Tessa & Max… Wild flower barn wedding… Dorset…

As you guys know, I’m an absolute sucker for the wild textured look, packing stacks of garden flowers and wispy elements into my designs… When Max & Tessa got in touch regarding their home wedding in deepest darkest Dorset, I was a happy little florist… I remember my site visit, the rain was horizontal and we got soaked taking a tour of the still to be refurbished barn, grounds of the farm and the pretty little village church… despite the cold and rain, I knew it was going to be something special!

So Tessa, why did you choose Max’s parents house as your wedding venue… Max’s parents own a small non working farm in Dorset. The grounds, little barns and village are just so pretty in the summer months… They had this rather large dishevelled barn that was pilled full of junk… in fact it had this sad little glitter ball hanging from one of the beams as the previous owners used to use it as a party barn. So that was it, Max and I were sold and decided to hold our wedding at his family home in Dorset… His parents were so kind to allow us to do this, renovating the barn, having brand new concrete floors laid, and basically letting us bombard their home with so many family friends. They both worked tirelessly behind the scenes making sure everything was ready and looking perfect.  They are the most wonderful family.
Had you always planned to have a country style wedding?… Yes, whilst we live and work in London we spend most of our time dreaming of escaping, trying to spend most of our weekends in the country. Dorset is such a special place, the countryside is idyllic and I wanted my wedding to reflect our passion…
How important where the flowers, colours and style to you?… Being surrounded by beautiful flowers and foliage on the day was super important in making the day that bit more special! Clair’s suggestions after I described the relaxed ethereal country style were absolutely spot on and the design process really was one of my favourite parts of the wedding planning, perhaps as it was the one area no one else was involved!! I still can’t believe how beautiful the flowers were and how smooth the entire process was from start to finish.
Tell me about your dress buying journey?… I’d heard you can go down a rabbit hole with dress buying so I spent just one day visiting four carefully selected places determined to make a decision that day. The last visit was to Louise Selby in Kew. It instantly felt right meeting Louise as you meet the designer herself rather than shop assistants (who in my albeit limited experience told me everything looked wonderful when I’m certain that was not the case). Louise was honest and direct but most importantly had the most beautiful dress collection so it was an easy decision. I chose a version of her Foxglove dress but with longer lace sleeves and more button detail, together with a long rose veil.
Tell me why you chose a statement cake?… I found Hayley Elizabeth by googling wedding cakes in the area (I don’t have Instagram!) and was blown away by her designs. It was so lovely meeting at her studio, trying her delicious flavours and chatting through design ideas. Although for our budget it was pretty extravagant to spend that much on a cake, I have absolutely no regrets and for those that doubted me they were silenced when it arrived! It was the most amazing creation I’d ever seen and I still can’t believe how happy a cake could make me! Max and I decided we would cut the cake before the sit down evening meal, so it made sense to make a statement of it… we had a separate marquee out on the lawn next to house… It framed an ancient old stone well in the centre of the marquee, it was a no brainier to place it here… both you and Hayley made it look so special surrounded by real flowers and cascading foliage… although guests were stunned when I said the cake flowers weren’t real but made of sugar! It was the perfect centrepiece for our drinks reception, making it even more wow cutting it with a sword!
What was the best part of the day?… Driving off with Max in his father’s old series 1 land rover after the reception and having 10 minutes to ourselves to take stock. I know it doesn’t sound much but you’re being watched (or at least feeling watched) constantly so this time alone albeit brief was so special and made the rest of it even more fun! I totally recommend taking some time for yourself during your wedding day, it goes by so fast!
How did Max propose?… Ah, it was really special actually…We go ice skating at the Natural History Museum just before Christmas each year and then for dinner and drinks, so he weaved it into this night and proposed at dinner, I wasn’t expecting it, and he didn’t go over the top and embarrass me, we had a very secluded table so it was low key and very personal.
Photographer – Helen Abraham
Hair & Makeup – Amazing Face

Clare & Patrick… Italian Villa… Dorset…

Hi Clair,

Thank you SO much for all the hard work you put into decorating the Italian Villa. It was absolutely stunning. You literally created exactly what we wanted but on a whole new level. It was insanely beautiful!…We walked into the room after having some pictures and we were both chuffed- we actually stayed in there for 10 mins having our canapés just to soak it all up before anybody else went in… We got some compliments on the flowers! So many people said how unique and vibrant the styling was… My bouquets were amazing. We split our photos up during the course of the day so both were used – and people noticed I had the second one too… We had a buffet at the local pub the next day so my sister boxed a lot of the flowers up at the end of the night so we could put them out on the picnic tables. We really made the most of them! My bouquets stayed fresh all week too, I had them in some vases at our hotel. 

