Mum grows daughter’s wedding flowers 3 times due to Covid cancellations

Lydia with her bridal party and homegrown bouquets (Picture: Heather Playfoot)

The price of your wedding flowers all depends on your location and the arrangements you choose, but a full decor, bouquet, and buttonhole package can set you back upwards of £1,000.

Skilled florists deserve to be fairly compensated for their labour, but those on a budget may not be able to afford the high outlay, or might be concerned over the environmental impact of importing certain blooms.

This has led to many couples choosing alternative decor ideas, and some are also opting to DIY their wedding flowers.

When Heather Playfoot heard her daughter Lydia, 30, was getting married, she had the idea of growing the bouquets at her allotment, hoping to make it a family activity while getting involved in the #grownnotflown movement.

Despite setbacks due to coronavirus (that meant they had to grow three batches in total) the West Sussex mum-of-four says the process was a huge success, recommending homegrown blossoms to anyone planning a wedding.

Fraud investigator Lydia announced her engagement to Luke, a buildings surveyor, in September 2019.

Heather tells ‘When two of [Lydia’s] sisters got married the bridesmaids made their own bouquets from flowers we bought through a wholesaler. 

‘As I have an allotment, we thought it would be a fun challenge to see if we could grow the flowers ourselves.’

Heather Playfoot and her daughter Lydia, alongside friends at the allotment where they grew their wedding blooms

Friends and family came together to help Heather and Lydia’s green-fingered efforts (Picture: Heather Playfoot)

They got to work immediately, setting a date for September 2020 (‘a big celebration in the parish church with all the family and as many friends as possible’) and heading to nearby Withypitts Dahlia nursery to choose the theme for the arrangements.

The couple selected four different colourways of dahlia alongside filler flowers and foliage seeds, and started germination in Heather’s conservatory to protect the young plants from frost.

Everything was going to plan, but coronavirus restrictions eventually forced Luke and Lydia to postpone their initial date to the following year – and put them back at square one.

Lydia in her wedding dress carrying a large bunch of flowers

They opted for dahlias as the floral focus (Picture: Heather Playfoot)

Unfazed, Heather says: ‘For a little while I was really disappointed when we realised the first wedding wouldn’t go ahead as the flowers were looking great. 

‘However, we decided to make the most of such a strange time. 

‘We cut all the flowers a couple of days before what would have been the wedding day, made them into big bouquets and distributed them to some of the older members of the community. 

‘I made Lydia a bridal bouquet and she posed for photos outside the church – it was a good trial run.’

The inside of the teepees where Luke and Lydia held their wedding reception. Bunting and flowers fill the space.

After multiple setbacks, they switched reception venue and hoped for the best – and it clearly paid off (Picture: Heather Playfoot)

Heather, who runs a personalised textile business, researched and planted suitable seasonal flowers for the new springtime date. Yet, as this loomed large, Covid-19 once again forced them to push back.

It was another blow, but Lydia and Luke – who met on the ski slopes – switched suppliers to a new venue for later in the year, and had another photoshoot with the unused flowers before giving many away.

‘Luke and Lydia decided that they would get married then, whatever the restrictions,’ says Heather. 

‘No-one knew what restrictions would be in place during September, so they decided to do something totally different and get married at Hever Castle.’

Four of Lydia's nieces, each holding a bouquet of flowers

Lydia’s nieces were flower girls on the big day (Picture: Heather Playfoot)

As they were again looking at a September wedding, they were able to go back to the floral mixes they’d originally chosen. Heather adds that the previous experience helped too.

She says: ‘We over-wintered the dahlias and started sowing seeds again in April. It felt like I knew what I was doing! 

‘We were all really excited and picked up on the wedding details which had been shelved, but there was still a big uncertainty until we actually knew the date when the restrictions would be lifted.’

Lydia and her bridal party walking through Hever Castle

Hever Castle in Kent played host to the rescheduled celebration (Picture: Heather Playfoot)

It was third time lucky, and Luke and Lydia were finally able to have the wedding reception of their dreams, getting legally married in an intimate church ceremony (complete with homegrown bridal bouquet number three) a few days before a lakeside teepee reception.

For Heather, the feeling when the big day came around was ‘relief’. She says: ‘The wedding at Hever was amazing! The weather was beautiful and we loved every minute. So many happy memories made in one day. 

‘Lydia’s four friends and youngest sister were bridesmaids, her four nieces were flower girls, and her nephew carried the ring. Luke’s friends were ushers and best man. 

A wedding cake decorated with flowers and a sign reading 'finally'.

Finally, the couple got the wedding of their dreams, and decorated the whole place with the blooms they’d tended to (Picture: Heather Playfoot)

‘For many it was the first family celebration since the beginning of the pandemic and it felt like the beginning of getting back to the normal rhythm of life.’

There was a lot of work behind the scenes, and the couple’s loved ones got together to help cut and arrange the blooms before the wedding. Some also lent garden space when the allotment wasn’t large enough to accommodate.

Far from a chore, though, the project ended up being a great bonding experience for Lydia and Heather – and saved them a lot of cash in the process.

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Heather says: ‘We probably spent an hour a day on average, but we loved the opportunity of being outside, especially during the various lockdown times. 

‘I didn’t keep an exact tally on how much money we spent, but it was probably around £350.’

The family now want to help others do the same, and have started an Instagram with inspiration and gardening advice.

Heather adds that ‘now is the perfect time to be planning and buying for a summer wedding,’ and she’d encourage everyone to give it a go if they can.

Heather’s top tips for growing your own wedding flowers

  1. Plan what you’re going to grow and who is able to help you. It’s definitely team work, especially cutting all the flowers and arranging them which takes longer than you think.
  2. Collect lots of buckets to put the flowers in – we cut 27 buckets of flowers in total.
  3. Watch lots of video tutorials and follow other flower farmers and people growing their own wedding flowers on social media.  
  4. Take lots of photos along the journey.
  5. Have a ‘scrounge’ list from family, friends, and neighbours of flowers and foliage to add to what you’re growing yourself. 
  6. Have a plan B in case you don’t have enough flowers or feel confident in arranging them.   
  7. Enjoy the experience!

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