A florist’s real wedding – yes, I love botanical gardens!

So it’s another botanical garden wedding. Because they’re absolutely ace and I love them. I can’t think of anywhere more beautiful to get married than surrounded by amazing flowers. In fact, what could be a more appropriate location for a florist’s wedding? So over to expert florist, Tracey Campbell of Campbell Flowers, to tell you the story of her big day.

“I had always intended on getting married to my long-term partner, but somehow the years passed by in a whirl so,  two children and a career change later I found myself opening a cracker on Christmas Day which my lovely man had somewhat puzzlingly insisted was mine.”

“Blissfully unaware, I opened it to find a small purple drawstring bag, the joke slip, perfectly reproduced in every detail and the obligatory hat.  On further examination, the drawstring bag contained a platinum band with four gypsy set diamonds, the joke slip read ‘Will you Marry Me?’ and the hat said ‘You’re my wife now!’  I burst into tears, much to the confusion of the children!”

“Once I calmed down, and accepted, of course, Mike explained that a couple of months before, he had contacted jewellery designer Jayne Jordan and together they had designed my engagement ring – each of the four diamonds represented our family … Mike, me and our two girls.”

Images © AAG Photographic

“Fast forward again, a move to Sheffield, and we still weren’t married.  So, one night whilst sat chatting I suggested that rather than go off to on a fab trip somewhere for my 50th birthday, why didn’t we get married?  On nonchalantly looking up from his Bike magazine, Mike said – good idea. And so it was on!”

“There were a few provisos though – it had to be informal, we wanted people we really loved to help out, be relatively inexpensive and it had to be a cracking party that everyone talked about afterwards! Music has always been incredibly important to everyone in our house and Mike and I had, for years, played a song which was special to us by Natalie Merchant of 10,000 Maniacs called ‘These are Days’, so we decided to build the theme around our song.  We thought that the beauty of being a bit older would be that we would be left to make our own decisions – and we were right!”

We live very close to the Botanical Gardens in Sheffield, one of my most favourite places in Sheffield.  One Sunday, by chance we stood and watched a wedding taking place – and the perfect venue for the ceremony presented itself.  As a florist, I couldn’t image a better place to get married!”

“Our closest friends Pete and Louise were drafted in as Best Man and Best Woman, together with our two (now) teenage girls and their two girls as Bridesmaids.   Teenage girls have very strong ideas about what they like and what suits them and I knew that one style would not suit four girls, so I asked them to choose something from a theme of white, black and white or black.  Ironically, they all came back to me with simple black dresses, which they could wear again.  My eldest daughter Alice, was given a Vera Wang dress by my Step-Mother which made her look like a screen siren and was incredible! My youngest daughter, Izzy, chose a lovely simple silk dress from Coast which you could button up the hem to create a soft scalloped edge.”

“As a more mature bride, I’d ruled out the idea of a wedding dress as such and I’d always planned to wear something (possibly long) in a really bright colour such as magenta or bright red. But on a chance shopping trip I spied a wedding collection in Monsoon, my sister-in-law cried when I put the first dress on as the empire line style suited me perfectly and I struggled to choose one dress.  I settled on a satin and silk georgette dress with little silk cover-up for the princely sum of £200!!  I’m tall and so decided on flat sandals from Russell & Bromley which were over half the cost of my dress, but they completed the romantic look perfectly. I hid my dress at my sister-in-laws house and kept it a complete secret from everyone except the two Mums right up until the actual day.  Just about everyone spent a ridiculous amount of energy trying to guess what I was going to wear – and no-one got it right! In fact I made Lou cry when I came downstairs all dressed, on the day, as she had no idea what I was going to be wearing!”

Mike and his Best Man, Pete, had their suits tailor-made from Barney Goodman on Ecclesall Road, a process they absolutely loved.  Mike choose the sharpest of 60s Mod-inspired suits in a broad grey pinstripe with a stunning bright red lining and Pete chose a three-piece in a soft green Prince of Wales with a gorgeous gold lining.  We asked Rees Adams and Caroline Green of AAG Photographic to photograph our day as naturally and unobtrusively as possible.

Flowers were always going to be a huge part of our day and three lovely friends Jill, Tina and Mel each of which are  very talented and highly experienced florists  helped me make everything I wanted.  The budget was scary. I bought everything wholesale and my lovely friends gave generously and willingly of  their time.  Had this not been the case, I calculated I would have spent over £1,500 on flowers alone!

I adore pearls and decided on whites, creams and greens with fine ivory satin ribbon and gold bullion to reflect the gold embroidery detail in my dress, for all the floral designs.  My bouquet was constructed into a cornucopia with a collar of pearls intertwined with organza ribbon and very fine satin ribbons threaded with pearls.  I used tiny gold beads as well as very fine gold bullion wire too to create the effect I wanted. The collar took me about 8 hours to make!

Peony rose has always been one of my favourites (and as I have a tattoo from years back!) they had to be part of my flowers. I also chose sweet pea, green carnations, green hydrangea, cream freesia, avalanche roses, white trachelium, cream spray roses – it smelt heavenly! For the four teenage Bridesmaids we made hand tied bouquets of the same flowers – again featuring pearls, ribbon and gold bullion collars.  Lou loves foliage so along with the flowers from the teen bouquets, we used lots of variegated pittosporum, green carnations, green shamrock chrysanthemum for texture, and finished  her bouquet with an ivy collar for a more ‘grown-up’ interpretation.   We made Pete wear a white rose of Yorkshire buttonhole for being a Southerner! Mike wanted a more structural buttonhole so we made him one using a mini anthurium for a more architectural look.

“The time getting ready was so wonderful, completely relaxed and chilled just me, Lou the girls and hair and make-up done by the lovely Amanda and Becca.  Although famously, Rees caught on camera a tiny tear that appeared when Take That’s ‘Greatest Day’ came on the radio and Becca remarked at how perfect it was for the occasion! All our families have this photo!”

“It was such a beautiful Summer’s day and once we girls arrived at the Botanical Gardens we walked slowly the long way round and as we came past the herbaceous border  ‘up the aisle’  towards the ceremony, a huge group of people having a picnic stood up and cheered. It was fantastic and still makes me smile.”

“I chose ‘Somewhere Beyond the Sea’ as my ‘walk up the aisle’ music and we played Elbow’s ‘One Day Like This’ to sign the register.  We exited the ceremony to Morecombe and Wise ‘Bring me Sunshine’ and even did the dance – just! My wedding ring is a plain platinum band with the words ‘These are Days’ inscribed inside it.”

“After a Bellini or two, we walked through the Gardens to our venue The Psalter pub, where we had a really simple, informal buffet, with no table seating or planning and just lots of friends milling around.  Because we were so relaxed and having such a lovely time, we completely forgot to have our first dance, These are Days. I eventually dragged Mike onto the dancefloor, only to be interrupted by a barman who, totally unaware, called last orders at the bar – much to the chagrin of our lovely organiser, Rach!  We thought it hilarious!”

“Many of the grandparents and those with younger children left the pub at 11.00 and the hardened party-goers then came back to our house to a fantastic deck party, with our friend Si DJ’ing the most amazing tunes.  The floorboards were literally moving up and down, so many people were dancing so hard and door frame had to be readjusted the next day as the door wouldn’t close!! We’d decorated the back garden with fairy lights and set off fireworks and the whole party was wall-to-wall glow sticks. It was seriously worth waiting for and the flowers were fabulous.”

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