Cosy October

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Time to shake out the winter wardrobe, stock up on candles, cushions and cinnamon sticks, all in readiness for the cosy season of walks among the autumn leaves, mulled cider and wine, Apple Days, Halloween, and Guy Fawkes Night.

I chose these beautiful lilac roses at a recent Wedding Fayre at The Alverton Hotel (a busy show and a lovely vibe) because their colour seems to capture the very essence of late summer dark pinks and mauves, when purple sunset skies nudge us towards the dark nights drawing in and – dare I say it – hint at the gothic colours of Halloween. Not every bride wants to wear white, and here at Floral Creations St Austell, we love to create floral displays for all tastes. Traditional, Vintage, Eco, Shabby Chic, Bohemian Brides, (follow the link to see some of my flowers featured on this Wed Magazine photo shoot) and even Gothic weddings, all call for a special sort of styling and expertise.

So, October has certainly started on a good note – two lively, well-attended wedding fayres (including ‘A Most Marvellous Wedding Experience’ at Pengenna Manor) and also quite literally – with a note from one of ‘my’ wedding couples. I’m often thanked for my wedding work, of course, verbally on the day, and the occasional post-honeymoon email, but this couple went a little bit further and sent me a lovely handwritten note in the post. This is what it said:

Dear Karen

We wanted to write a little note to say thank you so much for the beautiful flowers you provided and arranged for our wedding!

The flowers were absolutely stunning and so many people commented on this! They made our wedding day even more special so thank you!

Such a warm feeling to receive appreciation for what I love to do!

Meanwhile, coming up, I was recently asked to supply flowers for a major London clothing brand’s advertising campaign for 2017, shot in Cornwall, which was a really interesting commission. The photos will be released next year, so more on that later.

November, often a quiet month for weddings and floral work, is a good time to take a holiday, so that is my plan for the first part of the month. I’ll be posting plenty of  pictures from my trip on my Facebook page, and an update next month of my visit to Flora Holland – so, if you’re interested in all things Floralcreations, watch this space.

 

Key dates are going fast

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Well, it’s finally September and for the first time in months I have had a chance to draw breath and think about what’s coming next. Up until now, this summer, I have been flat out ordering flowers, conditioning flowers, delivering flowers all over Cornwall, every weekend right through. But this coming Saturday, there’s a signal that summer activities are coming to an end. I will be making up bridal flowers for the last wedding to be held at Trenython Manor before the hotel fills up again with its seasonal time-share customers.

With a seasonal business like mine, where there is such a need to plan ahead to get everything in place in good time for the Big Day, the work ebbs and flows with the calendar like this, and all seems part of a cycle. A quick glance at my diary confirms it – already, key weekends and Bank Holiday dates next year are filling up fast. Even for initial consultations, I’m now taking bookings for January 2017. It’s odd to think that the date for that year will take on such a special significance for 2017 brides and grooms. For some of them in my diary, as yet unknown, I will be confirmed to play a small (floral) part in this cycle of life.

Bridal flowers may form a just a part of the whole, it’s true, but I was reminded again recently how important a part that is, when, back in August, one of my 2016 wedding couples took the time and trouble to nominate me for a Simply Weddings award!

Simply Weddings Award 2016 are looking for small to medium-sized enterprises who:

“work so hard to create the most amazing wedding day and…. really will inspire and assist, and also deliver beyond all expectations”

So you can see why I was chuffed to be nominated – and now I’m through to the finals! (Although chances are against me winning are slim, anyone who does want to vote, voting closes on October 16th so just click on this link and submit your details.) [17-10-16 Update: competition now closed, the page has gone]  Thank you!

And on the subject of planning ahead, if you are starting to plan your wedding and would like to see what’s on offer to help create a fabulous event, Floral Creations St Austell will be showcasing bridal flower creations through October at various venues, so do try to catch one for ideas and inspiration.

On Sunday 2nd October the stunning Pengenna Manor will open its doors for the third year running for ‘A Most Marvellous Wedding Experience’ from 11am – 4pm.

