It’s bloomin’ beautiful on the wedding blog today isn’t it?! After this morning’s gorgeous wildflower wedding, I’m proud to introduce you to Yorkshire based florist and Brides Up North Featured Supplier Fiona of Firenza Floral Design. This talented lady is a wizard with wedding flowers. You need her in your life.
How and when did you become a floral designer?
I’ve always had a passion for flowers and love being at work in my garden, although I actually trained and worked for many years in the print industry. I loved what I did but it was very technical and I am a naturally creative soul. Having always wanted to venture into floristry, I realised I’d regret not trying and so, in 2005, I decided to bite the bullet and do something about it.
I continued working full time and spent my weekends gaining invaluable work experience at a local flower shop. I volunteered help on an ad hoc basis for almost two years before I had the confidence to leave full time employment, retrain and pursue my dream career as a florist.
So, in 2005, I waved goodbye to my company car and pension and headed off to London to attend the Jane Packer Flower School career course. I rented a flat opposite Selfridges, within walking distance of the Flower School and had an inspirational and liberating month living back in London and learning the skills that I’d dreamt of.
Where does the name Firenza come from?
The business is named after my nana, Florence, or “Firenza” in Italian. I wanted to make the business name personal to me and after I had chosen it I found out that the meaning of the name “Florence” is “flowering” or “blossoming”, so it was even more appropriate than I had first realised!
Where are you located and will you travel?
Our large workshop is near my home just outside Halifax, West Yorkshire, overlooking the hills towards Ripponden and beyond. It consists of a large consultation area, an office, workshop, and of course, the all-important cutting gardens. We are very close to the Yorkshire/Lancashire border and we also have a private workshop near Cheadle in Cheshire. Distance isn’t a problem and we regularly travel far and wide – wherever the weddings take us!
What services do you offer for Brides To Be?
Firenza Floral Design is a specialist wedding and event florist and provide flowers for every part of the day. We aim to make the whole process enjoyable and special; from the initial meeting; to the wedding itself where we set up the church and/or venue flowers; delivering the bridal flowers on the morning of the wedding; then taking all the hired items away again afterwards, so our couples don’t have to worry about a thing.
Our style is a very natural, relaxed, garden style, using the sort of flowers you would see growing in a beautiful cottage garden, especially scented flowers and herbs.
What about extra little details? Do you offer a hire service for accessories and decorations?
We have a large collection of accessories including vases, lanterns, candelabra and tea-light holders, to name a few, all of which are available for our couples to hire. All these are on view at our workshop in Halifax and provide a source of inspiration during consultations.
Tell Brides Up North about your “home grown” flowers?
I am already growing a large amount of herbs and foliage for use in our weddings, but this year I have started work to convert an area of ridiculously steep waste grassland within our gardens to grow more cut flowers and herbs, which combined with our established gardens will provide a lot of flowers as well.
Work is well underway on our cutting beds – we have three raised beds all ready to start growing properly into 2014. They are on the steepest land imaginable and have been a challenge to build, especially when combined with a very busy wedding season!
This is something I feel really passionate about, I have always adored gardening and the last few years have been so busy with weddings my poor garden has just been totally neglected, which was making me very frustrated. So my (possibly rather strange) logic was if I make it part of the business I HAVE to do it and it has actually proved to be the case! I must admit though my first foray into serious seed growing was not particularly successful but I don’t yet have a greenhouse so that’s going on my list to Santa!
As part of this process I have met some fabulous growers across the country and I always use British growers where possible. I am also part of the lovely “Flowers from the Farm” network where I keep in touch with, and support, local flower growers.
What sets your business apart from your competitors?
As well as the above, we specialise in using scented flowers and herbs, a lot of which are grown in my own garden. The unique ability of a particular smell to remind us of times, places and memories, is the reason why I’m so keen to use scent as much as possible in my weddings.
We use a lot of typical garden flowers like forget-me-nots, aquilegia, clematis and even buttercups, which give our flowers their very distinctive natural, garden style.
Tell us about some of the industry connections you have made and shoots that you have worked on since launching your business?
We have met some lovely people along the way and have built up some fabulous relationships with many fellow suppliers. We’ve worked a lot with the lovely people from PapaKata and have worked on many of their 2013 weddings, they are great to work with and our natural style flowers particularly suit their tipis.
Since setting up in 2005, we’ve worked on several shoots with great photographers including Damian Hall, Barnaby Aldrick, Shelly from Toast, Sarah Mason and Lissa Alexandra, to name a few. One of our former brides has recently set up her own photography business, Laura Calderwood Photography, her work is beautiful and we have worked a lot together this year as well. We’re currently working on a series of shoots with local photographer James Melia and make up artist Jo BLiham. We all share a similar style and the shoots we’ve worked on so far have been truly beautiful, some of which have been picked up by the wedding media.
What have been your professional highlights to date?
