Big, beautiful flowers for an August wedding

Do you consider yourself an extrovert? Then an August wedding is a fabulous opportunity to include ‘hot’ colours and big blooms in your floral decorations.

The delicate flowers of spring and early summer are over. This is the month for bold chrysanthemums, the brightly-coloured dahlia, the sunny yellow of the sunflower and blousy hydrangea heads.

By the end of the month, things are changing again as autumnal colours and grasses start to take over. But, for the first couple of weeks in August in particular, you can max out on colour and size as much as you like.

More importantly, perhaps, this is a month where your flowers can easily be sourced in the UK, rather than using air-miles to freight them in from elsewhere.

Read on to find out how to design your August flowers so that they reflect your dreams for a long and happy life together.


‘Mums’ might be what your grandad used to grow in the garden but there’s a reason they’re still popular. They come in a huge variety of colours and, as these two pictures show, a remarkable range of flower heads.

Perfect as a wedding choice because they represent fidelity, optimism and long life. However, you might want to avoid yellow mums which symbolise slighted love!

Chrysanthemum Bold Gretchen
Chrysanthemum Vesuvius


The dahlia has long been used as the flower to give as a gift for a couple getting married because it represents eternal love. It’s also known as the birth flower for August. So, if you have a birthday AND you’re getting married this month, it’s a winner.

The striking blooms add body to a bouquet with multi-layered petals.


Gladioli are stately flowers that stand tall at the back of flower beds and they represent strength of character and faithfulness


‘Thank you for understanding’ is one of the messages sent with the hydrangea.

The multi flowered heads bring body and texture to floral decorations.

Hydrangea hortensia


The striking calla lily has the meaning of beauty. They and others come in fabulous colours and would make a wonderful statement flower, perhaps even being used as a single stem. Traditionally, however, lilies have been associated with meanings that you might not want to bring into your wedding. White ones for funerals, for example, and orange ones were once used to express hatred. Be careful which you choose.

Calla Lily Zantedeschia


According to the Victorians, sunflowers represent adoration. The meaning comes from the ancient Greek myth of Clytie, who fell in love with the sun god, Helios. Even when she was buried alive and turned into a flower, (which is often given as the sunflower) Clytie continued to follow her love as he moved across the sky.


Although Zinnias start blooming earlier in the year, they’re still in abundance throughout August. Their longevity means they are often associated with endurance and lasting affection.

A ribbon to tie up your memories

Some of the bereaved families I speak with are quite confused when I ask if they would like the funeral ceremony to be a celebration of life.

I think they imagine I’m suggesting we have dancing in the aisles (I have done that!) and balloons (done that too!).

But even a more traditional funeral can include touches that truly celebrate the life of the person who has gone.

Take this ribbon, for example, already chosen by the family before I met them. The colour was the favourite of the person we were honouring and it’s perhaps no coincidence that it matched his sunny nature as well. His name was printed on each one.

But it’s the words that are particularly meaningful.

‘Laugh a lot, sing often, keep smiling’.

The family could have chosen any words. But the tributes given during the ceremony spoke about how he brought laughter to those around him and how he loved to sing along to his favourite pop tunes.

The words also recognise his concern, in his last days, that those he loved should continue to have happy lives, even without him.

Simple words but chosen with meaning and love.

A ribbon was given to each mourner, with a pin, before the ceremony began so that they had time to reflect and to pin it over their heart before walking into the chapel.

Wearing this symbol of remembrance united everyone in their loss at a time when coming together and supporting each other is of the greatest importance.

It also served as a reminder that a life lived well is something to celebrate, even as we mourn the fact that it is over.

I was privileged to wear one of the ribbons myself and it is now fastened to a board in my office. It’s a constant visual reminder of a lovely man who is missed more than words can say but who will never be forgotten by the people who shared his life.

If you would like to arrange a similar way to celebrate a life, contact me or search for ‘Awareness Ribbons’ online. Companies offer a range of colours and you can choose the words that have a unique meaning for you and your loved one.

Susan Flipping


Twitter: @KentCeremonies

What’s in a name?

This is a version of an article I co-wrote for the online magazine, Farewells ( It explains why I’m so proud to be part of the professional organisation that is setting the national standards for funeral celebrants.

At the beginning of a new year, it can be tempting to think about a bit of a re-brand. If ‘a rose by any other name would smell as sweet’, what about a name change just to shake things up?

It can work. Perhaps you’ve never heard of Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web. But I bet you’ve heard of Yahoo, which is what it changed its name to in 1995.

On the other hand, look at the big brands that took a tumble when they tried a name change. The Royal Mail famously became Consignia in 2001 – and just as famously quietly went back to the old name just 12 months later.

For businesses in the funeral sector, their name is their reputation. Many funeral directors have a lineage stretching back several generations and it’s why, even though hundreds of them are now (often quite surreptitiously) in the hands of national chains, they’ve kept the name that local people know and respect.

It’s also why the organisation of which I’m a member – the oldest celebrant organisation in the UK and the only one dedicated to funerals – is proudly staying with the name The Institute of Civil Funerals (IoCF), despite briefly considering a change in 2020.

It is a name that says everything about its reputation.

The Institute of Civil Funerals is unique because only one organisation in any industry can have the right to be an Institute and the name comes with the responsibility of being a ‘professional body of the highest standing’. It is a protected term at Companies House and any other celebrant organisation using the term does so illegitimately.

An Institute also has to demonstrate that its activities are regulated and that it is committed to supporting training.

It means every IoCF member, like me, has already achieved the highest celebrancy qualification and is committed to helping families create the best possible funeral ceremonies for their loved ones – or even for themselves.

What would a ‘good’ celebrant mean for you?

A survey was published in September 2019 called ‘Funeral Experts by experience: what matters to them’ by Dr Julie Rugg, from the University of York and Dr Sarah Jones, from Full Circle Funerals. They interviewed people who had arranged a funeral to find out their experiences – including the use of a celebrant.

Some respondents spoke positively about celebrants who created a truly personal service, who worked closely with all family members and made suggestions that were appropriate for the deceased and the family. Unfortunately, there were others who remembered that the celebrant had got names and even genders wrong, who failed to consult or guide the family and who left them feeling as though they were on a conveyor belt.

Shocking, isn’t it?

IoCF is keen to set the bar high for its members because we believe that no family should have a poor experience arranging a funeral. That’s really kicking someone when they’re down.

‘The ‘Funeral Experts by experience’ survey shows what people want from a celebrant; sadly it also confirms that some celebrants just don’t meet the mark.

Until the time that funeral celebrants are regulated – and sadly, I think we’re a long way off that – families need an organisation like the IoCF.

They can be confident that every member on the IoCF website has already proved themselves as a fully qualified and professional celebrant and is regularly peer reviewed to ensure they stay that way.

They can be confident telling their funeral director that only an IoCF celebrant will do to help them with the overwhelmingly important task of arranging the final event in the life of their loved one.

For IoCF, it’s important to have not just a recognisable ‘brand’ but also to have integrity with the business name.

Change doesn’t always smell sweeter.