearly always be able to find a blossom to suit your purposes.

Choosing alabaster-toned garlands also gives you the freedom to play with texture and composition safe in the knowledge that no two flowers will clash nor will it appear like you’ve gone overboard in the floral department.

If you do want to inject a bit of colour into your neutral palette, green is perfect accent tone because it allows the blooms to shine without overpowering them.

That Mother Nature… she knows a thing or two.

Berry Fest

Berry Fest is a contemporary interpretation of the more classic Rose bouquet. It is utterly romantic without being saccharine sweet therefore perfect for those brides who want something edgier without losing sight of more traditional wedding themes and flavours.

This type of bouquet is perfect for weddings between June to September because of the availability of local materials. Queen Anne’s Lace, Dahlias, Clematis, Black Basil, Stocks, Snapdragons, Amaranth, Peonies and Delphiniums are fantastically versatile blooms and can be paired together in all number of combinations.

There’s nothing quite as sublime as an Autumn berry rich bouquet bespeckled with seedheads and the last hurrrah of summer. If you’re going for this type of feel with your own posies then I’d recommend pairing lighter shades with darker ones as the contrast makes each colour pop.

Lastly try echoing the trailing tendrils of the bouquet with some velvet ribbon around the stems in a similar colour scheme for extra drama.

Handpicked

I ADORE this trend with a great big dollop of LOVE on top because it’s just one of the many signs of how modern brides are becoming more and more creative with their big day.

‘Handpicked’ bouquets have an ethereal, just picked from the hedgerows quality about them. Wild and overgrown, these posies feel wholesome and organic and are especially beautiful when paired with a soft simple gown and bare feet.

Not that I’m saying you should all go barefoot or anything.

Any decent florist can recreate this concept easily for you; equally choosing this more relaxed style is perfect for the artistic bride as well as for those on a budget who want to take up those horticultural reins and produce their own floral arrangements.

My personal preference is to keep the hues in an handpicked bouquet within the same colour spectrum but using as many as six or seven different colours is just as effective. Secondly remember to include a little bit of everything so that you capture that unruly essence and prevent your posy from appearing too ‘done’.

It’s A Wrap

When we think about bouquets, we tend to think about the profusion of blooms and the colours of the delicate tendrils rather than the twiggy base. But, whilst I was writing this post, I found it hard to pass up the opportunity to show you lovelies how beautifully your floral accessory can be finished.

Hessian, lace, wool, twine and even brown paper and string can be artfully wrapped around your bouquets for the pièce de résistance. I especially love the idea of a bride wrapping a piece of material that her gown is made from around her posy. Talk about matching your outfit to your accessories!

But ribbons are my vice – yes girls I actually have a ribbon box and have also been known to filch ribbons from other people’s presents (once opened of course!) to keep it fully stocked up.

So for me a beribboned garland steals the day and frankly the more the better.

Why have one glitzy strand when you can look like a haberdashery shop and have three or even five.

Big And Blousey

If these blooms were a woman, they’d be a medieval buxom wench winking saucily at any hot-blooded male from the other side of the bar. These sultry beauties vie for your attention flaunting their silky soft petals and their heavy aroma unrelentingly at you.

I just want to bury my head into them.

Peonies and large garden roses are most commonly used in these types of bouquets and are frequently supplemented by soft green foliage and succulents of late. Because of the sheer size of the flowers there really is no need for anything extra.

Trust me, adding too much to a ‘big and blowsy’ bouquet would result in a serious case of ‘over-egging the pudding’ and ladies I say that as a self-confessed flower addict.

For the modern bride, who wants both drama and simplicity, a single huge bloom is your answer; it is unbeatably chic. And that bloom that the bride and groom are hiding behind is made of…wait for it…paper.

How wonderful is that?!

One last thing worth mentioning is that these types of arrangements are often really heavy – it’s just something to be conscious of when posing for your photographs in case you get arm ache (is that even a condition?).

So what do you think?

Are fresh flowers the order of the day or have you set your heart on something with a little more longevity like those bouquets made from antique brooches for example.