A Most Marvellous Wedding Experience is a fantastically fun, wildly engaging interactive wedding showcase packed full of beautiful, quirky and slightly different wedding suppliers.

On the same day, I will be in attendance (along with some beautiful flowers of course!) to answer queries and provide advice here:
Sunday 2nd October
And the following week, I will be available in person to take bookings for initial consultations and chat through the bridal displays here:
Sunday 9 October, 11am – 3pm for a day of wedding inspiration
So, summer may be ending, but I’m going to be busy right up to the end of October, and with a recent reminder in the shape of two orders for Christmas wreaths (!) I’m already starting to look forward to my November holiday.

Honour and remembrance

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Did you know, the Gladiolus is the flower of the month for August?

If you pass cottage gardens on your travels you’ll spot why, as these tall elegant spikes – often known as sword flowers or sword lilies (from the Latin for sword, gladius, like gladiator) – are in full flower at the moment. Gladioli come in a range of lovely colours from acid pinks and yellows to soft pastel shades, often planted at the backs of borders for structure and impact, they make a beautiful display in summer. They are particularly popular as cut flowers, long-lasting, and continue to open down the spike whilst in the vase. I love them.

In the language of flowers, gladioli stand for honour and remembrance (more of which later) and strength of character, faithfulness, sincerity, integrity and determination.  So I’ll start with honour. I’ve been lucky enough this month to have been honoured in a couple of ways. Firstly, I had a glowing testimonial full of kind words for my work as a result of a collaboration at Boconnoc with renowned event planner, Simon Nickell.

Secondly, I’ve also been nominated for a Simply Wedding Award! The nomination came out of the blue, one or more of ‘my’ brides or grooms must have nominated me for their  wedding flowers, so I’d like to say a general thank you to whoever it was. Previous Brides and Grooms from 2015/16 only can vote for a business and voting opens on September 1st, so I’ll be posting this again, no doubt, and keeping my fingers crossed for the result.

Thirdly, another recent honour, my flowers on the front cover of Pure Weddings magazine! My bouquet sits in the centre of a colourful feature on ‘The Gypsy Bride’. The bride is seated on an old folk-art decorated caravan wearing a Romany style wedding dress – really pretty and unusual. This was a team effort*, great fun to be part of, and I’m still excited to see the picture made the front page.

Lastly, though, I must just make a short mention of remembrance – at home we lost two of our dogs this month to heart cough, my dog, Buster, and my son’s dog, Neo, my dog’s father, both at a young age. Pets become like one of the family and because they have such a short life-span compared to humans, they can make us mindful of mortality and the cycle of life. This too, of course, is part of my work. I’m reminded of another honour here, that it is a special role to be asked to create personalised memorial flowers for clients who have lost a loved one and thereby to play a small part in the passing ceremony.

To end on a brighter note, again in honour of the vivid and cheerful gladioli, all in all, August has been a busy month. I’ve been able to add some fresh pictures to my Wedding Gallery include some very positive feedback to my portfolio, and have two weddings coming up this weekend. Every Saturday until the end of September, I will be busy with wedding flowers to finish and deliver, and meanwhile, my workshop is in the process of being transformed, more of which next month…

…………………….

*’The Gypsy Bride’ team credits
Photography, Julia Mcintosh, juliamcintoshphotography.com
Dresses, Christine Trewinnard Couture
Make up artist, Sally Orchard
Hair, Claire Pascoe, number8hairdressing.com
Flowers, Floral Creations St Austell
Jewellery, gemheaven jewellery
Location, Outlandish Holidays

Beautiful Cornwall

woodflowers

This is the season for flower shows, first The Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show and then, closer to home, The Royal Cornwall Flower Show.

I’ve been lucky enough to squeeze attendance at both these two important flower shows into my busy schedule this year. I say important, because as a floral designer, visiting flower shows ticks a few boxes for me: professional profile (I get out and about and plenty of chances for good chats with other professionals, potential clients, and suppliers); industry insider tips (lots of great design/materials ideas to take back to my workshop for upcoming commissions, weddings, and formal displays); personal pleasure (last, but not least, because I just love flowers!).