Thank you so much for being part of our wedding, nobody else could have created that for us with such flare. You are so talented at what you do… You are the best!!

Lots of love,

The Cahills

Hannah & James… Sopley Mill…

So… This weeks blog is all about being true to yourself… not conforming to all those silly wedding rules, and just rocking it out as you see fit… Hannah has some great tips to share with you all, especially about budgeting and dress buying…

How did James propose?

James proposed whilst we were on holiday in Portugal, it was amazing. He popped the question on the first day, well… first evening as he carried the ring around all day waiting for the perfect moment… it rained quite a bit, which left us drinking sangria and exploring the old town, rather than sunbathing on the beach! After dinner we ended up sat in the tiniest bar that had live musicians playing Wonderwall…we just felt so relaxed and happy, belting out the words, when I looked down to see the most beautiful ring in front of me on the bar… the rest is history! Jim said he looked at us having the best time, just so happy in each other’s company, and the moment perfectly painted what our relationship is all about.

What made you choose Sopley Mill?

The New Forest is a very special place for us, we both love being near water, whether it be the sea, a lake, or a river. We very much live the country life of wellies, dog walks and log fires, and Sopley Mill reflected this side of us perfectly. We decided on a winter wedding as we knew we could still have a great day there and not worry about the weather as the inside is so beautiful with the exposed brick, fire places and amazing views over the river. Having said this, we were extremely lucky with the weather and had that really low winter sun all afternoon, meaning our guests enjoyed mulled cider out on the terrace. The other thing that attracted us to Sopley Mill was the fact it’s dog friendly, which was a big bonus for us as our Jack Russel was ring bearer!

What are your top tips to wedding planning?

As cliché as it sounds, do what is right for you and try not to worry too much about what anyone else thinks. So many people said to us that our wedding reflected us both as a couple and individually which made it unique to us and made it feel that extra bit special.

Also, when looking at your budget it’s so easy to get carried away. Try to work out what parts of the day are really important to you, and allow more budget for these bits… whatever ends up being less important can either be  left out entirely, or just be given a small budget… For example, we were desperate to have Clair’s moongate because it’s just so stunning, however we weren’t too fussed on having a wedding cake, so we decided to have a super cheap naked cake from M&S (which was beautifully decorated by Clair) and this allowed the money for what we really wanted… The moongate!

Lastly, don’t be afraid to get married ‘out of season’. We got married on a Monday in December between Christmas and New Year and had the most amazing weather and setting. You can make the day exactly what you want regardless of what day or time of year it is!

How did you choose your florist?

I discovered Clair on Instagram and instantly fell in love with her style, your work just seemed wilder, more unstructured and more relaxed than others I had seen. I was also a little clueless over flowers (mainly because they are so hard to pronounce!) and Clair was just so helpful and patient, not to mention really passionate which was important for me. I became a pinterest addict, which I shared with Clair, and you worked your magic from there. I also soon realised that all the suppliers we were booking all knew each other or had worked together already which was reassuring but also it meant the day came together much more easily!

Tell me all about your dress buying journey?

Oh my god where do I begin. I am still so in love with my dress! here it goes…

When we got engaged I decided I wanted something very simplistic with no lace, however after hours/days/weeks of searching the internet I kept finding myself looking at the INCA gown by ‘Grace Loves Lace’… yep, the whole thing was lace! I even kept looking at pictures of their show room because it was absolute interior goals. So I took myself and my bridesmaids to the London showroom in Shoreditch so I could try it on and it was just amazing… Everything I had hoped! The whole experience was just so relaxed and enjoyable; no rules or restrictions on taking photos, how many people could come along etc. We were just made to feel so welcome and felt we could fully relax, soak up the experience and not feel rushed because of other appointments after us. The dress and the experience just felt like it was perfect and reflected my personality so well. Having said all this, I felt I still wanted to look around, mainly out of curiosity to see what else was out there, but to also just experience the whole dress shopping thing. I went to a number of shops and yes I tried on some really lovely dresses in some lovely shops, but being pegged into a dress which was too big and then having to walk out and stand on a box in front of a mirror just wasn’t for me. The beauty of a ‘Grace Loves Lace’ dress is that they are SO comfy, there’s no boning, buttons or zips and I could literally pull it over my head myself and I was good to go. This meant that dancing, going to the loo and eating were all very achievable! 

