Our rustic country wedding – a church full of cow parsley
Charlie / 6 September 2011
As voted for by you, I am moving onto the flowers in the church before continuing with our wedding ceremony. I’m excited to share this, because I just loved how the church looked, it was more than I could have dreamed of and we did it ourselves.
If this is your first visit to the blog you can catch up on all the details so far from our wedding here.
I’ve decided to show you photos of how the church looked and then go back to how we did after. That way I get to show off all the pretty pictures first. At the entrance to the church we filled two old metal milk churns with cow parsley and grasses – quite a wind picked up and I love how it looked blowing in the breeze.
Inside the church porch we lined it with earthenware pots, collected from the carboot, filled with cow parsley. I also made sure to remove the noticeboard as I wanted it to feel (obviously) very natural and simple.
Also, when I say ‘we’, I actually mean my mom and a fantastic friend of hers who lives in the village called Helen. Helen did most of the flowers in the church – what a star!
I had always wanted to get married outdoors, in a beautiful bit of the Cotswold countryside, surrounded by the greens and whites that envelop it in May. But it wasn’t to be, and so instead my aim was to bring this into the church. It was my fab flower lady, Charlie Ryrie, who suggested we just go for cow parsley and nothing else – and how right she was.
We crammed the church full of cow parsley – no other flowers, just lots and lots of cow parsley from the local hedgerows. We used a selection of containers, including two vintage enamel bread bins (put a plastic pot inside to hold the water), old enamel buckets, and earthenware pots.
Inspired a little the Royal Wedding, and also as it’s something we do a lot at work (bringing trees inside for events), we placed a couple of pretty green Hornbeams around the spot where Nick and I would get married. These were kindly loaned and delivered from The Garden & Plant Company. The bases were wrapped in hessian and tied up with twine.
There are hardly any photos of the trees, these are the best two I can find…
Images (left) Kate Goodacre (right) family friend
The final floral flourish in the church was winding sprays of a rambling rose through the old chandelier that hangs above the aisle. My mom and I had this idea, and went down on the morning of the wedding with a couple of long sprigs of roses cut from her garden. We wound them round the chandelier and secured them with natural coloured raffia.
Mark Tattersall Photography (I cropped this photo to zoom in on the rose chandelier)
I don’t think it could have looked prettier, and summed up everything I wanted our wedding to be about. I wanted the church to feel traditional in a simple country way, to be timeless so that you could have imagined they might have decorated it for a wedding in this way 200 hundred years ago. As I think I said in the Love My Dress feature, I was also inspired by childhood memories of the weddings in Lorna Doone and Brambly Hedge.
We also lined the aisle with a large jar at the end of each pew filled with three tealights. These large jars were originally coffee jars, with the labels soaked off. There was some concern about people knocking them over, but it was all fine in the end – no accidents!
Anyway, the best part of the doing the flowers in the church was going out on the Thursday night before the wedding to gather a carload of cow parsley from the hedgerows with my mom.
We went out just before dusk, about 8pm, in my parents big people carrier (that came all the way back from America with us) with the seats taken out. We put a whole load of containers – buckets, tin baths etc. – in the back of the car filled with a little water.
Then we headed off to a disused lane that we’d been told by a friend in the village still had cow parsley. The big worry in the lead up to the wedding was that the cow parsley would be over. Due to the hot April we had, the cow parsley and hawthorn blossom had come out early, its peak being about two weeks before our wedding – and two weeks earlier than 2010.
I’d pretty much accepted that there wouldn’t be any left, but my mom had been busy telling all her friends and they’d been looking out for good local spots where cow parsley was still flowering. In the end we had no trouble collecting enough from this one lane, whilst leaving it looking like we’d never been there.
It was a peaceful, happy experience, my mom and I quietly walking along the old lane gathering bundles of cow parsley. These are the times I would encourage you to create in the build up to your wedding, they are some of the most precious and best remembered.
We were later told we’d also collected something called Common Hogweed, a larger looking version of cow parsley, and is worth noting that it can cause irritation to your skin. We were wearing long-sleeved tops and gloves so didn’t notice any skin problems, but if you are planning on collecting cow parsley do be aware of this.
The cow parsley was wheelbarrowed down to the church on Friday and my mom and her lovely friend Helen set about making up all the arrangements. I placed the containers where I wanted them, and they filled them and made the church look gorgeous. How wonderful it is to be able to leave something in someone else’s capable hands the day before your wedding.
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