Long time, no see…!

Wow… So it’s been rather a long time since my last post! :-O

Life as a wedding florist has been unbelievably hectic for the last 18 months…

Since you last heard from me, I’ve –

gained the ultimate qualification… The NDSF level 5 master florist diploma (honestly the most demanding course I’ve ever done… And that’s really something, coming from a graduate/postgraduate!!)  I can officially go no higher in the industry, and am, to coin a phrase, “at the top of my game” [she says, whilst grinning inanely] It feels great to finally have the elite qualification… These extra 4 letters after your name don’t make a massive difference to the average customer, but it most definitely gets you taken more seriously by your peers… and starts to open up doors to new opportunities. Watch this space! … There will be more lecturing/demonstrating/workshops in the future…

lost my partner (well.. Not exactly. I know exactly where he is! And am much happier/less stressed for my change in circumstances) A self employed florist, it would seem, is one of the most difficult people to pair up with someone! … Between the long working hours… mostly at weekends… the early starts, late finishes, the strict deadlines/pressures, the 24/7 customer contact via phone & email, there is no room for anyone who doesn’t have an extremely flexible approach to the work. A career in floristry is not something to be taken lightly… And not something to be even considered by anyone who likes their Friday night social life, followed by a Saturday morning lie-in !! 😉

been poorly. All those long demanding days/nights and relentless periods of self-abuse inflicted whilst operating under my well-established “work hard, play hard” mantra finally caught up with me. Trying to attend, and fulfil the requirements for a full-time postgraduate course…whilst also holding down a more-than-full time career, running a demanding business.. And still trying to have some semblance of a social life.. It would seem that I was trying to juggle with too many balls! I’ve since been forced to make a few changes… To adjust my work/life balance and to finally include a third component… I now have the ‘mars bar mantra’ … Of “work, rest and play” … And am finally learning to take a bit of time out to rest & recuperate in between work. Maybe some of this is also down to me no longer being in my 30’s too! … And the days of being able to burn the candle at both ends are rapidly diminishing.

So.. The woman writing this latest blog is a very different one to the woman who wrote the last Black Cat post. The ‘upgraded’ version has some significant new letters after her surname… One less ‘significant other’ … A renewed social life, with some truly wonderful friends (who I now ensure that I find/make the time to see!)  … and a fresh new approach towards my creativity, design ideas etc. after being inspired by the contemporary European designs studied during my NDSF course.

Most notably, I’ve actually noticed that… as a result of a few relatively simple life changes… my passion for what I do for a living, and my overall quality of work have both improved! Take a look at our Facebook page, under ‘Black Cat Floral Design’ (check out our Facebook pages for sister companies, Cheshire Wedding Flowers & Black Cat Bespoke, too!) The 2016 photos which I’ve added so far from this wedding season will no doubt testify this further! 😀

so… I’m finally back, and with a renewed vigour! … Keep an eye out for further posts… I have a few in the pipelines, regarding – wedding planning, timing/scheduling for the big day, the big ‘do’s and dont’s’, to name but a few!  **if there’s anything in particular that you’d like to hear more about, drop us a line through WordPress or Facebook, and I’ll be sure to add it to my list! 🙂

It’s great to be back..  x




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We’re baaaack!!

Well… its been another hectic Summer for us! … we’ve had to put our blog on the back-burner for the last few months, in order to focus on the more pressing matters of ‘The Wedding Season’ !

10 years ago when we first set up Black Cat Floral Design, there was a quite clear ‘peak period’ in this industry… between the months of May and September, our social lives became obsolete whilst we tackled multiple weddings every weekend. Nowadays, however, the lines seem to have become blurred somewhat.  With the invention of the ‘mid week packages’, ‘winter packages’ and various other similar forms of enticement, we have noticed a growing trend towards couples opting for less conventional wedding dates. And why not, indeed? if the price for your favourite venue can be reduced by up to 20%, purely by changing your wedding day from a Saturday to a Thursday, or from August to October, this can become quite a tempting offer. Given plenty of notice, your family and your most stalwart of friends are sure to book the day(s) off, should you opt for a Thursday or Friday wedding, to enable them to enjoy a long weekend around your nuptials. Also, when you venture further away from the school holiday period, you usually find that a larger percentage of your RSVP’s will come back with a ‘yes’.

One of the other perks of opting for an ‘out of season’ wedding date is the increased availability of various suppliers, who might be already booked on the majority of Saturday’s between May and September. If you’re planning a shorter notice wedding, within 6-9 months, instead of a panic-stricken hunt for an available supplier, you can enjoy the luxury of having the time to do a bit more research into the various options available.

