Under The Floral Spell: The Little Flower Hut

Sarah Symonds

Today we’re introducing you to busy florist and UNVEILED Network Member Jill Alexander who creates floral masterpieces from her studio near Leeds for lovely couples in need of her creative touch.

With a background in design and a childhood spent gardening with her mum, it seemed natural that at some point Jill would come to the conclusion that her dream career was rooted in creative floristry and, after finally making that career move and opening The Little Flower Hut, she hasn’t looked back since.

We’ve caught up with Jill to find out more about the business she’s built, what she can do for her couples and what keeps her motivated and inspired, especially during times like this when we could all do with a little motivation!

As well as revealing her top tips and advice, Jill is also kindly offering you lot, our amazing Brides Up North readers, a canny 10% off 2021 bookings valued over £500 for a limited time only so keep an eye out for details on that too! So, without further ado, let’s speak to the woman herself to find out more…

Images provided by The Little Flower Hut with thanks to Hannah Brooke Photography and Holes In The World Studio.

Introduce yourself and your business?

My name is Jill Alexander, I’m a wedding and event florist based in Yorkshire. I’m a mum to a wonderful son, a miniature Schnauzer and an Anglo Arab horse, wife to my soul mate and lover of all things related to nature. I am a studio-based florist working from my small but perfectly formed workshop on the outskirts of Leeds.

Where did your passion for floral design come from?

I have always loved flowers and nature. My mum was a passionate gardener. Growing up we would spend hours together whatever the weather, out in the garden, planting, nurturing and experimenting with all kinds of flowers throughout the seasons. I would drive my mum crazy wanting to know all the names, and each day I had a new favourite. We had an allotment too where we grew vegetables, I was particularly proud of my strawberries!

I’ve always been fascinated how so much beauty can come in so many shapes and sizes. It’s just amazing the breadth of varieties but each having their own perfect individuality. I think this is one of the reasons I use such a wide variety of flowers and foliage in my work – the other reason is I don’t know when to stop! That’s the reason why all my designs are jam packed with gorgeousness!

I’ve always loved and had an eye for interior design too and for many years worked as Marketing Director in a creative industry, I think these factors along with my love of flowers and gardening combined led me to rethink my career choices and explore my passion and dream of working with flowers, something I’ve loved for so long. I couldn’t be happier!

Do you have a dedicated workspace?

Yes, I’m very lucky to have a dedicated workshop and studio at home. It’s my sanctuary, my quiet place where I can immerse myself creatively, forget about the world outside, unwind, explore new ideas and experiment. I think the escapism and the ability to clear my head and focus on flowers within that area is the reason it inspires me so much. I find my head is filled with ideas and I’m just bursting to express them with flowers.

Why do you think flowers play such an important part in a wedding?

I think flowers play a massively important role in a wedding. They are one of the key components of the day. Not only are they beautiful and fill a space with colour and fragrance, they say a lot about the bride and groom’s personality. They enhance a room with beautiful tones and texture and have a natural energy bringing the space to life. They create and enhance the mood of a wedding regardless of the style or theme and evoke a feeling, a form of expression adding to the magic of the day. Especially the bride’s bouquet, which I believe to be the single most important accompaniment, the bouquet should complement the bride, reflect her style and bring together the overall vision for the whole day.

I’m passionate about sustainability. When I work with couples, I regularly make creative suggestions of how we can repurpose their flowers throughout the day, for example items used to dress the ceremony can be repositioned to dress the reception. Large statement arrangements can be used as a beautiful backdrop for photographs for the bridal party and guests.

Do you have a signature style?

I would describe my style as romantic, elegant, pretty, organic and luxurious with a touch of vintage. As I’ve already mentioned I use a really wide variety of the best seasonal flowers and foliage to create lots of texture and interest. Everything I design and create is abundant with content.

I love working with colour and equally a classic white and green palette. I’m at my couple’s disposal to ensure I deliver their vision through flowers. I’m a perfectionist and want everything I create to be breathtakingly beautiful!

Where do you get the inspiration for your designs and where would you advise couples to look for inspiration when choosing their wedding florals?

My inspiration comes from lots of places, I just have to look outside my window and see what’s growing or take a walk in the countryside and look at how nature works mixing colours, scale and formats. As I’ve mentioned I love interior design, I always have a paint colour card at hand, non-traditional I know. I find it triggers ideas about colour trends we have in our homes and how this could translate to flowers and foliage I select and use. The obvious places too are Instagram and Pinterest; there are so many talented, creatives out there in many different disciplines.

I would advise couples who are looking for inspiration to definitely look to the usual places, particularly Instagram which I’ve already mentioned. Pick a florist that you like the style of and research deeper, check their website etc. and have a chat, we florists are always happy to talk about flowers! Also, magazines such as Brides up North and UNVEILED are a fabulous resource tool and a joy to flick through.

How do you approach each wedding – tell us about the process with your couples?

It all starts with the consultation and meeting the bride and groom. I love this initial meeting and the sense of excitement. I get very excited too! I listen to their thoughts about their dream day, whether they have a clear idea from the start or whether they are looking to explore new ideas and for me to make suggestions. It’s definitely a journey we take together.

