One of the lovely parts about working as a studio florist, that's a florist without a physical shop, is that you are free to take on freelance projects as and when they crop up. You tend to build up a network of other florists who are familiar with your work and who can call on you when they get a big project that needs extra pairs of hands.
This week saw me winding my way through the Hampshire countryside to a wonderful private house. Andy McIndoe had been called in to turn the blank canvas into a fairytale country house wedding. That needed a bigger team than usual so eight of us assembled early in the morning to start conditioning and sorting flowers as they arrived from the wholesalers.
If you are thinking about a New Year Wedding do take into consideration all the extra costs and worries associated with this period. Everything is more expensive during that period - caterers, marquee hire, venue hire, transport hire, wedding planners - everything you can think of will be at a premium just because of the date.
Flowers are more difficult because the flower world breathes a huge sigh of relief at the end of their busiest period on Christmas Eve and doesn't reopen until after Christmas when there is a day's wait for flowers to get from the markets worldwide to your wholesaler. You have to accept that your chosen flowers may not arrive for one reason or another. This is where choosing a top florist will make all the difference, their wholesaler is likely to be sharper and have more clout in the flower markets to ensure you get what you want.
Even then the range isn't as full as normal for two reasons. Firstly this is a short run up to New Years Eve and so the stock will not be held at as high a level. Secondly Valentines Day has then kicked into action!. My most important tip? Don't choose red roses for your New Years Eve wedding otherwise your flower budget will have to be substantially bigger. It takes 45 days to grow a rose from the growth bud to a finished rose and so growers wanting to grow for Valentines have to cut everything back before Christmas. This pushes prices right up and so consider white, pink or vintage shades.
Our bride had chosen a sophisticated palette of creamy white Avalanche roses and other white flowers like hydrangeas, stocks, spray roses, alstroemerias, gerberas, mini chrysanthemums, hellebores, hyacinths and lillies. With a sprinkling of green lisianthus and carnations. This was then given the lightest touch of colour highlights with Hypnose carnations, Dancing Clouds roses, blue green hydrangeas and clematis Pirouettte.
Our challenge was to garland the main entrance door, create multiple giant urns filled with lush loose flowers in a soft informal shape, decorate many pediments over the imposing doors with cool green and white flowers, pack giant mantlepieces we could scarcely even reach with ample flowers and fill the grates to match. All of this was set off by countless tea light and big groups of chunky church candles plus eight enormous nordmann christmas trees decorated with 10,000 lights and airy sprigs of delicately glittered gypsophila. The final piece of the main jigsaw was a river of flowers flowing down the enormous staircase to create a magical space for our bride. Once that was all done we had a group of glamorous bridesmaids and teeny bridesmaids to add to the main bridal bouquet and buttonholes.
The whole job took two long days of flower arranging from our team of Sue Robinson, Paul Hervey-Brooks, Tracey Kennard, Eleanor McIndoe, Ian Hatcher, Andy McIndoe and myself plus Debbie Hicks, a level 3 floristry student who is due to do my Advanced Flower Arranging Course in February joined us on work experience as part of her college course. This kind of work is quite gruelling and we worked really long hours but as with all weddings the deadlines are there and must be met. Luckily most of us had worked together many times and it is like a well oiled machine - extremely efficient and slick.
So did the bride like her flowers? Yes - she loved them, they were just what she had imagined and more!