April, and May so far, have been a whirl of wedding-related activities.
First of all, there was some essential networking to be done at a recent Designer Flora Meetup in Gloucester. Most florists work as part of, or run, small businesses, and many of us work alone, so it becomes even more important to make the effort to catch up with other professionals, swap stories, good and bad, exchange tips and share some of the ‘tricks’ of the trade.
Photography isn’t a ‘trick’ as such, but often we floral designers are so used to seeing our flowers centre stage, when it comes to taking photographs, it’s easy to forget that the composition and the background around the flowers can detract from the star of the show if you don’t consider them – and ruin the effect of the work. The photography workshop at the Meetup was great for encouraging us to practice the art of snapping our work to best effect – essential in these days of instant social media marketing.
Alongside networking, are the all important floristry workshops. I’m a firm believer in keeping my skills up to date, learning new techniques and trying fresh twists on familiar styles. For example, a recent workshop with Laura Leong at Kingston Maurward College was a great introduction on how judges mark floral work in competitions, and provided an insight into key aspects of design we should be attending to whether working on a competition entry or not. Laura is an “award-winning florist, teacher and demonstrator with many years’ experience as a retail florist and teacher. A background in fine art means that interests in contemporary design and crafting techniques are at the forefront of her design work”, so it was fascinating to see her in action. This was followed shortly after by a workshop with Francoise Weeks, skilled in woodland designs and an expert in ‘botancial couture‘ where we learned all about shoes and wedding clutches made from foliage, petals and gilded leaves.
Another part of my regular work is to meet brides, often at their chosen venue, to plan the final details of the floral arrangements for their big day. I get to drive all over Cornwall to visit some beautiful venues, fine hotels, and charming old churches. I love it. I don’t get to go to the wedding, of course, but it’s particularly special for me to imagine my creations in the exact spot where they will be immortalised in the wedding photographs, and usually I do get to see those.
Which brings me to the photo-shoot. As every bride knows, wedding magazines are a rich source of ideas in the planning stage, and as a florist, or floral designer, it is a real coup to get your work showcased in print in this way. I’m lucky enough to have been involved in a few wedding shoots specifically for the wedding magazine market now, and I have to say, it is as glamorous as it looks.
Typically, there is a hair and make-up artist, a lovely young model, maybe bridesmaids, and a florist (in this case, yours truly) on hand, the all team set to transform the bride-to-be into Princess for a Day.
You can see, when you have the services of a professional wedding photographer on hand, like Lisa from Kernow Dream Photography, in charge of the shoot that day, the composition, background, and details, are all taken into account. The flowers play a part, but there’s no doubt who is the real star of the show.