Growing your own wedding flowers can be rewarding and less draining on your wallet, but where exactly do you begin?
With the cost of bridal flowers continuing to skyrocket, using homegrown blooms really is the best way to save some money, and show the planet a little love. To help you grow your own wedding flowers like a pro, gardener and writer Sarah Raven has shared her expertise.
'Growing and arranging your own flowers for your wedding day can be so rewarding but it will require plotting and planning in advance,' says Sarah. Take a look at her top tips below...
1. Plan your theme
Growing your own wedding flowers is no easy feat, but that doesn't mean you can't do it successfully. Before you begin, Sarah suggests planning what flowers you want on the day, as well as what purpose they will serve (for example, will they be used as a table centrepiece or in your bouquet).
'Each couple will have their own taste and preferences; some will prefer light and delicate flowers, while others will lean towards more architectural shapes and sturdiness,' she explains. 'It is important to choose flowers based on what will grow at the right time of year. I advise not to get fixated on any one individual flower, as they may not be in their best shape on the day; focus on colour and shape first and foremost.'
2. Bulk out your bouquets and displays
If you want a wedding filled with beautiful and bountiful flowers, then don't forget to bulk out your bouquets. Strong structural elements with fillers and foliage is a great way to pad out your displays, while on-trend pampas is also ideal for filling in the gaps.
'Foliage can be useful for weddings early in the season and still provides a beautiful display, while adding the all-important form to the arrangement,' says Sarah. 'Every arrangement should have a mix of "face flowers", complemented by the lines of foxgloves and lupins to give it structural interest.'
3. Don't forget those statement blooms
From roses to tulips and dahlias, there are tons of ways you can add drama to your bouquet. If you're planning to grow your own, Sarah suggests choosing a range of dominant flowers as 'central pivots' for flower displays — and to bring personality to the palette.
Not sure what to choose? 'Dahlias, sunflowers, zinnias, echinaceas, roses and lilies all do a marvellous job of this,' advises Sarah, 'I am strict with the idea of the "Bride" flower being the same colour as a smaller flower in the arrangement – what I call the "Bridesmaid". Don't be afraid to use contrasting colours or feel that your colours have to be traditional wedding white and green.'
4. Pick with care
Slipping on your gardening gloves and heading out to pick your flowers is the most exciting part, but don't forget to pop them straight into cool water. 'Doing this makes a big difference to the vase life of the flowers and will keep them looking tip-top for longer,' says Sarah.
To do this, simply remove leaves from the bottom of the stem and pop them into water right away. If your blooms are looking a little floppy before the big day, Sarah suggests a little magic trick: 'Sear the ends in boiling water – five seconds for softer stems and 45 for woodier stems.'
5. Making confetti
Plastic-free, biodegradable confetti is a must for any wedding. Unlike paper confetti, real petals have beautiful colour and float beautifully in the air when thrown for photographs.
'Fresh rose petals and marigolds as well as dismembered cornflowers all work well. I like using the petals of larkspur and delphiniums too,' adds Sarah. 'You can also catch all the dropped petals that have fallen off the other flowers you're using for the wedding and keep those as supplementary confetti.'
6. Don't forget buttonholes
When it comes to buttonholes, Sarah suggests growing gorgeous lilies, sprigs of heather or nigella pods: 'If you're set on having a rose or dahlia for buttonholes, be sure to wrap the stem in cotton wool, then cling film and buttonhole tape.'
7. Enjoy the displays
'The most important thing to do once your arrangements are complete is to enjoy the day,' says Sarah. 'Your venue will be brimming with the gorgeous smell of your favourite flowers, and you’ll take pride in seeing the fruits of your labour as a beautiful, natural decoration on your wedding day.'
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