How to create a rustic wedding and not cringe!

Rustic weddings have become a huge trend which doesn’t seem to be fading. Defined as “having a simplicity and charm that is considered typical of the countryside” the word usually brings to mind a bad mix of lace, hessian and babies breath. Most floral designers I know steer clear of the word. Being a florist based in the Hunter Valley with some of the most beautiful country style venues I hear the word a lot and these are my top tips for creating that rustic style that doesn’t make you cringe!


  1. Whatever you do don’t type “Rustic wedding” into Pinterest - this should be against the law! (Extra jail time for “DIY Rustic wedding”)

Golden fields of grasses are a common site in the Hunter Valley

Golden fields of grasses are a common site in the Hunter Valley

2. Consider your venue! Usually it is the location that makes brides think they should go rustic with their theme. Some of my favourite venues to work at have beautiful raw timber, rusted corrugated iron, and paddocks of grasses so I can completely understand why you would feel that the only thing that would suit would be more of the same. This is where I would recommend to hold back! If a venue has raw timber beams with timber tables and trees all around, it already evokes a country, natural vibe and therefore any more can be overkill. Let the building speak for itself and invest in beautiful natural elements that will stand out from all the brown.

If you’re in the country side you can bet that your photos will already have a country feel going on!

If you’re in the country side you can bet that your photos will already have a country feel going on!

3. DIY - generally I’m not for it. You should not be giving yourself extra work to do! But if you want to do it, keep it simple and definitely speak to your floral designer or stylist first! They may be able to save you a lot of time and effort. Trust me - hot glueing lace on to a million jars may seem like a good idea but after all that time, effort and money, they often don’t even look that great, then after the wedding, you are stuck with a million jars!

Most florists/stylists will have their own vases or can point you in the direction to hire - this saves a money/time/stress and they will be able to guide you towards what is going to work best with your florals!

Most florists/stylists will have their own vases or can point you in the direction to hire - this saves a money/time/stress and they will be able to guide you towards what is going to work best with your florals!

Aged vessels and rambling arrangements can create a beautiful garden vibe

Aged vessels and rambling arrangements can create a beautiful garden vibe

4. Babies breath - One of the most controversial flowers ever! I don’t really understand why they are included in rustic weddings as I honestly have never seen it growing in the country side! Plus, let’s please put to rest the belief that it is cheap - this is highly untrue!! Babies breath definitely has it’s place as an awesome flower, using it en masse can create dreamy clouds which I LOVE!
I don’t love mixing it with other cottage garden florals taking me back to the 80’s.. I usually recommend some other stunning delicate white flowers that are a great substitute such as - Geraldton Wax, Thryp, Misty, Micromerdis and Tea tree. Most of these are natives and can easily be bought from local growers which are another bonus!

There are a million other dainty white flowers which have the bonus of being seasonal, local, natural and unique without breaking the budget.

There are a million other dainty white flowers which have the bonus of being seasonal, local, natural and unique without breaking the budget.

5. Hessian! I don’t hate it but I do think it overwhelms in a venue which is already so rustic. If you are liking it for it’s natural texture and style consider a crumpled linen or muslin - This will still give you the vibe but you can also dye it in any colour you like, meaning less brown on brown!

Crinkled natural fabrics such as linen, muslin, chiffon and silk can create that relaxed organic style whilst lightening up a timber table.

Crinkled natural fabrics such as linen, muslin, chiffon and silk can create that relaxed organic style whilst lightening up a timber table.

6. Lace - Again, lace is stunning! I think it has a similar rule to babies breath - either make a feature out of it or pull back. Maybe even use it somewhere other than styling - like having lace in your wedding dress. Lots of little bits of lace everywhere can create a Grandma’s cottage look - totally unsexy on your wedding day..

Lace incorporated perfectly in this relaxed wedding infused with natives and fun!

Lace incorporated perfectly in this relaxed wedding infused with natives and fun!

