Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

beautiful blooms: introducing flowers & finery

September 21st, 2017 | Rachel Parry

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There’s no doubt here at Brides Up North HQ that fabulous flowers are a key ingredient to a wedding. From bouquets and button holes, to centrepieces, arrangements and arches, we’re truly obsessed with beautiful blooms and their ability to enhance any style of wedding.

Not only do they provide a key part of a bride’s big day look through the bouquet, but they also help to transform celebration spaces and venues with their exquisite colour, texture and scent.

Someone who is equally passionate about pretty petals is our new Sponsor, Yorkshire-based florist Karen Peacock of Flowers & Finery, who we’re introducing to the blog today.

Expanding on a career as an antique dealer, creative Karen embarked on a floristry course to provide stunning blooms in vintage style props and her love for flowers has continued to blossom. Here she tells us all about her gorgeous floral creations and how she works with couples to provide seriously swoon-worthy displays for varying budgets, styles and venues.

Main images by Jane Beadnell Photography for UNVEILED Magazine Issue 08.

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Can you tell us a little about your background and how your business came to fruition?

karen says: I was an antique dealer for over 20 years and the weddings came from that really. One of my customers asked if I would hire them an old-fashioned hotel laundry basket to stand at their wedding reception for their wedding presents. They came to collect it and ended up taking a Victorian cheval mirror for their table plan, a three-tier stand for their favours, a collection of lanterns and fairy lights and 30 metres of bunting we’d used a few weeks earlier for the town gala. As a result of that wedding I was asked to supply vintage china for 300 guests at a wedding in London. And so it grew. After a while I found I was saying no to too many people who asked: “Can you put me some flowers in that?”, so I went back to college and studied floristry. I’ve always loved flowers and it pained me to hire out empty baskets etc and watch someone else fill them with gorgeous flowers. It’s the best thing I ever did, I really love how the flowers add to a wedding and my eclectic mix of props means I’m ideal for someone who wants to bring something fresh to a venue.

What do you enjoy about working in the world of weddings and what is your favorite part of your job? 

I love weddings because I get to meet people at their best, their happiest, even though it’s a huge responsibility to be involved in the most important day of someone’s life. Quite often they’ve planned the day in their heads for years and helping make their dream a reality is special. My favourite bit is the flowers. The bouquet is always nice, it’s what everybody looks at, but actually, it’s the venue flowers I love most. Whether the venue is a bland hotel, a marquee or a gorgeous castle, flowers transform it, they add personality and what the bride and groom choose says a lot about who they are. And I like the variety, I like that I can do two weddings in the same marquee and yet both look so different, because the people are different. No two weddings are ever the same.

How would you describe the style of flowers that you create and where do you get your inspiration from? 

Style is largely down to the bride, but I do tend to lean towards the more natural relaxed look. I suppose my background in antiques means I go for more traditional flowers, preferably with a scent. I love the country house look so go for masses of seasonal flowers. Where suitable I look for something unusual as a holder or setting and I try to incorporate natural fabrics and ribbons alongside some quirky props.

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What process will a couple go through if they pick you to supply their wedding flowers? 

I usually meet the couple, or the bride and her mother quite often, either at their home or at the venue. It generally takes about an hour and we go through what they like and don’t like, what sort of look they envisage, quite often brides have a collection of cuttings or a Pinterest board and this helps me get a picture of what would work for them. And I have lots of books and boards to assist too. I like to see the gown and fabric of the suits, colour schemes etc. I always look at the venues, sometimes just little things can make a big impression, a small bowl of flowers can give a big wow if it’s in the right place. Then I prepare a schedule and we go from there. If the couple decide to work with me I take a deposit and I’m available to consult until the big day.

Where do you advise brides to source inspiration from for their flowers and what elements of the wedding should they take into consideration when picking their flowers?

I advise brides to think about weddings they have been to, what they have liked and haven’t liked. What have they looked at in magazines, have they seen anything on their venues literature they particularly liked, and I always tell brides to look at Pinterest, it’s a fabulous source of inspiration. But personality is most important, it’s no good me trying to get a tiny, precise and exact girl to carry a huge, blousy and decadent bouquet if she is someone happier carrying a carefully fashioned spray of delicate orchids. A lot can be learned from the gown the bride has chosen, lots of detail at the front is often better served by simple flowers. The same can be said for hair and venues, what the couple choose tells me what they like and so that helps me tell them what to look for.

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Where do you source the flowers from for your arrangements? 

