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Royal Wedding: The Self-Taught Florist Behind the Scenes

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Royal Wedding: The Self-Taught Florist Behind the Scenes

April 5, 2018

In the midst of foreboding international news, Brits are currently lapping up every frothy detail of the impending nuptials of Prince Harry and his American bride-to-be, Meghan Markle. The latest is the couple’s choice of wedding florist.

Last weekend Philippa Craddock was chosen for one of the most important jobs for the May 19 royal wedding—organizing the flowers for St. George’s Chapel and St. George’s Hall in Windsor. It’s the icing on the cake for the self-taught Sussex and London-based florist, who launched her business just under a decade ago. Craddock has quickly built up a reputation as one of London’s top event florists, bringing her signature glamour to Tiffany, Dior, Jo Malone, and Selfridges (where she has also had a shop since 2015.)

But how will Craddock tackle the grand setting of St George’s? For clues about what to expect, we turned to her Instagram feed.

Photography via @philippacraddock.

A behind-the-scenes glimpse of Craddock&#8\2\17;s studio in London.
Above: A behind-the-scenes glimpse of Craddock’s studio in London.

The young couple will no doubt have been lured by Craddock’s extremely fashionable client list as well as her romantic and naturalistic approach.

Dahlias from the cutting garden. &#8\2\20;I love the imperfections and jaunty angles of these flowers. And although some of the stems are short, a mixed height of vases ensures none are wasted,&#8\2\2\1; says Craddock.
Above: Dahlias from the cutting garden. “I love the imperfections and jaunty angles of these flowers. And although some of the stems are short, a mixed height of vases ensures none are wasted,” says Craddock.

In the past Craddock has talked of her own passion for seasonal “wild and loose” arrangements and her designs have included luxuriant boughs dripping in flowers and foliage suspended over tonal table arrangements as well as opulent floral walls and ceilings.

&#8\2\20;The Orangery at @kensingtonpalace in all its glory&#8\2\2\1; for a wedding reception last year.
Above: “The Orangery at @kensingtonpalace in all its glory” for a wedding reception last year.

But how will Craddock tackle the grand setting of St. George’s? The extraordinary Gothic structure, with its towering vaulted stone ceiling, has hosted royal weddings and Christenings (including Prince Harry’s) for centuries and has been closely associated with British royalty ever since it was commissioned by Edward III in 1348.

Craddock also hosts bespoke floral workshops. For information, see Philippa Craddock.
Above: Craddock also hosts bespoke floral workshops. For information, see Philippa Craddock.

The news of Craddock’s appointment was accompanied by a flurry of tweets from Kensington Palace, which gave us a taste of what to expect on the day—and it sounds like a luscious and typically English spring theme.

A jumble of peonies, roses, lavender, nigella, and Queen Anne&#8\2\17;s lace, which royal wedding florist Craddock describes as &#8\2\20;country bright, bold, and colorful&#8\2\2\1; may offer a hint of her intentions.
Above: A jumble of peonies, roses, lavender, nigella, and Queen Anne’s lace, which royal wedding florist Craddock describes as “country bright, bold, and colorful” may offer a hint of her intentions.

Abundant and naturalistic displays will be the order of the day, with locally sourced foliage from the gardens and parkland of the Crown. The royal parks in London alone cover 5,000 acres and Windsor Great Park covers the same acreage again. The latter is a stone’s throw from the venue and has ancient woodland, and Craddock and her team (which will include florists from St. George’s Chapel and Buckingham Palace) will forage beech, birch, and hornbeam in addition to sourcing wildflowers from royal parkland.

In Craddock&#8\2\17;s studio, &#8\2\20;petite milk bottles, once loved fragrance bottles and old jam jars make great use for smaller stems and off-cuts from larger arrangements.&#8\2\2\1;
Above: In Craddock’s studio, “petite milk bottles, once loved fragrance bottles and old jam jars make great use for smaller stems and off-cuts from larger arrangements.”

Flowers will be seasonal, including Meghan’s favorite peonies, along with foxgloves and white garden roses—in a fitting nod to the stunning white garden that was created at Kensington Palace in Princess Diana’s memory last summer.

Perhaps Harry will follow in his brother William’s footsteps and call in some horticultural favors from his father’s lavish gardens at Highgrove House too. Prince Charles’s beautiful wildflower meadows and expansive 15 acres of formal gardens are set in an estate of over 1,000 acres.

Craddock worked with &#8\2\20;stunning scented stocks&#8\2\2\1; for a wedding last year.
Above: Craddock worked with “stunning scented stocks” for a wedding last year.

Whatever the bride chooses, her wedding bouquet is sure to follow royal tradition and include myrtle—a symbol of love and hope and a tradition that dates to 1840, when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert. The wedding flowers are also likely to influence what other less regal brides choose for their own ceremonies in the coming months and years.

Florist at work. The royal wedding flowers &#8\2\20;will be a true reflection of them as a couple, with sustainability at the forefront,&#8\2\2\1; says Craddock. Photograph via Philippa Craddock.
Above: Florist at work. The royal wedding flowers “will be a true reflection of them as a couple, with sustainability at the forefront,” says Craddock. Photograph via Philippa Craddock.

According to Brides magazine, William and Kate’s 2012 wedding flowers inspired couples for years after the big day (especially the avenue of 20 field maples that brought the outdoors into Westminster Abbey). Let’s hope Harry and Meghan—and Philippa Craddock—can pull off something just as gorgeous.

With wedding season under way, see more inspiration and our favorite wedding flowers:

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