We work closely with a number of local venues who offer these sort of packages – and as a result, we’ve continued to be busy with work throughout October/November/December, and will also be, well into next year. From our perspective, this really helps to even out the ‘peaks and troughs’, or the ‘feast and famine’ nature of wedding floristry. The down-side of this is that we seldom come up for air!! (you really do need to love what you do, to work in this industry!)

On the plus-side, now that the physical workload has decreased a bit, we’re able to look into other ventures as well… we’ve just finished this week writing an editorial, and submitting some photos of our designs, to a large publication – and hope to get an appearance in their 2015 edition! (watch this space!)  …  we’re finally able to step back a bit from the chaos, and to do some research into some new ideas/designs, to appeal to a wider audience for next year.

It’s easy to forget that, as wedding florists, we aren’t merely offering you a range of designs from a catalogue or portfolio… we, just like any other type of artist, are constantly striving to create new designs and come up with new ideas.  Now, we’re finally able to get our heads up above water again, and look at new design concepts, research new materials, check out the new trends for next season…  and that’s what helps in the long run to make us stand out from the crowd.

I love coming up with new ideas, creating new designs, showcasing them in our January/February wedding fairs and seeing how people react to them… helping to give people fresh ideas, inspiration, and a new concept that they can make a part of their own big day.

We anticipate that the ‘vintage movement’ will continue well into 2015 – with tastes leaning towards garden-style flowers, in loose/natural designs… and will continue to create these designs with as much zeal as ever! … but by pushing the boundaries, we – like all artists – are keeping it fresh.

Some of the most significant influences on our designs for next year will be a movement towards the more unusual designs – we’re looking more closely at concepts from interior design & overseas wedding magazines, and exploring the boundary-pushing styles of some of our European florists. So if you fancy a totally unique bridal bouquet, or a real ‘statement piece’ to grace the entrance hall of your reception venue, we’ll be able to present you with some really stunning and original ideas! I’ve attached a few photos of some recent designs/creations we’ve been working on over the last month or so.

We’ve also ventured recently into the silk/artificial market… now that the quality of these has improved so dramatically, we’re able to create some really striking designs that can easily be mistaken for fresh flowers! … take a look at the last picture below, of a ‘recreation’ we recently did, of a bridal design we did for a client a few years ago… this was boxed, gift-wrapped, and sent to the bride as an anniversary gift! what a fantastic wedding anniversary surprise.  If you’re thinking of getting married overseas, want your bouquet as a keepsake from your day, suffer from hay-fever, or are on a tight budget and the idea of ‘renting’ a bridal bouquet appeals, this is now a service we can offer you.

We will constantly evolve with our ideas, because we’re truly passionate about what we do. If you want something completely bespoke, tailored to suit your own taste, and to make your wedding stand out from the crowd, please contact us for more details.

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BCFDJune14 080“Is this a stupid question? (ie. will you/they laugh at me for asking it)?” This is one of the most common phrases we hear with our new brides, when they’re discussing ideas with us. Being aware that you’re dealing with the professionals, yet wanting to have some creative input of your own is perfectly normal… and no, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. If there’s something you don’t know, you should never be afraid to ask.

If you’ve been lucky enough to find a few small businesses to work with on your wedding planning, you’ll have been enjoying the more relaxed, friendly manner in which you’ve been to communicate with your supplier – without the worry or self-consciousness that you sometimes find, when you’re dealing with a team of various people working through a larger, less personally-focused organisation.

This is one of the many perks of working with a smaller company, where you’re always liaising with the same person or small team of people and able to build a relationship with them over the months of wedding planning. You will always get answers to your questions… you just sometimes have to wait a little longer to get them!

Because of the way we work, we do always say to our brides “please bear with us if you’re ringing us or emailing us on, or just before, a weekend with any enquiries.. We’ll be busy out in the venues making someone’s day special… It will be your turn to get our full, undivided attention on your wedding day” …. We are a small, family run business, who pay great attention to detail – not a big corporate company who has a shop, office, extra people back at ‘base camp’ waiting to answer the phone, and consequently a lot of overheads – so most likely, also much higher costs to you for their work, too.