I also got my veil from the Grace Loves Lace sample sale and it was 75% off! I did have to channel my inner Monica from friends (minus the whistle) and get up stupidly early in the morning to queue outside the showroom but it was all part of the fun and totally worth it!

Favourite part of the day?

All of it!…

Getting ready with my girls and mum, seeing James and Jackson (our dog) waiting for me at the top of the aisle, having all our friends and family together to help us celebrate, the speeches, the beautiful winter sun, the soul band singing our first dance live, the list goes on….

Photographer – Stephen Duncan

Stylist – Fundoo Weddings and Events

Makeup – Tara Sanger

How to reschedule your wedding…

This week I decided to write a blog on how to reschedule your wedding… Given the current circumstances I felt a lot of brides out there could be in complete panic mode, treading water, not really knowing what to do!

It’s such an awful time for us all, there’s no one in the world this corona virus isn’t going to touch in some way! My realisation hit around a week ago, when I finally had to accept my business might collapse after receiving email after email, either cancelling or postponing weddings… I’m not embarrassed to admit I had my share of melt downs, literally not knowing what to do! I was asking myself questions like…”how will I pay my rent”… and… “I’m going to have to take my house of the market!”… however, once I had my cry and downed a bottle of wine, I soon came to my senses, realising I’m not the only one! from then on, I’ve been supporting other florists, supplier friends, and all my couples, in any way shape or form… whether it be a simple message asking “are you ok”… to sending out emails of understanding and support to all my brides… or simply supporting my fellow supplier friends saying… “you can do this!”… Its oh so important for us all to stick together and support each other as much as we can…

So… the million dollar question everyone is asking… what shall I do if I have to postpone my wedding… or… “should I postpone my wedding?”…

First of all… If your getting married within the next three months, yes I’d say you need to reschedule your wedding… I know it’s heart breaking. You’ve spent months, if not years planning this day. But the sooner you become active, and regain control of your big day, the sooner you’ll get to to walk down that aisle…

Everyone is going to be in the same boat as you, so everyone will be rushing to reschedule… Saturdays are obviously prime choice so you might need to think about changing the day, perhaps opting for a Friday wedding, or Sunday… Some of you will have had your heart set on spring weddings and outdoor ceremonies, and now your only choice’s are autumn or winter, therefore you maybe considering waiting until 2021…

If it comes to this… think of your suppliers… if everyone postpones their weddings to the following year, there’s a very good chance some of your suppliers will go out of business… we all have rent to pay, and many of us will exhaust what provisions we have keeping ourselves ticking over until life resumes… I know thinking of us could be the last thing on your mind… but keeping us in mind could help us regain our losses later on in the year, and keep our businesses from going under…

First things first… call your venue, seek their support and advice… ask them for all their available dates for the reaming season and take your pick… Then call all of your suppliers… It’s very sad to say that not all of them will be able to accommodate your new date, so you may now be left on the hunt for replacements… take all of this in your stride… don’t get stressed, you can do this! it will all come together in the end. Just think ahead, keep dreaming… it WILL happen.

Acts of kindness go a long way… I had one of my brides who’s getting married in August, email informing me she had paid her balance in full… I literally cried! All week I’d been paying my bills and rent, getting myself straight to see the next few months out as best I could, and she quite simply gave me that life line I needed to get through! I’ll forever be in her debt… If any of you out there are unaffected financially by this virus, then perhaps think of your suppliers or others… I’m sure one of them, just like me, could do with a little support right now, but they just don’t feel they can ask!

Off the back of this kindness, when sadly one of weddings had to cancel and I’d already purchased the flowers, I decided to bunch them all up and hand them out to my local shops who were struggling to get people through the door… I thought giving away free flowers might help encourage people to venture out and keep spending… Regardless of  my brides complete despair in having to cancel her wedding two days before the big day, she was whole heartedly on board with me giving her flowers away, wanting to supporting others… she even gave her cake away to people in need! Within days she’d come back to me with a new date and her spring wedding is now booked in for December 19th, and we’re both excited to get planning her new seasonal flower choices and colour scheme to suit the time of year!

I’ll leave you all with one last word of wisdom… I know it’s seems like the worst thing in the world right now… but seriously, just think ahead to when your wedding day will finally happen… think of that big beaming smile you’re going to have on your face, because truly, its going to mean so much more! And just think what fun the best mans going to have taking the piss out of this corona virus thing during his speech! YOU WILL SAY I DO!

