TNWC South West Roadtrip Day 2: JW Blooms, Cowparsley Weddings and Bespoke Confetti with Jennie Hill Photography
I’ve had another wonderful day out on the second day of my TNWC South West Roadtrip – today I’ve visited three fabulous wedding businesses and been joined for my adventure by Jennie Hill and her camera. Today you are just getting my camera phone snaps as soon I’ll be sharing Jennie’s gorgeous pictures of our visits.
My first stop of the day was the flower field of JW Blooms, a Somerset based small business growing beautiful flowers for weddings. Jan has an acre sized plot with about two-thirds of this used for growing flowers. It is utterly charming and as a big flower lover I always feel a little bit jealous wandering amongst rows and rows of pretty flowers.
For brides who book Jan to do their wedding flowers, the consultation process involves a visit the week before your wedding to wander the flower field, see what’s blooming, and pick what you’d like for your arrangements. I can’t think of many more lovely things to do!
Like many of the independent wedding businesses I’ve met so far, Jan is incredibly accommodating and happy to work with your ideas and budget, providing suggestions on how you can still have beautiful, seasonal flowers within your budget. One bride Jan has booked in this summer was was keen to make her own bouquet but nervous about doing it, so she is going to be visiting Jan the day before her wedding to pick the flowers and create her own bouquet with Jan’s help.
For many couples, budget is a big consideration when planning their wedding. It’s become apparent that many people assume that choosing locally grown flowers ‘natural’ looking flowers means they will cost less, but it’s important to recognise and value the work that’s gone into producing these flowers – growing them from seed, tending them through terrible weather, weeding, working out what is likely to be flowering when each year the seasons shift, cutting and conditioning all the flowers, and finally arranging them into your wedding flowers.
So I asked Jan what her advice was to brides on a budget. Firstly, she told me that she hopes that couples will always be honest and upfront about their budget – her attitude is that she can always suggest ideas and ways to fit within it. I’m a big fan of being flexible if you truly want seasonal, locally grown flowers.
One great example Jan gave me of ways of working with a small budget, which is to consider the types of container you use for your table decorations. For example, a jug of flowers or even a jam jar will cost more to fill with flowers than a small collection of tiny containers – those beautiful antique blue glass bottles are great for a bride on a budget, because their narrow neck means you can only fit in a couple of blooms or wavering grasses. Clustered with a few other smaller containers and you have something equally beautiful, but that costs less because it uses less flowers.
Another way to save money is to buy in buckets of loose flowers and arrange them yourself – if you are after a ‘just picked’ style of table decorations with jam jars of flowers, then buckets of flowers arranged by yourself and family and friends is a great choice. Jan also runs workshops for anyone wanting to learn the basics of how to arrange a bouquet, should you be planning to do your own and your bridesmaids.
Jennie and I had a lovely morning with Jan at JW Blooms just soaking up her enthusiasm for her flowers and the pretty setting.
A short drive down the road from JW Blooms, and on the outskirts of Taunton you’ll find a hidden gem. Cowparsley Weddings is a beautiful new wedding venue (they just hosted their first wedding at the end of May this year) and one that I imagine is set to be incredibly popular with couples.
Jennie and I met with Claire who runs Cowparsley Weddings with her husband Tom at his parents home. They have a beautiful vintage inspired canvas marquee set in the gardens of Tom’s parents gorgeous home (can I move in please?), with an orchard for an outdoor wedding ceremony, lawns bordered by wild areas, and even a picturesque vegetable patch.
It was after their own wedding here in 2011 that Tom and Claire saw the potential to open up for weddings and they are fully booked for 2013 and already starting to fill up their available dates in 2014. Talking to Claire it seems they are really flexible with what you want and have lots of ideas to help you plan your wedding with them. You can simply opt to hire the venue with the marquee, or add in all kinds of extras from vintage crockery to lawn games, and you can even book out accommodation in the main house in the most beautifully decorated bedrooms.
