The story of this bridal bouquet starts back in 1940 when my paternal grandmother, Mary Walsh married William Flynn in Kyneton, Victoria on an early winter, May day. It was a decadent wedding with immaculate, cascading floral bouquets filled with glorious garden grown blooms.
When I became a florist 56 years later, I always dreamt that a bride might one day be inspired to adopt Mary’s style and 26 years into my life as a florist, that bride would magically be my own angelic stepdaughter, Jordie.
When we started to chat about her own wedding back in March 2021, I shared the image of Nana Mary’s bouquet with Jordie and her reaction was instant, “Oh my God, this is everything”, though we both agreed the bridesmaids bouquets should be a bit smaller! This sepia image set the tone for the look and style of all the floral designs we would go on to create for her wedding. However, much like Mary getting married in the early stages of the second World War, Jordie was getting married in pandemic times and the impending nuptials were postponed twice before the path was clear for a third wedding date.
Then late last year, in a magical twist of fate, Jordie’s mum and partner would purchase a 150- year old home in Smeaton, Victoria, just 45 minutes from where Mary was married over 80 years earlier. The surrounds of the property included winding paths through pretty hedge lined gardens, the most quaint bluestone outhouses and of all things, a modest little chapel!
A third wedding date was locked in to take place at the "Millhouse” just before dusk on the night of a waxing crescent moon in April, 2022.
A few weeks before the wedding, Jordie and I took a blissful road trip together to the property of Lisa and Pat, my favourite flower growers living on 100 acres on the edge of the Otway Forest; we spent a morning meandering through their garden oasis selecting seasonal foliage and flowers that we would use for the wedding.
Our little sojourn finished with tea and cake where Lisa dug out her own wedding album to swoon over from the opulent mid-90s. It was then, in passing, we discovered that Pat and Lisa were married on April 8th, the same very date Jordie was to be married and of course we knew that this 'coincidence' was actually the angels at play and a message that the harvest from this property would form a big part of the wedding flower designs.
Jordie's bouquet inspiration board was a pastel purge of soft petals and cascading foliage honouring style of yesteryear and the Mary's of the 1940s.
We took inspiration from the pastel hues of Jordie’s seven (yes, seven!) bridesmaids dresses and worked with other local flower growers to order vintage inspired, seasonal flowers to complete the perfect look for the Millhouse nuptials.
I took up studio residence in one of the tiny outhouses three days before the wedding to start creating the larger scale floral designs for the spaces, helped by her generously creative cousin Eden. The day before the wedding Jordie and I spent an hour together in the little flower ‘studio’ before our scrumptious floral banquet selecting the exact flowers that would form her bridal bouquet and devouring every minute decision.
We discussed every flower for its colour, texture, movement and shape. We played with all the autumnal foliage and workshopped how they might compliment the blooms. We talked about using snowberries as a hint to her dog named “Snow”, adding pale blue delphinium because her veil was blue and having each of the seven bridesmaids carry one single flower variety for their own posies so each had a little part of her bouquet with them on the day.
Maids: Sarah, Bree, Tanayah, Montanna, Jordie (bride) Georgia, Abbey & Loz
We used ivy from her mother’s Geelong garden, abelia from my own garden in Inverleigh. Sedum, hydrangeas, leucathoe and apricot roses from Lisa & Pat's Otway oasis, Cafe au Lait dahlias, David Austin roses and snowberries from Leigh River Roses and mauve dahlias from Mannerim Stables in Swan Bay. The floaty little cosmos was from the rambly gardens at the Millhouse.
In a nod to her own deceased grandmother, Marlene, we threaded her marcasite brooch to the base of the bouquet so she was a welcome, spirited guest in the journey down the aisle.
Marcasite brooch bottom left hand corner of the image above
When I revealed the finished bouquet to Jordie, she cried trails of translucent, twinkly, happy tears. I wept too at the thought that we had designed something so glorious together that managed to silently reference the amazing feminine influences in her life: Mary, Marlene, Annemaree, Amanda (me) Montanna, Abbey, Georgia, Sarah, Tanayah, Loz and Bree.
The creation of this bouquet whispers sweet love and endearment, history and sentiment. Every bloom was considered, every petal was a reminder of the women behind it, every stem was spiralled together in unity like a blissful, eternal marriage. It takes a modern day bridal bouquet to remind us that flowers speak the language of love and true love never grows old.
Photo credit: Little Chief Photography
Mary and William Flynn were married for 44 years, an enduring love until the day he died.