Jade McIntosh Flowers

Jade McIntosh Flowers has, in recent years, firmly established itself as one of Australia’s premier wedding florists. Priding itself on its three pillars of timeless style- elegance, creativity and a distinctive edge- the company has found itself the first and only choice of thousands of Australian brides. We caught up with the company’s owner and namesake, Jade McIntosh, to discuss the origins and development of her company.

Where is your business and how long have you been engaged in it?

My company’s based in Newcastle, mainly servicing the Hunter Valley winery region. I’ve personally been in the floral industry for nearly fifteen years, and I opened Jade Macintosh Flowers (exclusively wedding flowers) around eight years ago.

What sparked your passion for floral designs?

I think it actually all began with the influence of my grandmother’s garden. She owned a large property and would herself spend hours at a time in the garden, and so that practice became the norm for me as well whenever I visited. I’ve always been quite artistic and crafty, and flowers seemed, initially, just like another medium for me to play with. I remember presenting the neighbours with freshly picked posies as presents, and being given my first flower-press. The more time wore on, the more I began to focus my artistic energy on flowers.

How did you first get into the floral industry?

I actually began work experience in at a local florist. I found myself working longer and longer hours as I became more engrossed in the business, and that’s when I began considering it as a career. I had been working as a florist for several years when my parents surprised me by buying me my own floristry in 1999. I was not only the sole owner of the shop, but the sole employee.

Incredible. How?

I gave up my social life! But more seriously, I think it was because of my genuine love of flowers and eagerness for the company to do well that I was able to push myself to that extent. But my perseverance absolutely paid off- business was not only profitable, but, amazingly, booming.

So when and how did you become interested in moving toward the wedding industry?

It was actually whilst I was on leave that I had the idea. I’d always enjoyed catering to weddings and it seemed like a natural progression. I’d sold my first little retail shop and really missed the weddings – it grew from here

What range of products does your company provide?

We try to provide everything that could possibly be needed in terms of flowers at the ceremony, reception and whatever else might be needed for the day: everything from the bridal party’s flowers, including the bouquet and corsages, through to flowers to decorate the ceremony areas or those that might actually be involved in the ceremony itself (some couples like to incorporate a rose- giving ceremony), decorating the ceremony location, flowers on the cake, and we’re even occasionally asked to decorate the room in which the bride is getting ready, as they’ll feature in the photographs. So really, just about anything imaginable.

In your opinion, should a bride actively seek out a wedding florist, or will any florist be able to do the job?

Well, I guess the benefit of using a wedding florist is that wedding flowers remains the focus- we, for example, don’t get caught up in any outside work and, resultantly, our process has become quite streamlined. Another benefit is that we all have internal knowledge of most wedding venues in the area, in terms of both access and what looks the best- so generally speaking, we’re more efficient, and ultimately, more effective in our jobs. I think a bridal client is also quite different to any other person just looking to buy flowers. The relationship between wedding florist and bride is really one that you work on, and can be quite intense. I suppose that’s one of the real benefits of using a bridal florist- our lines of communication are wide open, so you really become so well versed in the language of your client and understanding what they mean with particular language.

What’s the general process that you follow when a bride comes to see you?

We normally start by getting a call or email from them, and we then organise to have an extended chat over the phone. This allows us to get a sense of what they’d like, as well as their personality (which is a factor that definitely comes into the style of the flowers). Often we also ask to meet them in person further down the line, to get a further sense of their own character. It’s all really about creating a bond to ensure the best communication possible, and hopefully the best result possible. Every bride’s need is different, so we try to act as a tool to enable that they have their ideal flowers on their wedding day.

Is it popular to invest any stock in the ‘language of flowers’?

For most, it tends to be about the look of the flowers. Lilies are probably the one exception, where people adhere to the tradition of their being ‘funeral flowers’, so they may tell us that they particularly don’t want them in the bouquet. Aside from that, I don’t think I’ve ever personally experienced someone requesting a flower due to it’s supposed meaning. We do, however, generally recommend including specific flowers- for example, if it was in their mother’s bouquet.

How do you keep abreast of the latest floral trends? And how quickly do they develop?

I think trends are fairly slow, because weddings are particularly slow moving- people book up to twelve months or more in advance, so they’ve got quite a long time to change. And the way that we find and interpret new trends is often through our own clients. But I also have a lot of personal sources of inspiration- I have a set of different blogs that I follow that showcase what florists internationally are doing, as well as from workshops I do, as well as checking out Instagram, Pinterest, and that sort of thing.

What are some of your most popular arrangements?

The vintage look- you know, the soft and romantic look, as well as the romantic rustic look is always in vogue for weddings. But I suppose our point of difference is that we try to emphasise the individuality of each client- we try to not just copy a picture they’re using as inspiration, but try to reinterpret it and put our own spin on it. We try to keep the individuals’ personalities evident.

Do you normally offer a mock-up of the bouquet before the wedding?

Again, this really depends on the bride. Brides normally organise a trial for one of two reasons: to see if they like the florist’s style, or to see what their own combination of flowers would look like in person. We try to address this first factor by showing many of our bouquets online, so brides can get a pretty good idea of our trademark look. The issue, however, with the second factor is that often the flowers that the bride wants for her wedding in the seasons ahead won’t be available at the time she wants a mock-up. And even if she were to order a bouquet of flowers that were available all year, other aspects of the bouquet- such as the ribbon tie- can change from season to season. So we usually don’t offer mock-ups as there are too many drawbacks. It is a tough one though, as it is a measure of how much the client trusts you and your creation.

Which other wedding professionals do you need to coordinate with to produce the best possible results?

Again, each bride and her specific requests are different. For instance, if we’ve been asked to decorate the reception venue and the cake, we’ll have to coordinate with the venue staff as well as the cake decorating staff. Some people opt to hire stylists to oversee the venue styling, so in that case we’d take a bit more direction from the stylist. For the clients that we mostly deal with, flowers are quite an important part of their day, so they’ll fairly well researched in what they want, or they’re quite open and trusting. So in those instances, there’s a lot more that we’d take on than if a stylist was involved.

What’s the most common misconception you’ve come across?

I think probably that we get up on the morning of the wedding, go to the market and organise all wedding flowers in a single day. I think people underestimate the amount of labour that goes into organising a wedding, and they don’t know that it actually the organisation actually takes place over a number of days. For example, flowers need time to open (16 mins in), so we’d have to organise that in the days before the wedding.

What’s been your best experience in working with brides?

We presented one client with her flowers whilst she was having her make up done. She took one look at the flowers and burst into tears (and had to have all of her makeup reapplied!). By the time we got to the groom’s room, he’d already received the call about how happy the bride was with the flowers and was simply beaming at us. That was one of the best moments I’ve experienced throughout my career.