It was Maytime, and we would be getting married in May. What better a time, I thought, than now, on the very same season, to look around and see what was in flower!
I had only been to one wedding before, my godmother’s, when I was around twelve. My mum had been her Matron of Honour and had given a speech. To involve her in the planning, my mum and I had wandered round a large warehouse-type store with her looking at small, decorative bits, and I remember especially looking at some of the artificial flowers and liking the blue thistles.
And we could have blue thistles at our wedding – why not? We had decided our colour theme would be royal blue – the determination of which will be explained in the next post. So what else was blue? Not pale blue or purple blue, but really blue blue?
It turns out that there are only two really blue flowers around: cornflowers, which come up in August, and delphinium, which are around in… May.
So, delphinium anybody?
These were also wilder looking flowers, and I liked that. We thought about white or cream flowers to go with them (or black, but we gave up on that!) and settled on sprays of delicate, wild-looking gypsophilia and lisianthus – very like roses, but cheaper and softer looking! I am not actually that keen on roses in a vase: I love them when they’re growing in bushes or on vines, but stem them and they look unnatural, the heads are too big, too sculptured. The lisianthus was smaller, rounder: just enough like a rose, and just enough not like a rose.
The ceremony table was decorated with lisianthus only – and for a very special reason: Guy and I decided to incorporate a Flower Ceremony, more commonly known as a Rose Ceremony, into our wedding: not the traditional one of swapping a flower, but the one where you give a flower each to your mothers in recognition of everything they have done for you. The lisianthus was perfect for this, and we could each give a stem flattered by an array of buds.
The Ceremony Table
It took us a while to find a florist to do our flowers. Most of my thanks should be extended to Orchis on London Road in Sheffield, who let me go through pictures of flowers in their shop and offered material advice, even though our wedding was in Oxford! I was really worried about the florist because it was so important to me that they were reliable: and I had no way of telling when it came to flower delivery.
In the end, of course, there was no problem at all, and the florists we chose did an excellent job – the ushers not so much so, because I had asked everybody to collect their own buttonhole, thinking it would save the ushers the work of distributing them. Industriously, however, they took on the task, despite not knowing the list of everybody who was meant to be wearing them, and thus developed the saga of the wandering buttonhole, where Guy’s buttonhole ended up not upon Guy, but upon my mother, and later on, my grandfather!
Eventually after some lack of enthusiasm from one Oxford florist, we booked with Joe Austin on Cowley Road – right beside our flat (although by the time we booked we were no longer living in it). And it was Robin from Joe Austin who helped me solve another problem I had with flowers: what to do with my own.
I knew I didn’t want a traditional bouquet – they seemed such a useless addendum, I didn’t feel inclined to toss it, and I didn’t wish to have my hands full. But neither was I happy with pinning something to the front of my dress. I considered decorating a parasol with flowers, or hanging them from its handle – any other option I could come up with! I had initially been uncertain about the idea of a wrist corsage: I seen several in pictures and was not particularly impressed, especially when the flowers were large and upside down, but Robin suggested them, and a bit of hunting about came up with a new phenomenon: trailing wrist corsages. I liked trailing bouquets – frankly I liked any flower arrangement which wasn’t too round and perfect and structured – and I liked trailing wrist corsages too.
We provided our own vases for the flowers: we had always meant to, for simplicity if nothing else, and one of our ushers took them over to the shop the day before. But they would have to be fun vases, and they would have to be cheap. Recently, poundland has sported an impressive array of apothecary-like vases, and these were exactly what Guy and I were looking for: but at the time, found none. And thus in a like-minded way I wondered across a shop which sold science supplies, and found 250ml conical flasks at about £2 each – bargain! Guy humoured me, I think – for I was very excited about my chemistry vases – I kept the box they arrived in to transport them to the florist, and filled the bottoms with pretty blue glass beads, a simple but effective display.