In July 2012 we were commissioned to provide flowers for Her Majesty The Queen. This was so exciting, although a little terrifying, if I’m honest. The brief was not to be “too weddingy”, so I stuck with my natural, gathered, garden style and imagined the sort of flowers that she would choose. I opted for bright cerise Yves Piaget rose, which is gloriously scented, with lilac delphinium, blackberries, purple clematis, mint, pink campanula, Artemisia, antirrhinum, stocks and hydrangea. The presentation bouquet for Her Majesty had a selection of these, with pink peony and monarda – it was an absolute honour and a very proud day!
What are your favourite wedding floristry looks for 2013? What trends do you see emerging?
Our style of floristry is timeless and not particularly trend-led and I will always be a huge fan of very natural and unfussy designs. The just-picked look is still very popular and will remain so into 2014. There is a move towards more mixed and bright colours and in a much more unstructured style – less rose domes and more wild, natural and untamed designs.
What would be your top tips for a Bride To Be when choosing her wedding flowers?
Allow your florist to have as much free reign as possible – I don’t mean just let them do what they want, but rather guide them with an idea of the sort of look you are after, what flowers you like and dislike, and then let the florist do the rest. This way you benefit far more from their creativity and you get a totally bespoke look designed specifically for you. If the florist understands your vision, it gives them the confidence that if they see the most beautiful but unexpected flower at the market that week, they can use it and you will love it. The more prescriptive a bride to be is, the less creative the florist can be.
Also, take some time to look at previous work the florist has done and consider whether it is in line with what you want, before asking them to give you a quote. I wouldn’t expect someone to come to us looking for a contemporary and off-the-wall design, because that just isn’t our style. All florists have their own natural style and pictures on their website blog or Facebook page or displays at wedding fairs will reflect this and help to show you their signature style.
Finally, don’t feel you always have to use the colour of the bridesmaid dresses in the flowers, especially if it is an unusual colour, instead you could use the dresses as a backdrop for a different colour scheme. For example, if you have a royal blue colour scheme you could consider opting for flowers that compliment it instead, perhaps using ivories, greens and blush pinks or maybe ivories, peaches and oranges. If your chosen colour scheme is particularly dark, I would always recommend using tones of the colour as well, to prevent a clash of dark and light colours, so instead of just using red and white flowers for example, introduce ivories as well as pale and darker pinks as this gives a far more cohesive appearance.
What would be your no-nos?
I really dislike dyed or artificially coloured flowers, especially the rainbow rose, which in my eyes is just wrong I’m afraid! Nature is so beautiful on it’s own so we should use what nature gave us. I would suggest finding other ways of bringing in unusual colour schemes, maybe through ribbon, or brooches.
Who would be your dream client and why?
George Clooney. He seems to be the sort of person who would choose our flowers, his style is so understated and classy, with nothing too glitzy or bling. I think he would want very natural and beautiful flowers. He has a villa on Lake Como (one of my favourite places) and I have a vision of a ceremony outside, under rose covered pergolas on a late spring/early summer day, it’s sunny but not too hot, with the lake in the background and oodles of displays of scented garden roses, scented stocks, herbs, peonies, delphiniums and hydrangea. His bride is carrying a very simple but beautiful bouquet of herbs, roses and peonies in blush pinks and ivories…ah well…we can all dream… (the number is below George if you’re interested)!
Are there any really memorable weddings that you have worked on?
They are all memorable in their own way, but a recent one we worked on was a little different. Flowers were really important to Georgie, she wanted a very natural, forest floor type theme, which all worked fabulously with her tipi wedding and we created a lot of beautiful displays for her. But, the memorable thing for me was that she arrived at the wedding breakfast on a white horse (something I’d always wanted to do) and I just love this shot of her with her bouquet. Apparently the horse bucked at one point but she clung determinedly onto her bouquet throughout!
Which weddings or shoots do you have coming up that you are really excited about?
We worked on a wedding a couple of months ago where not only did the bride wear a crown of ivy and daisies in her hair, but the groom wore a flower crown as well, which he was most excited about. I imagine this will be the first and last time I design a flower crown for a groom and it was great to get creative!
Can you give Brides Up North an idea on price?
It’s a bit “how long is piece of string?” I’m afraid. That is almost impossible to answer as everything is totally designed around each couple, I will say that working on a percentage of your wedding spend, which a lot of magazines seem to suggest, is not always the way to go as it doesn’t take into account whether you want a lot of flowers at the church, whether there are a lot of bridesmaids or table centres, how time consuming the set-up is, or even the sort of flowers/herbs you want and it seems to result in some very unrealistic expectations! It may seem very obvious but the more flowers you want the more it will cost. There is a very rough price guide on our website which can help with budgeting purposes but we always suggest a full consultation before giving more specific ideas on price.
How can Brides Up North see examples of your work or find out more?
We offer consultations our beautiful studio and workshop in West Yorkshire. For more information visit www.firenzafloraldesign.co.uk or ring 01422 835540.
Firenza Floral Design is a Brides Up North Featured Supplier and this is a sponsored post
Contact Brides Up North to submit your business as a Featured Supplier