At this time of year, I’m not ashamed to admit that we really struggle to keep on top of our admin/paperwork… We put a good 40-80 hours of work a week just into the physical aspects of the job – travelling to the flower market, selecting, conditioning and preparing the flowers before we start to create the designs…. Organising and cleaning all the equipment… Creating the designs…. preparing all the intricate wiring work in the small hours of the morning on the big day … Liaising with the venues and arranging the logistics, delivering and setting everything up, staying to relocate and re-position everything after the ceremony…. Returning to the venue the following day to collect everything, take it back to the workshop, and clean/put it all away again. Before it all starts again for the next weekend! This is before you then consider all the meetings, consultations and the resulting admin – paperwork, quotes, and so on. Floristry is most definitely not for the faint-hearted!!

We often wish that we had more hours in the day, or more ‘man-power’ (or in our case, should I say ‘woman-power?!) to get everything done….. we’re constantly battling for supremacy over our ever-growing ‘to do’ pile… this is a universal issue for anyone who is self-employed or running a small business.

When you have questions – in an email or on a phone call… don’t worry if you don’t hear straight back from your smaller, independent suppliers. Its not that we don’t care or want to help you as quickly as possible. The odds are, if you contact any of us during the week, the vast majority of us will respond quite quickly… but in the wedding industry, it’s inevitable that from Friday to Sunday, we’ll be out in the field doing our work.

When it comes to your Big Day, you can rest assured that you will be very glad to have these small businesses working with you. Getting everything “just right” will be the biggest priority of all your suppliers… We will all stay until we’re happy that we’ve done the best job possible… other clients ringing our phones will go to voice-mail and get a call-back when we’ve finished.

M x

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Managing the budget

So… You’ve set the date now, at a venue of your choice…. Which won in the end, head or heart? Are you now anticipating starting your married life comfortingly reassured that you made the right choice, or are you dizzy with excitement…but knowing that you may be facing the prospect of some very spartan post-wedding months in your future as the new Mr & Mrs…?

Choosing your venue is ultimately the first thing on your ‘to do list’ … Until you’ve done this, you haven’t generally got your wedding date firmed up… Unless you’re lucky enough to have the space at home/your family’s home, and are opting for a marquee or tipi!

Once you’ve passed this first hurdle, and have effectively put the ‘foundations’ down for your wedding, you can start to look at the other aspects of your wedding planning.

We often talk to future brides, who say to us “I’ve only really just got started…it too early in the process for us to come and talk to you about flowers?” … Our answer is always “No!” …The earlier you come and see us, the better informed you are of all the options available, which will in turn make you better equipped to navigate through some of the other elements of your wedding planning. It’s like trying to build a house… You need to look at what kind of windows you’d like, before building the walls around them.

Allocating a budget for the overall wedding is a tricky business… If your heart won over your head on the venue selection, the odds are you’re already really technically over budget! So you need to re-think the budgets you had in mind for the other parts of the day.

For example, if you’ve been totally seduced by the lofty heights of a castle or big dramatic space, that £500 budget you initially had in mind for your venue dressing & flowers quite simply won’t “cut the mustard”… It’s a simple rule of scale… Big spaces need big floral displays to create any kind of visual impact… Small spaces can accommodate smaller designs, so you can work with a smaller budget if you’ve opted for your local village hall, than you can if you’ve opted for your local stately home!

Big designs cost more money, as they generally need 2 to 3 times as many flowers to fill them. Not only that… If your designs are larger and more cumbersome, they will need more staff and more transportation to get them to the venue too, which will compound this further.

If you have opted for a bigger venue, they will have no doubt dictated a higher minimum number of guests for your event (*this is always worth checking in the small print when you’re deciding on your venue!). The more people you need to invite in order to comply with their terms, the higher your overall prices will get! You may have initially had a more intimate wedding in mind, of around 50-60 people… Then discovered that your to-die-for venue insists on a minimum of 90-100 guests. Straight away, your food and drink costs have increased by anything up to 100%.

The same rules apply with everything else… The number of tables required to accommodate your extra guests… Extra flowers, chair covers, sashes, finishing touches… Extra stationery – invites, place names, favours, and so on. Prices for these will all escalate in line with your guest numbers.

So… If you’ve blown your budget on the venue, it’s pretty much a universal truth that you will also have the blow the budget to get everything else you want too. There is always room to manoeuvre with the choices you make – you can go for ‘option 2’ of the tall centrepieces you like, which costs £25 less per table than ‘option 1’ which would’ve been your ideal choice, but ultimately won’t be noticed by your guests for being absent on the day. That £25 per table, by the time you need 10 guest tables, has just saved you £250 off your final budget.

You do need to consider your decisions carefully though. Compromising too heavily on the other components could leave you looking at your photo albums in the future and wishing that you hadn’t got so strict with your budget, for one of the most important days of your life.

