We are delighted to introduce you to wedding florist, Joanna today, whose skills and knowledge on bridal flowers is absolutely second to none! An unmissable, in-depth and fascinating interview that’s a must-read if you are thinking of getting married on the idyllic island of Mallorca:
Joanna, you’re based on the glorious island of Mallorca. How long have you been living there, and how long have you been supplying flowers for weddings?
I moved to the beautiful island of Mallorca 13 years ago this summer. After a year of living here I realised how much I missed working with flowers and set up my business here. The island is brilliant for networking opportunities and very quickly I was up and running. Launching the business in April, we had a handful of weddings that summer, and then I met up with planners on the island and the following year, I think we had 30 or so weddings. It went onward and upwards from there!
Sunshine Weddings Spain first worked with you in 2015 at a very memorable wedding… That’s right. Scott – the owner of Sunshine Weddings Spain – and I first worked together in 2015 for a stunning wedding in Deia. The reception took place indoors, which is very unusual, but it was in April. The couple were from Taiwan and the groom was exceptionally quiet, but we were then informed that he was an Oscar winning singer and was resting his voice. It did cross my mind how he would say “I do”!
Floristry is a true skill and art form! When did your passion for flowers begin and can you tell us a little about your training?
Even as a child I loved flowers and nature. My mother encouraged this interest as she was very creative and also an artist and always pointing out gorgeous autumnal trees and flowers on our travels. At 19 years old I studied with Jane Packer in London, who was quite revolutionary in her ideas of mixing flowers with lots of natural foliage. From there I went to open my first flower shop in London at the age of 20! We then went on to have 5 shops in London at one time. So flowers have always been my profession.
When a bridal couple book you for their special day, what process do you go through to narrow down their choices for the bouquet and floral venue decor?
We are so lucky now that we can work with visual images and encourage a new bride to be to look up ideas on different platforms such as Google, Instagram, and Pinterest. It is much more simple to instantly be on the same page as your client by looking at pictures of what they like. A Pinterest mood board is ideal for this. When you describe something with only words two people can be envisaging something completely different in their minds and photographs eradicate this.
Naturally, many brides will have their heart set on certain flowers, which may not always be available (unless at a huge cost!) depending on the time of year. How do you navigate this challenge to provide something similar that they will equally love?
Peonies are a classic example of this as they are not in season all year round, but there are gorgeous garden roses that look similar – and there is ranunculus in the spring. Usually we are able to find an alternative that the bride will be delighted with too.
What I adore about being a florist here is the wealth of foliage that is available. In my London shop days, we would import a lot of our foliage from Italy and Holland: from mimosa to palm leaves, and of course all the gorgeous olive branches and leaves that we have in abundance here in Mallorca. Our clients love them as they instantly give the Mallorca feel. One flower that is in abundance in Mallorca in the spring is the calla lily (what you may think of as the Easter lily) with its lush, cream trumpet-like bloom. You can see them growing in huge clumps in the fields! Spring time on the island is truly stunning with all of the poppies and fields of wild flowers, too.
Trends are always changing when it comes to bridal flowers: which blooms, styles, shapes, and colours are currently in big demand?
Dried flowers have had a massive revival from pampas grass to all sorts of different grasses that now lend a very Boho feel to a wedding. Nowadays, bridal couples are tending more toward colourful dried flowers rather than natural tones. I have recently seen that yellow and grey are the on-trend colours, which is quite unusual. These types of grey are characterised by eucalyptus and soft grey leaves – my grandma would have called them Lambs Ears – with yellow roses, and even sunflowers. The other way of bringing yellow in with a classic Mallorcan feel, is by using lemons. We incorporate them as place names with ribbon or raffia, and little name tags tied onto the fruit. I do think that classic gorgeous white and blush shades with foliage – often olive – are unbeatable though, and will always be a firm favourite.
How do you store and transport your flowers to ensure they look pristine on the wedding day?
