Exhibitor Insights: Iris & Co.
If you are a fan of all things floral then you are going to adore the inspiration on show from today's post. The wonderful Gemma of Iris and Co. is a florist who really knows how to change up her style and work to your creative brief perfectly for you wedding day.
Her flexibility in design really makes her one of the best up and coming London Florists to keep an eye on. Whether it be the soft hues from pampas to the full on bold colours provided by tropical blooms, Gemma can cater to any style of wedding and works with you and your budget to create something spectacular. I mean look at that cake table - it's practically bursting with blooming loveliness!
So let's delve into it and get to know more about Gemma and her work.
Why don't we start by finding out a little more about you and what it is you specialise in within the wedding industry...
Sure thing! So I'm Gemma and I am the face behind Iris and Co. I came to Floristry from a corporate background where I felt bored, uninspired and generally didn't enjoy the corporate environment. Unsure of where to turn, I looked into lots of courses at my local college - photography, graphic design and floristry. It was floristry that captured my heart and I went on to study it for a year to gain my qualification. Shortly after, I set up my business, the greatest but most challenging thing I've ever done and as they say, the rest is history.
If people ask me to describe how I pitch myself within the industry I guess I would have to say that I design courageously creative wedding flowers for fashion forward couples. I love to get to know my couples to ensure that I create wedding flowers that reflect their personalities and bring the best of nature into their wedding day. I love to play with colour and really celebrate the flowers and greens that I use. You won't find any perfect dome shape bouquets from me, but that's not what my couples want. Wild, natural and brimming with personality is my style and it's exactly what my couples want, to stand out from the crowd and have totally unique wedding flowers that everyone talks about for years to come.
For me seeing the couple looking radiantly happy and confident that they are dressed to the nines in an outfit they are going to absolutely rock on their wedding day is such a highlight for me as a florist. This is especially true if the couple are slightly anxious when we met that they couldn't find anything they felt felt great in or was worried about being the centre of attention, which is very common. To overcome this hurdle always leaves with with a beaming smile on my face.
The most rewarding part of my job is seeing a clients reaction to their dreams coming to life. I know that some couples plan their weddings years before they get engaged (sometimes before they've even met their partner!) and have been visualising how their ceremony or reception will look for many months. Bringing them their dream bridal bouquet or sneaking a peak at them entering the breathtaking reception for the first time is what makes it all worth it. Even the 3am starts.
As a professional florist what trends are really making waves this season?
I'm seeing sustainability as a new and hard hitting trend in the floral industry and something I'm trying to bring into my business. With foam free designs on the rise and an increase in using British flowers, we as florists can't ignore our impact on the environment and need to step up to ensure that we protect our resources for the future. Thankfully, that wave seems to be rippling across our area bringing education and the opportunity to build new and better floral designs.
When it comes to trends, I'm seeing a lot of dried flower designs recently which I love. Far from a stuffy design which sat in the corner of a great-aunt's house for 20 years, today's dried designs are the epitome of the modern couple, with huge dried palm leaves, pampas grass and poppy seed heads. Part of what I love about using dried flowers is that the couple can keep some of the blooms and they will be preserved for a long time. This also means we can reuse them and take less from our environment.
It's so important to build a close relationship and work closely with couples leading up to there big day. I know when I got married I literally had no idea where to start or even how much to budget for the flowers, so can you talk us through the process you go through with your clients.
We start with a consultation. Either in a cute cafe or awesome bar in London or a Skype call for anyone further afield so that I can get to know them and understand their story and what they have in mind for their dream wedding flowers. I'll then go away and create a bespoke proposal. These contain everything we've talked about including a mood board, colours and a breakdown of each individual design so you can see how it's all going to look. This is something that can be refined after with certain designs being scaled up or down. Once the couple is delighted with the proposal, they will pay a deposit to secure the date and boom! We're partners.
Depending on when your wedding is, there might be a bit of a gap but I'm always here if my clients have a new idea or want me to quote for an amazing design they've seen. A few weeks before the wedding, I'll get in touch again to run through the final plan - to check out logistics and that there isn't an extra bridesmaid or another table arrangement for those extended family members that Mum invited.... I'll then send over the final invoice which is paid at least 4 weeks before the wedding - that's when I start the flower order.
One thing couples struggle with at first is knowing what flowers they are actually able to choose from, on their wedding day. Contrary to popular belief, flowers are still incredibly seasonal and whilst we do have some year round favourites, the majority of flowers are only available for a few months of the year. If you have your heart set on peonies but are having an October wedding, they're going to be nearly impossible to source.
Never fear though, I don't expect my couples to know the names of all the flowers, that's my job (and even I still have to look up the odd bloom!). I've yet to come across a flower that I've not been able to substitute for something equally beautiful, that's in season. As part of my proposals, I include examples of the seasonal flowers I'll be working with so my couples can see how it will all come together. I never recommend choosing out of season flowers, firstly as there is never any guarantee that we will get them (they will usually be grown on the other side of the world and still subject to the many influences on when seasons start/finish) secondly, that they often come with a huge price tag to reflect their journey and rarity at this time of year and thirdly the quality is never as good as an in season flower. I don't know about you but I certainly don't look my best after a 24 hour flight and neither does a flower! Which means I have to buy extra blooms to make up for those that won't open. So my advice is, stay seasonal and speak to your florist about options, they will be delighted to show you what kind of blooms are in season and lots of options to bring your ideas to life.
Planning a wedding can be rather daunting for couples but is there something in particular in your opinion that couples should watch out for during these stages?
I think planning a wedding is a challenging task. Unless you've run events before, it may be overwhelming to have to think about the logistics and looking after of 150 of your nearest and dearest! Getting the 'big' things out of the way early can make things seem a little easier - getting a venue booked and choosing a caterer are the best things to tick off the list first and then you can work through. Wedding Fairs are a great place for inspiration and meeting talented and creative suppliers. Finally, don't be afraid to ask for help, your suppliers work in the wedding industry every day and will be happy to share recommendations with you. Also, Wedding Planners are incredible and can really help to lighten the load, either right from the start or just in the last few weeks so if you're feeling a bit swamped, don't be afraid to reach out.
Finally what top tip would you give to couples planning their special day?
My top piece of advice would be to go into your wedding flower consultation with an open mind. A super tight brief can be difficult to work with as we work with nature - an ever challenging partner, always full of surprises. If you provide us with colours, guidance and some inspiration images, we can certainly create something beautiful. I also advise all my clients to be totally open about their budgets when it comes to flowers. I'll be honest - it's probably going to cost more than you think. After all, when did you last buy enough flowers to cover an arch and 12 tables? These products are lovingly grown and harvested by farmers, transported to wholesalers before finally coming to us to create something beautiful with. They may not last for weeks but they've certainly been on a journey before they get to you and that's important to factor in. The flowers we use for weddings are absolutely amazing quality and unlike your 'average' flower. You cannot compare them to anything you would see in a supermarket or smaller shops and so the prices are different.
It may well be that your Pinterest board dreams come to £5000 but your budget is only £2000, and that's OK! Your Florist needs to know though so that they can scale down your ideas to something that fits within your budget, rather than shock you with a £5000 quote and leave you running for the door! Trust me, we can work with almost anything and we love a challenge so just be open and honest and be prepared for your Florist to be the same back.
Gemma was due to showcase with us at our London Spring 2020 event that eventually had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so we recommend popping over and follow her on Instagram HERE, as well as her Facebook page HERE and show her some love today. If you are loving what you see get in touch with Gemma now to chat through your wedding flowers - we know you won't be disappointed :-)
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