I thought today that I could give you some tips on what items you might need for your church wedding.
Of course, it is completely up to you how much or how little flowers and/or decor to add to the church for your big day. But I think the church is a great place to bring some of your taste, style and personality to, and that flowers and possibly some complimenting tasteful accessories can really make it "feel" like a wedding celebration.
Above - Kate & Timothy's wedding at Holy Cross Church Kenmare. Image by Lima Conlon Photography
I always recommend that you do a site visit to your church so that you get a sense of what might be needed, and what might (or might not) work. If you are visiting while the sacristan or church caretaker is there you could ask them what is usually done for weddings at their venue.
If it is a church I haven't worked at or visited before I usually pay a visit myself and spend time there looking at various areas and features. I can quickly assess what might work, and I usually take a few photos and measurements, and make lots of notes.
Here are the things that I would always look at and consider;
The Entrance Doorway
This is the first point at which you can make a statement! Your guests arriving will know for sure they are at the right church, and that there is a wedding taking place.
Above - Aine & her bridesmaids at the doorway of Rathbarry Church. Image by Emma Kenny Photography.
You could keep it so simple by just placing a beautiful printed sign (matching your wedding stationary, menus etc) on an easel, perhaps adding a fresh flower garland (again, keep everything cohesive). Depending on the site (check is it sloped, or very exposed/windy) you could maybe add some lanterns or housed candles at the easel's feet.
Above - Eanna & Denise at the church door in Gaggin near Bandon.
Above - Welcome Sign with floral garland and candle display by Howe Hill Flowers. Image by Lima Conlon Photography.
Some doorways have a really classic vibe. Urns on plinths can look the bomb here, and these large statement arrangements are incredibly versatile, being relatively easily moved and repurposed at your venue after the ceremony.
You could also consider multiple urns and plinths, which can give the impression of an arch!
Above - Multiple urns on plinths at varying heights to create a dramatic entrance at Ovens Church. By Howe Hill Flowers.
A more rustic doorway can pull off perhaps a deconstructed or partial arch. And some doorways are just begging for full scale arch drama! Worth considering is that many arch arrangements are constructed and installed site specific, and often cannot be moved and repurposed.
Above - A site specific pillar installation we created at the entrance of Ardfield Church near Clonakility. This piece cleverly hid an unsightly downpipe and drain behind it!
Some churches have a porch area while others dont. What I check for in porches are perhaps a small surface that a simple vase or candle arrangement can be placed, a little "welcome in" gesture. If the sign on the easel didn't work outside the door, say it was too windy for example, it could work perfectly here instead.
Above - Looking in to the porch at St.Luke's Church in Cork City, we added a beautiful floral arrangement to the cabinet below the window with lots of warm, welcoming candlelight.
Check if the church has a notice board in the porch. Is it tidy? It might be an idea to ask that the notice board is tidied or even cleared for the big day.
Inside The Inner Door
Usually in this area your guests will find a small table or surface from which they can pick up the mass booklets. It also might be the start of the aisle. If it's a big area you could think about an installation of housed candles perhaps, or even a dramatic filled urn on a plinth. Often the space isn't huge, and in this case cluttering it up with items should be avoided.
The aisle is such a big deal in a church wedding! Really all eyes on the day are up and down the aisle, and the aisle should lead and draw everyones focus to the altar area where all the action is going to take place!
Above - Pretty posy pew end bunches for MaryRita and Brendan wedding in Templemartin. Image by Picture This Photography.
In some churches pretty pew end bunches tied on to every other pew with a simple ribbon really works. The general idea would be to decorate every second or third pew starting from the top of the aisle and working backwards. This can surprisingly add up very quickly, and you may find that you need anything from 12 to 24 pew end bunches and bows. I usually recommend to try coincide the number with the amount of guest tables you will have at your venue. Each pew end bunch can be restyled into a vase at your venue for a centrepiece.
Above - Posy bunches lining the aisle at Dararra Church near Clonakilty.
If the aisle is wide you could consider something more full, dramatic and wow!
Aisle meadows are beautiful floral arrangements which are placed on the ground at intervals, or if you have a big flowers budget, continuously all the way up the aisle. The pieces are generally anything from 30cm to 60cm wide and up to 1m tall, and when you stand at the start of the aisle you get the sense of being led through a meadow or garden path. Aisle meadows can be repurposed to venues as banquet (long) table ends, or as a surround for perhaps the front of a big top table or the band stage.
Above - Big dramatic aisle meadows! We created these for an outdoor ceremony in West Cork but they could easily translate to a church aisle space, if it were wide enough! Image by Studio Lordan.
If the church is a little bit dark (in a romantic moody kind of way) adding lots and lots of housed candles up along the aisle sides can look incredible. You definitely need to ok this with the church, and many have a no real flame candle policy (we have tons of incredibly realistic LED candles btw!). If the church do ok real flame candles you will need it in writing for us along with insurance cover.
Some aisles are very long, and/or narrow. Decorating a narrow aisle is futile, everything will be damaged by people moving by. Instead, create big drama at the altar......
The altar is where the wedding is at!
Above - Aoife & Sean at the church altar at Clonakilty Parish Church. Image by Emma Jervis Photography.
All eyes on the altar!
We do a big arrangement here as standard, and this piece usually holds the three (unity) candles that you will light during the ceremony. Our altar arrangements usually are 150cm+ wide. Personally I am not into small altar arrangements, unless, the altar itself is small or a bit alternative. Then I suggest something entirely different.
Above - We created a spilling 3m wide garden on the altar on Timoleague Church for Andrea and Pauls wedding. This dramatic piece was the only floral decor in the church which made it all the more "WOW"!
It is always worth asking your churches policy on flowers directly on the altar. Many churches don't allow your arrangement placed directly on the altar, or they like it placed to one side of the altar. This is important for us to know as we design according to the space and place each arrangement is being sited.
If the altar is in a big open sanctuary area you might like to add urn and plinth arrangements on either side of it to frame it, and to fill the space with life.
Most altars have a "back altar" where the tabernacle is housed. Many churches fill weekly vases in this area. You might like to add a couple of vases or arrangements in your own floral theme. Again, ask the churches policy regarding these arrangements, many churches expect these pieces to be left after the ceremony as a gift to the parish.
Above - Kelly & Shane's wedding at Dararra Church near Clonakilty. Photo by Awake & Dreaming.
Besides the above, you might like to add other details, like further focal arrangements, clusters of candles or decor for the back of your own chairs.
Above - Rambling garden arrangements in the window sills of Rathclaren Church for Olivia & Alaistar's wedding. Image by Kate Bean Photography.
Above - Memorial Candle Arrangement alongside the altar at Templemartin Church. This is a popular item which allows important family members to be remembered and included in the wedding ceremony.
One thing I usually say "avoid" to is trying to disguise areas with flowers - generally it does the opposite and actually draws attention to it! The flowers job is to enhance and enrich what is already there. Consider what you want to enhance.
Another tip is to consider the church from the point of view of the guest; Is the name of the church clearly signed outside? Is it obvious which door is the main door? Sit in their pews, take note of what they might see.
And think too of the possibly photo opportunities; chat with your photographer and ask their suggested areas of the church, both inside and outside, where photos might take place. Consider can these areas be enhanced with flowers.
I really hope this post will be helpful, let me know if it is!