Travelling around the country as I do I have become aware that, although the majority of my church wedding decorations are in very old traditional buildings in rural environments, there are many more modern buildings in urban situations. Even local village halls are taking on a new look as they are given a make-over. Harvest Festivals tend to be approached in a similar way year after year…baskets of fruit and vegetables and flowers and foliage arranged in a traditional style. I do occasionally have a rant about decorations matching their surroundings. I often talk to brides who choose a wonderful castle or Tudor manor house for their wedding reception and yet want contemporary floral decorations. I am not saying that the two styles never marry but they can make strange bedfellows!
Be that as it may, I thought it might be different and fun to tackle the Harvest Festival decorations from a more contemporary angle, especially for more modern buildings. I am a great fan of using one type of flower for a design. This really harks back to the old days when we just bought a bunch of something for the house. Currently, while supermarkets sell mixed bouquets, the majority of the sales are plain bunches…alstroemeria, Eustoma (Lisianthus), roses, gladioli…… so the habit still continues. Taking this idea further, instead of the traditional mixed arrangements, how about choosing one flower and making a feature of it? I am not suggesting a supermarket trip as I am sure you have gardens full of Autumn blooms! In the pictures I used tall modern glass containers, some colourful apples and two colours of gladioli. These were for a party but they would be very effective on a window sill or entrance table in a church or church hall, whether modern or not. Lots of other flowers would work just as well, or try branches of hips, haws or crab-apples.
When it comes to arranging the fruit and vegetables, how about using crates rather than baskets? They retain the ‘earth’s harvest’ look but change the approach from traditional to modern/ vintage. Pot up rosemary plants or make mock plants with cut rosemary (or other herbs), and use amongst the produce. (If you have no suitable wooden pots try covering the pots using a cylinder of corrugated cardboard.) In the last picture the compost was lightly covered with pine straw but gravel would be just as effective, The groups of crates in the photos were used for a pre-wedding party in Italy but would be ideal for a harvest supper or clustered around the body of a church. What about an old wooden baker's tray for the bread and wheat bunches? Or even take it a stage further and pile a collection of larger vegetables...marrows for instance.... in an old wooden wheelbarrow, or a bright shiny new one!. Traditional items used in a modern way are definitely ON TREND these days.