An interview with | Julie Anna Flowers
Bondi beach, 5am alarm calls and 56 years of bad luck
It’s no secret that I’m a little bit in love with Julie Anna Flowers. Anna does the flowers for more of my clients than any other florist. We often laugh as we see each other, yet again, at Rushton Hall. And there’s a reason for that. She’s a fabulous florist, a grafter who puts in every effort for her couples and is impossibly lovely.
How did you become a wedding florist?
I’d been working in retail management for 11 years and decided to take a year out in Sydney, Australia. I was living in Bondi at the time and working in the city and passed a particular florist on my way to work every day, well, more of a botanic shop really. Although I am a traditionalist at heart I really loved their funky garden style and use of exotic plants. It made you stop and was totally inspiring.
When my year was up, I returned home and went back into retail management. I quickly realised it wasn’t for me anymore and I wanted to study floristry. I’ve studied art and have always been creative and felt like I needed to get back into it. So I decided to retrain and studied as a mature student at Moulton College. It was here that I met Julie (aka the Julie in Julie Anna Flowers).
We set up the business together while we were studying but she went in a different direction after the course. Having already built up the brand and a reputation I decided to keep the name as it was. I’ve been in business for 10 years now and completely love it.
What do you enjoy most about being a wedding florist?
The creative aspect, of course. I also get a kick out of working closely with people who are passionate about what they want and who are excited about their wedding flowers. Making people happy is what it’s all about for me.
What’s the hardest thing about being a wedding florist?
The early mornings; especially in the winter when it’s cold and dark. I have to be up at 5.00am to get to the flower wholesalers at 6.00am. Any later than that everything is sold out. I have to go several times a week to get flowers at the right stage of freshness and opening for the wedding day. In peak wedding season I go every day.
What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you at a wedding?
I was unloading my van at Rushton Hall and spectacularly fell through the door with 8 mirrors in my hands. All 8 mirrors broke. Not only did I bring on 56 years of bad luck but I had to drive all the way back to Northampton to get some more. I had never been more thankful for my policy of keeping spares and always allowing more time than I think I need!
How does the design process work?
It starts with the venue. Stately homes, barns and homely country houses each lend themselves to different looks. Often my clients will have a theme or feel in mind, perhaps glamorous, country or romantic which is a big influence too.
Then I consider the dress and the style of bouquet that will complement it. A slim bride wearing a delicate dress will need something small and delicate. If you have a dress with a lot of detail on the front then something hand-tied works well so that it doesn’t fight for attention with the dress. The rest of the flowers are usually based on the bouquet but different flowers can work at the church or reception.
Next comes the colour; usually it’s based on the bridesmaids’ dresses and I like to see swatches of the fabric to find something that will complement it. We’ll talk through options for colour combinations.
Then I’ll put together a recommendation based on all of that.
It’s important to have a bit of free reign to get the best results. I want a couple’s flowers to look the best they can so sometimes I might substitute one choice of flower for another if there’s something really amazing at the wholesalers when I get there. It always has to be in keeping though. I’m very much in the hands of my suppliers so sometimes it isn’t possible to get exactly what I want; in that case I need my clients to trust that I’ll pick something else that will work just as well.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Preston Bailey. He’s my hero! ….. full on glamour and very over the top American style.
Whose wedding flowers would you love to create, past or present?
I would have loved to work on the Royal Wedding. I love that kind of classic, traditional, glamorous style.
What do you most often do when you get home from setting up a wedding?
I usually meet with couples for consultations or final meetings and then it’s a large glass of white wine on the sofa watching The Voice [insert any reality show really!] with my dog, Mr Bojangles, snoring loudly at my feet.
Is there a wedding you’ve worked on that sticks out in your mind?
It was a wedding where I already knew the family because I’d done the flowers for the Bride’s sister’s wedding a few years ago. It was lovely to work with them again. It was one of those weddings where I felt really welcome and a part of things. The Bride had made me a survival bag to keep me going while I was working – water, chocolate, mints, anadin and crisps. She was such a thoughtful bride. In fact, the whole family were really sweet and made me feel really welcome. I had so many offers of help and wasn’t made to feel in the way or like hired help at all.
It was also memorable for another reason. My ladders weren’t tall enough to fix the archway display at the church so I drove to the reception venue to see if they had any I could borrow. It was early and no-one was around but the Bride’s family who had stayed the night before pointed me to the owner’s cottage in the grounds, which was all made of glass. I knocked but there was no answer. It was bright and I couldn’t see in so I put my hands to my head to shield the reflections and peered through. Right into the bedroom. You can guess the rest ;)
If you could give couples one piece of advice about their wedding flowers what would it be?
Have a rough idea of what you like before going for your consultation. It doesn’t have to be a firm brief, in fact it’s good to be open-minded. But knowing what colours and types of flowers you like will be really helpful. Use pinterest, look in magazines or try websites like Rock My Wedding & Love My Dress where you can search by style of wedding and colour.
What’s your favourite flower?
Stocks. Every time. It’s all I have in my house. I love them because they smell amazing and always look great in a vase. And only in lilac – because it matches my living room.
See what I mean? Isn’t she lovely and full of ideas and talented and completely clued up? So what are you waiting for? Check out her website and book her!