An expert team of florists with flourish
We speak to Matthew Taylor, Primrose Hill Farm floristry partner and one half of the team behind Fabulous Flowers, co-founded with husband Gary Cooper. Read below as we talk top trends for 2019 and living up to their name.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Fabulous Flowers was born 15 years ago, after Gary and I married. We came from very different backgrounds – I cut my teeth in hospitality and catering, but my grandmother was an amazing florist and I was always inspired by her work. Gary was a keen gardener from a very young age, but we both shared the same passion.
What inspired you to found Fabulous Flowers?
After moving into our first house, Gary and I searched the area for a florist to fill it with beautiful blooms, but we couldn’t find what we were looking for. The shops that did exist were terribly daunting, so we set about opening our first shop, a small space in Abingdon, where clients could feel at home browsing, touching and smelling the flowers.
At first, Gary ran the shop solo, but within just two months, business was booming, and I quit my job to go full time. Five short years after the brand was born, we opened our second shop in Oxford and expanded into the wedding sector where we have been fortunate enough to receive industry acclaim including Tatler and Harper’s Bazaar naming us as one of their top florists.
Aside from filling a gap in the market, the joy floristry brings to me personally was a massive driver. Even though the industry comes with its own pressures and deadlines, I find it totally relaxing.
What is your favourite part of your job?
Without a doubt, meeting people and making their dreams come true. Seeing the look on a client’s face when they see you’ve exceeded their hopes is the best feeling. We’re incredibly lucky to have lasting relationships with our clients – we have corporate customers that have been with us since day one, and recently we worked on a third-generation wedding.
To you, what makes Primrose Hill Farm extra special?
We see countless barns, but to call Primrose Hill Farm a barn is an injustice. It’s beautifully done and immaculate, a versatile blank canvas with an amazing view. The exclusivity Primrose Hill Farm offers also means that couples don’t feel they’re on a wedding production line. Their day is completely personal to them.
What do you enjoy about working with Primrose Hill Farm?
We share a lot of the same philosophies. Like us, they’re ‘yes’ people and are completely open to ideas. They’re also very organised and focused on making their client desires a reality. We very much work in partnership, adopting a collaborative approach, rather than working on our elements in isolation.
How do you work with couples to create their wedding flowers?
Personal rapport is crucial. This begins with an initial meeting to get to know the couple’s personalities. Often, couples will mention something personal such as their grandmother’s favourite flower, which we keep in mind for the design process. We don’t limit the number of meetings like some other florists, and we’ll accompany the couple to the venue to spot areas that call out for arrangements.
Colour, texture and scent are three terms that are at the core of Fabulous Flowers and we build these into everything. Fragrances can trigger powerful memories, so we’ll incorporate this into our designs. For example, simply adding rosemary into a bride’s bouquet can ensure she is taken back to her wedding day whenever she has roast lamb.
We’re also unique in that we provide a mock-up table of flowers ahead of the big day. This allows our clients to see exactly how the flowers will look, feel and smell on the day, allowing them to relax in the knowledge that their flowers are in safe hands.
What three questions would you recommend people ask from their florist in the planning stages of their event?
What contingency plan does your florist have?
If your florist is unexpectedly incapacitated, how will they ensure your wedding doesn’t suffer? We have a fully trained team of expert florists, ready to step into action!
What happens if there’s a shortage of particular flower?
Seasonality can make it impossible to get your hands on certain flowers at certain times of year. We never suggest out of season blooms, but we have backups of similar alternatives on hand.
Have they worked at my venue before?
Though not essential, it certainly helps if the florist knows the space and how to dress it.
What’s been your most memorable arrangement / event to date?
Working on a wedding for a member of a foreign royal family at the Savoy Hotel was a real spectacle. Last summer we also created a 20ft floral waterfall cascade of apricots, blush pinks and maroon red down two Greek pillars at Aynhoe Park – a statement for sure!
We once created an all-vegetable bouquet for a foodie couple. The bouquet featured lettuce, radish and broccoli, and the tables had wooden boxes planted with cherry tomatoes and more.
What would be your top pieces of advice for couples planning their wedding flowers?
We would suggest that couples allow a reasonable budget for their flowers and ask for the florist’s advice on where to spend it – we can help make sure you get the most impact for your money. Likewise, try not to restrict your florist. It’s great to have your own plan, but if you’re not open to their expertise and imagination, you could miss out on a brilliant idea.
From a floral perspective, what are the key things that can make or break wedding flowers?
It’s so important to match the colour and style of your flowers with your venue. You don’t want your arrangements to clash with the existing decor! Also, think carefully when picking your theme. Colours can quickly become outdated, so try not to go over the top with your colour palette to ensure your wedding pictures remain timeless.
What floral trends do you foresee becoming popular in 2019?
Statement arrangements with ‘wow’ factor
We’re seeing couples spend up to a third of their budget on one particular arrangement to make their guest’s jaws drop.
Hanging flowers, taking over from last year’s floral walls
Think blooms cascading from chandeliers and stems from the ceiling.
Botanicals, tropical plants and architectural leaves
Following the rise in popularity of houseplants.
What’s in store for the year ahead?
Lots of lovely weddings, as well as our big Valentine’s Day promotion, which has a ‘Love Potion’ theme. 2019 is to be a year of further expansion for us too – watch this space!
Fabulous Flowers are a premier florist with shops in Oxford and Abingdon, providing flowers for weddings, events, gifts and a corporate bespoke flower service. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and find them online at www.fabulousflowers.biz