And I NEED to hear your thoughts on tossing the bouquet. Is this a tradition that you can’t pass up or can you not bear to throw your blooms into a gaggle of hopeful ladies in case it gets damaged?

More and more florists claim that they are creating additional ‘tossing’ bouquets for precisely this purpose. Is this something that interests you girls or does it defeat the whole point?

Let us know below…

Love Lolly xxx

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Taking Centre Stage.

If you read one of my very first posts for Rock My Wedding then you’ll know that flowers and all objects of the floral variety are my kryptonite. If I was asked to choose, then pretty florets would certainly be one of my desert island luxuries. Ridiculous I know but there we have it – I lose all sense of rhyme and reason when it comes to beautiful blooms.

I have also been known to spend a small fortune in the small hours at my local flower market. If you haven’t been then I suggest you go. Granted, it’s difficult getting up at that time of the morning but it is so worth it. I love talking to the market traders and getting their insights into the latest floral trends. You also get to walk away with truckloads of flowers at bargain prices too. Everyone’s a winner!

But this post isn’t about my forays into the horticultural world, nor is it focused on the more popular subject of the wedding bouquet. No, not so fast lovelies…

Where on your list of wedding-related priorities do centrepieces and reception flowers sit?

Are they important to you or are other aspects of the wedding day such as photography and videography paramount?

Perhaps flower related matters make you come unstuck or perhaps even freak you out. Or are you like a pig in mud and are chomping at the bit to have your first meeting with your florist so that you can show her ALL your ideas. Maybe you’re not even interested in anything of the floral variety…will you allow me to attempt to change your mind?

Luxe Appeal

These are the showstoppers, the jaw-droppers, the sophisticated centrepieces that ooze delicious scents and vie for your attention as you talk to your fellow guests over dinner.

We’re talking Luxe with a capital ‘L’.

Decadent concoctions such as these look best in dramatic vases with tall proportions as these allow the flowers to drape seductively as well as showing them off to their best advantage. I love how the strategic placement of a few sizable floral displays can dramatically change a venue within seconds. It’s almost like magic.

Using larger arrangements is incredibly freeing as multiple flowers can be used simultaneously without it being ‘too much’. In fact, it’s more like a sensory explosion but in a totally good way. The rich hues and luxurious textures remind me of an oil painting by the ‘Old Master’s’ and it seems that every time you take a look, you see something new.

It’s important to remember that arrangements such as these will come with a large price tag so investigate if you can use them in more than one aspect of your day – say for example at both your ceremony and within your drinks reception – if it’s practical to do so. Surely displays like these deserve to be seen.

Sometimes Less Is More

Don’t fret if your budget for ceremony and reception blooms is limited. Less really can be more and actually is so very beautiful.

Instead it’s worth considering larger blossoms, such as peonies and hydrangeas that have voluminous blousey heads and placing them in single vases. Providing them with individual cannisters gives them room to breathe and shine as well as allowing you the option of spacing them out for more affordable impact.

Look also to make a feature out of those flowers that are less popular, such as carnations. Whilst some of you may not favour this ‘granny’ classic, the bloom can be brought bang up to date by presenting it in a different way – through the use of oasis balls for example. They look quirky and chic all at the same time.

Your nan would definitely approve…

Larger focal pieces can also be interspersed with smaller bud vases as well as with candles and props such as books. Equally, planted table centrepieces can also double up as favours for your guests to take home. The beauty of using this type of arrangement is that it works with more subtle table palettes as well as louder ones.

Lastly, entice all of your guests’ senses rather than just relying on visual impact. Why not play with their sense of smell by using inexpensive scent laden plants such as herbs and lavender. You can even make it a fun day out for the two of you too by visiting a ‘pick your own lavender farm’ and go frolicking in the fields.

Fruits Of The Forest

Allow me to indulge in some heart-felt symbolism.

I love watching the yearly transition in nature from blossoms to leaves and then to fruits and seeds, so for me using brambles, foliage, seed heads and grasses in the place of flowers is equally as beautiful as the blooms themselves.

Fruits of the Forest is a perfect all-year round theme, because it caters for every season and for every wedding regardless of budgets and tastes.

