We Grow Your Own Wedding Flowers
Do it yourself ew our own
Most flower petals can be dried and used as confetti. Store them in a warm, dry place, such r*as an airing cupboard
Yes, you can DIY your big-day blooms. Roxy Kavousi-Walker got hands-on to bring her; vision to life – and just look at the results…
aghd (a Persian wedding¬ceremony table), there’s an eye-watering reminder of the big team effort, the weeks of planning and the months of growing our own flowers.
We Grow Your Own Wedding Flowers Photo Gallery
It wasn’t as if I’d always dreamt of growing my own, let alone doing a DIY wedding – it just sort of happened. From the outset, Tom and I knew we wanted a personal approach. We also wanted it to be just us: no caterers, bar staff, make-up artist, hair stylist or band (we partly catered ourselves and had Tom’s cousins as DJs). Saving.
IT’S THURSDAY EVENING, TWO DAYS BEFORE OUR WEDDING
I’m sitting on the floor of the chapel at Ash Barton, Devon, with buckets of flowers carpeting the flagstones. I feel excited, but overwhelmed; there’s serious work to be done.
Fast-forward two days and I’m in my dress – the dress. Everywhere I look: the bouquet in my hands; the wildflowers displayed down the aisle; the groomsmen’s buttonholes; the blooms in the chapel; the flower chandelier in the barn; the arrangements on the sofreh.
The bright and cheery- looking Roxy dahlic
To get the best yield, in the summer, cut stems down to the next buddingl .pair so the plant bushes out and flowers more.
‘Frances with a bucket ‘full of dahlias. By July … and August we were” getting regular armfuls contacted the school she used to work at and asked if she could borrow a small plot of their gardens so we could achieve the quantity of dahlias we wanted. (Her garden was already full of established plants that we were hoping to use, and at the time we only had a small balcony.) Sarah Raven has one of the widest selections of dahlias, so we sourced our tubers from her website. I didn’t have a colour scheme; I just knew I wanted different shades and shapes, so we ordered 10 varieties – Cafe Au Lait, Henriette and Blanc Y Verde, to name a few. We potted them and popped them in the greenhouse in early March (a kitchen windowsill would work, too). They sprouted the following month and we kept them there until any risk of frost had passed. In early May, they were planted outside and the first flower blossomed at the end of that month.
In spring, Tom and I moved to a home with a small garden, so we decided to grow daisy¬like cosmos. It needs minimal attention and grows into great clouds of flowers.
Meanwhile, I took two of my bridesmaids with me to a workshop
East London florist
Rebel Rebel. It was the perfect playground to experiment while in the safe hands of experts.
We learned that we needed a lot of foliage and flowers: dahlias would be the stars of the show, but having other delicate varieties made them pop. I found mood boards helpful for visualising the wild-posy look I wanted. Pinterest was an obvious tool, but I also took inspiration from books. Petalon is one of my favourite London florists, so I knew Florence Kennedy’s Flowers Every Day would be the perfect how-to guide.
Anything we couldn’t grow (we wanted more flowers money was a bonus of wanting the personal touch, too.
Tom and I got engaged in April 2016 and decided to marry the following year, in September. A long engagement meant we could plan properly. While in Dorset celebrating our news with Tom’s parents, Frances and Martin, we discussed our vision for the wedding. Frances mentioned that we could help ourselves to flowers from their garden, and that she could also grow some. Being a recently retired teacher and a lifelong keen gardener, she leapt at the task. We researched seasonal blooms and after much browsing, Frances suggested dahlias. I knew little of this flower – not even how to pronounce it (dah-lia? Day-lia? It’s the latter, by the way). They come in all shapes and sizes, from tight pom-poms to blooms the size of your face, and the colour palettes are endless.
Once we worked out the size of the operation ahead, Frances
‘From the outset, Tom and I knew we ^wanted a very personal approach to our wedding’
Picking the finishing touches at New Covent
Do it yourself
Learning how to make bouquets pnd buttonholes with East London florists Rebel Rebel Setting aside stems for ^Bthe bridal bouquet! which included Cafe Au Lait and Bacardi dahlias
The workshop was the perfect playground to experiment
‘Waxflowers, strawflowerBB land foliage are ideal forfcjt Ibuttonholes as they survive without water for long periods of time than we had space to produce ourselves), we bought from New Covent Garden Market. Tom and I picked bunches we liked the look of, instead of following a strict list: wispy Nigella, flouncy Veronica, berry-like hypericum, plus fragrant herbs and stems such as variegated mint, geranium leaves and eucalyptus (we bought more than we needed in case of casualties).
In the West Country, Frances and Tom’s sister Alice sourced more bright dahlias – Gerrie Hoek and Mrs Eileen – from Black Shed flower farm. It was hard to resist the pick-your-own foxgloves and other specimens, so those made it into the van with the homegrown dahlias. When it comes to cutting your own, early morning or evening is better than daytime. We stripped the leaves on the lower stems, ensuring none were submerged in water, as this causes bacteria to reproduce. A drop of vinegar or bleach in the buckets also helped to prevent bacteria; Martin was tasked with this job, as well as delivering the precious cargo.
After a nerve-racking journey down the M5, fearing our months of work were perishing, we reached our destination. We immediately found the coolest, darkest spot on the estate – the chapel – and started the prep.
An army of friends and family began arriving on Friday along
With more dahlias from Tom’s aunt and uncle, Margaret and Chris. Word had spread of our floral adventure, so they brought some they’d grown on their allotment, as did Tom’s eldest sister, Harriet, and her husband, Darren.
When all the flowers were laid out, my Rebel Rebel training kicked in: they’d given me the excellent advice to pick stems I wanted for bouquets and buttonholes first, to ensure the most important arrangements used my favourite flowers. My bridesmaids put together their own bouquets, which was a lovely way for them to add their personality to the day.
As I had to flit about the barn, chapel and kitchen, I made sure Florence’s book was open among the flowers to aid our helpers. We laboured until the evening on Friday, finishing the final bits on Saturday morning.
Most brides might say their wedding is the best day of their life – and it really is. But the team effort of a DIY wedding made it even more special for us, as we felt people were invested on a personal level and not just as a ‘guest’. We were all proud of what we achieved together.
What did I learn from this optimistic floral feat? For one, it’s not for everybody, especially not the time-poor. We were lucky enough to have Tom’s hard-working and generous parents, as well as the mass of helpers over the weekend. Growing your own flowers doesn’t have to be done on a huge scale, but however you do it, it doesn’t get more personal or rewarding than this.
Do it yourself
THE FINAL RESULT Clockwise from top left Blocks of flowers dotting the aisle in the walled garden of Ash Barton, Devon. Homemade confetti. In keeping with the family-and-friends-only theme, the celebrant, Jamie Phillips, is one of Roxy and Tom’s close friends. Bouquets were used as umbrellas during a brief rain shower. The ‘you may now kiss the bride’ moment. The barn, decked with ruscus garlands. The first dance. Tom in the wildflower meadow, wearing a buttonhole made with gomphrena, fern and a great spotted woodpecker feather.
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