Blooming lovely: Seasonal flowers for an autumn wedding
PUBLISHED: 10:02 21 November 2016 | UPDATED: 09:38 23 November 2016
It's very easy to preach about buying local when it comes to produce from farm shops, or supporting small businesses in your local area.
This is something which is becoming much easier to do with people becoming more conscious of “food miles” and eating organic produce. Farmers markets, local artisan bakeries and boutique craft shops, offering homemade items and locally produced wares are popping up all over the place, and as the trend for these things grows, it’s not only morally approved of, but quite trendy.
The market in my parents’ village happens once a month in the village hall. There are stalls beautifully stocked with handmade cards, cakes, pies and preserves. Homemade plants, and hand-knitted baby clothes all seem to be very popular with those from the village who visit, and even more so with those from the local towns who love to shop at the quaint market. It’s a nod to a bygone era, and perhaps a reminder to us that the reason we enjoy buying these things so much, is because we are lacking the skills, or perhaps more importantly the time, needed to produce them ourselves. I can make jam, for example, but with a full time job, it’s sometimes hard to find the time to do so - whereas my dad, who is retired, makes it regularly. I’m very happy to buy some from him to save myself the time, but still get the homemade taste.
It’s harder though, to make these ethical decisions when it really counts. We can all put our “socially responsible” hat on when it suits us - buying local produce when we happen to be passing a farmers market for example, but having to buy from budget supermarkets for the rest of the month due to tight finances. This isn’t a judgement of course - it’s a situation I’m all too familiar with, and would love to say that I could afford to buy local and organic all the time, but sadly it’s not the case. The same is true when we are planning the important events in our lives. For sending flowers for a birthday for example, or more recently in my case; planning a wedding.
When it came to the catering, we only spoke to local caterers - I was adamant that I wanted the food to be simple, but delicious. I didn’t want it to be formal at all - holding the reception in our local village hall, it wouldn’t have seemed right to have plates of fancy food, which people felt uncomfortable sitting eating cheek by jowl. So we went for a buffet. Think 1950s street party food, and you’ll get it - lovely breads, meats and potatoes - nothing overly fancy, but all good decent food. All of the cheeses were British, and as locally sourced as possible, and the caterer was the chap who runs the cafe at the Ashridge monument just up the road. When we met him for the first time, I knew he was perfect - he understood my passion for keeping it local, and he totally got it right on the day. All anyone seems to have spoken to me about since was how good the food was, so we must have got it right somewhere along the line.
The flowers HAD to be seasonal. There was no way that I was going to have flowers that had been flown in, or that had travelled any distance to get there. Nearly all of the flowers had been grown within about a mile of the church - a lovely local farmer had grown them for the harvest festival, and the church was filled with a riot of autumnal colours. The children from the village school had been in church for their harvest festival the day before, and their offerings of apples had all been lined up along the window sills - it added something really individual, and when I see them in the photos now, it really makes me smile. The flowers in the church were all arranged by the ladies of the village - most of whom have known me since I was a small child, so that was really special. I was in the church the day before the wedding, up a ladder with my dad, festooning the pillars with strings of hops, grown in the garden where both he, and my grandmother before him, grew up, and where my aunt still lives.
My bouquet was a flourish of an autumn day - bright yellows, and oranges really made everything seem so cheerful, and totally showed the happy vibe of the day. There were even some beech leaves in it - I’ve never seen a bridal bouquet like it, and I absolutely adored it. It was just perfect for me.
The table decorations at the reception had all been done by me and my mum - although they took hours to do, it was lovely to feel that they had a personal touch. The flowers were all grown in her garden, and the wheat had been generously donated with kind permission from the local estate. They looked very rustic, which was exactly what I wanted - something polished and preened would have been totally wrong for who me and my husband are, and the natural effect that the homegrown and homemade arrangements had was absolutely right for the tone of our special day. Quite aside from the fact that the use of local flowers and suppliers was really important to us, not buying in the flowers saved us a small fortune. There are so many benefits to using local produce, that it almost seems mad not to!
Our day was amazing, we were truly blessed to have so many of our friends and family helping out, and to have had so many local people contributing their time, their help, and their produce. It has firmly made up my mind though, that there is basically no occasion in life for which you can’t try to support local!