Here Comes the Bride

Sarah Margaret (Maggie), the elder of my two sisters, and I had talked about her wedding for years. We would sit in church and sketch out the altar layout, list flowers, and go over music…after taking copious notes on the sermon of course!

But then, there is that moment when your sister is actually getting married - marrying one of your best friends - and you, are not only the floral designer but brother and groomsman, pulling a triple shift to turn your sister’s dream for her wedding into a reality.

Maggie, Meredith, and I are a very close set of chickadees and I could tell anyone what Miss Sarah Margaret would want for her wedding flowers since we were little…YELLOW roses and BLUE hydrangeas - basically summing Maggie up with flowers! So, a June wedding would be no problem to cut these flowers right out of the garden and decorate the church and tent with every blue and yellow blossom on this end of Dixie! March 15…the date was set…NOT the opportune time for either of the flowers, but thank God for greenhouses and forsythia!

Maggie wanted a garden themed, elegantly Southern wedding and reception. Our home church was a given and a tented reception at our Aunt and Uncle’s was perfectly apropos! Yellow and blue, her signature colors, and shades in and around, were used from the programs to the tables to the altar. Hundreds of Nikko Blue hydrangeas were specially grown for the wedding along with yellow Sweetheart roses, variegated shell ginger, palms (it was Palm Sunday weekend), maiden hair ferns, and a myriad of other floral wonders.

Rather than numerous cut arrangements, I planted “living arrangements” or compositions of plants mixed with some cut stems for additional interest and drama. The plus side of these floral symposiums is that we could plant the hydrangeas, roses, ferns, and ivy in the garden and have perennial reminders of that happy day!

For her bouquet, Maggie wanted yellow and cream roses, in various shades, in a mounded spray accented with seeded eucalyptus. Vintage lace wrapped the stems and carried her laced dress theme as well. As for the bridesmaids bouquets, she wanted to look as if we’d just gathered them from the garden and tied a bit of lacey ribbon around…so we did! Rosemary, which stands for remembrance, was the perfect garden greenery, and yellow roses and blue larkspur added to the garden feel.

Hydrangea blossoms on the cake and cascades of the blue flowers tumbling out of every urn and pot kept the blue theme in motion. Even the dinnerware and serving pieces – mixes of silver and porcelain from family collections – were a part of the theme. Our aunt’s line of dinnerware, Provista, proved to be the perfect complement in hues of lavender, cream, and green. All in all, the color, floral, and garden theme carried through quite well… making for one very tired yet very happy brother!

A few tips on garden weddings, events, and outdoor entertaining ventures…

  • Use nature’s provisions! Forsythia, agarista, aspidistra, azalea, and budding spring limbs worked well for this early spring wedding.
  • Planted compositions…they last longer than cut arrangements and can be planted in the garden after the wedding. Hydrangeas, fern, and ivy…simply elegant and stunning. Stems of cut flowers and sticks add drama too!
  • Use urns, pots, baskets, and garden furniture as props, containers, and serving ware for that “touch from the garden” feel. Maggie’s cake table was the door from an old grain elevator and two iron stands. An urn with maidenhair fern, some rusty iron birds, and an urn base for the cake kept the alfresco theme in high gear.

  • Lanterns…use lots of lanterns and even torches for added light, romance, and charm. Everyone always looks great in candlelight!
  • Remember the season with your food…fruits and flavors of the season make a lovely statement!

  • Garnishing the food with flowers keeps the theme on track too - blossoms on the cake or herbs and flowers tethered to serving pieces is a charming detail.

  • If you have time ahead to plan your event, plan your plantings and pots. Fill your color beds and containers with seasonal accents and allow them to be fun parts of the outdoor décor! Plus, planting ahead allows them to grow and fill out before the event.
  • Think scale…outdoor scale is larger than indoor scale…pots and containers should be big enough to make a statement and not get lost in the crowd.
  • As with any party, have fun! Roll with the flow and entertain with confidence!

photography by Delaney Holliman