It all started with a panicked search to find a florist for a photoshoot last January. Tina came to the rescue, unfazed by the random ideas I had, she set about creating and transforming - bringing the outdoors in. The Wild Bunch is her company and today we ask her all about her inspiration.
Who is your bride?
Our bride is someone with a strong sense of style and a fairly good idea of the feel they want for their wedding. They aren’t necessarily flower lovers or “inspired by nature” but they are increasingly influenced by trends, especially from Australia and the US, for organic, natural designs, and more dramatic focal points for their wedding; whether a ceremony backdrop, an elaborate entrance, or a large hanging installation over the reception tables. They are open to ideas and are less concerned about formulas or set ways of doing things. They want something different from the norm, designed for that venue, that season, their wedding.
And they are the loveliest! I’ve heard all the stories, but we’ve never had anything even close to a “bridezilla”! (am I allowed say that?!)
When do feel most creative?
The first spark or idea always comes from nature, from the landscape. The shapes, the colours, the “mood” of each season, each month. How dependant that is on the location, the weather. My first aim is always to capture that mood, because it’s that connection to the natural world that stirs something in all of us.
After that, from a lot of places. Any form of art really; paintings, photography, sculpture, interiors, metalwork, textiles. Anything that looks good. Kilkenny’s craft scene is brilliant, and I could spend hours just looking at other people’s work. I like to get a feel for a piece, and then try to figure what makes it feel that way; is it the colour, the lines, the form, the weight or texture? I try to imagine the process; how the piece started in the designer’s head, the dreaming, then the practicalities, the trials and tweaking (in so far as my knowledge of that craft allows!) I find the whole process fascinating. Then I have to quench my sudden desire to become a silversmith, or a furniture maker, or a photographer!
Workshops are an essential way of developing your own style and are my weakness; I’ve been known to blow the budget on workshops! There are so many amazing and inspiring florists in Ireland and in the UK and the opportunity to learn from them is invaluable.
Finally I get involved in any photoshoots I can. It’s a fantastic way to get creative, and there is a real energy when different artists get together, working together and feeding off each other’s ideas.
How do you feel meeting a new bride to be?
Honestly, it’s the best part! I love meeting couples, talking to people, hearing their plans and their stories… and absolutely cherish seeing them again on the day. I delude myself that I’m part of the family (I know how sad that sounds.) It’s just such a fantastic time, so full of emotion and excitement. I love flowers but could never work with them without the “people” part.
Once we’re chatting I find that lots of brides will make a point of telling me that they “don’t know much about flowers” but they don’t need to. They just need to have an idea of the style they want for the day and then we can translate that together, in context of the season and the venue. I tell my brides to send me any photos they‘ve come across and liked; regardless of the flowers or the season or the actual arrangement; just to get an idea of their aesthetic, the style and colours they are drawn to.
Many of our couples live abroad and we don’t get to meet before the day. It’s surprisingly easy to arrange everything by email, exchanging photos and ideas to and fro.
What do you like to hear from a bride? The best question they could ask you?
I love when a bride understands the importance of the season; that when the flowers are part of that bigger picture outside the window, it makes them so much more than when they are in an isolated little wedding “bubble”. That doesn’t mean lists of available or unavailable flowers, it comes back to capturing the “mood” of the season, through colours, textures, form.
But the best thing to hear from a bride is “I trust you”. All of our loveliest work comes about when we have some freedom to design the flowers the way we think best, and freedom on the day to “go with it” and add creative touches. It’s not about me just doing my own thing, it’s entirely based on the bride’s own style, her colours, the season, the venue, but in the best way possible.
How did you find your calling?
The idea came about 12 years ago when we’d just bought our house in Kilkenny. The garden was huge and being slight hippies we were determined to do something productive with it. We’d both been working in horticulture in various guises for some time and when I came across a piece in a gardening magazine about a similar grower-florist in England, it made perfect sense. That winter we ploughed up the whole garden and got planting.
In the first few years there were almost no other grower-florists in Ireland. There was none of the community or support that there is today for newcomers, and we really had to find our own way. On the other hand I suppose we were fairly unique at the time in what we offered; home grown natural, seasonal flowers, and we were surprised by how quickly things took off. We certainly had to learn on our feet in the early years but I think that has stood to us; we've learned to carve our own niche which is so important in an industry that changes all the time.