When planning Wedding florals and venue styling with our couples we hear so often “Help…. we have no idea where to start” At Avant Garden Weddings we provide a full wedding flower service from bouquets, buttonholes and centrepieces all the way through to church and venue styling as well as hiring linens, props and more. We have done over 400 weddings, so we like to think we know a thing or two about planning, styling and florals.
• Suppliers: The first and most important part of the whole process is finding the right supplier. It is important that you choose a supplier that’s style of work reflects your own style and personality. Look at their body of work, go on Instagram, Facebook, visit their website and see them in person at wedding fayres and venue open days. Do you love what they do? and would you be happy to let them do it for you? If so book an appointment, but don’t leave It too late. Good suppliers book up to 2 years in advance.
• Budget: Before a consultation I always advise our couples to start by giving me a budget. We often meet couples who don’t know their budget and that is totally understandable, who knows what these things cost?? Try looking at weddings on our social media pages or on our website. Ask for a ballpark figure of what that wedding would cost based on your guest numbers.
Venue open days are a great way to see the space dressed and ask the supplier ‘what would this cost?’ I like to be really open with my pricing and I am always happy to provide a start from amount for any wedding or floral arrangement before you come in to see us. An itemised price list is available on our website
Just keep in mind when choosing your décor, if you have picked a design from a magazine or a royal wedding then it costs what it costs. A cheap version of it will be just that. If you bring us a photograph of your dream ceremony arch that will cost £600, but you only have £300 for it in your budget then it won’t be your dream arch, on the day it will be a cheaper version.
Your budget doesn’t have to be set in stone, but it is always a good starting point. Having an indication of your budget will enable us to deliver you the best wedding for the money available to us and help prioritise spaces for decor. It doesn’t matter if you have a little or a lot, but it will be easily wasted if you don’t choose how to spend it wisely.
• The venue: So…you’ve arrived at our studio for a consultation. We usually begin a virtual walk around the venue. We start at the front door and create a list of all of the areas that we feel are important to dress. Are there any ugly features? Or any pretty features to accentuate? like a beautiful fire place or a gorgeous window that could be dressed? Most people naturally want to allocate money to hiding ugly features, but I think your budget is better spent accentuating the features that you love. This will detract from any negatives and ensure your guests are drawn to the features that made you fall in love with the venue in the first place.
What is the style of the venue? Why did you choose it? We always encourage our couples to keep in line with the style of the venue. So, if you have picked a grand stately home, then go with it. Its highly likely that a rustic wedding will look seriously out of place in these surroundings. Instead opt for in keeping centrepieces such as candelabras or tall urns and accessorise with charger plates and luxury linens. If you are getting married in a barn, then think milk churns and lots of gorgeous eucalyptus table runners. In a converted industrial space…. think copper and geometric. It’s so easy to pick out the latest Pinterest trends, but if your venue is dominated by a colour or theme that doesn’t match then you are fighting a loosing battle.
Consider which rooms you will be using. You don’t have to necessarily dress every single room, think of where your guests will spend the most time. It is so easy to spread your budget out too thinly by having little bits here and there that can get lost in a big space full of guests. We recommend making displays from the key focal areas. Such as your ceremony area, guest tables, top table and cake table. These areas are viewed throughout the day and will make more of an impact than the odd few flower jars on the drinks tables or bar.
• Theme/style: Do you want your wedding day to have a set theme, colour scheme or style? Don’t be too distracted by the latest Pinterest trends. Although it’s great to be on trend, these trends will come and go. We recommend your day reflects you as a couple and your personal style. For example, maths teachers love our geometric themed items and we recently worked with a book worm bride who incorporated our book table numbers into her centrepieces.
Again, think about the venue, does it have a strong colour scheme? Think about how everything will all tie in together, and contrary to popular belief…. not everything has to match the bridesmaid’s dresses!! I hear so often “I want pink, but the bridesmaid’s dresses are navy.” The bridesmaids aren’t exactly going to stand next to the napkins all day. So, if the flowers, dresses and general décor colours and styles compliment each other there is no need to worry.
