BIG is beautiful for bride-to-be Deborah Langley – at least when it comes to the wedding flowers.
The winner of the Bride of the Year competition, run by the Hartlepool Mail in conjunction with Robert Usher Photography, knows exactly what she wants florally on her big day when she marries fiancé Andrew Mullen, 39.
“The bigger the better,” said the 44-year-old as she surveyed the vast array of choices at A Secret Garden, in Elwick Road.
“You’ve got to make a statement,” she added.
But we will have to wait until September to find out the finer details of that statement. She is keeping her wedding day colour scheme a closely guarded secret.
But that does not stop her from singing the praises of the wonderful choices at A Secret Garden which has been trading since January 2008 when owner Carl Blake first opened it.
“It’s all beautiful,” she tells us as she laps up the fun of visiting each of the sponsors in this year’s competition.
They have come together to provide a prize package worth more than £12,000 and Carl is delighted to be part of it all again.
He said: “People are finding it hard to save for a wedding but we still got 110 weddings for this year.
“We are finding more and more that people in this country are falling in line with trends in the USA. They are having bigger and bigger weddings.”
And the in-colour this year is a deep shade of purple, adds Carl. “Fifty per cent of our weddings must have that colour in them.”
In another new twist, he revealed how he has now started collecting flowers from his suppliers in Holland himself.
“It is better for us both in terms of price and quality. We get plants and flowers.
“It just means we can buy what we want and get on an aeroplane.”
Attention to detail is important at A Secret Garden where each customer gets to discuss their requirements – with wedding books and computer pictures to browse through.
This year Carl’s part of our wedding package is flowers for the bride and three bridesmaids as well as the men’s buttonholes in a package worth £350.
He is also providing £200 of chair covers.
And Deborah is determined to keep a permanent reminder of her big day.
“I am not throwing my bouquet,” she said. “I want to keep it.”
She admits the excitement is mounting – and there’s certainly no danger of her ever losing track of the days until she marries.
“There are 104 sleeps to go,” she told us on the day of the photocall, “and I know that because I have got the countdown recorded on my mobile phone!”