For those brides looking for a more rustic feel, there’s an effortless abundance in using natural materials such as ferns and moss. For wedding belles looking for lashings of pretty, there’s something delightful about using tree branches as a focal point particularly in the Spring when they are dripping with the first flowers of the season.

It just makes you smile and feel joyful and that’s what weddings are all about, right?

These centrepieces look good enough to eat – literally. Integrating fruits into your table decor creates an interactive experience for your guests that engages the eyes and doubles up as a snack should they get a bit peckish during the speeches.

I particularly adore fruit and floral partnerships as it screams luxury and abundance to me. If you do choose to follow the path into the forest, make sure that you combine lots of different woodsy and earthy aspects to prevent it from becoming too dull.

Pitcher Perfect

Ok so I’m a little bit excited about this part of the post.

Why?

Well, if anything gets me going as much as flowers do then it’s the container that holds the glorious arrangements. You see it’s not only the blooms that are the focal points, the vase is just as much as a part of all the drama.

Buckets, old pitchers, glass bottles, trophy cups, bell jars, vintage tins, treasured vases – any hole is umm… a goal? Really it is – honestly, folks you can use anything. I’ve been known to use an old candlestick as a vase in the past and it was glorious.

This is the perfect opportunity to add your personality to the day and inexpensively too. You don’t necessarily have to rent vases or even purchase pitchers at an extortionate rate. Instead you can use objects that represent you as a couple.

For example, have you got a treasured family heirloom like your Gran’s favourite vase that you’d love to incorporate into your day? Or perhaps you and your other half are tea fanatics and want to share this passion with your guests by using vintage tea caddies.

Perusing Ebay or foraging around car boots is the best way to get your hands on some unique vessels and it doesn’t have to break the bank either. You can see how something as simple as wrapping twine around a plain jam jar creates a gorgeous custom piece whilst saving the planet too.

The key to a successful look is to create interest by varying the shapes and proportions of your pitchers/ containers. Try to unite all your vases with a common feature, for example by using the same colour palate or similar shapes in different sizes. Presenting your florals as museum specimens by enclosing them in glass cloches is just one way to add intrigue.

Frankly, I defy you to find me anyone who wouldn’t want vases wrapped up in their own woollies. Is it just me or does anyone else find them adorable? Now I just need someone to teach me how to knit….

What Lies Beneath

I’ve included this cornucopia of images to show you just how far you can go when it comes to floral magnificence. I’m definitely of the opinion that florists are engineers, magicians and architectural geniuses all rolled into one.

Seriously folks, take a look at some of these images and marvel…

Suspending blossoms is a really popular trend at the moment – single flower heads hung in multiple chains create the most amazing floral chandeliers and really pack a visual punch. Hanging centrepieces above the table is also the perfect solution when table space is limited – proof that the practical doesn’t always have to compromise the pretty.

The organic feel of dangling blooms is utterly enthralling too. We’re so used to seeing floral centrepieces pointing skywards so it’s intriguing to experience the different perspective of ceiling-hung arrangements. And don’t those balls of Gypsophila look like fluffy clouds – I just want to reach out and touch them…

For those of you smitten with the ombre bridesmaid dress inspiration last week, the fun doesn’t need to end there. No, ladies…you can have variated posies too! Talk about matching your handbag and shoes… or rather your dresses and your blooms.

Lastly, wreaths are not ‘just for Christmas’; in fact they are totally adaptable and can be used in a multitude of ways. Miniature circlets can denote VIP seats, whilst larger wreaths can define altars and act as a visual focal point in welcoming guests to a venue. Wreaths can also be dried and rehung after the day has passed as a memento of your big day. The possibilities are endless.

Seriously folks, these arrangements look so good I can practically smell their aromas from my computer screen. I also now want to purchase a barrowful of flowers and sing ‘who will buy my sweet red roses’ to anyone passing by.

I did say that I become slightly delirious around gorgeous buds and the like…

So have I persuaded some of you to invest in some wedding horticulture?

What are your favourite flowers and will you be using them in your big day?

Love Lolly xxx

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