September 1st, 2015 | Julia Braime
image by Helen Lishman Photography
This afternoon on the wedding blog we’re delighted to introduce you to a very talented wedding supplier and Brides Up North Sponsor, Alice of forage & blossom.
Now here’s a lady who knows pretty! Alice gained a wealth of knowledge in the florist industry before setting up her own business Forage & Blossom, through which she now supplies couples with beautiful and bespoke creations for their special and individual wedding days.
Not only that, but Alice grows many of the blooms which feature in her stunning arrangements herself, further highlighting her genuine passion for the job!
To fill you in more on what she has to offer, we’ll hand you over to the fabulous lady herself. Take it away Alice…
image by Jackson & Co Photography
How did you get into floristry?
I came to floristry in a sideways curve; having weaved my way through an artistic education and a range of jobs in the world of design and interiors, I found myself being pulled unequivocally towards floristry. Perhaps it was a path I would always find, having been drawn to flowers as my mum’s shadow in the garden growing up.
I started on the shop floor of a busy florists in London and trained on the job. I plunged blindly in; it was a steep learning curve and sometimes quite intense and tough. I had great colleagues though and if ever things became a bit too much we would let off steam having a good dance around the shop – much to the amusement of our boss and marketing team in the office at HQ with the security camera screens.
I knew what I really wanted to do though was work in weddings. So from there I moved to work as a freelancer for Jay Archer Floral Design. Working for Jay was incredible and an eye opener, she has now become a great friend and a mentor for me creating my own business. She is fearless with some of her ideas and designs (sometimes creating situations of “so I said I would hang that from there – we just need to work out how…” and there is always a way). Jay has a wonderful freeness and fluidity to her style and being, it was amazing to work for her and learn from her.
Leaving Jay was a wrench, but that was when I felt ready to set up on my own and start my own ventures as Forage & Blossom.
image by Paul Liddement Wedding Stories
What do you enjoy about working in the world of weddings?
I just knew before I started that I wanted to work in weddings and events. I like working towards an event and also the opportunities of the one -off things you get to create for weddings. I also like building up a relationship with the couple and getting to know them and their individual vision. Plus, I enjoy how each couples’ personality is unique and that feeds into their style. Hence each scheme is individual and different even when the colour palette is similar.
What is your favourite part of your job?
Well it’s definitely not the early mornings as I’m more of an owl than a lark and I can’t even speak until I’ve had a cup of tea. Strangely though I do quite like being up before the World and seeing things only a few people are awake for, like strange storms and sunrises.
There are many different parts of the job I love. There are the days in the field and cutting garden, doing the digging where the hard labour is oddly satisfying, the childlike excitement when the first seeds emerge, or a rose I have been waiting for finally flowers. I also can get totally lost in my flowers when I love a particular scheme, it’s only the deadline stress which can bring you back to earth. I also really love getting to know a couple quite closely and being involved with their wedding day. I often get to see a secret picture of the bride’s dress because it is quite key to the style of the day. I think I love that every couple is different and hence every floral scheme is unique. So my favourite part of the job is probably the varied elements of it and that each wedding is very different.
image by Helen Lishman Photography
How would you describe the style of flowers that you create? Where does your inspiration come from?
My style comes, in part, from my artistic background in the design world and a large part from nature. I draw a lot of inspiration from the surrounding world, things I see – be it magazines, shop displays, a painting or a print, and most often the natural world. I feel my style is constantly evolving and I am always learning.
I enjoy more wild and loose designs and flowers being how they are in nature with kinks and flairs. My style is definitely more on the wild and natural side. I love using textures and tones. The natural fluidity and movement in an arrangement is also really key to me. For me, foliage is just as important as the flowers. A big beautiful bloom has far more impact with contrast. The depth, sensuality and movement comes from all the elements in the design working together.
image by Paul Liddement Wedding Stories
What process will a bride or couple go through if they pick you to supply their wedding flowers?
The process is different for each couple as everyone’s situations are different. Generally I like to have an initial phone or Skype consultation to chat initial ideas and thoughts and to just gather a vibe and a feeling from the couple. Then I have a face to face consultation which I can come to with ideas and prep from the phone/Skype consultation. This can often be at the venue, or I’ll do a separate venue visit. Some of my couples live abroad or far away so with some couples we carry out all our consultations over Skype, which has worked really well and fits in well with people’s busy lives.
I’m in contact with all my couples up until their big day and some couples like to have a Pinterest board on my Pinterest so we can both Pin, comment and share ideas. For Pinterest people (I’m an addict) this can be a great way of easily sharing images and creating a mood board.
Where do you advise brides to source inspiration from for their flowers?
