Flowers are one of the most important elements of a wedding. They are not only decorative, but their use has ritual significance, making them more than simply a pretty tradition. Their omission would surely upset any single bridesmaid hoping to catch the bouquet, too.
For the uninitiated, selecting flowers can be a daunting process; thankfully, a good wedding florist can guide you through it, helping you distinguish your gerberas from your gypsophila. We spoke to Jo Fleet, founder of Southampton-based florist, Blubelle Lane and the creative genius behind a plethora of wedding arrangements for some insider insight.
How do you help couples come up with ideas for their wedding?
I always meet prospective clients first, it’s vital so that I can get an idea of their personality and build rapport. At the consultation, I bring wedding flower magazines and examples of previous work, as brides may think that they have a clear idea of the colour or style for a wedding flower, but when they start to explore the choices and styles, their ideas can then change. It’s up to me to capture those ideas and turn them into a reality.
It’s best when a bride has no idea what she wants and I have free rein – it actually makes it harder when she has a set idea, in case the flower is unavailable or too expensive. One thing I do check before anything else, however, is whether they’ve got their bridesmaids dresses, as it can be tricky to match the colour of the dresses to the colour of the flowers.
Couples usually start off with what they think they should have, but when you start exploring and talking to them, then their true personality comes out and they get a little braver.
How do you approach decorating venues?
I usually do a venue visit with the bride and have a look at any ‘extras’ aside from tables, like a mantelpiece or some sort of nook or cranny that it might be nice to decorate with something like bay trees or even just some ribbons.
It’s important to visit the venue as it allows you to also get an idea of the lighting, the size of the room, the décor – to understand what’s already there and how you can work with it.
What do you love most about doing weddings?
Sometimes, even though it’s quite stressful on the day, there’s that moment when you’re decorating a really old church and it’s really quiet. There’s something so serene about it and I love the thought that people have been decorating that church for centuries and you’re just another part of its history.
A few times, I’ve delivered flowers to brides who have been really calm all morning and then you turn up with their bouquet and when they see them, they cry – not because they’re unhappy but as it’s often the moment that the reality of the day hits. It’s interesting that flowers can evoke those kinds of emotions. That’s quite a nice part of it; that’s happened on several occasions.
How did you get into floristry?
It comes from my mum, she was a keen gardener and I learned about flowers from her. She loved receiving flowers, so I used to buy her cheap bunches and arrange them. Then it was really about having something creative to do. Doing a floristry night course gave me an appetite, but ultimately, the thing that’s driven me is my mum. It’s a little bit of a tribute to her; every bouquet that I create is effectively for my mum as I can’t create one for her now. It’s been a personal journey.
What’s the most elaborate wedding you’ve ever worked on?
A friend had a wild idea that I could do the flowers for her friend’s wedding… in Italy! The difficulty was dealing with Italian suppliers when not speaking the language and where we had different ways of doing things. However, I found a flower supplier in Milan who spoke English and with the bride’s fabulous planning (and sense of humour) it happened.
I made arrangements not only for the wedding, but for a James Bond / Star Wars-themed party the night before, in a gorgeous villa overlooking Lake Como. I used tropical flowers to create a cool air of sophistication like Mr Bond as well as the sharp futuristic lines of Star Wars.
I love tropicals and it was a wonderful opportunity to have so many varieties to work with in such a glamorous and magical setting.
What is your favourite flower?
That’s really hard to answer because all flowers are beautiful in their own way. At home, I tend to go for minimal, structural plants, like orchids, foliage and calla lilies as they suit my home. However, I do love the rose. They are all about romance and love, and the colours are beautiful.
What flowers did you have at your own wedding?
Ivory calla lilies – quite simple and structural.
What trends can we expect to see in wedding flowers?
Hand-tied bouquets are still popular with brides because they are so versatile and quite economical, but I have had a few people ask about shower bouquets– the older style, trailing type.
People still like an ivory or neutral colour palate, but increasingly I’m being asked for flowers that are much brighter and bolder; with clashing colours like purples and pinks – so that’s interesting. I’m seeing a lot more brightness as people aren’t afraid to reflect their personality a bit more.
What are your top three tips for brides and grooms?
1) Keep an open mind about what you like.
2) Do have a budget in mind; however, be prepared to flex that budget if it’s something that you really like. Remember, your flowers are going to be in your photos forever so you need to make sure they’re something you love.
3) Build a relationship with your florist. Talk to them, get to know them and keep in contact with them. Don’t be afraid to say if you don’t like something, but you’ve also got to trust them.
Jo Fleet is the founder of BluBelle Lane.