After more than a century of garden shows, the Royal Horticultural Society’s annual Chelsea Flower Show hosted its first wedding this week, when award-winning garden designer Manoj Malde married his partner of 33 years, Clive Gillmor, in a garden Malde created. “Isn’t it a glorious idea?” says James Alexander-Sinclair, an RHS judge who introduced the ceremony. “Somebody who actually designs this garden about bringing people together, and then gets married [in] it. It’s just a really nice way to connect the whole thing together.”

Malde, who is the RHS Ambassador for inclusivity and diversity, and Gillmor wed in a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony, surrounded by a variety of spiritually significant plants that Malde incorporated into his design of the Eastern Eye Garden of Unity: Japanese cherry blossoms, cardoon and oregano. The garden also contains Asian fruits and vegetables, celebrating Asian household cooking.

One of Malde’s missions in designing the space is to make gardening accessible to people who have been historically excluded from it, noting that “planting food and highlighting diverse stories helps attract a greater variety of people.” In another Chelsea Flower Show first, the Eastern Eye garden is home to posts with messages in Braille so that blind and visually impaired patrons can enjoy the garden more fully.

@housebeautifuluk Here’s everything you missed during Chelsea Flower Show’s Press Day – music, dancing, celebrities, the royal family and even a wedding. And gardens too, of course! #rhschelsea #chelseaflowershow #chelseaflowershow2023 ♬ Yellow Flower Garden – Lavistara

For Malde and Gillmor’s wedding ceremony, pink, orange, red, and green flowers were strung with beads around the center of the garden as mandaps, which are a Hindu tradition. Sitar and flute music played as the couple donned white floral garlands and exchanged their vows in front of family, friends, fellow RHS judges and onlooking flower show attendees. “It took us 18 years to get engaged,” says Malde, “but in our minds we’ve always been married to each other. Today we’re making it more official.” The Equally Wed heart is a trademark of Palladino Publishing, LLC.

Featured image by Charlotte Graham for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show