We only source the highest quality flowers. This makes a huge difference as to how they will last and hold up on the special day. Whilst we love to source as much as we can locally, we do also look to our suppliers in Holland for the most exquisite roses and more unusual blooms, and I am able to work with the same distributors there that I have worked with for many years from my UK days. Holland is not only the largest exporter of flowers, but also the largest importer. That is to say that flowers arrive at the Dutch flower auctions from all over the word: New Zealand, South Africa, and the Caribbean. Think of proteas, cymbidium orchids, and such like…
I have a massive walk-in fridge in our workshop (something that I did not need in the UK!). The fridge is set at between 8-10 degrees, so not as cold as a domestic fridge but the optimal temperature for the flowers. Should the flowers be stored at too low a temperature then they will quickly wilt when taken out into the Mallorcan summer sunshine, so storing them at the right temperature is very important! Flowers are a perishable item, of course, so we gauge when will be best to receive the blooms – some we need to open up to look at their best on the actual wedding day and we may get them in a week before, and other delicate blooms we will get in literally the day before. The beauty of Mallorca is that the furthest we will have to travel to a location is 1.5 hours, so an air conditioned vehicle is fine and we will then set up the flowers at the last possible moment, especially in the hot summer months. This is usually a few hours before the wedding ceremony.
How many weddings do you get booked for in a ‘normal’ year, and do you have a team working with you?
Our peak year was a few years ago when we had 75 weddings. Bearing in mind that our season here is April to October, this could mean up to seven weddings in one week! Gradually we scaled back as I am a bit of a perfectionist, and I found the stress levels of not being able to be at every single wedding in person too much! I really like to oversee every detail and with different teams going in different directions all over the island, this was not always possible. So I can now give each wedding the individual attention that is needed. I do like to personally make up most of the floral arrangements myself as it is my absolute passion, and, of course, with large events this is not always possible, so my floral assistants will copy a design that I have made and repeat it. My husband owns a construction business here and I am therefore very fortunate to have a team of his guys on hand to help set up archways, and the heavier items – together with use of his lorry and extra vans if necessary! My husband has been in business here for 30 years and knows the best ironmongers and carpenters. Often I will describe what I am thinking of for a new archway design or table candelabra, and he can simply sketch it out for me and have them made up which is great.
What do you love most about your job?
The moment the flowers arrive in our studio is one of the most exciting parts for me. Seeing what I have ordered from Holland that was just a picture on the screen and then opening the boxes and being hit by the scent and perfume of the blooms. I absolutely love putting together the designs, and we go into great detail with each client at the proposal stage to make sure that we are creating exactly what they had envisaged too. And then the moment we arrive on the wedding day and present the bride with her bouquet, it is often commented on that they look even better than they had imagined they would be. Then the final moment is also very special, when our team has been running around for a few hours, putting everything in place: large floral archways, table centres with candles and lanterns, little touches like sprigs of foliage on the napkins, garlands along the table plan and welcome signs. Everything is set up and we can stand back and admire how it has all come together. Within the hour the bride and groom will be walking down the aisle and seeing it for themselves! I am so lucky to work in a field that I absolutely love, and I know that I will never tire of it.
What does a typical wedding day (and the hours running up to it) look like for you?
As described above, we put all the fresh floral arrangements into place at the last moment that we can – mainly due to the divine weather that we have here in the summer wedding season! Most larger items will have been made up the day before and stored in our walk-in fridge, or in the air-conditioned studio if they are too large/there are too many items to fit. In my UK days we would do a lot more of the construction of the flower displays at the venue, but as 95% of our weddings are outside here in the heat, we try to have as much as possible already arranged. Even if this means the floral arches are made up in three or four parts that can be transported in sections and put together on site. The last items that we will make on the day are the buttonholes, the corsages, and the headdresses, as these do not have a water source and are wired together and then taped. These will then be placed into boxes with lots of damp tissue paper around them to keep them fresh. I do get rather possessive with the buttonholes as I like them to be placed onto the groom and ushers’ outfits at the last moment – often moments before the ceremony – so they look in optimum condition for the photographs. In my first year of doing weddings on this island, I delivered the buttonholes in the morning and unbeknownst to me, there was a photo shoot for the groom and his best men on the beach a few hours before the wedding… in full sun! This, of course, would cause the delicate blooms to wilt and we quickly had to replace them. We do carry an extra bucket of flowers for this reason in case anything is damaged in transit, or an uncle or little flower girl has been forgotten about and an extra buttonhole or posy is needed. We always like to be prepared for any eventuality!
Along with our basket of tricks – full of wires, cable ties, string, hooks, and all our scissors so we are not taken by surprise with the wind coming from the coastline or the uneven ground – after many years in the business we know that we can overcome any new challenges that come our way on the day! It we are to move items after the ceremony to the reception, it’s fun to sit somewhere tucked away behind a bush or around a corner, listening to the magic of the wedding ceremony unfold, seeing all the happy smiles of the couple and their guests.
Joanna, it has been a real pleasure! A huge and heartfelt thanks from the Sunshine Weddings Spain team for your time and the stunning images. We can’t wait to work with you on more weddings.