I use a few local wholesalers I have a god relationship with. They know I just do weddings and that the flowers I buy have to be good quality and exactly what I’ve ordered. Because I’m a traditionalist I also use local growers where possible. I buy seasonal flowers this way. It’s sad but many of the flowers we buy have travelled a long way, even traditional British flowers like David Austin and other garden roses are grown in commercially Columbia now, this bugs me but for a wedding I need the blooms to be of consistent quality, and our climate means we do not produce them in enough quantity to buy them here.

In your opinion how do flowers enhance a wedding and what would you suggest for couples wanting to achieve the wow-factor?  

Flowers enhance a wedding by adding elegance, beauty and a touch of class. And the wow-factor is easier to get than people think. If you have a healthy budget the key is often in keeping the scheme simple, elegant and consistent. It would be easy to go for overload but often that just looks messy; consistency is the key, repeating the same elements for the wedding party flowers and the locations used, using the same flowers, containers, colours etc throughout, this is what works best. For those on a budget it may be nice to know that often it’s the simple schemes that look the most elegant. Something small and striking repeated makes as much impact as something big and in your face. Putting flowers where they are not expected also gives the look of opulence. Using seasonal flowers, moving displays between locations, being clever with placements, all these are beneficial to budgets.

What trends are you seeing in weddings at the moment? 

Currently the trend is for looser, more relaxed flowers, traditional displays with graceful arcs and beautiful scents. Natural soft colours and easy English blooms mixed with linen and lace ribbons and raw silk. Flower walls and rustic backdrops are in for photographs. Or go for lots of green, lots of rich glossy greens with occasional striking bright blooms for contrast or lots of soft green and grey foliage with dusky pink and coffee coloured roses and hellebores for a really soft English country garden look.

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What are your favourite flowers for each of the seasons? 

My favourite flowers are tulips for early spring, I love the range of colours and fancy shapes and how they drape so beautifully. Then peonies and sweet peas for later spring/early summer, they are just so pretty, smell so gorgeous and perfect for weddings. For summer, I love the traditional David Austin type blousy garden roses with their big heads overfull with petals and their beautiful smell. Hydrangeas for that mass of flower heads and helleabores for their shape and grace. For autumn, I love using berries and fruit in with the flowers, a bow of apples mixed with Michaelmas daisy always makes me smile, so simple but really effective. I love the richer colours of autumn, deeper hued roses, big headed dahlias and huge round chrysanthemums mixed with autumnal leaves. For winter I’m a traditional girl, I love spruce, the texture and the smell, rich glossy holly with lots of berries, long strands of ivy, delicate mistletoe, rich roses and for something more delicate beautiful scented winter flowering jasmine.

What would you say to couple who are worried about the price of wedding flowers?

As previously mentioned, simple elegance isn’t always expensive and I’m happy to work within a budget.

What is the feedback like from your brides and grooms?

Feedback has been good, I think because I like to work closely with what the bride wants and I’m not easily flappable. One of the best compliments I ever got was from the dad of one of my bride’s last year. When I took the bride’s bouquet out of the basket I delivered it, he cried. I actually knew him, he was my friend’s husband and not prone to crying, so it was all the nicer for that. I think what my clients like is that I listen and I’m flexible, I had a bride in my first year who changed her colour scheme six times, it’s a big day for them so it has to be right. And I love what I do, I think that shows, I want everything to be as perfect as they do.

How can Brides Up North readers get in touch with you/ see more examples of your work? 

I can be contacted by phone or by email, Monday to Thursday is generally less busy than Friday and Saturday, but either way if I don’t respond immediately I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. My studio is in Doncaster close to the A1 but I work throughout Yorkshire and the North. I’m happy to see people at the studio or I can visit them at home or at their venue. I can be contacted through my website. The website also has a link to my blog, which shows recent weddings and I am on Instagram and Pinterest.

Any other exciting news to share?

I have had a quite exciting time recently. I was asked to provide a bouquet for the latest issue UNVEILED magazine. I really enjoyed that, I spent a full day with the production team at Howsham Hall, and my flowers are featured in the magazine as part of the Caroline Castigliano bridal shoot. We have just launched our new website and wedding fair season is underway. I will be exhibiting at the Brides Up North luxury wedding fair at The Mansion, Roundhay Park, Leeds, on Sunday 22nd October and hope to see you there!

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about the author

Rachel Parry
Rachel joined the Brides Up North editorial team as Features Editor in February 2015. Rachel draws on her news reporting background, experience in features, bridal & lifestyle editing for previous regional titles and time spent working for Yorkshire’s most successful PR agencies. Yet to tie the knot herself, Rachel's own wedding looks set to be very, very pretty...

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