Hemlock Hideaway

Kenton and I have a lot in common. After 5 years together, we agree on most everything. But as it turns out, our wedding was the one thing we definitely didn't agree on. My loving husband comes from a large, close-knit family, most of which are his best friends. I, on the other hand, come from a very small family who don't see each other very often. It was never my dream to have a big chapel wedding with hundreds of guests all looking at me as I walk down the aisle. In fact, it was a nightmare of mine! But Kenton always envisioned a scene where all of his family could gather and celebrate together. And so, our very first test was to figure out how we were going to go about tying the knot. After some looking around and a LOT of negotiations, we decided to have a private ceremony with immediate family and close friends to be followed by a public reception. We found the perfect place to celebrate our union at Swallow Falls State Park in Western Maryland. We are huge outdoor enthusiasts, you see. Some of our major passions include backpacking, hiking, bugs and wildlife. So naturally we would fall in love with an outdoor ceremony on the roots of an ancient Hemlock tree, overlooking the falls.

I knew I wanted this wedding to feel natural, but to make it unmistakably a wedding. I used wine bottles, all of which Kenton diligently peeled the labels off of, and old mason jars that I spray painted gold and dusted with vinegar to give a mottled look. We bought a beautiful heirloom macrame to provide a backdrop for the entrance to the pavilion. I visited Etsy more times than I count to find quality items at a great price, and came away with lovely table runners, gold hoops decorated with eucalyptus, and incredible prints welcoming our guests. We had a cousin that generously provided beer. A dear friend who wood burned our guest book. Another friend who made flower crowns. We borrowed outdoor patio lighting, water goblets and wine glasses from friends and family. We bought disposable wooden plates and silver ware, made our own apple butter favors.

We DIY'd so much not only because we were on a budget, but because we loved the step by step process of putting together our wedding! But the best, and I seriously mean the best, part of this whole process was ordering our flowers from Fiftyflowers. I knew I wasn't going to be able to use a florist, not on our budget. So I began looking around for reputable places that I could order from. Walmart, Kroger, Costco, Sam's Club, All Flowers etc...Nothing struck me as special or noteworthy until I found FiftyFlowers. I spent hours pouring over the selections, reading reviews and pricing my orders. I was beyond excited when I placed my final order, coming in under $700.

When the flowers arrived, I was ready. I had flower buckets that the local grocery store gave to me (pro tip- if you need buckets to store your flowers in, head to your grocery store and ask the floral department!) plenty of flower food (also from the grocery store!), a sharp pair of scissors and end-snips, and a clean, dark bathroom. The orders came in undamaged, I only lost two blooms as I un-packaged the lot. The instructions were simple and clear and the flowers needed nothing else, other than a little love.

Watching the flowers grow and bloom was so enjoyable. I was 100% sure that my flowers were going to survive until my wedding day. I ended up buying a few bunches of leather leaf, baby's breath and luecedendron because my local Kroger happened to have them and I just couldn't resist! Once I had all of my flowers tucked away in the bathroom, I pondered how best to transport them! We live over an hour away from the ceremony site and were setting everything up ourselves. Thankfully, I kept all of the boxes the flowers were originally shipped in and I was able to GENTLY repackage them for the trip. All except the roses and dahlias, which I had carefully tucked between the boxes.

The night before the wedding we checked into our lodge, just a few short minutes away from the park and I set to work on making the bouquets, boutonnieres and centerpieces. I had tons of twine from my craft drawer that I put to work on the bouquets instead of ribbon. I used floral tape to hold together the boutonnieres, all of which I affixed with a large safety pin. The centerpieces were made from leftover greenery and flowers by myself and all of my lovely ladies. Everyone had their own style and it showed in the floral work! I loved the team effort and the diversity. It was such fun to hang out with a bunch of great ladies and put everything together.

The next day we went to set up the pavilion at 7:00 AM! No sleep for this lady, but who can really sleep the night before their wedding, anyway? After a few short hours, we had the place clean, decorated and looking amazing. We had so many left over flowers we were able to make bunches of greenery to dangle from the rafters, to adorn the welcome sign, intersperse the catering chafers with extra centerpiece bottles, and accompany the lanterns in the pavilion windows. Every boutonniere and bouquet was slightly different and everyone got to chose their own. The versatility and quality of the flowers were beyond my wildest expectations. By the end of the day, people were taking bottles home them alongside their favors. I received messages days after remarking how incredible it was that the flowers were still going strong. Myself, I dried all of the leftover flowers and greens I could get a hold of and made them into a wreath that I now hang on my wall. I will cherish it always.

There are so many things that cause stress leading up to and during a wedding, but I can honestly say that the flowers were the most enjoyable and reliable part of the whole process for me. I never once worried about them, never wondered how I was going to make things work. Every time I felt stressed about other aspects of the wedding, I looked at the flowers and was instantly calm. I cannot express enough how very much I appreciate Fiftyflowers. All I can say is that I would recommend this site to anyone, for any occasion. Thank you for making my wedding so wonderful, it would not have been the same without you.

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