Guest Blog – Kelly Scawin – Floral Designer – Hand-Picked Flower Company

My husband and I were lucky enough to book Old Forest School for our wedding in 2016. It ticked all the boxes for us as we had friends and family coming from all over the world and we really wanted to bring them together in style.

Old Forest School offered us the outdoor setting we had been searching for with the security of the school house in the event of rain. The outdoor games are a great ice-breaker for guests that haven’t met before and just having the freedom to move from one cool spot to another and actually enjoying every conversation and not being interrupted by phones ringing or social media was a big plus for us as we wanted everyone to be in the moment.

Su-an and Alistair were welcoming hosts from the moment we met. They dished out helpful information and guided us on all the things. The most helpful thing was a goodie bag full of vendor contacts. Because as you all know it’s a minefield out there and choosing the right vendors for your day are key to making it a success.

Now days I’m in that goodie bag!!! My wedding day was a massive turning point in my life and soon afterwards I left my career in hospitality management to pursue my love for flowers. After putting in the hard yards learning all I could, I started up my own floral design business. Hand- Picked Flower Company.

I get a real kick out of working with couples who have chosen to get married at OFS. With knowing the venue as intimately as I do, I know they are in safe hands with me. I am so passionate about my couples having the best day and I love to run a little wild with my creations especially for installations on the ladder above the head table and of course the magnificent ceremony archway.

Here’s just a few of my favourite weddings from the 2018/19 season which were at Old Forest School…


Supplier Credits:  

Mel & Steve
Dress: @vinkadesign
Hair: @hair_by_yvana
Makeup: @nkdmakeup
Caterer: @herefordkitchen  

Hayley & Cameron
Photographer – bespoketaupo
Dress – Daisy Brides – Katie Yeung
Hair – Hair by Juanita 
Make up – NKD 

Wedding Venue Owners attend the Flowertime Show in Brussels

In August we (Su-an and Alistair) had the chance to attend a huge floral show in Brussels. For 5 days Flowertime presents Europes top floral artists a chance to decorate the historic rooms of the City Hall of Brussels from wall to floor to ceiling.

The Town Hall of Brussels is within the Grand Place which is the main square in the historic centre of Brussels.

With more than 100,000 flowers, 30 plus floral artists and 13 magnificent historical rooms. Flowertime is a treat for any flower or architecture lover. We took the opportunity to photograph many of the floral masterpieces, the displays were breathtaking, artistic and sculptural.

There were many examples of using structures to create interesting shapes and forms as a backdrop for the florals. Wooden hoops, archways, large metal canopy structures, small wooden boxes with glass jars, or huge oval wooden hanging shapes.

Even some wedding inspiration using a collection of old bicycles and trikes.

String was used extensively to create height and vertical interest.

Lights were intertwined within the floral installations.

Natural structures were also used, a combination of tree branches arranged artistically with colourful bouquet balls and a moss ground cover or a backdrop of bamboo sticks tied together to again create vertical interest. Twigs and berries made for a wonderful almost fairy like arrangement.

It was an amazing experience to attend Flowertime, lots of ideas, inspiration and discussion was generated from our visit.

Wedding Venue’s Lovelock stands the test of time

Back in 2016 on a trip to London we attached an Old Forest School Lovelock to a popular spot in London’s Shoreditch area. This spot has tons of other Lovelocks attached to a fence right next door to the Shoreditch BoxPark.

We were back in Shoreditch in August 2019 and thought we would take the opportunity locate our Lovelock. We tracked it down, it was very cool to see it was still going strong!

Botanical inspiration

Flowers and greenery play an important role in the decorating plans of most people on their wedding day. As an alternative to traditional flower decorations have you thought about using live plants instead? 

We recently had botanical expert and young entrepreneur Theo Spargo stop by for a visit at Old Forest School, and luckily for us, he bought some of his plants with him. Theo spent a little time decorating the tables and ladder in the Big Barn with some of his botanical wares. And the results were amazing. Not only do Theo’s botanical displays look stunning, hiring plants can be a very affordable option with the added benefit of the plants continuing to live a happy productive life after your big day.  

Theo Spargo provides a wide variety of botanical options that have been sourced and created in New Zealand, including unique vintage potted vessels that ensure character will be added to your space. Theo believes your space needs to be alive, captivating and lush.

