My main goal for the decorations was that they would all be put together at home in the weeks before the event, and then deployed in an effortless sweep when we got there, so we could enjoy spending time with people the night before. It was a good plan and for a couple not undergoing major house renovations or moving continents during the pre-wedding build up, it could have worked (yes, we decided to complete all the most stressful things you can do in your life AT THE SAME TIME). The strength of this plan was based on the fact that it was an Autumn wedding so all the seasonal decorations would be dead - dried leaves, seed heads, sticks and pine cones.
We did a BRILLIANT job collecting all the stuff in the months before the wedding - mainly because it was fun - and I wish I'd taken more pictures of our excursions and bounty. We brought down amazing lichen covered twigs (I really like lichen) and driftwood from Scotland when we visited around easter last year - although that return car trip is a story too traumatic to be retold involving flat tires, cat wee and 13 hours on the road. We picked fresh green leaves to dry in the spring. We carried home bags and bags of pine cones from a Summer wedding. When the Autumn came we spent scant happy hours in the parks of London picking up leaves as they fell from the trees - spurred on by a paranoia that all the leaves would vanish overnight somehow. Dan used to come home from work with them pressed into his laptop bag, unable to resist the giant dinosaur's feet in South Kensington.
We tried to get a mix of leaves, but we discovered that the London Plane is fairly unsurpassed in the breadth of the colour, size, texture and resplendent shape of its leaves. The leaves have a waxy coating which means they dry very well without losing their colour - this waxy coating is the result of the London Plane's unnatural heritage and helps them survive in the Big Smoke (they are so successful as a city-air purifying tree they can be found all over the world, even here in Philly). It also makes them the bane of the Natural History Museam's wildlife garden, because the leaves don't rot as easily as those of native trees - suffocating what gets smothered beneath them.
We gathered fruit boxes from the veg stalls at the bottom of the road and stacked them up in the house to dry our bounty. As we approached W-day (when someone started panicking about not having enough leaves - naming no names) they just ended up in piles on the floor. The house was penetrated with the smell of woodland and Autumn - which I liked a lot, it was a tiny bit like living in a forest, if that forest was also a building site. I'd planned to make giant wreathes to decorate the venue, mounted on spare bicycle wheels of Dans - this didn't happen. I'd also wanted to pre-fill all the glassware we bought to decorate the tables. This also didn't happen. I wanted to pre-essemble all the leaf bunting at home - this 50% did happen (thank god), but we probably ended up with about 50% of the amount I'd been hoping for the day even after everyone, very supportively, pitched in.