• Focal points: It is easy to spread your budget out too thinly by having little bits here and there. These bits can get lost in a big room full of guests. Make striking statement displays out of your ceremony area, your wedding cake table and most importantly your top table. These are the focus areas that guests will go to or look at during the event and most importantly be photographed throughout the day.
Centrepieces are also your chance to stand out and be remembered. Your guests will be sat in front of them for a long time and it is nice to create something memorable that will leave an impression. This doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be big and expensive. We often mix high elaborate centrepieces with low more simplistic ones to give the illusion of height across a large room, without breaking the bank. Really small simple centrepieces can look great on Pinterest but can look lost in the reality of a cluttered table. We always recommend smaller centrepieces are accentuated with tea lights or candle sticks to make them really stand out.
• Statement pieces: I am a massive believer in every wedding having at least one statement piece. So, if it’s a beautiful backdrop for your cake table, an entrance archway, a feature centrepiece for the head table or an isle covered in candles. Save some budget for a statement piece that no one will forget. It will provide a real talking point for your guests and your photographer will absolutely love you for it!
Statement pieces don’t have to cost the earth, never under estimate something as simple as candle light to create a statement. Some of the most beautiful top table displays we have created have been just masses and masses of candle light. we also have a range of gorgeous frames, arches, artificial centrepieces and backdrops that cost as little as £100 to hire.
If the Pinterest backdrop of your dreams looks like it is going to be quite costly, you could consider doubling up its use. For example, most of our props are designed to be able to move. So, your ceremony backdrop could be moved behind the top table, then after the wedding breakfast it could be moved to the evening reception area and used again as a photo backdrop or to frame the cake table.
The most important thing to consider when deciding on florals and décor is how much do you want it? Will you regret not having it for years to come? The event is one day but your photos and memories will last a life time.
Who: Helena Catlow and Jonathan Simms
When: 28th May, 2017
Where: Brackensfield Church, Ashover and the groom’s mothers home
Theme: I’m a graphic designer by trade and in the last few years I have run my own wedding stationery firm – so I’ve seen so many trends I was spoiled for choice. Our wedding reception was being held in a marquee at my mother-in-law’s house so I felt the theme should reflect the setting – an English country garden. I wanted lots of flowers of the season and wildflowers.
Planning: I was at a wedding fair at the Silk Mill in Derby and Avant Garden was at the same event. I got chatting to Laura and thought she was lovely, really down to earth – even though she is really successful. I knew she was the perfect person to do my flowers – but I didn’t give her much to go on! I wanted flowers of every colour and every type. Laura came back to me with flowers of all different kinds and colours and we narrowed it down from there. I didn’t actually see one real flower throughout the process – Laura kept sending me Pinterest pictures (the bible for brides) and she knew exactly what I wanted.
Bouquets: The brief for my bouquet was a bunch of wildflowers that looked as if I’d been wandering through the countryside picking flowers. The bouquet was a complete surprise – I just left Laura too it. And it was absolutely beautiful and exactly what I wanted. The bridemaid’s were wearing sage green so I knew that having a mixture of colours in their bouquets would work. They didn’t believe me when I told them they were having every single colour! They had slightly smaller versions of my bouquet, which were equally gorgeous. The main flowers Laura used were delphiniums, stocks, waxflower, green bell and ranunculus which have intense colours and beautiful, pure shapes. She also used lots of scented foliage such as eucalyptus and rosemary.
Hair: I asked Laura for some additional flowers for my hair and she gave me loads – so I had my hair absolutely covered in blooms and ended up filling the bridesmaids hair too!
The ceremony: I wasn’t able to decorate the church because it was well dressing weekend which meant that there were lots of flowers in the area anyway. Unfortunately, it was a sport theme and the display in the church was a cricket bat! I kept thinking that everyone would think I had arranged it for Jono as he loves cricket!