In most cases, the first two things people book are the venue and the photographer, because both of these can generally only do one wedding on that date. Cutting out the flowers/videographer/band/wedding car which you always wanted for your dream wedding, because you over-spent on the venue is like building a house, and leaving no money in your budget to furnish it.

We often work with brides who say, quite determinedly, at our final meeting,
“I can’t afford the £20 to have that” … Have you ever been out shopping, seen something you really love, and persuaded yourself to walk away… Only later to find yourself haunted by it, then obsessed with it, and then frantically dashing back to the shop praying that it’ll still be there waiting for you?

…If you’ve become too fixated on scrimping the odd £10 here and there for your wedding, it is all too easy to make desperate cuts in all the wrong places… But by the time you realise this on the Big Day, it’s usually too late to do anything about it.

When you’ve so carefully selected all your suppliers, because you’ve built up a relationship of trust and mutual visualisation of your Big Day with them, take advantage of their intimate knowledge of what you’re trying to create…
We’re all here to offer expert advice on the best ways to make your budget work for you. We’d far rather see you cut something out that won’t be missed by any of your guests on the day, than watch you remove something which you always said, from the onset, that you would “love love love!” to have. We want your day to be as perfect as you do.

M x

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time and money

Ask anyone who runs, or works for a small company – and they will say “time is money”. It’s a well known saying, but only after careful consideration can you really grasp the true weight of the expression.

For the average ‘nine to fiver’ … you go to work, do the job, get paid an agreed sum per hour – and eagerly anticipate the weekend, when you can please yourself and spend your hard-earned money as you choose. Life presents you with a range of options every day … do you value your time the most, or does the pursuit of extra income dictate that you work the extra hours? It’s a constant see-saw motion, where one always comes out higher… You sacrifice a bit of one to gain a little more of the other.

As someone who works in the wedding industry, I have numerous contacts/friends who also devote themselves to an occupation which commands an entirely different kind of work ethos – wedding photographers, florists, caterers, cake designers, entertainers, suit/dress hire, wedding venues, registrars, and so on. When you work in this industry, the role of time versus money changes dramatically.

Working in the service industry presents a totally different range of considerations… when we commit ourselves to a wedding, the majority of us are there for the duration of the event. The way our work day goes is all dictated largely by a combination of – logistics, access, delivery/set-up, weather, arrival times of the wedding party, fitting in around the other suppliers involved in the day, and any other unforeseen complications. The vast majority of these factors are unpredictable, so anyone who works in weddings is generally very open-minded and flexible! (If they don’t start out that way, they certainly evolve!)

The main focal point of your wedding day – the ceremony – is a totally non-negotiable deadline in so far as we are all concerned – so its up to us all to plan our logistics around this. Throw a traffic jam or an issue with the transportation into the mix, and we essentially run the risk of ruining our reputations… so we all have to allow for the unforeseen, and arrive early to ensure this isn’t a problem.

When a bride arrives ‘fashionably late’ for the ceremony, this is because, more often than not, she has the luxury of choice and a bit of flexibility in the timings (in our experience, the main reason the bridal party arrives late for the ceremony is usually down to some last-minute panic about the dress/outfits etc!). The deadlines are far less rigid than they are for the ‘behind the scenes’ elements of the day.

The most memorable of our experiences for a thoroughly unpredictable wedding set-up involved a bride arriving at the church by horse and carriage. We dutifully arrived at the church in the morning, at an agreed time, to dress the venue in plenty of time for the wedding… then adjourned on to the reception venue to get some of the set-up there organised, before returning to the church around 45 minutes after the planned ceremony time… to see the aforementioned horse and carriage just arriving! The bride managed to get inside the church just under an hour after the planned ceremony time.

The behind-the-scenes chaos this caused was unimaginable… the guests who’d been seated in the church for anything up to 90 minutes now trying to deal with tired/frustrated children, the vicar having another wedding due to take place an hour later at another church … choir members/bell ringers having car parking fines for overstayed parking… the reception venue trying to push back the meal times without spoiling the quality of the food, the staff timetables all now being out by an hour, and of course, the photographer/florist all needing to stay for an hour longer than anticipated in order to fulfil the service they promised.

If you’re opting for a civil ceremony, this luxury is generally not available! We are friendly with several registrars (my Aunt is also one!) – and the regional area they actually cover is so vast that they’re generally required to oversee anything up to 3-4 weddings every Saturday during the peak season. When you factor in the logistics/travel time, they have very little leeway, if you’re running late. Ultimately… arrive any more than 10 minutes late at your own peril! If you miss your slot, you may find yourself proceeding with the celebrations for a wedding that didn’t actually take place!

