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Beachside Wedding - Becci & Ben

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When a bride says the magic words, “flowers are my favourite thing” you know it’s going to be a beautiful wedding. Combine them with a breathtaking coastal venue in Devon, an amazing cake designer and an inspired photographer, and you have the perfect recipe for a fabulous celebration.

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Becci and Ben chose the Tunnels in ilfracombe because they both love the beach. So close to the town, yet completely hidden, Tunnels Beaches is a uniquely designed coastal wedding venue – accessed via a hand carved tunnel through the cliff.

In this beautiful setting, the couple exchanged their vows overlooking the dramatic North Devon coastline. with waves crashing onto the rocks below.

With flowers being so hugely important for Becci (former Deputy Editor of Wedding Ideas Magazine, it was wonderful for me to create a gorgeously oversized bouquet filled with seasonal spring flowers. “My bouquet was huge and wild” she recalls, with Coral Charm peonies, ranunculus, sweet peas and roses; all flowers with full ruffled petals, and in so many colours!”

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I’m always surprised when couples say they don’t like cake! Becci and Ben however called on the amazing talents of Edible Essence to create a whole cake table of sweet treats, including lemon sponges and salted caramel.

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Becci and Ben had originally planned an outdoor ceremony, but the tail end of storm Hannah had other ideas! This didn’t stop them however, making the most of such a dramatic day for their outdoor photos; and I’m so glad they did! The brilliantly talented Liberty Pearl Photography captured this windswept day with some of the most beautiful and heartfelt wedding images I’ve seen.

Wedding Venue: Tunnels Beaches

Photography: Liberty Pearl

Cake Design: Edible Essence

Wedding Dress: Sassi Holford

Wedding Ceremony Flowers

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As a celebration of one of the most important days of a couple's lives, flowers are one of the most important elements, and a key component of a wedding ceremony. Whether you decide to exchange your vows in a church, a hotel, or a garden, flowers are the perfect way to make the wedding ceremony the centre of attention.

Before choosing your ceremony flowers however, you need to chose the setting. I know I’m biased, but I do believe that flowers are an essential part of the decoration for the aisle, the altar, and other areas. Whatever flowers you do decide to have, remember that as a couple you are the centre of attention. Your ceremony flowers should enhance the setting, not take over and overwhelm you. Well chosen arrangements should help focus the attention of your friends and families on you during the the ceremony.

The wedding ceremony venue will be the place where your marriage will actually take place, so it deserves some carefully thought out plans.

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For a church wedding there are some important questions to ask before you get carried way in a floral fantasy! Many churches welcome outside florists with open arms, and are happy for you decorate as much as you like, but some aren’t. Over the years I’ve had many dealings with “the ladies who do the church flowers”, and some of them can be very territorial! They definitely don’t like the idea of an outsider coming in, so you may get a flat refusal, or be admitted grudgingly (as long as you make donation to the church funds).

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If you are allowed free reign, there are many options for floral decoration. As a rule of thumb though, there are two main areas to focus your attention. The first is the altar, where large arrangements on either side should be large enough for everyone to see, and be seen from afar. The second is the aisle, where pew ends flowers can define it. These can range from single stems of flowers to large bouquets, but you need to check the fixings! Church pews don’t come in “one size fits all”, and I know from experience that the shape of some pews can make attaching flowers much more difficult than others.

If you are having a civil ceremony in a register office, these may already be decorated with flowers. Some register offices do however allow you to bring in your own floral decoration, as long as it’s removed immediately afterwards.

For couples who choose a licensed venue for their ceremony and reception, this is where you floral decoration can be multi purpose. To be honest, it’s rare for me nowadays not to be asked to move arrangements from the ceremony area and reposition them for the wedding breakfast. Depending on the venue, moving flowers can be logistically challenging, but in general it’s far easier to transfer the flowers from one room to another than move them from a church and reposition them during the drinks reception. Think about arrangements that will suit both rooms, and which could possibly double up as table arrangements.

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If you decide to have an outdoor celebration, make the most of the scenery! If there is a particularly beautiful tree, why not consider dressing it with flower and foliage garlands. They’ll make an amazing backdrop to your ceremony, and can be used to dress the reception tables afterwards.

Whatever style of wedding ceremony you choose to have, religious, civil or humanist, take time to look at all the potential your venue has to offer. Do check to see what you’re allowed to do, and do take the advice of your florist who’ll be able to come up with some amazing ideas!







Wedding Bouquets

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As far as I’m concerned, a wedding wouldn’t be a wedding without a bouquet. The flowers that a bride carries set the tone for the day, and are an intrinsic part of making your special day so memorable.