7. Natives! Yes and yes! My main advice with natives is don’t feel you need to use ONLY natives, they can mix beautifully with roses, dahlias, almost any other flower. ALSO, try to have a colour palette. Mixed coloured natives can start to look a little too much like a Woolies bunch. I like to do a more monochromatic palette - such as blush pink/red/burgundy, or white/grey/green or burnt orange/red/brown. There are a million native flowers out there that you won’t even realise exist so seek out the sweet delicate varieties that pair beautifully with the stronger banksia and proteas we all know and love.

Grasses, natives and unique foliage colourings in this organic and natural bouq!

Grasses, natives and unique foliage colourings in this organic and natural bouq!

8. Sunflowers - I think everyone loves em! They are such a stunning flower and steal the show which can sometimes make it a bit tricky to use in flower arrangements. My tips with sunflowers is to blend in with a colour palette so they don’t contrast too strongly. Try using lots of different shades of yellows and oranges and consider using foliage that isn’t too green, such as browns, greys, burgundies or even dried foliages and grasses. My biggest tip is to use Chocolate Sunflowers - these babies are such an incredible colour and look stunning combined with other flowers!

Choccie sunflowers incorporated in this beautiful autumn wedding backdrop

Choccie sunflowers incorporated in this beautiful autumn wedding backdrop

So, these are the main things I think about with rustic themed weddings - but my biggest pieces of advice would be to choose a VIBE not a THEME! Themes can date very quickly. If you are leaning towards rustic, think about what you are actually liking about it. Is it the raw, natural look - in this case, opt for organic flower arrangements and natural fabrics in your styling. Is it a relaxed feel? Consider an acoustic band and a grazing table to create that vibe. Do you just love sunflowers? Get married in Autumn! Obsessed with cows? You do you, girl! Think about what you are actually trying to evoke and focus on that!

Ashlee Wheelhouse
Avocado skins/calendula/tumeric

So my flower buddies Kate (Two Wild Hands) and Rach (Botanica Bird) came over to dye! We've been collecting food scraps, coffee and plants to attempt some natural plant dyes. 

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We each made a pot of various colours - I chose orange (best colour) and used hibiscus, rose petals, orange peels and rose hips (didn't work haha!) 

My FAVOURITE part was bundle dyeing! It is so so fun, super easy and the results are so exciting! All there is to it is sprinkling the prettiest flower scraps along the material and rolling it up into a little bundle (flower joint)! Steam it like a dumpling and voila! Beautiful speckled ribbons!!!

Steam it up!

Steam it up!

This is going to be my new way to use up flower waste and food scraps #eco!!!!

Delish!

Delish!

Also, just a heads up, don't EVER let the pot of dye boil dry!!!!!!!!! EVVVEEEEERRRRR!!!!

Ashlee Wheelhouse
Banksia/camping/fog

Last week I did flowers for a wedding in Berry (awesome) and then went on a little camping trip. I'm going to Tasmania for a month in May for an elopement/mega camping trip so this was a practice, testing out the rooftop tent, figuring out what we were missing (olive oil) or didn't really need in the car (three different types of cups), fitting flowers and camping gear in the car (doesn't work).

One of the highlights was my temporary flower studio in the mountains of Berry, creating bouquets outdoors with cows and kangaroos watching me has to be the best way to flower, right?

Thank you for your imput, Buttercup.

Thank you for your imput, Buttercup.

This was a trip of Banksia appreciation

This was a trip of Banksia appreciation

After the wedding, we explored the South Coast, Kangaroo Valley, the Southern Highlands and popped up into the blue mountains, discovering Megalong Valley for the first time! I love all the changing vegetation, wildflowers and banksias in the scrub changing into rainforest ferns then stunning white sand beaches to farmland and rivers with massive gum trees and lichen everywhere

Wearing in my new hiking boots

Wearing in my new hiking boots

Another thing I love is seeing the flowers/greenery that you buy from the Flower Markets growing in the wild, it gives you a better understanding of how the plants works and of course, I am a believer in using a flower in the most natural way, so to see it out of the bunches in buckets, wrapped in cardboard or placed in a bouquet is an eye-opener.

