Some years ago I set up a business called Wedding Tree Favours.
Its origin was the wedding of my daughter and she decided that instead of giving her guests the traditional wedding favours which was a small bag of 5 sugar almonds that she wanted to give each of her guests a small British native tree which they should plant somewhere and this would be a symbol of their marriage, hopefully the tree would grow and strengthen and eventually produce offspring like a good marriage.
Dad was given the task of growing and preparing the trees. At the time I was running a Field study centre and this was fairly time consuming but also a seasonal activity and the workload died down by the end of October/beginning of November. So I left the collecting of seeds until work at the study centre calmed down, this was almost disastrous because in the Autumn the seeds are very quickly eaten or hidden by the local populations of squirrels, mice, voles etc etc.I did get some acorns and other seeds but not really enough, fortunately a friend had a big Oak in their garden and a rather ferocious cat so under their trees the acorns were removed rather more slowly and John and Elaine saved the day.
I grew the trees in little pots and at the wedding about 100 tress were distributed to guests. All very successful and much appreciated.
Two years later , I had more or less packed up the Field study centre and had set up ‘Wedding Tree Favours’ I was growing thousands of trees, all British native trees and selling them all over the country to not only wedding couples but also for wedding anniversaries, business gifts, Christmas but mainly for brides and grooms. We exhibited at wedding fairs, initially locally but very soon at the NEC and Olympia, it was even featured on TV all be it very briefly.
At the height I had a 50M poly tunnel, and automated irrigation system and a stock of approximately 10,000 trees. We used FEDEX to deliver the trees and it occupied myself and my wife full time. We made a profit but it was not huge and if you took our hours into account then the business was not that successful, certainly not something that Dragons den would have been fighting for a share off. Also about 4/5 years after the start the recession kicked in and whilst people were still getting married they were looking to cut back on costs so wedding favours was certainly one area where saving could be made.
We decided it had been an interesting diversion, and that it was time to call a halt. I am proud of the fact that it gave a lot of pleasure to many brides and grooms and whilst I am sure the vast majority of the trees would not have survived many months or years, I also know that some have survived and I expect that there are still hundreds or maybe even thousands of trees around today that were once Wedding tree favours. Also if you look on the internet for Wedding tree favours there are now many different suppliers, mostly offering a less varied and less bespoke service than we offered but still selling little trees.
Below is a slide show of most of the trees we had for sale.