Guest Post: Ellie from Wild Ivy on Being a Mummy

This weeks guest post comes from my real life friend Ellie, who has such an interesting life as a mum and a florist that I finally managed to persuade her to tell us all about it!

photo by Chris Douglas Photography

My first thought when I was asked to be a guest blogger was just how I was going to find the time to sit down with the laptop, my week already being full to capacity with the long promised visit to the uniform shop to kit out my eager four year old for his first day at school next month and the post-holiday unpacking/washing/ironing that has been waiting since we returned from Cornwall over a fortnight ago? Because on top of all the mummy things that are always waiting, I run my own business.

I am a freelance wedding florist – Wild Ivy – which I run from my home in St. Albans, Hertfordshire. I love what I do, as it gives me flexibility with my children, allows me to be creative and to meet people who are generally at a very different stage of their lives. ln fact if they got much of a glimpse of my life it might give them a foretaste of things to come that just might make them stop and think!

Running your own business does take a great deal of planning, organisation and compromise.My day can start at 4 am if I need to get to the flower market. The flowers I use are always as fresh as possible, and pre-ordered.But that early start can be the most difficult part of the job, especially if my daughter is teething or the monsters have been visiting my son in the night.And it means that my partner has to be solely responsible for the getting up and breakfasting before he leaves for work. But the pleasures are wonderful: working with beautiful flowers, meeting happy people and helping them to create their perfect wedding day is a very rewarding way of making a living.

My first meeting with brides is usually at a wedding fair. These are usually in lovely surroundings: a recent fair was held in the Elizabethan setting of……. I take with me several sample bouquets, buttonholes and table arrangements, and my (books of pictures?) so that people can see the kind of work I have done.Although I cater for a range of tastes, my style leans very much towards the natural, working when I can with English garden flowers to produce a country influenced look. I always enjoy chatting to brides, many of whom are just starting to plan their wedding. Some have very definite ideas about themes and colours, others want me to suggest styles.The next step is to visit the bride at home, spending longer looking through my portfolio, perhaps looking at fabric swatches she may have, and getting a much closer idea of what she would like. I then submit a quotation, and if she is happy, a deposit secures the day.

Producing the bouquets, button holes and arrangements on the wedding day takes a lot of planning, and with two small children I have to rely on family to help out. Luckily, this suits both the children and the grandparents who seem to quite like each others‘ company! This informal arrangement isn’t always perfect, but things should become easier once my son is at school and the little one starts pre-school. And of course most weddings are at the weekend, so my partner takes over the childcare as soon as he sets foot through the door on a Friday evening.

photo by Chris Douglas Photography

I recently did a country church wedding in a village in Leicestershire, followed by a reception in a marquee on the cricket field. The backdrop set the look for the day. At either side of the church door I put a vintage French wine crate on top of which were enamel jugs filled with seasonal garden flowers like delphinium and hydrangeas. The pew ends were really pretty posies tied with old white lace which looked striking against the dark wood.The bride wanted the altar to be decorated with real impact, so the centrepiece was a huge pedestal brimming with early summer flowers.Afterwards, there was an afternoon tea complete with vintage cups, saucers, plates and pretty jugs of flowers on the tables.

Sometimes I think how much more simple life would be if I was still working in the City, and could leave my work behind at the end of the day.But I wouldn’t really want to swap.  The chance to work from home while my children are still small at a job I find so rewarding is fantastic. And I have great plans for the expansion of my business once the children are older. And in the meantime, I’ve just seen my son’s new school’s diary of forthcoming events.  An auction of promises… I’m sure a hand-tied bouquet of seasonal flowers will be a winner!


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