Friday, 7 October 2011

Yorkshire Pudding: The Wedding

L-R: Best man Andy, bridesmaid Melanie, groom Mike, bride Jo, bridesmaid (and cake-maker) Helen, and bridesmaid Laura. Photo by Pete.

The best Yorkshire pudding I’ve ever eaten was with my friends in York, about sixteen years ago. It was massive. I was about to leave the table once I’d finished it, when I was told, ‘That was your starter. Your dinner’s nearly ready.’
Ok, now that I’ve got the tenuous link between an American teen-flick and an English delicacy out of the way, I can talk about the wedding.
Jo and her family are my oldest friends. They moved next door to my family when Jo, her brother Pete and I were very young, and we’ve stayed good friends, even after they moved back to York. I remember running outside to say hello when I saw their van pulling up – they barely had time to get out before I was getting under everyone’s feet, asking them nosy questions and telling them gossip about our neighbours! One vivid memory I have of that day is sitting in their front garden with Jo, silently making a ‘bird’s nest’ out of leaves, rose petals and snapdragons. It was funny, because I’m a few years older than her, but we had the universal language of flowers to unite us.

Jo, Pete and I outside the Sidings, dressed a little better than we were in the 80s.
Fast forward twenty-five years, and I am standing in her grandparents’ kitchen in York, arranging flowers for her wedding. I still cannot believe how much fun my first experience of doing wedding flowers was, and just how lucky I was to have done them for Jo, who I now describe as the anti-Bridezilla (or the perfect bride). It was lovely to spend the wedding eve and morning with Jo’s family and friends in York, many of whom I’ve known since childhood, and create arrangements for someone I really care about. Jo and her bridesmaids Melanie, Laura and Helen provided some much needed company and lots of tea, and Jo and Laura helped me out by getting buckets of water and giving me feedback on my work as I went along. Jo’s grandparents let me use two big tables in their kitchen as my workbench, and Jo’s grandfather cut some gorgeous ivy from their garden for me to use as table decorations.

The wedding colour scheme was pink and green, although Jo and her groom Mike wanted mostly white for the bridal bouquet and the buttonholes. After bouncing some ideas around, we decided on white Blizzard roses, white bouvardia, a few pink Heaven roses and some green ivy for the bridal bouquet; a Blizzard rose, bouvardia and ivy leaves for the groom’s buttonhole; a Blizzard rose and an ivy leaf for the buttonholes for the best man and Jo’s father and brother; and Heaven roses, pink and white Mimi Eden spray roses and ivy for the bridesmaids. I used dark green satin ribbon and white lace for the bridal bouquet and pink satin ribbon and white lace for the bridesmaids.

I used huge, fluffy, pink Lolly Pop hydrangeas, variegated ivy trails and a few pink snowberry stems for the tall vase arrangements either side of the wedding cake; and green ivy from Jo’s grandfather with pink beads and snowberries for the table decorations.

As the wedding reception was held in a beautiful hotel and restaurant that comprised a central ‘station’ room surrounded by old railway carriages, right next to a working train line, I attached wedding ‘luggage tags’ with the names of the flowers used on the day and their traditional meanings to the arrangements.

The Sidings was a beautiful venue, with ample opportunities for train-spotting.

'Can I have that big cake on the top?'

And if the sight of those lush lemon cupcakes and chocolate top tier cake is making your mouth water, then have a look at Helen York’s other cakes. I can assure you that they taste as good as they look – I was one of several guests who went for up seconds!

If you are curious about the traditional meanings of the flowers used in Jo and Mike’s wedding, here they are:
White roses: Purity, new beginnings
Pink roses: Joy, gratitude, admiration
Bouvardia: Enthusiasm
Ivy: Marriage, fidelity, friendship
Hydrangea: Heartfelt emotion, gratitude at being understood
Snowberry: Fate

The girl next door is all grown up! Photo by Pete.