Growing wedding flowers

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, August 28th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Wedding flowers. 

American couples spend about 8 percent of their overall wedding budget on bouquets, boutonnieres, and reception arrangements.

But some choose to buck that trend, and not just for economic reasons. Over the summer, WORLD Radio’s Kim Henderson chronicled one couple’s attempt to cultivate their own wedding flowers. Here’s their story.

KIM HENDERSON, REPORTER: When John Young’s bride-to-be suggested a hand-grown/hand-picked approach to the wedding flowers, the Midwestern Seminary student wasn’t surprised.  

JOHN: It’s just part of who she is  . . . just part of what she usually does. 

SAM: These are the tiniest seeds ever. [Sound of seeds rattling]

Sam Young grew up around gardens. She even worked at a local nursery, sometimes transplanting more than a thousand tomato plants in a single day. 

SAM: I’m planting the amaranth…it kinda looks like birdseed…

So she knew June 1st was a late start for flowers for an August wedding, especially in a deep-South growing zone. But she wanted to try anyway.

SAM: Zinnias are always sure-fire for in the heat, the amaranth is – that’s an experiment – but it’s supposed to do well here… [LAUGHTER]

To increase their odds for a good yield, the Youngs plant flowers in three locations: at Sam’s home, her family’s farm, and on a friend’s property clear across the county. Afterall, wedding flowers are a sort of crop. And crops are subject to lots of variables. 

SAM: We never know what the weather is going to throw at us with this. It could be crazy hot this year. It could just monsoon… 

That’s why the couple says they see parallels between growing wedding flowers and saying “I do.” 

JOHN: You still have to prepare the ground if you plant seeds in an area that is loaded with weeds or the soil is not ready for it, or a bad part of the season or something, you’re setting yourself up for failure. You have to set a godly, Christ-centered, uh, foundation. 

SAM: We’re going to check on the flowers that we planted out here about 5 weeks ago…

Five weeks after seeds are sown, plants are emerging at all three sites. Sam and her dad make a trek out to the farm to see how things are progressing there. They discover it’s not all rosy.

DAD: The deer seem to particularly seem to like whatever that is.
SAM: Yeah.
DAD: And the sunflowers, they ate every sunflower we had, although…

Deer are no respecter of gardens—particularly in a shared habitat involving 50 feet of flowers beds. But Sam isn’t deterred. 

SAM:I don’t know, with what’s left, they might be doing us a favor [LAUGHTER] because some of these, to get really good long stems on them, you’re supposed to pinch the tops out of them, and so the deer might be taking care of that for us.
DAD: As long as they know when to stop.
SAM: Right. 

They move on to watering duties. She aims the nozzle while he wrangles hoses.

Evenings like this for the father and daughter are special. In little more than a month, Sam will be married and living 700 miles away.   

And to her credit, the bride-to-be is low on the stress meter. 

SAM: Now, everything is really in hand. It’s just kind of a matter of letting it play out. So with the flowers or the food or wedding attendants, clothes, or anything, it’s going to be what it’s going to be.

The next weeks bring triple-digit temperatures and a steady supply of pop-up rains. Two days before the wedding, John and Sam ride a Kubota utility vehicle through a field to harvest their flowers.

SAM: Here goes nothing!
JOHN: Time to get to work…

SAM: There’s a lot of blooms here. Lots of really, really pretty ones. The weeds are high, but the flowers are poking their head above them…

They cut stems and pull leaves, then put the sunflowers and cosmos in plastic oyster buckets filled with water. 

SAM: Those will look so pretty with those hydrangea that we’ve got…

John and Sam are clearly enjoying themselves. And making this “grow-your-own wedding flowers” idea look pretty good.  

JOHN: I mean, we’re not trying to do this huge fanatic wedding fanatic spectacular strapaganza thing.
KIM: Did he say strapaganza?
JOHN: We’re not trying to have a strapaganza for a wedding. [LAUGHTER]
KIM: Is that a Texas term? . .

August 10th dawns bright and beautiful – perfect for a morning wedding. 

MUSIC: [Sands of Time Are Sinking]

A favorite hymn—“The Sands of Time Are Sinking”—echoes down the wide church aisle when Sam enters on her father’s arm.

Along the way, they pass 36 floral arrangements. Church friends put them together the day prior, when the fellowship hall was a beehive of activity.     

CHURCH MEMBER: Right now we’re building the foundation so those flowers will have something to rest in. Put the pretties in last. [LAUGHTER]

AUDIO: [Sound of flower arranging in Fellowship Hall]  

The scene was just like Sam described back in June. 

SAM: Our church is so good at teamwork. It’s really a sweet reminder of Christian community and fellowship. And I’m looking forward to making all those memories with those people too. 

PASTOR: It is my honor to introduce to you for the very first time Mr. and Mrs. John Carlton Young… 

Right after the reception, the Youngs are headed to Missouri, where they have an apartment waiting for them at the seminary on Great Commission Drive. They say growing their flowers—with all the weather concerns and the deer surprises—helped them prepare.

JOHN: You know, it’ll be a different climate and having to kind of together figure out what can we do there?  

SAM: You know, here we are, looking at being married for the rest of our lives. We don’t know what we’re going to face but we have hope. We’re not relying on ourselves. We’re relying on God’s sustenance and His grace to get us through everything that life throws at us.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Kim Henderson reporting from Bogue Chitto, Mississippi.

(Photo/Kim Henderson)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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