The reception: My mother-in-law lives in a converted chapel house with a large piece of grass behind it. I wanted absolutely loads of flowers but I still wanted guests to be able to see each other and talk across the table, so I came up with the idea of the ‘trees’, although they weren’t trees at all! Scott created the trunk from a branch which was secured very firmly down and surrounded with greenery. There was a piece of glass on the top and Laura placed the display on that – so they looked like colourful trees! I was absolutely blown away by them; I burst into tears when I saw the marquee. They were the absolute talking point of the day and everyone thought they were stunning.
I was very much aware that marquees can look quite empty so I asked Laura for some greenery so I could decorate other areas. She gave me some advice on how to tack it up with string and I decorated the bar and as many other places as I could! More and more greenery kept turning up and so I just kept pinning it up – I really wanted it to look like the outdoors.
I was devastated the next day when I had to take the ‘trees’ down. I had envisioned just handing out the displays from the top – but they were absolutely massive. No one would have a table big enough! So, I had to split them up and make smaller bouquets to give to the grandparents and parents. The tree trunks have gone back to Avant Garden for other couples to use.
Top tip: Don’t hold back and always follow your instinct. Everyone kept telling me that I was going over the top and ordering far too many flowers. Laura and I knew it would look amazing, but it was almost like no one else could see our vision. Jonathan thought I was going mad – but he would pay it all over again and some because he loved it so much. My mum cried when she walked in the marquee and everyone was overwhelmed. Laura totally understood what I wanted and I just can’t recommend her enough. contact us
Many thanks to Rachel @ http://whimsicalwonderlandweddings.com/rustic-barn-red-gold-glam-wedding.html for writing and publishing this blog 😍
What a fabulous treat we have in store today with WWW readers Amy and Nathan’s warm, sparkling and glamour filled barn wedding. Our pair wed on the 20th July 2017 at Donington Park Farm House. Together with her wonderful florist, Amy created such a magical atmosphere with fairy lights, moss and the most glorious florals you ever did see.
There are just so many wonderful details to take in here, from the floral hoops and the bell jar roses, to the moss runner and the heaving cake table. Pinterest fingers at the ready! One of my favourite touches is the mossy table plan board and Amy was a woman with a plan, making sure all the nooks and crannies of the venue were filled with gorgeous details.
Amy’s Sottero and Midgley gown fits in with the glamorous décor just perfectly and I think you’ll agree the chaps all look rather dapper in their Marc Darcy suits. I do so love Chi Chi London’s bold bridesmaids dresses and don’t the youngest bridesmaids look just gorgeous in their Monsoon numbers?
Thanks ever so much to Gareth Newstead for capturing the incredible atmosphere so beautifully and sharing these images with us.
Cake Table Sequin Cloth Cake Pops Buttercream Naked Log Wood Slice Stand Meringue Kisses Fairy Lights Topper Laser Cut Rustic Barn Red Gold Glam Wedding https://garethnewsteadphotography.com/Floral Hoop Red Voile Runner Foliage Greenery Rustic Barn Red Gold Glam Wedding https://garethnewsteadphotography.com/Moss Table Runner Rose Bell Jar Wood Slice Log Greenery Rustic Barn Red Gold Glam Wedding https://garethnewsteadphotography.com/
THE PROPOSAL | Nathan proposed after 4 years together while holidaying in Barcelona in beautiful Park Guel. I was actually in a bad mood at the time after being forced to walk up the hill in 36 degree heat but I soon cheered up! No one knew what was happening apart from us, it was really special.
THE VISION | I wanted the wedding to be super relaxed and have a party vibe. My dream was for it to be a day to remember for everybody and to only have our closest family and friends there. I wanted the day to be full of personal touches and to reflect our personalities – nothing too ‘flash’! I wanted the décor to be rustic yet romantic with quirky touches. I’m all about food so this was a big deal breaker in the wedding, I didn’t want a sit down meal as mass catering for three courses is often disappointing but with Donington Park Farmhouse there was an option for a barbecue as the main course, which was right up our street and went with the informal atmosphere we wanted to create.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | Naturally I had a wedding pinterest board two years prior to Nathan popping the question. So I already had a good idea of what I wanted! Unfortunately a month after booking the venue my Mum passed away so planning went onto the back burner for a few months. I originally wanted to do absolutely everything myself but I didn’t have the energy for a while so my amazing florist and venue dresser helped ☺. After Christmas I managed to get myself into gear and spent hours browsing wedding blogs and mentally walking around the venue thinking of bits and pieces to go in all the nooks and crannies! Along with creating x 10,000 lists.