So how were they? Well, Chelsea was spectacular, always inspiring, amazing, a phenomenon really, but if I am perfectly honest, the stress of getting to the venue, the time it takes to gain entry and the sheer physical slog of going round with the throng has to be set against that. I loved the work on display (what I could see of it) but this year the sheer numbers of people present were off putting. There was an amount of pushing and shoving, straining forward to see the stunners and the winners, and for me, ‘elbows out ladies’ goes against the whole idea of what flowers and gardens should ideally be about – harmony, balance, relaxation. Flowers and floral design  should bring sensory delights – colours, smells, textures – and also elements which are spiritually uplifting. This year, at Chelsea that was not so easy to find.

Royal Cornwall, however, was as ever, a delight. As the website says, Royal Cornwall’s event is:

A flower show that prides itself on a well-earned reputation for being one of the country’s best. It attracts trade exhibitors from far and near and they compete with each other to mount the finest displays.

And once into the whole event, it’s free. I’d recommend going, every time.

I had a great day looking round, and the flowers were excellent, really stunning. For my competition entries, I had two good results overall: a second prize and a ‘Highly Commended’ in the imposed class. For this last challenge, a race against the clock, they say working under pressure can bring out your best qualities… although it never feels like it at the time.

Reading that paragraph above back, I think my perspective on those shows boils down to the fact that Cornwall is such a great place to live, the pace and quality of life here are just hard to beat. I love going on trips ‘up country’, London even, but at the end of the day, I love good old Kernow and all it has to offer, more. I love the lifestyle, the views, the coast, the mild climate (most of the time), the unspoiled areas, the sub-tropical flora, the list goes on. Cornwall is such a fantastic venue for weddings, for anyone out-of-county looking for a truly beautiful and magical location, Cornwall is so unique and memorable, it has some wonderful spots, and if you have the right contacts (like yours truly :), you can find the same tip-top professional services in this  county as anywhere else, the only difference is, you will be happier with what’s left in your pocket.

Case in point, I have just had a booking for a wedding next year at Cornish Tipi in St Kew, “the closest you can get to an outside wedding in the UK”. With such beautiful wild woods, woodland streams, a wood, willow and canvas Pavilion, tented spaces, tree arbours, fire pits, charming outdoor accommodation in Tipis, where else could you find a lovely location like this, except Cornwall?

Further on this local theme, it gave me great pleasure this month to install my first  church flowers – either side of the altar at the chapel of Carclaze Methodist Church. It was the Sunday School Anniversary that day and as it so happened also the Anniversary of the date of the first Chapel ever opening. That morning a special anniversary service was planned and the flowers were there to add an especially colourful celebratory touch.  

Also on a local note, LOCAL FLOWERS ARE NOW AVAILABLE! Sorry about the capitals, not meaning to be shouty and all that, but last week was British Flowers Week, and not only did the event make it to Countryfile, (read all about it here) I just had to announce that this also marks the key week for the plentiful availability of local flowers here in Cornwall. Locally grown flowers are fresh, sustainable (no air miles), great for the local economy, beautiful, traditional, and, more importantly, affordable – so get some while you can.

And finally, if you’re interested in seeing some more pretty pictures of weddings in Beautiful Cornwall, look out for Floral Creations St Austell’s contribution to the photo shoot with Jules Mackintosh in the upcoming July issue of Pure Weddings.

Talking wedding what-ifs

ranunculs2

At the Bridal Show Southwest over Saturday and Sunday (April 16th & 17th), I shared a stall with Kelly’s Sweet Treats and in between talking to brides to be and checking out the other suppliers, we swapped (good and bad) wedding stories and naturally, some cautionary tales cropped up.

As some Hollywood wit once said, ‘Buying insurance is no-one’s idea of fun’ and in the romantic roller-coaster run up to the wedding day, insurance is often the last thing on the list. It’s human nature to think ‘it won’t happen to me’, but judging from our chats, wedding insurance looks like a good idea.

