Book Review: Grow Your Own Wedding Flowers by Georgie Newbery
A few years back I offered to help a friend with the flowers for her wedding. This included the bride’s posy plus bouquets for three bridesmaids and the buttonholes for three. There were two large displays needed for the lovely country church and pew-end posies for the end of the first twelve pews. A hundred guests were to be seated at four long trestles for the wedding feast and these tables needed to share two dozen simple table decorations. With access to my trade account at a flower importer the bill for the flowers and foliage cost about a thousand pounds. The experience was good but left me feeling that a wedding florist would have been entirely justified in charging at least three times that amount.
All the flowers were in peak condition and most of the chosen species were ordered specifically to arrive at the importers three days before the wedding day. We were organised with containers weeks ahead and we’d chosen the colour themes months before this summer wedding. I had three assistants and we assembled all day on the thursday and friday before the wedding on the saturday. The flowers looked wonderful and aside from some last minute stress levels we were very pleased and I would do it again.
So when Georgie Newbery’s latest book Grow Your own Wedding Flowers arrived in the post I asked myself if I’d ever consider actually growing the flowers for such a celebration. Having immersed myself in her book, and with a passion for growing cut flowers on the allotment, I’ve concluded that I certainly would albeit only for a close family member.
As an experienced artisan flower farmer and florist Newbery has all the knowledge required to plan ahead and to anticipate the challenges. The book caters for a wedding designed around a bride and groom and three bridesmaids, a hundred guests at ten tables plus both sets of parents and one best man and one usher. From this model you can make your calculations scaled up or down depending on the size of your own celebration.
Once you know the season of the wedding and the approximate number of guests a key consideration of course is how much growing space you’ll require. From day one you’ll also need to know roughly how many stems for each display and from that you’ll work backwards to what size beds to prepare. Newbery provides ball-park numbers to roughly guide what’s required for each arrangement. An area measuring 1 m wide by 3.5 m that can be scaled up x 3 should be enough space to grow for a hundred guest wedding party. This stem counting formula covers table posies and pedestal arrangements for the church and reception plus the bride’s bouquet and bridesmaids’ posies and five buttonholes. Foliage she says can be rounded up from the garden of friends and relatives and will need to be identified as available as early as possible.
With that in mind she suggests a mood board as a practical first project to gather ideas and to help settle on a colour theme. Newbery provides a guide to seasonal flower combinations and these lists are essential at the early planning stage and the mood board can then be built up from this guide. She says there’s no point in saving lovely images of peonies if your wedding is in winter or relying on hydrangeas if you are planning a spring wedding.
She’s aware that any stress is to be avoided and I endorse her suggestion that the bridal bouquet, bridesmaids’ posies and buttonholes could if you choose be made by a professional florist. This then leaves you to simply focus on growing the flowers for the table displays, church and reception and that would surely encourage anyone tempted to have a go. These lovely table posies would look pretty even plonked in jam jars…
If you like a challenge and are prepared to follow some simple guidelines then it’s possible to save a fortune both on wedding flowers and on air miles. You’ll have the satisfaction of creating something really beautiful and personal for a very special day.
Even if you aren’t tempted to grow for a wedding there’s a huge amount of advice to be gained on growing cut flowers for other celebrations. Pages of inspiring seasonal images has prompted me to sow many more flower varieties on the allotment next year. To pre-order a signed copy of this gorgeous book go to Common Farm Flowers