The tradition of a bride carrying flowers has its roots in ancient times, when it was believed that flowers signify new beginnings, fidelity and the hope of fertility. The modern version of the bridal bouquet was popularised by Queen Victoria when she married Prince Albert. In an age when flowers each had a different meaning, their exchange was linked to romantic love. Because of this flowers, their with their romantic association became a part of wedding ceremonies.

Today however, most of the old traditions have been forgotten, and brides now choose their flowers for their colours, fragrance and shape. A wedding bouquet is the greatest accessory and reflects a brides personal style and preferences.

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So how do you choose your perfect bouquet? Well your dress will have a lot to do with it! The actual design will depend on the style, colour, and design of your gown. Pinterest is a great starting point, and you’ll be spoilt for choice for inspiration. A word of caution though, please DON’T bombard your florist with a a constant stream of Pinterest images, but DO trust them to use their expertise, and create something breathtaking for you.

Whatever the style of bouquet you choose, it has to be right for you. This is actually a really good time NOT to follow fashion! From neat and compact to wild and woolly, bouquets come in many styles and sizes. You may love the idea of a perfectly neat dome of roses, or some wildly cascading creation, but the size of your wedding bouquet must suit you, and your dress.

Many brides have said to me that they don’t want to feel overwhelmed by their bouquets. In contrast, I’ve also known brides who like the idea of carrying something oversized, so that they have something to hide behind! With floral fashions changing from day by day, the most important thing is that the flowers perfectly complement you and your gown.

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In choosing your flowers, there will be some flowers that you like that aren’t available all year round. Ask your florists advice on what the best options are when you’re getting married. Choosing seasonal flowers will also be more cost effective. A really nice personal touch is to include flowers that represent a family tradition. Perhaps flowers that your mother or grandmother carried on their wedding days.

Finally it’s important to feel comfortable holding your bouquet, and to hold it correctly. It should be held slightly away from you, and just below your hip so that the shape of your dress can be seen. Remember, you aren’t holding a microphone!

If you intend to throw it by the way, don’t go for something heavy, or you may injure someone (it has happened!) Above all relax, and enjoy the beautiful bouquet that your florist has created for you.

How Much should I Expect To Pay For Wedding Flowers?

Choosing the flowers for a wedding is one of the most enjoyable parts of the planning process. It’s a time to get creative and think about how the big day is actually going to look, and how a venue is going to be transformed from ordinary to exceptional.

To begin with though, we have to acknowledge the fact that getting married is expensive. Unless you intend to sneak into a register office on a Monday morning with a couple of witnesses and then go to work, this milestone event is going to cost you money. From a floral perspective, it’s highly unlikely that a couple will ever spend so much money on flowers again!

The cost of wedding flowers is like the elephant in the room. Couples don’t like talking about it, and much of the wedding industry seems to be ignoring it. A lack of discussion about what wedding flowers actually do and can cost leads to a huge amount of frustration, misunderstanding and embarrassment for florists and clients alike. A serious lack of information about the work involved for a wedding florist isn’t helped by the media and bridal press telling couples to ask for discounts and special packages, and saying they can have it all on a budget of £500!

In the floral world, allowing 10% of the overall wedding budget is a good rule of thumb. How much you spend will also depend on the flowers used, the number of arrangements, the location and the work involved. Apart from the flowers, labour will (or should) be the biggest additional charge in you floral quote. With the average cost of a UK wedding now costing £30,000, setting aside £3,000 might seem like a colossal amount of money to spend on flowers. Of course no-one is saying you HAVE to spend this much, but my advice is to keep that 10% figure in mind, and you won’t go wrong. 

It’s important to remember that certain flowers will always more expensive, and only available at certain times of the year. Elaborate designs can be very labour intensive, and additional costs such as hire items, transport, petrol, staffing and VAT can increase the final cost dramatically. As an experienced florist, part of my job involves advising my couples on costings, and what actually goes into actually providing the flowers for their celebration.

I spend many months preparing for a wedding, sometimes more than a year. The run up to a wedding can involve months of site visits, design meetings, quotes, re quotes, adjustments and mock ups of final designs. A wedding day for me can have a 4 a.m. start to prepare the bridal flowers, and a 1 a.m. clearance because the venue insists on everything being taken away at the end of the night. It’ the unglamorous side of my job that has to be costed into the final fee.

