Florist Shane Connolly shares the plans for the big day, which includes an aisle of trees

By People Staff
Updated April 26, 2011 12:00 PM
Credit: Sang Tan/AP

Westminster Abbey will be awash with a sea of seasonal British flowers and foliage when Prince William and Kate Middleton say “I do” this Friday.

The royal wedding venue will be decked out with an avenue of trees (some of which will be up to 20 ft. tall!) lining the aisle leading to the altar. And much of the greenery is coming straight from the royal estates.

Shane Connolly, floral artistic director for the wedding, says that Prince William spoke to the Queen, who was delighted to supply the plants, while the majority of the flowers will come from Windsor Great Park. And that’s just what the bride wanted.

“The symbolism means a lot to [Kate] and the sourcing has been hugely important,” says Connolly. He describes Middleton, who has been very involved in the designs, as a “dream client” and “like few other brides I’ve ever met.”

Connolly (who will be working with the Middleton’s Bucklebury family florist Emma Sampson on the event) also reveals that the trees lining the aisle at the abbey will be six English Field Maples and two Hornbeams.

Some Surprises

But he remains tight-lipped on the bridal bouquet which, traditionally, features all-white blooms.

The flowers planned for the abbey decorations may provide some clues, though. Among the varieties: Azaleas, the Chinese symbol of femininity, lilacs, which represent first love, rhododendron and wisteria.

“One of the things that has been very important to Catherine is the meanings of flowers and the language of flowers,” says Connolly. “We’ve tried, especially in the wedding bouquets, to make beautiful stories.”

And the groom? Though surely less interested in the floral-specifics than the bride, William helped in “a nice and encouraging way,” says Connolly.

The overall look for the day, adds the florist, will be understated. “I think you can get ‘wow’ in several ways, and it certainly won’t be ‘Wow, what an extravagance!'” he says. “It will be, ‘Wow, how beautiful’ and hopefully, ‘How perfectly suited to the day and the nature of the marriage.'”

After the wedding, the flowers and plants will be left in Westminster Abbey for the public to view until May 6. After that, the couple has asked that the plants and flowers be donated to charities or re-planted.