MARCH MUSINGS

Seasonal stories and notable happenings from the team behind Ochre Botanical Studios.

Thank you for joining us here!

As the last remnants of winter fade away, nature awakens to the promise of spring and so too does the world of weddings. Perhaps it’s the barrenness of winter, coupled with the restful period we grant ourselves at the beginning of the year, that ignites such anticipation in us for the arrival of the year’s first weddings.

We diligently tend to the garden in the weeks leading up to weddings, our anticipation building as we await for the emergence of the bulbs and for blossoms to burst into clouds. However, in the midst of unpredictable weather, this is often a nail-biting time, as we pray for the flowers to appear at just the right moment for harvesting.

A tense moment and then a sigh of relief…buttery yellows, pale apricots and velvety purples emerge at the precise time. There are sometimes occasions when we must lend a helping hand. In the lead-up to a wedding, you might find us employing every trick in the book to coax or delay the flowers. We will cut, condition and bring them home with us in the hope that we can control the temperature and environment enough to achieve the desired outcome. Whether that means putting them in a cold dark shed, or the warmest spot on a sunny windowsill, we will simply try anything!

At last, the ‘make day’ is here. With our cleaned and prepped vessels, we carefully split our flowers into various designated sections: one for the bridal bouquet, one for each bridesmaid, and separate ones for the buttonholes, cake flowers, budvases, mantelpieces, or indeed any other arrangements planned for the day. This meticulous process always takes more time than you may think, as every flower is inspected, recut and conditioned for perfection. Admittedly, there is also a fair amount of time spent photographing and marvelling at flowers we’ve not seen in a while. 

Once every flower has been assigned, there is a moment of apprehension before we start, especially when we haven’t been in the swing of it for a wee while. We often allow ourselves a gentle start, and begin with something small like bud vases; getting a feel for the flowers and how they will interact. Then, with renewed confidence, we move on to creating the bridal bouquet—a task we cherish, knowing the bride entrusts us to bring her vision to life. 

Despite the joy,  creating a bridal bouquet is not without its pressure, so we proceed with care, occasionally pausing to reassess and adjust if the arrangement doesn’t feel quite right. After all, not every flower cooperates as we might like! Once flowers have been shoogled and jigged into the right position, we loosely tie and bind off with twine, then submerge their stems into cold water. At the end of our ‘make day’, we lay out our ribbons for the morning, fold the tissue and do one last check over though the quote, and pray that everyone “shows up to work tomorrow” (meaning the flowers of course!).

Wedding Day! Despite our experience with countless weddings, the big day never fails to ignite a touch of nerves. Our day usually begins early (with a lot of coffee) at the studio, where we conduct a thorough check that all flowers are still in perfect condition, and that everyone did ‘show up to work’. Once again, each flower and petal is inspected and given a final snip at the stem. We gather our hand-dyed silk ribbons, and carefully wrap around the binding point of the bouquets and tie a blousy bow. Before we nestle them in delicate tissue for travel, we dedicate some time for photographs, making sure to capture all the special stems that may otherwise go unnoticed.

Crates are meticulously packed, ensuring that every delicate bud vase and vessel is securely nestled for the journey to the venue. With care, vans are loaded, and we head off. Our first destination is typically to deliver any bridal bouquets and buttonholes, accompanied by the familiar flutter of nerves. We really treasure making items like bridal bouquets as it is a labour of love, and as we hand them over, there is always a sense of anticipation. Nothing compares to the moment when the bride’s eyes light up at the first sight of her flowers. Often hugs are exchanged and heartfelt wishes shared, before we set off for the venue to begin the rest of the setup process.

For the particular March wedding pictured here, the setup proved to be refreshingly straightforward. Bud vases found their places on tables, accompanied by tea lights and complementary taper candles. A simple yet striking mantlepiece adorned with a cluster of stoneware and amber vases, became a focal point. Here, final tweaks happen, where we may adjust the position of a certain flower, pick off remaining guard petals, or finesse the placement of architectural branches. Despite the tight schedule, we are generally able to carve out a moment to capture photographs, though time is fleeting. With a swift sweep to clear any fallen petals and a final glance, we make our way back to our vans, leaving the venue transformed with our precious flowers.

In the aftermath of all this preparation and execution, there’s a poignant moment of reflection. Each wedding holds its own unique memories and challenges, and it’s the shared joy, the exchanged hugs and the smiles that make it all worthwhile. As seasonal wedding florists, we’re privileged to play a small part in these moments of love and celebration. From the crafting of bouquets to the final delicate touches, every step is filled with passion and dedication. We truly do love our craft.

Now that we’re warmed up, we’re ready for the year ahead!

A special thanks to both McConnell Blooms and my friends Claire and Julie at Ochre for the use of their studios for this particular wedding.

Below are a few of our favourite purveyors of beautiful, naturally dyed ribbons…

HEIRLOOM SILK, SOMERSET

Heirloom Silk is a family business specialising in creating naturally dyed, hand made silk ribbons.

Image credit, Heirloom Silk

THE BOTANICAL DYER, MARLBOROUGH

Rebecca dyes in small batches, harvesting seasonal ingredients grown in her cottage garden and foraged from the surrounding woodlands and hedgerows.

Image credit, The Botanical Dyer

THE NATURAL DYEWORKS, KENT

Ros makes beautiful small batch, slow crafted, hand dyed ribbons, accessories and homewares.

Image credit, The Natural Dyeworks

LANCASTER & CORNISH, CORNWALL

Sian often uses ancient recipes of natural plant based colours, infused with romance and a little bit of magic, to create colours from the landscape.

Image credit, Lancaster & Cornish

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Ochre x

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