Spring silver birch wedding arch at Hampton Manor. Photo: Roo Stain Photography

I’d been wanting to do a birch arch for ages so was delighted when Charlotte and Andy ordered one for their spring wedding in the Birches ceremony room at the very very lovely Hampton Manor – it gave me the excuse I’d been waiting for to add one to my props cupboard.

Behind the excitement at a new project…

Fast forward to jolting awake regularly at 4am with a random selection of birch arch related conundrums:

  1. “What if it falls over and squashes a flower girl?”
  2.  “OMG – it might look like a set of goal posts!”
  3.  “Will the giant groom crack his head on it?”
  4. “Where can I get hold of a STRAIGHT bit?

These are the things that keep wedding florists awake at night.

Birch arch conundrum number one led me to reject my original hefty poles in favour of lighter but wigglier alternatives, scrounged from my dad when he decided to axe the tree in his garden. They had their own issues, but more of those later… And the commissioning of heavy weight base plates from William at Wedding Metal Art.

Birch arch conundrum two arose after various internet searches for decorating inspiration – I found an image of a wedding arch in a field, photographed against a bare horizon: once I’d seen that arch as goal posts, it was an image I could never ‘unsee’.

“I think we’d better go for draping”, I advised the bride, revealing my football pitch reservations.

Birch arch conundrum three was more tricky as the groom is even taller than my own giant offspring, who must be about 6’5″ in old money (around 1.95m for modernists amongst you).  Dad’s poles were of the branch, rather than trunk variety, so were fractionally taller than the groom, but this height was reduced (I discovered later, though logic should have revealed it earlier) when the crossbar was added at the top of the poles. This one gave me several nights of 4am horrors which were finally resolved by jamming golden syrup tins into the bottom of the base plate tube holders, thus gaining me the all essential bit of extra height. And with no extra weight to bring me back to birch arch conundrum number one. Result!

Birch arch conundrum four gave me proper nightmares. I got hold of my baseplates around three weeks before the wedding and tested them out with my late substitutes, the lighter poles.  All well and good (if a little wonky) where the uprights were concerned – nothing draping wouldn’t cover.  But that crossbar ….  the ‘best of the rest’ where dad’s branches were concerned, had a rather sweet bend in it which looked like the curve of an arch and at first I thought all would be well. But when draping was added – it looked like some kind of unravelling mummy lurching around with a hangover.  It could not pass, even with my eyes half closed.  But with now less than three weeks to find an alternative, it was touch and go if this could be done. Even in the internet age, a silver birch pole is not the easiest item to source at speed.  A hopeful email to Ragley Sawmill thankfully achieved the bacon-saving holy grail of a straight, not toooooo thick silver birch pole and the following weekend saw me collect it.

It’ll be alright on the night is a motto to live by in this wedding business.  With resourcefulness and a determination to make things work with apparently effortless art, it appears to the outside world that wedding flowers ‘just happen’. Silver birch arch conundrums and rough trial mock ups are very much behind the scenes, along with 4am night terrors!

So on the day, ta…da…. the arch made it’s graceful entrance onto the wedding scene. I loved it, Charlotte and Andy loved it – and all was more than well.  It even fitted through the doorway to be lifted and shifted from ceremony to reception on the day by the ushers (which involved another 4am wake up and the addition of a covering elf&safety clause to my wedding terms and conditions!).

Charlotte said: “The real wow factor was the ceremony room – she managed to create so much impact and beauty with her flowers and birch arch. One of the best decisions we made!” (Wedding Wire)

The night terrors were worth it. Phew.

Birch arch back stories

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