Charlotte & Kieran’s boho dream weeding at Burley Manor – New forest

Charlotte & Kieran got married at the super cosy Burely Manor, in the new forest… This beautiful venue with authentic woodland setting, rustic barn, deer on the door step, and real fires are to die for… They chose to marry in the autumn, embracing all the season has to offer, combining this with super cool boho styling… After their honeymoon, I got in touch so they could spill the beans on wedding planning, proposals, and top tips…

How did Kieran propose?… At Disneyland Paris! We’ve both been numerous times over the years, both with our families growing up and just together. One of our favourite spots is the Piano Bar inside the Disneyland Hotel. On the very last day of a five day trip in December 2016, he proposed over tea and cookies in the bar. We went back for our honeymoon over the very same dates in 2019, and going back there as his wife was super special.

What inspired you for the theme of your wedding?… It’s very typical to say but… Pinterest! I’ve always loved 70s and bohemian styling, and we both love being outdoors, we both work together in the New forest, so it was a no brainer for us to choose a woodland location for the big day… Autumn is also our favourite time of year and we loved the thought of getting married in October. Bringing all of these things together just formed a very natural basis for the theme and styling of our wedding.

Why did you choose Burley Manor?… Over the years, Kieran and I have spent a lot of time exploring the New Forest, with our Scottie dogs in tow. One of our favourite spots in the New Forest is Burley. It’s just somewhere that has an air of magic… with its witchcraft history that makes sense really! It also helps that the hotel is incredibly beautiful, and the staff are just absolutely wonderful and made everything a breeze.

Tell me about your dress buying journey?… It was actually surprisingly simple for someone who is usually incredibly indecisive! I knew I wanted a dress that was elegant yet easy enough to run around a forest in, if needed! In my head, I envisaged something fitted, with a sweetheart neckline, thin straps and a low back. I ended up trying on a few variations of this style in about three shops before spotting the Inez by American based designer Willowby by Watters on Pinterest, and decided to try and hunt it down in the UK. Luckily Ava Louise Bridal in Southampton was having a Willowby trunk show. I asked if the Inez would be included, and they very kindly ordered it in especially to try with the current collection. I also had some extra length added to the train for a little more drama. I also purchased a lace and tasselled kimono from Bibi Luxe as an evening cover up, which was a thing of Stevie Nicks dreams!

How important was styling and flowers to you?… Massively! During our consultation with Clair, we said the flowers were probably the most important styling element… We wanted to embrace the forest, use lots of greenery and plants, bringing the outdoors inside and creating a woodland setting was the ultimate target… Knowing Clair was so on board with our ideas just made us even more excited and certain that she was absolutely perfect to bring our wedding vision to life. The result was beyond anything we could have imagined, I still get emotional looking back at the photos! Winterborne Vintage supplied our super cool boho furniture and beautiful rugs for the ceremony and reception finishing… we made our own birch wood tipi and welcome sign, which you added foliage and flowers… Fundoo Wedding stylists set up our beautiful fairy lights in the barn ceiling, adding that extra element of autumnal cosiness. 

What was the best part of the day?… Absolutely the ceremony!! I know it’s a bit cliche, but you can’t prepare for how wonderful it will be. I was so incredibly nervous beforehand, not because I was getting married, but because there was a barn full of people waiting for me to arrive! As soon as I walked in with my Dad, all of my worries faded, and I was just in awe of the styling, stunning flowers, and glowing candlelight. I then saw Kieran waiting for me in front of the beautiful macrame arch. Our registrar was so lovely, and having Kieran’s cousin Carmen read a poem that she wrote especially for us, based on our memories and favourite things about each other, is something I’ll never forget.

Do you have any top tips for brides planning their wedding?… Enjoy every moment, plan a wedding that is true to you both and take time to savour the day together whenever you can. It’s advice we were given in the run up to our wedding and it’s true when people say the day will fly by!

Furniture hire… Winterborne Vintage

Venue… Burley Manor

Dress… Willowby by Watters

Photographer.. Mary Parker

An excellent creator of floral masterpieces

Clair instinctively knew what flowers to use based upon my brief... She is calm, relaxed, professional and discrete... An excellent creator of floral masterpieces which brought tears of joy to my eyes.

Very responsive and flexible

Clair is extremely passionate about what she does, which is highly infectious... She knows her craft and is very responsive and flexible to additional ideas... Everyone commented that they were the most stunning wedding flowers they'd ever seen!

She is an extremely talented artist

Even after my own wedding over a year ago I still follow Clair on all her social medias... seeing her new work with other brides and feeling like she keeps re-investing herself, nothing is ever alike! She is an extremely talented artist.