More than just beau­ti­ful bou­quets and but­ton­holes

Choos­ing your wed­ding flow­ers can be a daunt­ing task. Here, florist Char­lotte El­iz­a­beth Har­ri­son says it’s all about mak­ing them per­sonal, re­gard­less of bud­get…

Cotswold Life - - COTSWOLD WEDDINGS -

The long summers and warm evenings spent run­ning around her grand­mother’s Cotswold gar­den pro­vided such heart-warm­ing mem­o­ries for Char­lotte El­iz­a­beth Har­ri­son that they in­spired her to be­come a florist.

She re­mem­bers the fox­gloves and hy­drangeas, laven­der and bud­dleia, and her grandma El­iz­a­beth hap­pily tend­ing to her plants.

Now with her own busi­ness, Flow­ers By Char­lotte El­iz­a­beth, blos­som­ing she looks back on those happy days.

“I spent a lot of time at my grandma’s house, pot­ter­ing around with her in the gar­den as she taught me the names of flow­ers,” she says. “She had a lovely thatched cot­tage with a typ­i­cal Cotswolds coun­try gar­den, filled with beau­ti­ful flow­ers, an old ap­ple tree with blos­som all over it, and a stream at the bot­tom. I loved be­ing there.”

Char­lotte, 27, works from her Charl­ton Kings home. In the days lead­ing up to a wed­ding her kitchen is filled with the scent of flow­ers with buck­ets of blooms left to re­hy­drate overnight and fo­liage and flow­ers cas­cad­ing across the big old rus­tic ta­ble.

Her stu­dio backs on to her gar­den where she is learn­ing to grow plants that can give an ar­range­ment a fin­ish­ing touch; long-last­ing hebe for but­ton­holes, cos­mos, jas­mine, eu­ca­lyp­tus and rose­mary. Her dream is to pick flow­ers from her own gar­den.

For now though she gets up early to find ‘the best of the best’ at a Bris­tol flower mar­ket and a Chel­tenham whole­saler.

Char­lotte, who stud­ied at Per­shore hor­ti­cul­tural col­lege, loves the cre­ativ­ity of wed­dings and pre­sent­ing flow­ers to take a bride’s breath away.

She recog­nises that it’s great to be able to dress a church and re­cep­tion venue with sump­tu­ous flow­ers, but it’s not pos­si­ble for ev­ery­one. As well as a be­spoke ser­vice, she has ‘bi­joux’ pack­ages which al­low brides on a bud­get to order a bou­quet, brides­maid’s bou­quet and but­ton­holes from £150.

For larger wed­dings the prepa­ra­tions take time and care­ful plan­ning.

“If the cou­ple want a very blousy look you need enough time to al­low the flow­ers to open up,” she says. “If you had beau­ti­ful David Austin roses you wouldn’t want them to be tight so you need them drink­ing nicely in the light; if I want tight flow­ers I’ll put them in the dark. You have to get the tim­ings just right as they need to be in their prime for one spe­cial day.”

Suc­cu­lents and fo­liage con­tinue to be pop­u­lar trends, and pre­vi­ously un­fash­ion­able car­na­tions are hav­ing a resur­gence brought about by the va­ri­ety of colour and tex­ture they of­fer. Bold fo­liage with a jungle feel and an edgier boho vibe are pop­u­lar too.

But Char­lotte ad­vises brides to go with their hearts, rather than fol­low fash­ion if it’s not quite them.

“I ask brides to think about things they like, flow­ers that re­mind them of their child­hood or were used at the grand­par­ents’ wed­ding, or some­thing that’s spe­cial to their re­la­tion­ship.

“Flow­ers are very evoca­tive, the smell

can take you back to a cer­tain time and I think it’s nice to use those mem­o­ries in your wed­ding flow­ers or cre­ate new mem­o­ries with them. You don’t want a cat­a­logue wed­ding so pick some­thing per­sonal to you and make it unique.”

Con­sid­er­ing the venue is also im­por­tant; some­thing grand may re­quire equally grand flow­ers, whilst soft, sub­tle shapes can look fan­tas­tic in an in­dus­trial en­vi­ron­ment.

Her per­sonal style is a very free, un­con­trived one that shows off the nat­u­ral beauty of the flow­ers.

“I love fox­gloves be­cause they re­mind me of my grand­mother’s gar­den, and laven­der makes me think of my mum who has it grow­ing up her path­way, and I like sweet peas and any­thing ten­drilly.”

Whilst some five to 10 per cent of a bud­get should be spent on flow­ers, Char­lotte main­tains there are no rules – some may go wild and make them the big­gest fea­ture of the day, for oth­ers im­pact can be cre­ated us­ing fo­liage, plants and herbs.

Her ad­vice for keep­ing in bud­get is reusing the flow­ers on the day by putting some­one in charge of mov­ing them.

“Pew ends in the church can be moved and put around hur­ri­cane vases at the re­cep­tion; a beau­ti­ful gar­land for sign­ing the reg­is­ter can be put on the top ta­ble later. If you can find a way to make your flow­ers multi-pur­pose, do.”

In­stead of the tra­di­tional look­book, Char­lotte uses Pin­ter­est to cre­ate a mood board.

“Of­ten brides have started a Pin­ter­est board, if not I’ll cre­ate one that they can com­ment on so they might say, ‘I love this but I hate the colour’, or ‘what is this flower? Can I have that in my bou­quet?’ It’s a great in­ter­ac­tive tool for judg­ing some­one’s taste and for them to see the path I’m go­ing down.”

Again, her grand­mother pro­vides in­spi­ra­tion for the pre­sen­ta­tion of her wed­ding ar­range­ments.

“My grand­mother al­ways made any kind of party beau­ti­ful, if you had a birth­day there would al­ways be fresh flow­ers.

“I al­ways want the flow­ers for a wed­ding to be per­fect; I want the bride to have a bou­quet she falls in love with and re­mem­bers for­ever. It’s such a lovely feel­ing when I de­liver them and I can see from her face I’ve achieved that.”

Char­lotte in her grand­mother’s gar­den

Florist Char­lotte El­iz­a­beth Har­ri­son

Flow­ers By Char­lotte El­iz­a­beth. Pho­tog­ra­phy by Cap­tured by Ka­t­rina

Flow­ers By Char­lotte El­iz­a­beth

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