BUDGET | We managed to save a lot of money with the venue and suppliers due to the Wedding being on a Thursday, and with suppliers who weren’t offering mid-week discounts already I was a bit cheeky and requested bits for free. I’d definitely recommend a mid-week wedding if you’re booking the wedding late or would like to save money. You tend to find that you only get guests who want to be there coming to the day as well – which is quite heart-warming.
THE VENUE | It’s impossible not to be impressed by Donington Park Farmhouse. As soon as you walk into the barn, it’s got a really special atmosphere and is traditional yet has modern touches like the industrial lighting hanging from the ceilings, it really had the WOW factor. The rooms are adorned with twinkling fairy lights and rustic detail and even if you weren’t to decorate the venue for your wedding it wouldn’t look bare. It was the first venue we viewed and we booked it straight away, I strongly believe if you see something and love it then what else are you looking for? You could look forever always trying to find something that bit better. What I really liked about it was that you had the venue exclusively to you and your wedding guests, the accommodation of 17 rooms was spread across three different buildings so it felt like a little wedding village! We had the ceremony and evening party in the main barn and the Wedding Breakfast in the Pig Sties, each table was set it its own walled Pig Sty so it was really different. We also had a lovely separate bar with picnic tables and a courtyard to use which was fab as it was such a sunny day!
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | The dress was ‘Natalia’ by Sottero and Midgley from La Belle Boutique in Nottinghamshire. The shoes were Irregular Choice from Schuh.
FINDING THE DRESS | Hate to say it but I didn’t enjoy the ‘finding the dress’ experience! I hate being centre of attention, don’t like looking at myself in the mirror and I’m naturally not very enthusiastic.. all in all a disastrous combination – Being centre of attention all day and being stared at for a reaction by various staff members and my bridesmaids and sisters. I think the ‘Finding the Dress’ experience is often really romanticized and it doesn’t always work out like that, equally there isn’t anything wrong if you don’t feel like that! My brief was a long sleeved dress, nothing fitted and loose. I ended up with a fitted, corseted, strapless trumpet gown – which a member of staff asked me to try on and I loved it! I was a little bit conscious that I was too big to wear it but I found with the loose dresses I actually looked bigger and while I wanted sleeves to cover my arms it was actually highlighting them even more!
GROOM’S ATTIRE | The Grooms suits were all from the Marc Darcy website, they were navy blue tweed with a nude trim which matched the Bridesmaid dresses perfectly. The burgundy bow ties and socks were from eBay and complimented the rich colours in the flower bouquets. The Gingham shirts were from House of Fraser and went with the ‘Rustic Theme’. The brown brogues that the Groomsmen wore were from Moss Bros.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | I walked down the aisle to the rather original Christina Perri ‘A Thousand Years’ – I know everyone has this but I think it’s just beautiful. We then had a reading read by my sisters dedicated to my Mum, inspired by something I found on Pinterest but amended by my sisters – it finished with ‘and now we say our vows of love today in memory of you’ which was a really nice fitting touch. After the vows were made Nathan’s sister Sarah read out an excerpt from the childrens book ‘I like you’ by Sandol Stoddard. We signed the register to The Beach Boys – Gold Only Knows and Father John Misty – Chateau Lobby and walked back down the aisle to The Cure – Just Like Heaven.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I had my three best friends as my bridesmaids and I couldn’t have done it without them on the day and leading up to the wedding. They looked absolutely beautiful in Chi Chi London dresses with shoes and hair accessories from ASOS. One of my bridesmaids Sophie tore some ligaments in her knee a few months before the wedding so had to wear flats but I think it worked really well! So many people complimented the bridesmaid dresses on the day – so I felt really happy. The two flower girls were my nieces Lilly and Daisy, they are just so cute! They wore dresses from Monsoon and glitter shoes from Next.