There was the friend of a friend whose cousin was all set to marry, she’d known her intended since they were at school, he’d trained as an accountant, she had her own business, their new home was lined up, their life together all set, then she went on a training course three weeks before the wedding, was swept off her feet by a tall, dark stranger, decided he was ‘the one’, and called it all off. For her family, for their finances, all hell broke loose.

Admittedly, that is a ‘worst case’ scenario, but on a lesser scale, as we discussed, accidents happen, and for those of us who work as suppliers to brides-to-be, we know, if it can happen, it will happen, to someone, somewhere. So whenever I’m asked (and although I’m a florist, as I get to know the couple over the run-up to the ceremony, I get asked for advice on all sorts of things) I tend to say this: it really is wise to take out wedding insurance to protect your special day.

Here are some things to think about. What if:

  • accident, sickness or death means a supplier lets you down and you have to cancel or rearrange?
  • your wedding cake gets damaged?
  • your outfit is damaged?
  • your flowers are damaged?

For any bride, these potential disasters would be top of the list, but there’s also public liability to think about, or perhaps you’re having a marquee, or some unusual transport, or ceremonial swords…

As suppliers, we do our very best to make sure everything runs right, but the unforeseen does sometimes happen and my friend and I concluded, it’s best to insure against it.

(P.s. That lovely picture of the four ranunculus stems was taken by Emma Jane Lee Photography at the Ta Mill wedding open day back in March, lovely colours, just had to post it. Thanks, Emma.)

 

Vintage and modern, sunshine and rain, a proper March mix

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Spring is in the air and once again it’s a busy time with floristry workshops, weddings, consultations, and wedding fayres packing out my diary.

The first of these was the Big Wed Meetup for some networking with other professionals in the wedding field, then a trip to Bristol for a special skills workshop with renowned floral designer Sabine Darrall. Sabine’s courses aim to bridge

the gap between a traditional college course and the practical industry knowledge needed to survive in today’s changing floral world… classes are small and friendly with lots of individual attention” 

I find these workshops ideal for extending specialist techniques and the new discoveries always feed back into my work keeping styles current and fresh. The venue was The Forge in Bristol, a new shared workspace for creative professionals and freelancers. The open, light space was perfect for our purposes, and the modern industrial feel of the building provided an interesting backdrop for the colours and softness of the flowers on the day.

On from there, I attended a workshop with Jane Cowling from Eden Florist in Taunton, Somerset, which was another contrast again, with commercial and practical common sense industry tips and the flair of a Level 5 Master Florist with that rural ‘Eden Florist’ house style. The mixture of ideas from both workshops were fantastic top-ups to take home.

Back to earth, I’m planning three weddings, one at the Headland Hotel, one at Alverton Manor, and another at The Knightor at the end of the month. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the weather for each of these three lovely couples, but the good thing about folk who choose spring weddings is, not only do they have a wonderful choice of fresh flowers, but also (my observation) couples who marry at this time of year seem to be well prepared for sunshine or rain!

This Sunday, I have a stand booked at a wedding fete at Ta Mill, in Launceston, so if you’re Westcountry based and shopping for your wedding, come and say hello and browse of some of my designs.

Sunday 20-03-16 at Ta Mill, St Clether,

Launceston, Cornwall, PL15 8PS, (11am to 3pm)

Last up, for heritage venue hunters, this Saturday and Sunday, 19th & 20th March, there’s an open weekend at the newly renovated and restored Trenance Cottages, Newquay. The Grade II listed buildings, including parts dating back to 1800, with themed decor, allow guests to ‘step back in time to experience the way our Cornish ancestors lived‘ for a vivid vintage experience, and if you are looking for vintage themed wedding, this charming new venue also holds a wedding licence.

I will be leaving flowers for the display there – in milk churns provided by Kelly’s Sweet Treats. Pictures to follow….

 

 

 

Masterclasses

photo courtesy of 'Have Light Will Shoot Photography'

Following on from my last post, I’ll start with a behind-the-scenes peek at a professional Masterclass which I attended last month.