Massive Lambs Ear growing wild in a misty field

Massive Lambs Ear growing wild in a misty field

After an adventurous (scary) 4x4 drive through the foggy mountains we had a quick stop in at the Blue Mountains Botanical gardens. I didn't get to see the whole place but I will be back to finish that one! Here is some flower porn:

Tumbling dahlia at the botanical gardens

Tumbling dahlia at the botanical gardens

Crokia! I've never seen this grow!

Crokia! I've never seen this grow!

Waratah!

Waratah!

This week is back in Newcastle with some exciting styled shoots coming up! Keep an eye out for more adventures soon!

Film/ghosts/abandoned buildings
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First things first, I got a film camera for christmas. A Canon AE - 1. I am still learning to use it, still getting many blurry/under/over exposed shots back but the ones that work I'm obsessed with. The dreamy softness, the depth and the colours! Still being a novice, I am posting the pictures because I am a firm believer in looking back at your work and seeing the flaws, and I take pleasure in knowing I have improved (hopefully!)

Before the storm rolled through

Before the storm rolled through

These images are from a styled shoot I organised involving some special friends -  Barefoot and Bearded, Chic Artistry, Ruby Compton, Rob Birchall and Songbird Silk.

It was located in an incredibly beautiful abandoned building, partly falling down, partly overgrown, dripping with water and definitely haunted. I don't usually stress on shoots but this one got me nervous, the weather was crazy storms, the location was slightly dodgy and I had such a strong idea of what I wanted it to look like in my mind I didn't know if it would be as good in real life.

Exploring the architecture with Ruby

Exploring the architecture with Ruby

Honestly, I don't know why I should ever worry with these guys, they are a dream to work with. Always interpreting my bad explanations and hand waving. Each time we work together I mumble some random words like "light! But cool shadows! But edgy! Also soft!" then just give up and say "do what you do" and every time they produce something better than I could have imagined.

Cool shadows!

Cool shadows!

Seriously, most epic shoot I have ever been involved in.

Thank you to Tanya for letting me create a Flower Hawk hairstyle, I think it was my favourite element. Check out the film made by the talented Rob here and the images shot by Joel here and here. Take note of the incredible ribbons hand dyed by Tamara, the breeze that came through the broken windows picked up the silk ribbons and the light reflected from the charcoal velvet ribbon she made especially. And a little shoutout to Brooke from The Posy Post for lending me her Lover dresses x

The Flower Hawk

The Flower Hawk

Those ribbons!

Those ribbons!

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Climbing higher

Climbing higher

Insightful graffiti

Insightful graffiti

Pink Pampas/mushrooms/english breakfast tea
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Driving to visit my flower friend Kate (Two Wild Hands) is a dangerous drive due to the rain and the quality greenery along the side of the road. Silver wattle, wild tea tree and fields of grasses are very distracting! I've pulled over to hike through the rain and sticky beaks to forage some magnificent pink pampas grass, which I am allergic to (hayfever and grass allergy, let's become a florist!), and, as the leaves are razor sharp, results in millions of cuts which spread into a rash along my arms.

Totally worth it by the way!!!

Showing Kate my battle scars we stare at the shimmering feathers discuss every thing we know know about the amazing stuff.
It's SO lovely to have talented friends who share my obsession. Shout out to all the super supportive flower ladies who have helped and encouraged me in the last few months as a start my business, attempting to figure out logos/websites/quoting/markets etc. I am still so amazed and grateful for your kindness!

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We drink cups of tea in Kate's tiny house, watching the wallabies in the rain and laughing at her cat, Villie, as he wanders in and out.

As I head out the door I get the tour of the garden roses, strawberry patch and the definite highlight, this cute as a button mushroom!

Happy International Woman's Day everyone!