So let’s talk figures. What should you expect to pay for your wedding flowers? Here are some guide line prices that I hope will help you with you floral choices. This general list includes -

Bridal Bouquets - depending on style and complexity £85.00 - £150.00

Bridesmaids Bouquets - from £45.00 - £75.00

Buttonholes and Corsages - from £7.00 - £20.00

Flower Crowns - from £30.00 - £60.00

Large Ceremony Arrangements - from £175.00

Arches - from £350.00

Table Arrangements - Low from £60.00 - High from £125.00

A good florist will always advise and help you manage your floral budget, but please be honest with them about how much you have to spend. Remember the adage, “Champagne Taste, Beer Bottle Pocket”!!

















Questions To Ask Your Wedding Florist

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When it comes to choosing your wedding flowers, the world is your oyster, limited only by your imagination. When it comes to choosing your florist however, it's crucial to find someone who really understands your vision, and who has a design style that's right for the look you want to create. In this month’s blog I’m setting out the questions you need to be asking your wedding florist, together with my advice and suggestions.

Check The Date
Before you do anything else, ask a potential florist if they’re available on the date of your wedding. DON’T start by sending them a long list of requests and images without telling them when you’re getting married. It may sound very basic, but I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had a wedding enquiry but no date!

Ask if they do more than one wedding on the same day. I only ever do one, but some florists, depending on how big a team they have may do two or more.

It’s always reassuring to know if a florist is familiar with your ceremony or reception venue. If your potential floral designer is recommended by your venue, then they’ll be able to advise you on both the best way to enhance its features, and warn you of any restrictions it may have.

Will you make a site visit to do a venue walk-through before the wedding date? If it’s logistically possible, visiting the venue with your clients is a great way to instil confidence in your service. It’s also a good way to make creative suggestions that you might miss in an email or ‘phone call.

Will you be making the floral arrangements yourself or will it be another florist? Whilst I would love to be able to do it all, it just isn’t physically possible! I’m very fortunate to have a wonderful team of very talented florists to assist me.

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Flower Budget
Do you have a minimum spend for wedding flowers? As well as telling a florist what your budget is, it’s important to find out their starting price. If you’re both upfront about money from the beginning, it will save a lot of time and potential embarrassment further down the line.

I’m often asked asked about ways to make effective use of the flower budget. This can be anything from repositioning ceremony arrangements for the reception, or using locally grown seasonal blooms instead of imported exotics. I’m always happy to advise my couples on the best way to focus their budget.

Do you offer packages for wedding flowers, or is everything bespoke? Everything I do is unique to my couples. I work with them to reflect their vision and personalities.

Business Essentials

How long have you been in business? I’ve been a florist for 29 years and in business for 14 years.

Do you have a  portfolio that I can see? I have a very comprehensive portfolio of work, together with an ongoing portfolio on Instagram. Many of my couples find it reassuring to see what I’m up to between the time they book me and their wedding!

Do you have business insurance? I have £5,000,000 public liability insurance.

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image by Lloyd Dobbie

Floral Design
How would you describe your style of floristry? As an experienced florist I’ve always believed I should be able to work in whatever style the client wants; from wild and wooly to sleek and modern! Having said that, I love a very relaxed herbaceous garden style.

Which flowers would you recommend based on the time of year and budget? I always suggest using the best of whatever’s in season. Peonies in December or Lily of the Valley in August will cost a fortune and be imported from the other side of the world, so don’t be too rigid in your floral choices.

If the flowers I want aren’t available, can you suggest good alternatives? To avoid disappointment I have a disclaimer in my terms and conditions that says I will always substitute any unavailable flowers with suitable alternatives.

If I send you a picture of a bouquet that I love, can you recreate it? Whilst I’m happy to use an image as inspiration, I ask my brides to trust my experience and creativity.

Can you create a mock up of an arrangement before I book you? If so, is there an additional cost for this? Once a deposit has been paid I’m happy to create a mock up, which I don’t change for. There would however be a charge before a booking is confirmed.

Deposits and Balances

Will you provide me with a detailed proposal with a breakdown of costings? Will this include delivery and set up? Are there any additional fees that have not already been taken into account?

All my proposals include a full breakdown of costings, including delivery, installation and clearance and VAT. I believe in being as open and honest with my pricing as possible.

How far in advance do I need to book your services? Some couples book me 18 months in advance, whilst others leave it right to the last minute. I would however generally advise booking 6 to 9 months ahead. I’m a great believer that if you find a florist you really want, book them asap, because if you don’t someone else will!

How much deposit should I expect to pay? Deposit payments vary considerably, and I know a lot of florists take deposits as low as £100. Without telling my competitors how to run their businesses, I don’t think this instils a sense of confidence or commitment with the client. I take a 50% deposit for weddings up to 12 months in advance. For weddings more than a year ahead I take 25%.

When is the final balance due? The balance is due 2 weeks before the wedding, and then it’s all systems go for the big day!