Taught by celebrity florist Joe Massie at The UK School of Floristry in Liverpool, this three day masterclass was a fantastic experience in extending and developing delegates’ floristry skills in wedding creations. I was one of ten students set to work on a variety of ‘beautiful bouquets, table centres, arches, chandeliers and more’, like this floral headband above (one of mine from Day 2, picture courtesy of Have Light Will Shoot Photography).

For anyone who would like to build confidence in structuring big floral creations, this workshop is the one for going large. Joe was an attentive tutor, the materials were beautiful, a delight to work with, and the smallest query was given careful attention. I, for one, absorbed some inspiring new techniques which I know will carry over into my wedding work this spring and beyond.

On which subject, my diary is filling up fast. The next event for me is The Big Wed Meetup in St Ives on March 4th, which is a business to business networking event for professionals and suppliers in the wedding industry. Not only are these days important for getting out and about and meeting other folk in a similar line of work, easing some of the pressures of being a sole trader, but they are brilliant for picking up fresh ideas and making new contacts.

Following that, later in the month, I have a stand booked at a wedding fete at an exciting new venue, so if you’re planning a wedding this year, do come along with your queries and questions. Come and say hello for an idle (inspirational) browse of some of my designs.

Sunday 20-03-16 at Ta Mill, St Clether, Launceston, Cornwall, PL15 8PS, (11am to 3pm)

Here’s what Dream Weddings Magazine says about it:

Ta Mill’s Wedding Fete is a beautifully romantic, wildly wonderful and effortlessly fun wedding event which will be sure to captivate and inspire bride and grooms-to-be. Think barefoot bride, outdoor festival weddings, picnic receptions and secret garden locations. Wander around this secluded, rural, hideaway meeting a host of hand-picked suppliers will be on hand to talk through what you might need for your big day.

Hope to see you there!

 

Love birds

valentineroses

First of all, I must just remind all you love birds out there of our special Valentine’s Day offer.

Red Beauty roses are truly gorgeous flowers, with tall, elegant velvet petals in that famous rich red hue beautifully curled around the heart of the bloom.

I’m delighted to be able to offer SIX Red Beauties in a fresh hand-tied Valentine’s Bouquet design for just £20. This includes your own special message (hand- written, of course), in a sealed envelope. But it’s early birds first! When they’re gone, they’re gone, so avoid last minute disappointment – secure your order with payment – until 30th January only.

Now, Happy New Year! 2016 is well underway but recent events at Floral Creations mean I’ve only just now got to my first blog post of the year.

So far, 2016 has got off to a great start for the business. My diary has been filling up fast as a result of contacts from the round of autumn wedding fayres. I’ve been busy already with consultations for a selection of summer weddings this year. Each bride has her own unique ideas and I’m really looking forward to designing the bespoke arrangements for their individual wedding plans.

Even though it’s only the end of January, I’ve been to two wedding events already. One, held at a fabulously romantic venue, Tregenna Castle, St Ives, the Cornish Brides award winning wedding venue of 2015 (take note any Valentine’s Day 2016 proposals out there!). The second, the following day, last Sunday, at Merchant’s Manor, a Queen Anne style country house in Falmouth. This lovely manor house would be perfect for a more intimate wedding.

Between these events, both well attended, I’ve met plenty of new b2b’s across the range of styles and preferences. I’ll be following up those fresh contacts in the coming months.

That’s all for now, but next month I’ll update you on a fascinating three-day wedding work masterclass I attended in Liverpool. Can’t wait to show you the pictures.

Autumn round-up

gentle autumn colours

Where did summer go? I was so busy with weddings, suddenly it was September (I remember the glorious weather) and – whoosh! – now the chilly nights are here. 

In between the late summer/early autumn weddings I squeezed in a workshop with Tom Hodges who decorated the Chapel at [email protected] I love practising the floral arts and this was a good day, I learnt some brilliant new tricks and tips.

