Devon’s answer to Scarlet & Violet is creating my wedding bouquets, but I knew early on I wouldn’t have the budget for the full wedding floristry works.
Instead, I decided to follow in the footsteps of stylish DIY brides and investigate wholesale flowers. The idea is that you sidestep floristry fees by paying the “per stem” cost only, then rope in willing friends and family members to help you arrange them.
The inspiration: Claire Pettibone Spring 2013.
First tip: go local. I was shocked to discover that the UK imports as much as 95% of its cut flowers (source: The Ecologist), the majority of which are flown in from Kenya, Ecuador, Columbia and Holland, before they weed their way into our supermarkets. These scentless, out-of-season blooms may be cheap, but they come with a hefty carbon footprint.
Luckily, there are plenty of UK growers bucking the trend, like JW Blooms, which offers a fragrant alternative to hot-housed cut flowers. I met its owner, Jan Waters, at her small, secluded field in Somerset, where she grows many of the flowers you'll find in a traditional florist's, and many that you won't – think English cottage-garden favourites like cornflowers, love-in-a-mist and fragrant sweet peas, and snapdragons, alliums and towering sunflowers. So far, oh-so-bohemian.
Together with my future mother-in-law (perfect pre-wedding bonding opportunity), I booked in for one of Jan’s workshops, designed to give brides the confidence to arrange their own wedding flowers. Channelling my inner hippy, I threw myself into the task, and over the course of a really lovely afternoon, I learned the vitals of wedding flower arranging.
One of the best tips I gleaned was learning how to condition garden and wildflowers so that they last just as long as shop-bought ones. I also discovered how to create my own hand-tied bouquet; the stepping stone to all sorts of flower arrangements, apparently. It was a great day and I left feeling inspired and, if I’m honest, a little bit worthy, clutching my charmingly-homespun bouquet.
Wedding bouquet by J.W. Blooms
In addition to flower-only options, JW Blooms offers a full wedding floristry service. But I think its semi-DIY package is probably the best option for brides-on-budget: this sees JW Blooms taking care of the more complicated elements, like bridal bouquets, buttonholes, church flowers and so on, as well as supplying bucket loads of loose flowers for you to get creative with for the table arrangements.
JW Bloom’s wedding flower workshops start at £40 per person. For a full programme of workshops, and details on wedding floristry and loose flower options, visit jwblooms.co.uk.
Main picture: Syed of SYPhotography. All other pictures: JW Blooms.