From anywhere. Some couples have a strong vision of what they like and others are slightly overwhelmed at the beginning. I find everyone has an individual style and after chatting and meeting (even if it’s on Skype) you can get a feeling off people and start to understand and read their tastes.
Once I have started to get to know a couple we can then chat about their venue and see what would work there, fit with the surroundings, their personalities and the vision they have for their day.
I think a florist is there to gather a couple’s taste and then throw suitable ideas back at them to see what they like.
image by Paul Maven Photography
Where do you source the flowers from for your arrangements?
I have my own cutting garden, so as much as possible I try to source from that and I also source from other local growers. I can’t grow everything though, so I also supplement from the import market.
My style is very much bred from the flowers I grow in my cutting garden. I enjoy the ever changing seasonality of if it and there are many things that you can grow that just don’t travel well in the import market so they don’t have them. The imported flowers are also grown for stem strength so scent is bred out of them. I love scent; I feel it is so evocative and important to my flowers.
The import market absolutely has a place and use, the scale of the British Growers is not able to compete with the Dutch import market. There is, however, a building movement from British growers who are trying to establish their place in the Floral Industry. People are becoming more conscious of their carbon footprint and wanting to support local businesses. British growers have something to offer and it’s different to what the import market can offer. I’m only a small scale grower myself but, I am very much a keen supporter of the British Flower Movement.
Do you have a favourite type of flower?
Ah, impossible question. I am constantly having new favourite flowers. Seasons come round and I find a new flower and then old favourite returns and I can’t believe I forgot how lovely it was.
The Sweet Pea is a staple favourite and has an element of nostalgia attached to it for me, as I have always grown these with my mum as a girl. This year I have discovered a new favourite, the foxglove. It has just been fantastic in the cutting garden. I love its weird kinks, the beautiful shades of colour it changes through on one stem, the cream ones are gorgeous and then sometimes an odd cross pollination one pops up, which is unusual and beautiful. Oh and then the cornflowers popped up after the foxgloves – I had forgotten how much I loved the deep blue of the cornflowers.
image by Paul Maven Photography
Any particular styles of flowers proving popular with brides at the moment?
Crowns, crowns, crowns.
In your opinion how do flowers enhance a wedding?
Well I am completely biased. I am obviously mad about flowers and for me they bring the whole style and feel of a day together. Often you don’t really need other decorative elements as you can do it all with your flowers.
Flowers also have nostalgia and personal meaning attached to them; many brides ask for a certain flower in their bouquet which was the first flower their spouse to be gave them/ a flower deeply associated with a lost loved one/ a herb with a certain meaning, such as rosemary and fidelity/loyalty and I read somewhere white lavender’s meaning is everlasting love. So for me there are the many depths of flowers which can enhance your day and just add that extra something.
What sets you apart from other florists?
At Forage & Blossom you will receive a very personal service as I feel your flowers should reflect you for your special day. I will take the time to understand your vision and personality so it is fed through the scheme we create for you. I will be personally growing many of your flowers and creating something a bit different to the traditional style. I don’t really go by the rules and enjoy approaching each brief individually and with a sense of inspiration and adventure. If that sounds like the path for your wedding flowers please get in touch.
How can Brides Up North readers get in touch with you or see more examples of your work?
If you want to get in touch please contact me at email@example.com or call me on 07495 160525. You can see and find out more at www.forageandblossom.com as well as on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
image by Paul Liddement Wedding Stories
Anything else we should know?
Workshops are on the horizon for Forage and Blossom.
I recently did a Flower Crown Workshop for a friend’s Hen Do which was great fun and we wore them all day and night as we partied out on the town. We all felt that everyone needed a flower crown in their life as they just make you feel better when you’re wearing one. So this and more to come – watch this space!
February 26th, 2015 | Julia Braime
As well as being a source of inspiration and guidance for our brides-to-be we also like to give our supplier followers a helping hand where we can by letting them know about blooming marvellous industry events such as Leafy Couture’s two-day styling class on the 5th and 6th of March 2015, part of their brand new offering – The Leafy Couture School For Florists.
I’ve been doing quite a bit of public speaking on blogging and social media within the wedding and lifestyle sector recently, and I’m honoured to have been invited along to share my top tips in a dedicated session during this special event.
I love hosting smaller group sessions like these, and if hearing about my recent adventures into the world of coaching have peaked your interest a little do watch out for some very exclusive workshops launching here soon.
But back to those flowers.
Our good friend and the wonderful talent behind Leafy Couture Sarah Richardson, has a an amazing portfolio that comes with some serious clout. This incredible lady has vast experience in the world of weddings having worked on hundreds over the past eight years, from marquees to grand stately homes, she is truly passionate about couples’ big days.
