Following on from my recent post about the Green & Gorgeous cutting garden I have finally found a few minutes to sit down and pull together my thoughts on Day 2 of the Wedding Flower Intensive Course hosted by Green & Gorgeous and The Garden Gate Flower Company that I attended back in June.
I thought I would start at the end, so to speak, by showing you my finished bouquet held by a professional model complete with wedding dress and photographed by a professional photographer (the very talented Imogen Xiana)!! I was so excited to see this photo – I feel like “a real florist” showing this one off!
So what was the Wedding Flower Intensive course all about? Having spent the first day with Rachel from Green & Gorgeous concentrating on the growing side (you can read about Day 1 here), we all arrived back eager to spend our second day learning as much as we could from the lovely ladies Becca and Maz who run the Garden Gate Flower Company. Their website describes their work as ‘individual, natural, wild and wonderful’ and they make beautiful seasonal arrangements from their own organically grown flowers and foraged materials. The Wedding Intensive was an opportunity to learn how to create wedding flowers in their own unique style.
This very natural way of arranging flowers – no foam, no spiralling and turning and certainly no man-made additions is perfect for garden grown flowers which often have imperfections such as bendy stems, droopy flower heads, the odd insect etc. These ‘faults’ are all part of the beauty of the flowers in Becca and Maz’s world and make their creations very individual.
We started the day gathered around our work tables with large cups of coffee listening to Becca explain the philosophy behind their wedding work. I felt very much the amateur amongst the lovely group of professional growers attending the course, so I was relieved as I listened to Becca talk to realise that much of the way that I work on my limited number of weddings is similar to their business model. In particular Becca stressed the importance of making sure that a bride understands your style before committing to a wedding – for me this is the key factor in whether I will agree to take an event on. At the Garden Gate Company they talk to brides at the planning stage in terms of colours and shapes, making it clear that the actual flowers cannot be specified as what is available on the day will vary from year to year.
A mood board is prepared for each wedding so that the bride can visualise the overall look without focusing on the detail of the actual flowers. I have been very keen on mood boards as a way of presenting my ideas since I made my first one on a Flowerona Social Media For Florists Course a couple of years ago (you can read about my day here). Since then I have made quite a few and think it helps both potential clients and me to visualise what we are trying to achieve.
After we had all picked Becca’s brains, we moved on to the mechanics of their style of wedding bouquet. Most wedding bouquets are made as hand tied arrangements. At its simplest this involves holding the stems in one hand and adding flowers, turning the bouquet as you go, to create a spiral of stems which can then be tied together. This produces a domed circular shape that can be as large or small as you wish. Becca and Maz use a very different technique which produces a much looser and more flowing arrangement.
This would be much easier to demonstrate than it is to explain in words, but in summary you must think of the hand that is holding the flowers as the neck of a vase. Start by adding a few strong foliage branches to create a support for your arrangement and then slide the stems into your supporting foliage one at a time and move them into position. Always hold the flowers very loosely so that you have room to add and move about your flowers – just as though you were arranging in a vase. This was the aspect I found most difficult to master – I have small hands and felt like the whole bouquet was going to slip away from me – under instruction I kept the faith though and they were right – it works!!
Apart from the mechanics of bouquet making, the other aspect of their work that sets them apart is the range of materials that they will include in a bouquet. When picking their material as well as flowers they are looking for a range of foliages, grasses, fruits, berries and dried materials to create a very lush and voluptuous display. These are certainly not bouquets for brides who are looking for a small neat dome.
Once the bouquet is complete and has been secured with tape, the finishing touch is the addition of a selection of long silk ribbons in colours to set off the flowers.
I had never worked with beautiful silk ribbons such as these before and I was very interested in learning the technique as my next bride had ordered a beautiful selection from Lancaster & Cornish and I wanted to make sure I could do these ribbons justice..
After Becca had finished it was time for the attendees to have a go! We were all very nervous but soon relaxed as we started working with the beautiful flowers that we had gathered the previous day.
Once our bouquets were finished we broke for lunch and then the exciting part of photographing the bouquets started. Our course organisers had arranged for a professional photographer to join us, along with a model made up and dressed as a bride, so that our bouquets could be photographed to their best advantage. Whilst mine was away being treated to this VIP experience I took a moment to capture a few shots of the other attendees bouquets.
The final part of our day involved watching Maz make one of their signature table arrangements. As with the bouquets, no foam is involved – the flowers are arranged into a bowl of fresh water and supported by chicken wire scrunched up and secured in the bowl.
As with the bouquet the variety of materials is the key to this individual look – particularly the addition of unusual foliage such as the heauchera leaves, fruit and dainty airy flowers that float above the canopy and give movement to the whole arrangement.
I left the course feeling confident and inspired and ready to meet my next challenge – the wedding of the lovely Polly and James. I will be sharing my photos soon and hopefully will have some professional photos too as I had very little time in this wedding to play photographer. As a taster have a look at one I have ‘stolen’ off Facebook – didn’t they make a handsome couple!
If you have enjoyed these photos please do pop over to the individuals Instagram accounts to find out more about what they do and to see lots more beautiful pictures:
- @thegardengateflowerco & @gandgorgeousflowers
I am just going to share one final photo of my course bouquet!
I hope you have enjoyed this look at my exciting couple of days away immersed in flowers and I will be back soon with photos of the flowers I made for the wedding!