There was something truly magical about the recent Jubilee weekend. The excitement of a four day weekend was combined with a festive atmosphere up and down the country, with millions hanging bunting and waving Union Jack flags. However, there was no doubt that London was the place to be with crowds flocking to the capital, the city awash with red, white and blue, and a mood of true jubilation and a desire to have a good time. So, working on a wedding the Saturday of the Jubilee weekend was always going to be that little bit special and certainly one to remember for the bride and groom and all those who attended.
Held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the wedding flowed from the Ballroom to the loggia to the terrace and back to the Ballroom for a fabulous wedding breakfast. Housed in a historic, Edwardian-style building, the Mandarin Oriental is one of my favourite places to work in with its ornate chandeliers and gold cornice detailing on the walls and ceiling. It really is a magnificent place to hold a chic city wedding.
Working with the fantastic Atelier London, who made sure that every element of the wedding went accordingly, we agreed that there should be a vintage moment with fabulous crystal and silver vases and beautiful traditional English flowers used in varying sized arrangements to convey the different parts of the day.
Sara, Director of Atelier says, “The client’s brief was to create a very elegant wedding. The primary colours were ivory and gold, so in the Mandarin Oriental Ballroom we overlaid the floor with ivory carpet and dressed the tables in ivory silk. This gave a blank canvas effect which was offset by the gold wall decorations in the ballroom, the gold rimmed glasses and plates, the gold sequinned napkin ties and the pastel colours of the roses. On the day of the wedding this elegant backdrop was enhanced by many of the guests wearing brightly coloured jewelled Saris.”
Arriving at the hotel at 6.30am with my team of florists, we were lucky enough to see the spectacular rehearsal of the Queen’s troopers on horseback processing from Parliament to Buckingham Palace, as we unloaded everything – a really wonderful treat. Once inside we began with the ballroom, flanking the aisle with six seven foot olive trees which we underplanted with flowering lavender in elegant versailles tubs. The lavender added a beautiful aroma to the room, so when the guests walked in they were greeted with the gorgeous, garden smell.
As the ballroom is such a grand space, I wanted to create arrangements that would work with the scale of the room. So, I opted for four striking urn arrangements where there was an illusion of flowers exploding out of the containers and filling the room with beautiful blooms. Cloud-like hydrangeas in white and purple, mixed with peonies and purple and pink stock surrounded by an array of O’Hara, Sweet Avalanche and Secret Garden roses with a hint of eucalyptus, created the four main focal points of the room – two at the back of the room and two at the front where the wedding took place. A crystal bowl filled with beautiful roses adorned the registrars table.
Despite the unpredictable June whether, the rain held out and for the terrace I wanted to create a tranquil and delightful place to enjoy drinks and canapés after the ceremony. The ceremony was at 4pm and so although still fairly light I was able to create an atmosphere by covering the area and space in between the white sofas with 30 silver framed storm lanterns of differing heights. These storm lanterns also framed the bride’s entrance as she walked through the very exclusive gates from Hyde Park into the Mandarin Oriental – normally these are only opened for The Queen!
At the top of the staircase and to create an entrance onto the main terrace we placed stems of stock, delphiniums, guelder rose and roses all filling white urns that were placed on plinths. Clear crystal vases were place on the occasional tables and filled to the brim with luscious roses. Bespoke poseur tables were made to feature seven foot olive trees in the middle of them.
Conjuring up the vintage feel, we continued to use the crystal stem vases inside on the landing area using elegant shades of roses. As my favourite flower, roses are a must for me when it comes to creating memorable arrangements for weddings as they are classic and will never date when you look back at your photographs.
Back in the ballroom, we had a short time to turn the space into an elegant space ready for the evening festivities and a big team of florists and staff worked hard to transform the room in time.
I created two table centre designs so that the tables varied in their look and feel. The first design had a large raised crystal candelabra surround by crystal and silver vases filled with roses and peonies and crystal hurricane lamps, while the second design saw low crystal vases with different height candlesticks and tea lights. By the time we finished setting up the room I believe that we had more than met the client’s brief of creating an elegant feel. There was the perfect mix of colour, texture and candle light which enhanced the beautiful ballroom and created a simply gorgeous setting for a beautiful day.