Letters from America

Well, emails actually!

For the last six months we’ve been working towards a huge trans-atlantic wedding between an English groom and an American bride. Last year I decided that weddings were taking up too much of our time. I wanted each one to be unique and I didn’t want to be knocking out the same flower week in, week out. So I decided to limit our wedding work to three local venues, that way we could give our very best to each and every one. However, late last year I got a visit from an old colleague whose son was getting married near their home in Rusper, a pretty English village on the Surrey/West Sussex border and I was asked to do the flowers. I was delighted and happily agreed.

The bride and groom visited soon after and I was able to get a great sense of what was required, but the wedding was still some way off and there were lots of things that would need pinning down as the date got ever closer. So I was introduced by email to the bride’s mother ‘Ana’.

The Bride and her Mother

Ana and I hit it off straight-away, our correspondence was bright and cheery and I always smiled when an email from her popped up in my inbox. She even reads my blog!! We went through flower choices and colours, styles for bouquets, button holes, floral coronets and general adornments, having to deal with occasional changes depending on what was available.

The wedding was going to be a huge affair, especially in a quiet, tranquil village here in Sussex and celebrations were due to last THREE DAYS!

The team and I have all been busy working on preparations all week. To my surprise the week started a day short, on TUESDAY! I completely forgot Monday was a Bank holiday here in the UK. Thankfully the rest of Europe didn’t have the same May day holiday so most of the flower arrived on Tuesday so we could start preparations for Friday where a huge party was being held on the evening BEFORE the wedding. Apparently, this is tradition in America or in the part of America the bride and her family were from (Somewhere with an ‘O’ in it.. Idaho, Ohio, Colorado..sorry Ana, I have trouble remembering my way home when I leave Pulborough).

Alison was in charge of setting up on Friday but I went along to keep an eye on things and to meet my ‘pen-pal‘ Ana and all the family. The moment Alison and I stepped out of the van we were greeted with hugs, smiles and generous offers of help. Soon we had a relay chain of smartly dressed people passing flowers and vases between the van and the reception room, while I stood bouncing on the spot like a happy country bumpkin in my florist’s smock and apron. I’m more used to being ushered round the back and shown where to put things.

Back at the shop, the rest of the team had taken delivery of the flower for the following day’s celebration and were busy preparing bouquets for the wedding party. To be at their absolute best, some flowers need to be delivered two or three days before, others last minute, so it’s always rather stressful. There was lots to do and I wanted to make up the bride’s bouquet myself so I soon headed back.

On the morning of the wedding (yesterday) Becky, John and I set off with the van packed full of flowers. The sun was shining, which I’d previously explained to Ana didn’t mean that it was actually warm ( the previous day the hotel had a roaring open fire on the go..in MAY), nor did the sight of the sun in the morning mean there wouldn’t be wind and rain an hour or two later, but for now it was a beautiful Spring morning ( again I explained that here Spring could be anytime between February and August). As we neared the village, the sun was still out, farmers were busy working the fields (otherwise known as muck-spreading) and there was a gentle breeze (thankfully blowing the smell in the opposite direction).

I was expecting to see a group of more somber, less energetic people than I’d met the day before BUT NO, everyone looked equally fresh-faced, smart, sophisticated and jolly as they had the day before. If I had been the mother of the bride or the groom I would have been wandering around in my dressing gown with my slippers on, looking for my make-up bag.

We piled out and felt the atmosphere was a little less relaxed before realising that the wedding planner was running a bit late and the tables hadn’t been laid out, which meant we couldn’t arrange the flowers which were in need of some air. Rather than stand around we just had to muck in – quickly teaching John how to lay a table.

“I’m a senior IT consultant” I heard him mutter several times.

One thought on “Letters from America

  1. “We have been recouping in a lovely cottage on the Thames and have just returned to Iowa (sometimes referred to as Idiots Out Walking Around”) to tune into your blog. So fun to see the picture of Halley and me in your Hall of Fame! If you were stressed by all the preparation, Claire, you certainly didn’t show it. You were your usual jolly self! Many THANKS to you and your staff for the incredibly exquisite floral bouquets and arrangements. They were so beautiful and far beyond our expectations. You helped make a happy occasion particularly joyful!”


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