The scale of the arrangements depends on the size of the room and the availability of space. The type of reception you have chosen to have will help you with your choice of flowers. For example, choosing a grand hall will indicate that large and formal arrangements could be needed.
If the florist is going to take care of the flower arrangements for the reception, they will probably meet with the venue’s banqueting manager to view the venue and discuss the seating plan. This will enable the florist to know how many table arrangements are needed and the size of the venue. The florist will also need to meet with you to discuss where you would like the flower arrangements to be placed, and which styles and shapes you would like.
The florist will also need to know when the flower arrangers will be able to access the venue. For a marquee reception, the florist will need to know the style of decoration, the colour of the lining, whether it has poles and if so how many need to be decorated, whether you want pedestal arrangements or hanging baskets and the quantities you are looking at.
Places where you may choose to position flower arrangements include:
The buffet table
Each dining table
On the cake and the cake table
Around poles or pillars
You should choose a stunning arrangement for the entrance, to welcome your guests as they arrive. Remember that entrances are passed through en route to the main areas, so guests will only have time to appreciate the arrangement quickly; so plenty of variegated foliage with just a few flowers is suitable and money saving.
You may decide to incorporate fairy lights into arrangements that are in dull areas; decorating unsightly pillars with foliage, flowers and fairy lights will totally change the appearance of the venue and make it feel special.
The top table will traditionally have a long low arrangement, to allow the bridal couple and their guests to see each other. You could also hang a garland across the front of the table, to add extra decoration. Ribbons or other fabrics also add texture to the top table.
Each dining table should some decoration, either floral or otherwise. Make sure that the decorations are not too large, to enable your guests to speak over them and have enough room on the table for food, plates and more glasses than usual.
The advantage with table arrangements is that they are directly in the view of the guests, which maximises their effect.
Candles could be incorporated within the table arrangements to add a touch of interest. Alternatively, pot pourri could be placed on each table, or added to each floral arrangement to add a pleasing scent. Suitable flowers to choose for table arrangements include carnation, daffodil, daisy, fern, gerbera, gypsophilia, jonquil, lily, nerine and rose.
The wedding cake may also be decorated with a small flower arrangement. It is traditional for a small silver vase to be placed on top of the cake, containing a small arrangement of flowers. Your cake designer will be able to show you the various floral decorations that are available for wedding cakes. Flowers can also be used as decoration around the cake, to pick up on the colours used.
Trailing ivy is a very popular choice for reception arrangements, as it can be wound around poles, napkins and chairs and be used in garlands and table arrangements. A nice touch to add to each guest’s chair is a tied bunch of flowers tied to the back of each, accompanied by a name label for each guest. Pedestal arrangements can be placed around the reception venue, to add colour to the walls.
Most pedestal arrangements are made up of two or more pieces fitted together, usually the top bowl in which flowers are arranged, and the stem of the stand. If the budget will stretch, it is a nice idea to place a small arrangement in the toilet to brighten it up. Skilful use of foliage and flowers can conceal eyesores and accentuate attractive features.
If the reception is going to take place in a marquee, the marquee company will be able to provide rope or hooks on the poles, so that floral arrangements can be hung in the marquee like chandeliers. It is unlikely that the marquee company will provide the floral decorations themselves, although they may be able to give you the name of a suitable florist who often does flowers in their marquees.
Use hanging baskets and chandeliers in marquee receptions, but make sure that they are planted well in advance to allow for growth. Ideal flowers include ivy, lobelia, fuchsia and petunia. To make the entrance of the marquee attractive and welcoming, place a topiary tree or other arrangement on either side of the entrance. For any reception, you could arrange for pomanders to be hung from the ceiling in the colours of the wedding.
If you have arranged to have the wedding reception outside in a garden, some pre-planning of which varieties and colours to plant out several months before the wedding will help to continue the colour theme throughout the whole day. Nearer the time, spaces in the flowerbeds can be filled with bought potted plants from garden centres. Remember that if the reception is being held in a marquee, guests may walk through the garden on their way to the marquee.
If the reception is going to be held at a hotel, the flower arrangements may be included within the hotel wedding package, although some hotels may charge extra for the service. You will need to arrange a meeting with the hotel management to discuss your colour scheme, the styles and positioning of the flower arrangements. Some caterers will also include flower arrangements for the reception as part of their wedding package.
Some brides may also arrange for flower arrangements at her mother’s home, where she will probably dress on the morning of her wedding. Some photographers will take photographs of the bride at her mother’s home before she leaves for the church, and the flowers serve as a decorative backdrop to these photographs.
To further decorate the inside of the house you may like to hang swags from doors and drape garlands round mantelpieces and banisters. You will have lots of visitors before and after the wedding wishing you luck and bringing gifts, so you may like to have the flower arrangements in place a day or two before and after the wedding.
The floral arrangements that are used in the ceremony venue could also be used at the reception venue. This would lower the cost of the flowers, especially for couples with a tight budget. You should either arrange the transportation of the arrangements to the reception with the florist, or alternatively ask several friends to take care of it while the wedding photographs are being taken.
Once at the reception, the arrangements may be split up into smaller ones that can be placed on each table. Once the wedding is over, make sure that your table centres and moveable arrangements go home with your friends and relatives. Local old people’s homes may be grateful for contributions in the form of flower arrangements.