When couples book me, I’m completely invested in their day, it’s as personal to me as it is to them. It’s all about the detail and ensuring the bride and groom can rest easy in the knowledge that their flowers are safe in the hands of a professional.

By the time the big day arrives we’ll have had several conversations about flowers and I’ll also work closely with the couple’s other suppliers and venue to ensure they don’t have to worry about anything just enjoy their day and watch their vision come to life. Each wedding is different because every couple is different. That’s what I love about being a wedding florist!

What do your couples love about your service and creations?

My couples love the fact that I’m a sustainable florist – that’s why so many come to me. There’s definitely a movement towards sustainability and more venues have this as part of their ethical policy and only allow florists at the venue who are foam free.

My couples also like the fact that I offer lots of suggestions of ways to help them create their vision and offer ideas of how they can make their arrangements work hard for them, moving them around during the day and gifting them afterwards to their guests. The use of plants and trees is becoming more popular and often I discuss this with my couples especially if they too are completely looking for a sustainable approach. I just love the idea of guests taking items away and either having it live in their house for years to come or planting in their garden as a reminder of a wonderful day with so much love and joy being shared.

I think the couples that get in touch love my style. I think that’s true of any bride, they choose their florist based on what fits their overall vision for the day.

Where do you source your materials?

As I’ve mentioned a few times now, I’m passionate about sustainability so, as much as possible, I work with local growers. I love to visit them, talk about flowers and hand select. I do use other sources too – if I have a bride that has a specific request for something that is out of season or not grown locally of course I’m happy to work to the brief but mostly couples love the idea that their flowers have been supplied from growers within a small geographical reach of their venue.

What are your top 3 tips for couples when choosing their wedding flowers?

  1. Choose flowers that you like, your flowers will play a large part in your wedding day and be in many of your photos, so this is very important.
  2. Consider the time of year, some flowers may not be available, and some may be available but not at their best. If you’re getting married around a key seasonal event such as Valentine’s Day or Christmas, your flowers will be more expensive.
  3. Trust your florist, build that relationship, it’s a journey you’ll take together. They are there to help you, to offer ideas of what would enhance your theme without compromising your vision. I think I speak for every florist when I say that we want your wedding to be the most beautiful day and as perfect as it possibly can be!

What are your no-nos for couples when choosing their wedding flowers?

  1. Avoid selecting flowers that are out of season, for example spring bulbs in August or peonies in January
  2. Don’t be too fixated on a particular colour – nature does its own thing. Your florist will choose flowers that will create your specified vision, so relax and trust them.
  3. Don’t choose anything that’s heavily scented if you suffer from hay fever. Let your florist know if they haven’t already asked!

What flowers and foliage do you particularly love working with and do you have a favourite season?

There are too many to choose but particular favourites are dahlias. The breadth of colour, shape and size is just amazing, they’re a flower that keeps on giving. I love the small but perfectly formed and very robust astrantia, the delicate star shaped flower comes in a variety of colours and is wonderful to work with, it creates so much texture but in a very subtle understated way. I would say my overall favourite flower is the peony for its beauty although it’s very, very tricky to work with! Other favourites which I love are cosmos, orlaya and Covent Garden gypsophila, so delicate and beautiful, and creates the most gorgeous designs.

My favourite season is autumn, I love the colours! Walking in crunchy beds of leaves that have fallen, the cooler temperatures and long walks in the countryside. I’m sometimes overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of nature that surrounds us in autumn!

What trends do you see emerging in wedding florals for 2021 and beyond?

I think the ‘intimate’ wedding is a trend that’s going to be around for the future more so as a choice for couples, rather than something that’s forced upon them by current restrictions. The intimate wedding allows couples to make it more personal. Couples are embracing this and making the whole experience about them and their guests in a very different way. It’s a fusion of some of the key elements in a more relaxed and informal way.

I think this trend allows couples to think differently about their flowers too. The brides bouquet will still be the key focal point and there will be the bridal party too, however, a smaller wedding means the couple can think about having a beautifully dressed aisles or more elaborate table decorations with beautiful runners or make a statement with their flowers and go big with oversized arrangements such as beautiful arches and urns and making those all-important photographs look amazing with big, beautiful floral backdrops.

Another trend I see is ‘marry now and party later’ with more and more couples considering a sequel wedding as an option. There is no one wedding that fits all, everyone is looking to make their day as individual as they are.

Luscious greenery will feature heavily, tables dressed in cascades of foliage or ceremony arches displaying masses of leaves and greenery on show are the go-to for sophisticated wedding adornment. Think ferns, succulents, garlands of eucalyptus or even a cactus or two. The best thing about this natural decor trend is that it can be incorporated into almost any style of wedding, rustic farmhouse certainly, modern industrial most definitely, destination outdoor terrace of course!

Is there a special discount that you would like to offer to our readers?

I’m offering Brides Up North readers 10% off bookings valued over £500 for a limited time only on confirmed bookings for 2021. Peak dates in July and August are not included. Feel free to get in touch for more details!

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