Monday, October 10, 2016

Wedding flowers: flora from the fields

Remember how I told you that Maggie and Nate wanted their wedding at Farm Dover to be simple and low-keyed? I had visions of walking out into our fields a few minutes before the ceremony and picking a handful of wildflowers for Maggie to carry and then placing some of the wildflowers into containers of some sort for the centers of each table. I knew I wanted to use flora from our fields – not anything purchased from a florist. But beyond that, I didn't think much about it.

Fortunately, I have family and friends who helped me refine my vision with a dose of reality. The first thing sister Julie reminded me of was that I would have plenty to do the day of the wedding and I might welcome some help with the flowers. She suggested her talented friend Jason Jennings and then sister Kathy offered her help as well. Jason and Kathy came to Farm Dover in June to help me think through the flowers. They listened very politely while I explained how simple and casual I wanted to keep things.

Then they made some very useful suggestions. How about using my collection of pottery vases for the tables? Did I have enough? And what if we placed each of the vases on a sheet of moss? Perhaps I could gather some acorns or other interesting finds from my daily walks that we could scatter on the moss? How would our guests know where to sit? And had I thought about using votive candles?

Next door neighbor Sandy offered to grow some sunflowers and zinnias for the wedding. And then offered cuttings from her backyard and fields. She knows more about growing flowers than anyone I know, so I gladly accepted her offers. 

Then friend Patrice stepped up and suggested I might need some help organizing my "to do" list and offered to brainstorm with me and then create the lists. I had no idea that I needed her help so badly. By the time we finished talking about flowers, she noted that we would need no less than 35 arrangements! From bouquets and boutonnieres, to entrance ways and table tops, bathrooms and bars, dining tables and mantles, even a bucketful of flowers to denote Maggie and Nate's camping tent. Oh my!

For each of these arrangements, Patrice had me write down which vase(s) I would use and what kind of flowers would go in each one. And she suggested that two days before the wedding, I organize all the vases on a table in the garage. Things were beginning to sound complicated.... 

On Thursday evening before the wedding, daughter Mary and I went into our fields with buckets of water and cut hundreds of flowers: golden rod, queen anne's lace, compass flowers, black-eyed susans, purple ironweed, boneset, joe-pye weed, coneflower, wild quinine, grasses of all sorts, sedges, willow branches – anything that looked interesting. 

On Friday, the day before the wedding, sister Kathy arrived early in the morning. She brought with her a carload of dahlias from a friend's garden and cuttings from her garden, including branches of crabapples, brambles of blackberries, hellebore greenery, as well as clippers, ribbon, wire, pins and every tool that she might need for the next 8 hours. 

Next up the drive came neighbor Jon in his pickup truck with Sandy in the back, holding upright at least 50 gorgeous sunflowers, buckets of zinnias and other flowers from her gardens, bamboo branches, and more buckets of wildflowers. 

photo by me
Ten minutes later, in walks Jason with a dozen cream roses (our only florist purchase). Shortly, friend Lynn showed up with armloads of freshly cut hydrangeas from her yard. 

Our kitchen looked (and smelled) like a florist with flowers covering every square inch. Without a moment's hesitation, Kathy, Jason and Lynn set to work, creating one magnificent arrangement after the next. Each one more beautiful than the last. I mostly just stayed out of their way. 

At mid-day, friend Jackie arrived with lunch for everyone and we put her to work as well. 

By late afternoon, I was exhausted from watching them work. But they seem energized by the process. I was in awe of their talent and so appreciative of their desire to making Maggie and Nate's wedding so special. And while the arrangements far exceeded my expectations, they also managed to convey my original vision of simple wedding flowers that looked like they came from, and belonged at, Farm Dover. 

My sister Kathy, who spearheaded the wedding flowers, and Maggie with her amazing bouquet.

I wish I had photos of each arrangement to show you. I don't; but here are some highlights.

Welcome to Farm Dover.  Sign by daughter Mary. Photo by sister Sherry.

The farm itself was like huge arrangement – lush and green; the fields ablaze with golden rod – making for the perfect backdrop.

After the wedding, we continued to enjoy each of the arrangements – a reminder of a most wonderful wedding. Thank you Kathy, Jason, Sandy, Lynn, Jackie and Mary. 


Unless noted otherwise, all the photos were taken by the amazing photographer Ashley Glass of Ashley Glass Photography. 

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