Behind the scenes…

Flowers are an intricate part of any wedding celebration. They set the scene, create mood and enhance the beauty of the day and as a florist you have ONE chance to get EVERYTHING right. This makes weddings extremely stressful.

This week’s wedding was a BIG one, which added to my anxiety. To be at their absolute peak on the day of the wedding, flowers need to arrive at the shop just a day or two in advance and only then can we start arranging them.

Just some of the flower needed for a big wedding

I’ve been grumbling about the late arrival of summer and have been longing to lounge in the garden with a G&T packed with ice for weeks now, BUT why oh why did the heatwave have to hit THIS WEEKEND?!!!!

The Flower Shop is naturally quite chilled all of the time (which is why I’m often wrapped in a scarf or wooly cardie mid summer), but with temperatures staying in the high teens overnight and reaching 30 degrees + during the day there was NO WAY the floral displays my fabulous team were busy making would survive at their best.

This is where weeks, months, years of keeping ‘in’ with the wine merchant ‘Hennings‘ next door paid off, as they very kindly offered me use of their wine cellar which was the perfect temperature for storing pre-arranged flowers.

One of the dozen pedestal arrangements arranged ahead of Saturday’s wedding.

To add to my already high level of anxiety the wedding was scheduled for 12.30pm. NOT at 2pm in the afternoon like most weddings, allowing florists to set up in a relaxed manner throughout the morning. Then if I wasn’t STRESSED enough, we had to find some way of discretely moving most of the flower from the church to the reception at Amberley Castle without the bride, groom and all their guests noticing.

The morning started very early and we were up against it from the start. The venue needed decorating, the church flowers needed arranging and the brides bouquets needed delivering. Everything had to be done at the last minute, anything arranged and placed in advance would be fighting to survive in the heat.

With huge thanks to Amberley Jackie from the church and virgin florist Alison from the shop (meaning this was her first Flower Shop Wedding) we managed to get everything in place in time for the service.

I BREATHED A HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF!

But this wasn’t the end, there was so much more to do, but for now John, Alison and I hid around the corner from the church keeping a close eye on proceedings, waiting for the new Mr & Mrs to appear at the front door so we could run around the back, like a scene from MISSION IMPOSSIBLE or a Benny Hill sketch, transferring flower arrangements, through the secret door that led neatly into the castle grounds.

It was as we stood peering around from the back of the van which was now parked behind a large bush as not to spoil the photographs, that…DISASTER STRUCK!!

Church entrance

It was mid service when the central flower display hanging directly over the church door CRRRashed to the ground!

I fell to the floor, wailing like a banshee, wriggling around thumping the pavement while John and Alison calmly unloaded the folding ladder from the back of the van and tip-toed up to the door. They stood there looking at each other for a minute or two before I regained my composure, dusted down my apron and wandered over. They looked at me and then nodded towards the doors, which I noticed were wide open.

John started to open the ladders. SQUEEEEEEAK!!! He stopped and thought again.

“We’re going to have to wait until they start singing” John said.

So we sat there waiting for the organ to start, praying there would be another hymn. Thankfully before long the congregation were in full voice, singing Jerusalem. Perfect.

John shimmied up the ladder and re-hung the flowers, checking there was no chance of them falling again, before running back to the van where Alison and I were waiting impatiently.

The bride and groom soon walked out of the church arm in arm, stopping to kiss under the hanging flowers (as I held my breath again), followed by all their guests. This was our moment… John, Alison and I sprinted off round the back of the church and started moving flower displays and pedestals.

John and Alison raced ahead of me and I was wobbling about, struggling to carry displays which were taller than me, when I heard an American voice asking if I needed any help. I said YES without question and immediately handed over as much as this poor bewildered man could carry. I walked in front waving him through into the castle grounds and into Amberley castle itself.

WE HAD DONE IT!

Once we were home, I just sat in the kitchen, staring at the wall. Doing nothing at all, just staring, staring at nothing, just a blank wall, wondering why I put myself through this.

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