THE FLOWERS | Where do I start with the amazing florist we used?? Laura at Avant Garden in Belper was absolutely amazing, she seemed to know what I wanted straight away without me having to explain. I found her on Instagram and loved the unusual way she put things together and all the ideas she had. The tables were decorated with real moss table runners with floral cloches and dahlia petals, a custom back drop behind the top table with copper foliage hoops and flower sprays. The table plan we had was an antique looking frame on an easel with real moss as the back drop, it was stunning. The bouquets were all stunning as were the floral garlands for the girls, we had compliments on them all day.
THE CAKE | The cake table was made by Louisa Bella’s Cake Company, which is actually my sister’s company so I got the full works! We had a three tier semi-naked red velvet cake with cheesecake buttercream and a gold tier centre, a sequin single tier carrot and orange cake with a handmade sugar magnolia, miniature pistachio, rose water and white chocolate drip cakes and blueberry cake pops with edible flowers and gold glitter, with handmade meringue kisses scattered around the table. Gorgeous!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Our photographer was Gareth Newstead. We actually viewed the venue after seeing one of his wedding blogs! After meeting him we loved his relaxed style, we were very nervous as we aren’t a couple that love a photo op’ but Gareth reassured us we wouldn’t have to do anything we didn’t want to do. He blended in so well with the wedding he felt like one of our friends which is why I think he managed to get so many natural shots of everyone. I laughed and cried looking through the photos for the first time, we said to him the most important part of the day was capturing the feel of the wedding and the relaxed atmosphere and he certainly did that in bucket loads.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | The venue was full of fairy lights but I had to add extra! I bought copper wire fairy lights from eBay and put them everywhere! On the tables in the bar I bought jars with fairy lights in to add a bit of atmosphere and dotted them around. We had hessian bows on all the chairs to go with the barn/rustic theme. A big highlight was the beer pong table we bought with a rule board for ‘Bride & Groom Beer Pong’ and blue cups for the grooms side and gold cups for the brides side – we even had personalised ping pong balls. My bridesmaid Michelle painted us some amazing signs to use on the day, the order of service was an old pallet painted black with white chalk pen as the writing. We hired a ladder from Avant Garden to do a little display for my Mum complete with photos and fairy lights with a hessian and lace runner – I had quite a few little photos displays about to add a personal touch. The favours were all different succulent plants, that I had wrapped in pieces of hessian and tied with a bit of string, they also served as place holders with a mini chalkboard pick with each guests names on – they went really well with the moss on the tables.
THE HONEYMOON | We went to Staithes in a harbourfront cottage for a Mini-Moon straight after the wedding and to Khao Lak in Thailand two weeks after the wedding staying in a beach front Bungalow, it was beautiful and we had the best time.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | I think walking up the aisle was such a memorable moment for me, it’s something you dream of from being a little girl and I just couldn’t stop smiling. Another memorable things was all the dancing at the end, we created our own play list going through the ages 80’s / 90’s etc. and for the last hour we had ‘Amy Vs Nathan’ so a track I had chosen followed by a track Nathan had chosen and people had to cheer for which they liked the most, this really got the atmosphere going and was so funny! Paul Ace our wedding singer was there all day and is also worth a mention – he was absolutely brilliant – everyone loved him. There’s too many memorable moments to mention, the Mexican wave before dinner was served, the incredibly touching speech from my husband and the sing along to Paul Ace ‘That’s Amore’ after the meal – we couldn’t begin to list them!
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Do what YOU want, they’ll be so many family members and friends who try and influence what you do along the way, and try and push outdated traditions on to you, or make you invite people just because you should. But at the end of the day you’re always going to upset someone so it isn’t worth worrying about, the most important thing is having a day that’s all about you both and having no regrets. Once you’ve achieved this – on the day take a moment and look round the room at all the people who matter to you having a wonderful day enjoying everything you have put together, it’s the best feeling knowing you trusted your instincts and everything is exactly the way you both wanted it!