If you’re interested in having a botanical display as part of your wedding day then Theo is your man. He will create a unique botanical style for your wedding, deliver to your venue, set up and then collect.

For more info or to get in touch check out

The ultimate old school wedding guestbook

Since we started having weddings at Old Forest School the original schoolhouse blackboard has been a favourite way for guests to leave messages of love and support for couples.

Depending on how old you are, writing on a blackboard with chalk is either extremely nostalgic or a completely new experience. Regardless of your previous chalking experience there’s something irresistibly tactile about writing with chalk, maybe it’s the chalk dust, range of colours or the occasional ear peircing chalk screech.

Some people choose to draw a picture, create a poem, write some lines or just leave a simple heartfelt message. Whatever the inspiration its a fabulous way for your guests to write a message plus it’s probably the largest guest book in the country. We’re sure the blackboard will continue to be a favourite of every one who visits Old Forest School.

Love at first sight

What happens when a 4 year old flower girl meets a pair of miniature donkeys? Love at first sight of course.

At a recent wedding at Old Forest School that’s exactly what happened.

This gorgeous young girl was having her photos taken with the bridal party but was was way more interested in cuddling the OFS miniature Donkeys (Teddy &Tim). And the feeling was obviously mutual, both Teddy and Tim stood very still for their enormous neck cuddles, or maybe they were just being good for the photographer.

Either way it made for some great photos and ever lasting memories.

Photos courtesy of

All set for another spectacular wedding season

Old Forest School is all scrubbed up and raring to go for another wedding season. Many of the buildings have had a fresh coat of paint, both inside and out, and really are looking their best. The gardens have been carefully prepared, the lawns mowed and the signage put back up. The tennis net is up and the old school wooden racquets are out. The festoon lights have been polished and are so ready to sparkle the night away. Once again the Little Barn looks set to be the centre of dance floor attention. Tippy has a brand new place, right next to the sports area, it’s absolutely the best vantage spot to enjoy watching badminton or gutter ball while sipping your favourite summer beverage.

The outdoor spaces are looking more than ready for a whole new group of people to discover, explore and enjoy over the summer months.

The Wisteria is all blooming and look fabulous creeping and climbing over many of our buildings.

A big, big thank you to some of our helpers who assisted with getting the venue ready to go this year.

The team from Sport Bay of Plenty who turned up to help us with the garden preparation. We greatly appreciate your support and glad you had such as good time at OFS.

And of course thank you to our ever present lawn maintenance team, Teddy and Tim (miniature donkeys) ably assisted by William and Wallace (Kunekune pigs) who worked tirelessly keeping the paddock grass trimmed and fertilised.

One Fine Day Wedding Fair in Melbourne

In early March 2018 some of the team from Old Forest School attended the fabulous One Fine Day Wedding Fair in Melbourne.

One Fine Day Wedding Fair was again at the Melbourne Showgrounds for two full days of wedding inspiration from some of Melbourne’s finest wedding vendors and suppliers, including photographers, florists, musicians, cake designers, venues, jewellery designers, stationery designers, fashion and accessory designers and more.

There was loads of amazing and inspirational suppliers, fashion shows and ideas on display.

Some that caught our eye, in no particular order were;

  • Luxe rustic is still huge, lots of vintage wooden goodness paired with plastics, metal, and natural greenery.
  • Solid colours are in with less pattern on display.
  • Plastic personalised signs everywhere featuring both names and messages from the couple.
  • Bright florals with lots of big, bold flowers.
  • Tons of dietary tolerant cakes and food (gluten and/or sugar free).
  • Selected retro items remain cool, like swizzle sticks in glasses.



New Outdoor Ceremony Spot

Not wanting to be upstaged by the new addition of The Fernery, the famous outdoor ceremony spot at Old Forest School has received an upgrade. The old doors and wall have gone replaced by a new reclaimed timber and tin arch. Already its proved a hit.



The Fernery

This summer there’s a new space at Old Forest School. It’s a botanical inspired space called The Fernery.

The space is filled with ferns and other plants.  Already its been a huge hit with couples, photographers and guests.

The Fernery is a great place to escape the hot sun, chill out and enjoy a drink with friends (its located very close to the bar after all).

There’s bound to be a lot more photos taken inside The Fernery over the summer.