With the increasing popularity in outdoor wedding ceremonies, Cowparsley Weddings certainly offers one of the prettiest spots to say your vows. When we visited the entrance to the orchard was via a small mown path through wild grasses (and recently was full of bluebells) to a glade amongst old apple trees. There is a beautiful spot in front of an ancient medlar tree that makes a perfect focal point for a wedding ceremony.
The marquee is ideal for weddings up to 150 guests, and you’ll be delighted to hear that they are kitted out with those lovely old wooden trestle tables and folding wooden chairs that we all really want at our wedding but are incredibly difficult to source. Thankfully Claire and Tom have done the sourcing for you!
I have to admit that I thought writing up about the wedding businesses I visit each day would be easy, but I’ve been so blown away by the beauty of everywhere I’ve visited that I’m struggling to find the words to tell you how lovely and special they are. My best advice is – go visit them for yourselves and fall in love!
A huge thanks to Claire for a delicious lunch!
My final visit of the day was to Bespoke Confetti, just over the border and into Devon. Run by Rosie and her husband Simon, Bespoke Confetti produce their own natural petal confetti that they grow in a field up the lane from their home. The whole process from tiny cornflower or larkspur seed, through tending, picking, drying and packaging, is all done ‘in-house’.
Not only was I really keen to visit and see where the flowers are grown, but also to find out about how the petal confetti is actually ‘made’. Due to the very cold spring this year, the plants are at least four weeks behind, but this is the reality of running a business growing flowers naturally.
Rosie took Jennie and myself up to their flower field, which is a pretty stretch surrounded by trees. We wandered up the rows and Rosie pointed out to us the tiny larkspur seedlings that are just starting to appear amongst the weeds. The cornflowers are slightly taller, but both of these hardy plants will soon overtake the weeds to produce flowers in the next six to eight weeks.
The petals are all picked by hand, which must be done when they are completely dry – this is usually from lunchtime onwards when the morning dew has dried. Rosie demonstrated to us how the petals are picked with a cornflower from her small polytunnel – quite literally you cup your fingers around the cornflower head the petals come away easily when pulled in one handful.
The buckets of picked petals are then transferred to a hammock style construction that hang from a dry stable in the flower field and left to fully dry out. Last year when the weather was so dire and the atmosphere so damp, Rosie and Simon had to resort to cutting the plants at the stem and bringing them indoors in an attempt to let the petals dry out before harvesting them.
Once all the petals are dry, they are carefully stored in Rosie’s home office in large boxes. From here she makes up blends of petals or sells them as single colours. I particularly liked this yellow and purple blend of marigold and larkspur.
Rosie also makes up the paper cones which you can also buy to hold your confetti using recycled handmade paper which has been produced especially for her with her own petal confetti put into the paper. It’s the extra attention to detail that Rosie goes to that really expresses how passionate she is about her business and ensuring that couples receive a high quality product.
As well the homegrown petal confetti, Bespoke Confetti also import a bougainvillea confetti from South Africa, which I’ve previously featured on the blog so do have a read about this beautiful alternative. I learnt that bougainvillea isn’t actually a flower petal, but in fact a coloured leaf, and I just love how delicate they are. Perfect for an autumn wedding.
And extra big thank you to Rosie and Simon who not only gave us tea and cake, but also invited me for dinner with them and gave me a bed for the night.
Where I’m Going Today…
Today I’m leaving Devon and driving across the county border into Cornwall. I’ve got just one visit today and that’s to wedding venue Lantallack Weddings. I’m also delighted because I’m going to be joined by TNWC wedding photographer Lucy Turnbull who’s hopefully going to capture some lovely pictures of this wedding venue that I can share with you all later.
I’m also meeting my granny for lunch and having dinner with another TNWC wedding photographer (and TNWC Real Bride) Emma from Freckle Photography. This afternoon you’ll also find a personal post from TNWC Real Bride Emma so do check back for that.
Images: The Natural Wedding Company