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photography | Gareth Newstead Photography
Venue | Donington Park Farmhouse
Florist and Props | Avant Garden Weddings
Dress | Sottero & Midgley from La Belle Boutique
Shoes | Irregular Choice
Make Up | Maxine Holland at Black Cactus Salon
Hair | Hair by Charlotte Leigh
Suits | Marc Darcy
Adult Bridesmaids | Chi Chi London
Young Bridesmaids | Monsoon
Singer | Paul Ace
Wedding Stationery | Rocket Monkey Design
Light up Letters | Distinct Event Solutions
What a marvellously warm and sparkly day! Thank you so much Amy and Nathan for sharing it with us. Rachel x
Who: Sally Adlen and James Miller
When: September 24, 2016
Where: Bakewell Methodist Church followed by a reception at Hassop Hall
Theme: I didn’t really have a set theme, but because Hassop Hall has a very distinctive style I decided to work with that look, rather than chose something completely different. Hassop is a stately home, which is grand and splendid, but it is also has quite a relaxed, country gentleman feel to it. So we decided to work with its grand fireplaces, traditional furnishings and plush country atmosphere to create a very English look. The groomsmen were in navy tails and the bridesmaids wore burgundy and gold.
I didn’t originally want to get married at Hassop because it is the place where I have celebrated lots of milestones in my life, for example I had my 18th and 21st birthday celebrations there. But when I saw Hassop’s ballroom I changed my mind because it was simply stunning.
Planning: My sister went to Avant Garden for her wedding so I had seen Laura and Scott’s work first hand. With that in mind, it was a no brainer – I always knew I would go to them. At my initial meeting I didn’t have loads of specific ideas, but I knew that I didn’t want anything tight and formal. I took quite a few photographs of things I liked and left it to Laura to put all the ideas together. One option Laura offers is the opportunity to have your bouquets made in advance of the big day, so you can see exactly what they are going to be like and make amendments if there are things you aren’t so keen on. This was absolutely invaluable to me. I had two bouquets made – mine and a bridesmaids – and an example of a buttonhole. I got to take them home and see what they looked like against my dress and the fabric for the bridesmaid’s dresses. It also set my mind at ease, since I knew that Laura had completely understood my vision. I was also able to make a few tweaks at this stage – for example there were dark red roses in my bouquet which I decided against.
Bouquets: My bouquet was absolutely beautiful. It was cascading, rather than a posy and it was full of dahlias which was one of the flowers I really wanted because my mum has always grown dahlias and I absolutely love them. I also had astilbees – which are also called false goat’s beard – and really added texture to the bouquet, as well as astrantia and ameranthus which are catkin-like long floral tassels which make quite a bold statement. Vebernam and lots of greenery completed the bouquet. The bridesmaid’s bouquets were similar but had more pops of orange and red in them. The overall look was quite autumnal, which is my favourite season too.
Buttonholes: I really wanted dark purple dahlias for the groom, best man, ushers and fathers, but they are very heavy flowers so Laura had to tie them quite carefully. She came up with lots of different options and I plumped for twine which looked great because James had a tweed waistcoat and it tied it with that English gentleman look. The mums had corsages in cream colours so that they matched whatever they wore.
Reception: I knew I wanted lots of greenery and Laura decorated the windowsills with ivy and edged the seating plan with it too. Laura and scott did all of the table centres at the reception – there were 12 in total. These were large gold bowls with flowers and greenery to match the bouquets. They were all lovely and loose; spilling out over the edges and on to the table. They then also provided small gold tealight holders and tealights to provide lots of extra sparkle.
Laura also did a ‘cake topper’ for our wedding cake. My mother-in-law made the wedding cake, which was gorgeous and simple, and Laura made up a little floral topper to finish it off.
Happy Ever After: We went to the Amalfi Coast and had a wonderful time. I was thrilled with everything on my wedding day, but flowers are very important to me and I was really thrilled that Laura understood my vision and lovingly brought it to life.