Laura & Ryans Shottle Hall Wedding

Who: Laura Heathcote and Ryan Ludlam

: May 29th, 2016

: Shottle Hall, Belper

: I wanted a very relaxed wedding day and I loved the idea of a garden party. I didn͛t want a particular colour theme, I just wanted the whole day to be bright and cheery and as colourful as
possible. I loved the idea of being outside and of everything being very natural and laid back.

: This was a real Pinterest wedding – I had tonnes of pictures of all the things I wanted.

During my first meeting with Laura and Scott I ended up thinking that I would never be able to afford everything as my list went on and on. Luckily, I really felt they both understood exactly what I
wanted and from the outset I had complete faith that they both really ͚got͛ the look I was trying to create. Laura seemed genuinely excited too, which was really infectious. When I was waiting for the quote I thought it would be really expensive and I was already deciding in my head what I would have  to trim off the list to save money. I was amazed when Laura emailed me and it wasn͛t as expensive as I was expecting. In fact, I was able to add some things so I was completely thrilled. The night before the wedding Laura put a post on Facebook with a picture of all these wonderful flowers. I messaged her to ask if they were mine and I was thrilled when she said that they were. Honestly, the next day I was more excited to see what she had created than I was about getting married! 


I knew I wanted sunflowers because I love their cheerful bright shape and colour and
they make such a beautiful and happy addition to any big day. I have always thought that
sunflowers have personality and are bold enough to create a statement. They just give that feeling of happiness and fun – which was exactly how I wanted the day to be. I also asked for lots of
wildflowers – I didn͛t mind which ones as long as they were as bright as possible. My bouquet was so beautiful I nearly cried when I saw it – it was just what I had imagined. The bridesmaids carried
handtied arrangements of sunflowers and greenery which were stunning too. The groomsmen all had a sunflower buttonhole and the mums and my grandma had wildflower corsages.

The ceremony

I really wanted to get married outside and luckily the weather allowed for it – so we held our ceremony in Shottle Hall͛s outdoor pavilion. Laura had made me the most stunning
sunflower archway which I was thrilled with. And on either side of the pavilion she͛d made a display out of wooden crates with jam jars and bottles filled with wildflowers and a huge milk churn with a display similar to my bouquet. I also had little buckets dotted down the aisle which were filled with water and had sunflower heads and candles floating on the top. They were really pretty. I had to
walk through the marquee before going down the aisle and I was so distracted looking around the room at all the pretty tables I didn͛t have time to panic about the big moment!

The reception

We had a BBQ rather than a formal meal, but people were invited to eat in the
marquee and we still had a top table and speeches. I had hessian table runners which were tied with a little gerbera in the middle. And on each table I had tree trunk slices with lots of jars of different sizes filled with wildflowers. The seats had hessian and lace bows and I wanted them tied as roughly as possibly which apparently nearly killed Scott as he is such a perfectionist! On the top table we had a similar look along with milk churns for me and the bridesmaids to put our bouquets in.

decorated the whole venue for me, we had jam jars of flowers on the bar and she even put some flowers on the welsh dresser outside the toilets. We also had some jugs filled with really pretty flowers on the stone pillars in the main marquee, leading into the bar.
Evening do: We invited our evening guests quite early and so the night do kicked off at 6.30pm. We had bacon and sausage cobs, which I͛m told were delicious but neither of us got round to trying any! We hired an American-style mailbox for guests to put their wedding cards in and the staff at Shottle moved the milk churn and crates from the outdoor pavilion and created another display with those. I also really wanted an easel with a blackboard so we could write the order of the day on it. Laura didn͛t have one of those but she sourced one for us – which was amazing.
Happy ever after: Our honeymoon was wonderful, we had five days touring Sri Lanka and then
seven days in the Maldives. I felt a bit emotional about leaving all my flowers and the fact that our big day was over – it had been months in the planning and I didn͛t know what I was going to do with myself! I can͛t thank Laura and Scott enough for helping make my wedding dream a reality. They completely grasped my vision and brought it to life.


I͛d recommend them to anyone

A special thanks to Laura, Ryan and  to Matt from

Making dreams come true


Welcome to our very first blog!

If you have just begun planning your wedding – congratulations, you’re embarking on a wonderful journey and have many exciting months ahead of you.

Here at Avant Garden we are absolutely passionate about weddings and everything that goes with them; from bouquets to buttonholes and candelabras to cake stands.

In fact, we love weddings so much we sold everything we own – including our home and our possessions – to launch our business. It means that we have one of the widest ranges of wedding props in Derbyshire and a beautiful showroom for customers to look around.

We love nothing more than making dreams come true for brides and grooms, not least because Avant Garden itself is a dream come true for me.

Years ago, when I was studying Criminology and Law at the University of Derby, I dreamed of being a florist. It was a world away from the classroom or a court – but nothing appealed to me more.

So, with the support of my amazing partner Scott, I decided to follow my dream. I signed up for a part-time floristry course and went on to have a market stall in Rowsley – selling flowers, plants and gifts.

I soon found I was spending more and more of my time working with brides-to-be and the idea for Avant Garden was born. At first we offered wedding flowers only; dressing bridal parties and venues with the freshest and sweetest arrangements possible.

But soon we were being asked for vases, bowls and jam jars or birdcages, candelabras and crates. It made sense to build up our stock – which was when our house and home went up for sale!

Today we have multiples of most props and our offering means we can dress the whole wedding. Our clients like it because it means they have to explain their vision to just one person – and we like it because it’s such a beautiful job.

We feel absolutely privileged to work in some of the loveliest wedding venues in Derbyshire, including Shottle Hall, Makeney Hall, Hassop Hall and West Mills.

And we get to be part of a bride and groom’s special day, helping to make their dream become a reality. And no one understands how important that is than us!