Her work is regularly featured in national wedding magazines and local press as well as on numerous national and international wedding blogs, including Brides Up North. She’s also one of our go-to-girls for styling at our industry events and creative shoots, delivering impressive blooms every single time. To add to her credentials Sarah has taught floristry to BTEC Level 3 as a college tutor, demonstrated at RHS Harrogate Flower Show and has recently been nominated for a Wedding Magazine blogging award, phew!
She’s therefore incredibly well placed to support others in their passion for flowers through both her group styling events and one-to-one mentoring sessions. Whether amateur or experienced a lot can be learnt from this lady and we’re sure some of our florist friends will be keen to go back to school if it means gaining tricks of the trade from Ms Richardson.
But enough from me, I’ll hand over the pages to Sarah to explain in more detail what her upcoming styling event has to offer – catch you there!
sarah says: This class is especially for florists who are wanting to build their confidence in the world of weddings.
We will hold your hand and guide you through a series of arrangements to build your portfolios. We will introduce you to a wedding planner, wedding blogger and events team to get insider tips on how to get on in the industry.
And there’s more. We’ll help you work on building your own style and create images for your websites and social media. We will guide you through our processes with wedding appointments and show you how to create wedding bouquets, buttonholes, flower crowns and then style a ceremony and wedding breakfast with large scale designs such as urns and an archway.
All classes take place in The Chili Barn, Otley – a real wedding venue, where we will show you all the things you need to think about when working on site and fill your head with ideas. You will be working on your own and also as part of a team as you would in a real life wedding situation.
This is a two-day course with all refreshments, including tea and coffee and cake and a delicious lunch, provided. All material, aprons, workbooks and flower material will also be supplied.
Places are limited so each student will get maximum experience and attention. A basic knowledge of flowers and floristry is preferable but we are on hand to guide you every step of the way.
We shall have a photographer on site but you are advised to bring a camera too or a smart phone. All students will get a free skype or phone mentoring session a month after the course to continue the support. Students will also get free access to our new E-Book chapter on wedding flower appointments and session hand outs.
Hope to see you there!
Images by James Melia.
April 3rd, 2014 | Julia Braime
Image: Joanna Gower Photography
Keep it coming and #jointhenorthernrevolution across our social networks. It’s an active, diverse and exciting community we have there – updated even more frequently than the blog itself, and the place for all the insider gossip, breaking news and casual content – and we’d love you to be a part of it.
The northern revolution wouldn’t be happening at all without the support of talented regional suppliers like the lady I’m about to introduce you to: the lovely Sandra of Brides Up North Featured Supplier Sandra’s Flower Studio. I’ve invited Sandra along to our pretty pages to tell us all about what she can do for a bride like you on her wedding day. Let’s meet her.
How and when did you become a floral designer?
Sandra: I started out in floristry 22 years ago after leaving school and working in a florist shop. and became specifically interested in wedding design in 2000. Each year I increased the amount of weddings I worked on until last year I made it my full time profession setting up fully on my own.
What is your background and qualifications?
I have two NVQ’s in floristry but I was basically bench trained and have learnt many techniques by keeping up to date with trade magazines and going to demonstrations.
Image: Hines-Images Photography
What services do you offer for Brides To Be?
I offer a full flower service from designing bride and bridesmaids bouquets, buttonholes, corsages, hair pieces, church pedestals, archways, pew ends, altar designs, to venue and reception table designs, entrance displays and anything else floral. I can also add in those little table details such as confetti, table crystals, tea lights and so on. I have also started to offer a dry hire service for all my vases, fish bowls, martini vases and candelabras
What sets your business apart from your competitors?
I listen to my brides and make suggestions if necessary but ultimately they decide on what flowers they are having. If you want something and it is available and feasible to do, then you have it. So many times I hear ‘Other florists have said I can’t have…’ Of course if you don’t know where to start I will help and guide you through the process and as your plans develop and your flowers need tweaking then so be it. I also don’t mind how many times you get in touch, this is your day and it needs to be right for you and unless you are 100% happy neither am I.
Image: Natural Expressions
Tell Brides Up North about making the finals of The Wedding Industry Awards. Why did you enter and what does this mean to you?
I like these awards. They are, initially at least, voted for by my clients. I entered two years ago when I first started my business to see if I could compete with the best. I was shortlisted. This year I entered again to see if my brides were as happy as they told me – the voting is anonymous – and the comments I got back were overwhelming as were the scores. I was very happy to be shortlisted again. These awards give you a boost but also the comments give you an idea on where you may need a little improvement.
March 5th, 2014 | Julia Braime
Image by Ann-Kathrin Koch
A few weeks ago we welcomed Brides Up North Featured Supplier and award winning Yorkshire wedding florist Fiona Pickles, director of Firenza Floral Design, to the wedding blog to tell us all about her home grown wedding flowers.
