Continuing with ‘The Wedding Smashers‘ series where I interview some of the best in the business, today I’m delighted to be talking to STG favourite, Mary Jane Vaughan, all about getting the most out of your wedding flowers as well as what it takes to run a successful floristry business.
Mary Jane and her team have shared loads of invaluable wedding flower ideas and insights that I’m sure are going to help and inspire you all the way to your big day. You’re gonna love this…
[ Image: Lloyd Dobbie ]
Who is the Mary Jane Vaughan bride? What is her style and aesthetic?
Our brides vary hugely, so this is a really tough one. I would say that they all share a love of flowers and that the flowers that they choose for their wedding are truly important to them. Our style is romantic, timeless and elegant so it is traditionally brides who share these values that seek us out. Our style of floristry appeals to them. She’s a bride who loves simple, unfussy designs and candle light.
Ideally when do you think a bride should start thinking about her flowers? Where do flowers fit in to her planning?
A bride should start thinking about flowers as soon as she has booked her venue. The style of the venue often influences the look we recommend for her flowers, and our brides are spoilt for choice in and around London, from unusual warehouse spaces, to historic palaces, their options are endless. We’ve been designing flowers for weddings and events for the last 30 years so there are not too many spaces that we are not well acquainted with! This knowledge is invaluable when we first meet with the bride, ordinarily at our Battersea studio or on site if she prefers. It enables us to discuss the areas where she really needs to have flowers and where she may be able to do without…essential when it comes to working within a budget.
Some of our brides come to us with a clear idea of what they want for their flowers, having been inspired by wedding blogs, pinterest or magazines, and so our job is to interpret and develop their ideas. Others need more guidance and we love to help inspire an elegant look, suggesting options for flowers, props and design. We strongly believe that the flowers should be a true reflection of the bride and groom, their personality and style. And although as florists we may be slightly biased, they are an enormously important part of the day, and something that the couple and their guests will remember for a long time to come.
Any tips for brides wanting to save their flowers after their wedding day?
It may sound a little harsh but we really feel that her wedding flowers should be enjoyed simply for that one amazing, breathtaking day. We make sure that her flowers are in peak condition for her wedding day so they do not always last for long after the event itself. The couple can always encourage guests to take some flowers home at the end of the wedding, should they wish. Alternatively if a lunch is taking place the following day we can refresh the table centres in our studio and redeliver so that the feel and look of the wedding day can carry on just that little bit longer.
[ Image: Mark Bothwell ]
Can you tell us about some of the amazing bespoke florals you have created? Any particular projects that stand out?
Each and every job is important to us, from an intimate reception for family and close friends to the larger celebrations that often go hand in hand with being a Jewish bride.
We’ve been lucky enough to work with a Russian couple marrying at the Savoy last summer. Their lavish wedding stands out for us as the hotel was dripping with pure white Avalanche roses and Phalaenopsis orchids, from the signage, stairways, their sweetheart top table, guest tables and bar arrangements. The couple were wonderful to work with as was the team at the Savoy, headed by the unflappable Bruce Russell. By all accounts the party continued well in to the following morning!
We also got to work with a beautiful Jewish bride and her mother after the relationship with their existing florist had unfortunately broken down. We decorated their chuppah at the Western Marble Arch Synagogue with a canopy of Majolica, Memory Lane, Quicksand, Bombastic and Amnesia roses with a little trailing Eucalyptus and Jasmine. From there we headed to HRP Banqueting House for the reception. We adored the romantic, muted colour palette, perfect for a late summer/autumn bride. One of the guests at the wedding is now arranging her own wedding taking place at the Rosewood London later this year and we were delighted when she chose to come to us for her wedding flowers. Much of our business is by recommendation which means so much to us.
What’s your favourite bridal trend this season?
We try to avoid following trends as much as possible as flowers should reflect the couple rather than the look that is currently in vogue. We strive to create designs that are elegant and timeless rather than slavishly follow the look of the season. We are seeing a move away from the vintage look with more brides opting for a return to timeless elegance, glamour and opulence. A classic look that we really love.|
[ Image: Mark Bothwell ]
Tell us a little about where you draw your inspiration from? Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?
Having grown up in Colombia where there are no real seasons I find our English seasons, and the varied and unique flowers they bring, endlessly inspiring.
In Spring many of our designs are inspired by the scented spring bulbs and flowers, from hyacinths, to ranunculus, tulips, narcissi…the list is endless. We love to arrange the bulbs in pristine glass bowls and vases with the bare roots showing, as if they have been plucked from the earth.
With Summer comes Sweet Peas, perfect in a bridesmaid’s posy and the ever popular peonies. Summer is all about hot, bright colours and the vivid shades of hydrangea capture this perfectly.
As Autumn begins colours become muted and tonal and Winter is all about snow white blooms or rich, velvet reds and deep plum tones and berries. How can we not be inspired by the floral bounty of our English seasons!
I also get inspired by my frequent trips to the European trade and design shows, I’m always on the hunt for inspiring new props and vases. I love clean, crisp lines and I often say in my next life I’m coming back as a furniture designer!
What is a ‘regular’ day for you like?
There is no regular day for us, and that is just how we like it. We are constantly challenged to think creatively by our clients, and this keeps us inspired to keep working as hard as we do.
Our business is a blend of weddings, bat and bar mitzvahs, private dining and parties balanced with corporate and event work. We do not have a retail shop although we do sell a small selection of bouquets through our online store.
Typically what does a wedding day look like for you?
Can I say that a wedding day for us starts well in advance of the day itself. From the very first meeting, through site visits, the initial proposal and quotation, to the sample meeting, prop lists, the ordering and conditioning of her flowers, to making the designs themselves. For a Saturday wedding, flowers are likely to arrive in our studio on the Thursday so that they are in optimum condition for the wedding day.
The flowers for the reception and service will be made in our studio on the Friday while we will not make the bride’s bouquet, bridesmaid posies and buttonholes until the morning of the wedding. I love the morning of the wedding and the buzz and pace in the studio that results. Depending on the size and logistics of the particular wedding we can have one team delivering the bridal flowers (nice and early so ready for photographs), one team heading out to the church, temple or synagogue and another to the venue for the reception. Occasionally flowers are moved from the service to the reception too. When all is set and final checks are done the team depart, job well done. Much later that evening or sometimes the next day we return to collect the flowers and our props.
Whose wedding flowers would you love to style?
I would have loved to have styled flowers for Audrey Hepburn. She was, and remains, the epitome of elegance and style. Just so chic. I would have suggested Avalanche roses, white anemones with their blue black centres and a little touch of trailing ivy and jasmine.
Do you have any advice for women who are in a dilemma about what florals to go for on their wedding day?
Without hesitation I would say make an appointment to come and see us! Our initial consultations take approximately and hour and a half and we make no charge for this. If struggling for floral inspiration, time with a florist, face to face, is invaluable. You can view their portfolio of past weddings and events, become inspired by the vast range of vases, candelabra and candlesticks available, draw on their experience of your venue and that’s all before you beginning to talk about flower choices. Only your florist will know the availability of certain flowers due to their seasonality and how these will then work within the final design. It is also so important that your florist can inspire you and that you build up a relationship of trust and understanding.
[ Image: Mark Bothwell ]
What’s your favourite part of your job?
There are honestly so many parts that I love. I get to spend every day working with a fabulous and committed team. I get to work with stunning flowers. My creativity is endlessly challenged. I get to be part of a bride’s special day, and that is just priceless.
…And the worst bit?
The early starts and that we help to design these amazing weddings, celebrations and events but we hardly ever to be guests ourselves!
Finally, what’s next for Mary Jane Vaughan?