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Royal wedding flowers strike the right chord in Westminster Abbey

May 4, 2011
Flowers in the Abbey

Flowers delivered to Westminster Abbey (Image from the official British Monarchy Flickr stream)

With the grip of Royal Wedding Fever still clinging on by its fingernails (not that I mind – I do love a good wedding) I made a trip down to Westminster Abbey this morning. The trees and flowers from Kate and William’s nuptials have been left in situ for a week until Friday (6th) so I thought I would go and take a look for myself.

The use of trees to line the nave was, rather like That Dress, a stroke of genius. Six 20 feet-high field maples, three on either side, flank the aisle. It’s such a simple but bold and effective idea that brings life, intimacy and softness to such a grand and lofty space. The thing that struck me the most was their refreshing greenness and how they made the abbey a friendlier, more welcoming place – no doubt a comforting sight for Kate in contrast to what must have been the daunting prospect of making the 3 minute walk down the aisle. The trees brought the focus down a notch, making the space smaller and closer, whilst complementing the scale of the abbey. From below the crowns appeared to just skim the beautiful, softly glittering Waterford crystal chandeliers. The planters at the base were filled with lily of the valley, ferns, strawberry and grasses. I thought the white and green theme was very chic, elegant and fresh. That combined with the seasonal, British plants perfectly evoked the feel of spring and the English countryside.

As I passed through the darkness of the dividing screen between the nave and the quire my eyes were drawn upwards to the floral decorations ahead adorning the top of the screen of the high altar and beyond. Here white wisteria, rhododendrons, euphorbia and lilac jostled and draped with casual abandon. Above and behind the altar, similar arrangements trailed romantically from the bays of the triforium. Two hornbeams stood sentry, one on either side of the steps up to the sacrarium.

Who knows whether Kate was able to appreciate the floral effect on the day. No doubt she was concentrating hard on not tripping over and focussing on her hubby-to-be Wills. Luckily the trees are all going to be planted in the grounds of Prince Charles’ country pad at Highgrove, so she will have opportunity to enjoy them yet. Either way, the abbey must have been glorious that day and, accompanied by the sound of the choirs and orchestra, very heavenly indeed.

  • Apparently the plants and flowers were chosen, not only for their seasonality and Britishness but also pay tribute to the Language of Flowers – a Victorian secret code – if you’re into that kind of thing.
  • Video of the flower arrangers talking in the abbey here
  • More on the floral displays for the wedding here and here

Image: ©Murray Sanders (via The Decorated Tree)

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 5, 2011 12:11 pm

    I absolutely love the look of the trees, it was different which reflects on what kind of royal she is going to be. Elegant, refreshing and timeless.

    • May 11, 2011 10:33 am

      Yes, they were great weren’t they! Think you are right, am sure she will be a refreshingly different kind of royal.

  2. Helene permalink
    May 13, 2011 1:04 pm

    Hello. I enjoyed reading your article about the wedding flowers and wondered if you could identify the soft, heavily veined, roundish, silver leaves which appear in the photograph that you have used. They are not something that I recognise and I’d love to know what they are as I believe all flowers and leaves were English and seasonal. In the photograph they appear to be in black buckets immediately behind the square white containers at the front. Thanks!

    • May 14, 2011 12:08 am

      Hi Helene. Thanks for your comment. I think the grey-silver leaves you mention in the picture are stems of Sorbus aria (whitebeam). It’s a lovely little tree and its leaves are very silvery when they first emerge – turning a greener-grey later in the season. Hope that helps!

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