Image by Laura Calderwood
This afternoon I’m doing something rare and reposting that content for you here, following controversy last month about a supposedly British grown Valentine’s bouquet supported by the Royal Horticultural Society … that turned out to contain no British grown flowers at all, as they were out of season! The story was covered in The Telegraph, The Daily Mail and other titles and after much pressure from the British flower growers (under #britishflowers on twitter) the RHS removed the incorrect labelling and personally responded to every single tweet of complaint (and there were lot!). The RHS are also working with British growers now for something for Mother’s Day.
Guaranteed: all the flowers you see in the piece that we share here this afternoon have been home grown by Fiona’s fair hands. That’s something pretty special. Imagine choosing your wedding flowers and seeing them grown from seed! Fiona is passionate about her love of British flowers and is here to tell us how she continues to develop her own crop to incorporate more locally grown blooms into her beautiful wedding bouquets. Let’s hear from her…
Images by James Melia
Fiona says: I’ve always had a passion for flowers and really love being at work in my garden. Even though the weather isn’t great at the moment we’ve been outside in the wind and rain preparing the cutting beds, and in a few months, with a bit of luck, we’ll have flowers in bloom and I can’t wait!
Having locally grown flowers and herbs adds an extra special and personal touch to a wedding knowing the flowers have been grown right here, in the Yorkshire countryside.
Images by Laura Calderwood
As a wedding florist we are incredibly busy – especially during the spring and summer – and growing our own flowers does mean extra work, but it’s something I love and am passionate about, plus it’s very rewarding, so the extra work is worth it, which is why we started to grow more of our own wedding flowers last year, with wonderful results. We’re based in West Yorkshire and whilst we seem to have a very pleasant micro-climate, we are still in the Pennines, 1,220ft above sea level and on a substantial slope, so conditions can be a little testing. Before growing in earnest, I wanted to get some good advice from other growers so I attended a “Flower Farming for Beginners” course at Common Farm Flowers run by the fabulous Georgie Newberry, she has a real passion for British grown cut flowers and her business was a real inspiration to me.
Images by James Melia
Last year, we had a lot of snow in March so it wasn’t the best start to the growing year, but the beautiful summer meant that our herbs and flowers were very, very happy on our fully south facing plot. We even had a photo shoot here in late June, with a small team of trusted suppliers, all the flowers used in the shoot were grown by us, including the buttercups, which I just adore!
Images by Laura Calderwood
We use a lot of mint, rosemary, thyme, lavender, lemon balm, oregano and sage as well as many beautiful cottage garden-style flowers. We’re extending our herb terraces even further this year, so lots more scented beauties to come hopefully. I love using herbs in our wedding flowers, it really adds a beautiful dimension and helps to create those lasting memories.
We will never be able to grow enough flowers for all of our weddings, but as well as growing more of our own, I am working closely with Gill Hodgson from Flowers from the Farm, a network of flower growers, large and small, across the country, to supplement our flower needs, so we can use as many British Flowers as possible.
Image by Mark Dolby
Looking ahead for this year, the beds are being filled with compost, the cold frames are ready, the seed catalogues are being perused and my tools are being sharpened ready for another busy year of weddings and growing. The workshop is being fitted out with shelves and storage to create more space, we are even planning a lean-to greenhouse on our beautiful but rather shabby shed to give us more space for all our beautiful British flowers and I can’t wait!
If you’d like to make an appointment with Fiona to create your wedding flowers please contact visit www.firenzafloraldesign.co.uk or ring 01422 835540.
Images by James Melia
May 28th, 2013 | Julia Braime
Sarah Burnhardt Peonies
Memory Lane Roses
It’s been a full 12 months since my friend and Featured Supplier Sarah of Yorkshire Florist Leafy Couture started sending flowers to my inbox every month, and this afternoon we conclude our Year In Bloom feature with the prettiest bouquet of them all. A heady combination of summery scents in pretty pastel shades. As usual, it’s bloomin’ gorgeous!
Sarah and the Leafy Couture girls will be back to launch another regular feature here on these swirly silver pages shortly, but for now, enjoy the view!
Sarah says: May’s bouquet is a fabulous combination of spring and early summer flowers. The scent is gorgeous from the stocks, peonies and lavender. Scent is such a powerful thing, it can calm the nerves of a excited bride and also bring back wonderful memories of your special day. The blooms are all billowing, perfect for a English country style wedding.
In this bouquet we have gone for a textured, relaxed feel. A more "just picked" look with less uniformity. It would work really well with a lace dress or long elegant dress with few embellishments. It would also look great with floral bridesmaids dresses.
Catch up on the entire Year In Bloom series by clicking here.
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