Our first ever meeting with Ade Apepitan MBE’s future wife, Elle Exxe, was at Hybrid HQ in Vauxhall. The incredibly inspiring, self-styled music artist arrived with her wedding planner, the wonderful George Watts AKA “The Wedding Fairy” and proceeded to give us the most exciting floral brief: use any flowers you like, but they must clash!
Elle and Ade wanted to mix their Scottish, English and Nigerian backgrounds. They didn’t want their wedding flowers to be ‘flowery or pretty’, they wanted them to be bold and they wanted them to be beautiful. Best of all, we could use any flowers we wanted to create that look!
Elle had already decided to use Hybrid even before meeting us (soooo love it when that happens!) and she knew exactly the kind of atmosphere she wanted to create. She had been planning her wedding for two years with her TV presenter and Paralympian basket-ball player fiancé; it was to be the most exciting, vibrant and full-on happy day.
Their wedding ceremony venue was no less than the High Altar at St Paul’s Cathedral, not everyone can marry in this part of the Cathedral and it was only permitted as Ade is a MBE. As an approved florist for St Paul’s we always feel that tingly sense of excitement whenever a client asks us to work there and the fact that the wedding party would then travel to another of our most adored wedding venues, The Queen’s House, Greenwich via a boat we have had the pleasure of decorating many times, the Dixie Queen was the icing on the (wedding) cake! 170 family and friends from all over the world were invited, including top sports people and personalities from the entertainment business. It was going to be the most exciting day for us at Hybrid and we weren’t even the ones getting married!
A couple of weeks before the big day George informed us that the wedding was to be covered by Hello! Magazine. And (as you can imagine) our immediate thoughts on this snippet of information were as follows:
Hmmm, this is no biggie, the flowers are certainly going to look A-MAZING, but…. we must make sure Ade’s button hole looks perfect. We cannot abide magazine pictures of wonky button holes!
The morning of a wedding is always a very special and memorable time for any florist (let alone bride or groom!). The day you have working towards has arrived and you finally get to present the first part of your many creations to your clients.
Ade and Elle, stayed at the same City based hotel with a view of St Paul’s. Whilst their hotel rooms were next to each other, the atmosphere in each couldn’t have felt more different. Elle’s was a hive of activity, full of hair and makeup artists with friends and bridesmaids all excitedly rushing to and fro. Edinburgh, London and Nigerian accents could be heard whilst I presented the bride and the bridesmaids with their vibrant statement bouquets.
Next door was a different story, Ade was looking relaxed with his sister and looking out over the view in anticipation of the day ahead. I could tell how excited he was from his chatting: asking how the set-up at St Paul’s Cathedral was going and telling me about the grand-finale firework display over Greenwich Park. All the while I was attaching the most impeccable buttonhole of red roses, thistle, ginger petals and palm fronds to the coolest blue suit with embellished crystals I had ever seen. My overriding thought was:
this button hole is not going to move all day!
The whole wedding day was a delight; we caught glimpses of the couple and their guests as we travelled between venues and stood-by, with silly grins on our faces, as their day unfolded.
And the flowers! Oh the flowers….
The bridal party carried a mix of tropical gingers, gloriosa lily and roses along with asclepia, orchids and dahlia. We wanted each bouquet to be as vivid as the handmade African-print lined dresses and each pedestal design and pew end in the cathedral to be as colourful as the beautiful stained-glass windows.
For the wedding breakfast in the Great Hall of the Queen’s House each table displayed a simple gold vase bursting with unique combinations of the most vivid blooms and foliage from all over the world. Tropical gingers, heliconia and gloriosa. Orchids, protea, anthuriums and asclepia. Croton, kentia, dracaenas, and ferns. Dahlia, hydrangea, delphinium, and thistle. Each table centre was different from the next and each place setting decorated with a tropical monstera leaf and the cutest menu cards we ever did see.
When we look back, it is not only the bright vivid flowers that we remember (did we mention that we could use any flowers we liked, as long as they clashed?) but the wonderful personalities that we worked with on the day. From chatting with two of the coolest female vergers at St Paul’s Cathedral (who gave their seal of approval for the flowers) to being an added tourist attraction to the inquisitive visitors looking round St Paul’s. The incredible caterers, Party Ingredients and the wonderful events team at Queen’s House were as usual, the perfect pros. And as for our stars of the day? Well they were the kindest, happiest and genuinely loveliest couple who truly deserved their very special day.
Two weeks later we received our copy of Hello! and were delighted with the coverage and are pleased to say that the button hole stayed put perfectly!
With thanks to the wonderful and highly talented reportage wedding photographer that is Allister Freeman for images.