Next up was ‘The Most Curious Wedding Fayre’ at Pengenna Manor. Deep in the Cornish countryside, near the Camel estuary, Pengenna is a fabulous wedding venue all year round, and the perfect place for this gathering of beautiful, quirky and slightly different wedding suppliers.  Later in the month, I followed this with a stand at the Atlantic Hotel Wedding Fayre in Newquay, a regular show which I have attended before, and which always draws a crowd. As a result, my diary for next year is filling fast following plenty of new consultations with brides and mothers-to-be.

Meanwhile, it’s important for me to balance promotional activity with keeping my floral skills up to date, so in early October I booked myself in on a fantastic workshop with the internationally recognised Master Florist Gregor Lersch learning more artful techniques and ingenious tips to pass into my work and onto my customers. I was pleased with the end result that day, a lovely wired structure with an autumn feel.

Coming up: a Wedding Fayre this Sunday at the beautiful Headland Hotel, Newquay and on the Monday I am away on a residential course for a few days at Brunel Manor Torquay in a workshop titled, ‘Autumn Rose’.

At this time of year, I like to make sure Floral Creations St Austell has a presence at the major wedding fayres, garnering plenty of new business for 2016. So, as soon as I’m back from Devon, you’ll find me at The Carnmarth Hotel in Newquay for another bridal event on Sunday 25th October. 

Then before you know it, it will be Halloween, and I’ll be filling orders for floral designs to decorate all the parties and seasonal events leading up to Christmas…

I can’t go without a small note of pride. One of my brides just posted a review of my wedding work on her event earlier in October.

…. there are no words to thank you enough for what you did. The flowers were absolutely fantastic and lasted for so long!!! With professionalism and patience you put my worries aside when I started freaking out. You adapted to what I wanted and made it 10 times better!! I will totally recommend you without hesitation!

A rose by any other name

flowers for any occasion

I have been asked many times about the name of my business and why I chose Floral Creations. The reason I chose Floral is because it relates to all flowers, Creations because I love to use flowers to create and make bespoke, unique and personal designs depending on the occasion. The St Austell part was added when I joined the British Floristry Association (BFA).

Whether the designs are for weddings, funerals, birthdays, or a simple ‘Thank You’ token, I create floral arrangements to suit the personality of the customer and because everybody sees styles, colours and fashions slightly differently, I always prefer to have a face to face consultation.

I need to know what my customers mean by ‘shabby chic’ or ‘distressed’. There’s a fine line between a ‘rustic’ style and materials which are ‘naturally rough’. Will the event be ‘classic’, ‘vintage’, ‘on trend’, modern, or ‘contemporary’? I am passionate about both flowers and designs and understanding what the customer is looking for is the first step to a happy result.

For this reason, I do not offer packages but work towards making a bespoke design to suit the customer through a consultation. Of course, this isn’t possible with 100% of customers, but we can always communicate through email, Skype or ‘face time’.

Most brides to be (b2b) love to use Pinterest to gather their ideas together, Googling themes, pinning pretty pictures and collecting the colours they love. If a bride has a Pinterest page, it’s a great starting point – I use it myself – but my experience tells me I have to add a tiny note of caution here: Pinterest definitely reflects a rose-tinted universe! Some of the best bridal pins are unusual, and unusual can mean ‘hard to get hold of’ and, like any rare commodity, this can mean expensive, especially as I work with premium flowers to ensure freshness and quality. But on your special day, you wouldn’t want it any other way.

So my advice to all b2b’s out there, to avoid disappointment with Pinterest ideas, is this: let’s take your pins and clippings as a starting point, your budget as a guideline, and work together during the consultation to make a the foundations of a lovely event take shape.

There are always beautiful flowers to suit every budget – it’s one of the joys of my job knowing how to find lots of alternatives and ‘pin’ them together in artful ways. This is exactly how my experience and expertise filters through in making bespoke and unique designs.

P.s. Back in May I was part of team in a photo shoot where I made bespoke shoes, and bracelets. Sending a big thank you to Enchanted Brides for all their hard work after the shoot. An article has just been released and published in Rock My Wedding magazine.