If you were the following bride, expecting your ceremony to take place at 2pm, you would be very unhappy if your registrar arrived 30 minutes late… so its important to remember this when you’re getting married, and try to honour your agreed timetable as much as possible.

One of the most important things to remember about your wedding is that the vast majority of the time working on it will not be seen by you. Florists, venue dressers, caterers all do anything up to a week of preparation work before the Big Day. Cake designers can spend days/weeks on the end result. Musicians practise, rehearse, learn new compositions… DJ’s check over all their equipment, acquire stock to your specifications, transport huge quantities of equipment and assemble/dismantle it for every wedding. There is then all the post-wedding work for the likes of the photographers, videographers and so on – who can spend days-weeks, doing all the editing for you.

Everyone who works within the wedding industry has an agreed rate for their services. A good proportion of this cost will be for this behind-the-scenes work… the part you actually see them for rarely represents any more than 30% of the total work involved to create your dream wedding. This is where your money goes.. to give your suppliers the time to do their job to the best of their abilities. The tangible part of their service – your cake, bouquets, dinner, photo album, is simply the end result of all the effort which has been put into making it. Always remember this when you’re looking at quotes/estimates/costs and thinking ‘why does it cost so much?’

We all ultimately want to earn a living. No-one likes to feel ‘ripped off’ (when you consider all the above factors, you do start to see the true value of what you’re getting)… there are times in your wedding planning when you will decide that the money is more important – so you will put the time in to do what you can for yourself. Opposingly, there will be other elements of your wedding which require professional skills, and you will most likely value your free time more than trying to attempt something you’re unsure of – and you will decide to pay someone else to take the pressure off you.

Just remember, throughout the whole wedding planning process to look at time and money as two opposites, which are both limited in supply – and carefully consider which of them is the most valuable to you.

M x

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Saving it for a rainy day

It’s an expression we all use… But no one really wants to associate the proverbial ‘rainy day’ with their wedding day. Most prospective brides imagine their day in the sunshine, surrounded by friends and family all smiling and happily gathering outdoors.

When your reality is the less ideal end of all that British weather has to offer – guests dashing for cover, soggy bridesmaids, and that gut-wrenching realisation that those ‘must have shoes’ you bought for your big day are threatening a significant bodily injury if you try to run in them…What do you do?

Last weekend, courtesy of the vagaries of the British weather, two of our brides were sadly subject to the worst the UK climate could offer…Persistent rain, from the run-up to ceremony, up until the wedding breakfast.

Naturally, the first problem you’re faced with in this instance is disappointment. All the ideal, magazine-shoot style images you’d conceived, of the leisurely walk up to the church – the confetti shots on the way out – the friend & family portraits outside the church and the reception venue – are all cast aside, in favour of everyone getting indoors…and staying indoors.

It’s important to remember that, no matter how much planning and preparation you do for your Big Day, the weather will always be something that you can have absolutely no certainty of working in your favour. So… the best thing you can do is always have a ‘plan b’ in reserve.

First… The photographs. So what do you do, when the heavens open on the beautifully manicured gardens of your carefully chosen venue? You do what every staunch British-grown individual would… Get out your wellies and your brolly, and get on with it.

Some of the best, most quirky photos I’ve ever seen from weddings, have featured the bride in a pair of smart wellies from the Classic British greats like Hunter or Joules…. the back of the wedding dress lifted, to reveal a striking flash of bright pink or boldly patterned rubber, whilst the groom stands guard with a white umbrella overhead (it’s worth noting at this point, that we have these available for hire!!) A good photographer will use some of the clever editing tricks, post-shoot, to create a dramatic backdrop of atmospheric clouds for you… And you’ll find yourself surprisingly drawn to the picture every time you look through your photo album in the future. You can also take advantage of the lovely surroundings of your church or venue by taking more photographs indoors.

No one wants a ‘generic’ wedding day that simply blends into the mass of events and weddings that we all attend through our lifetimes. So… If you’re not so lucky with your weather, why not use this to your advantage?

When you’re on a holiday in the UK, you always make provisions for the weather possibly keeping you indoors for a percentage of your time. Family-friendly options like scrabble, dominoes, board games… Interactive games like ‘charades’, and so on.

What a great fall-back option for your wedding reception, to have a few board games to hand in the lounge area. Suddenly, being ‘stuck indoors’ for the drinks reception presents a range of new options… your photographer could capture some truly unique shots of the bride trying to mime a film title, to a group of enthralled guests… The excited faces of children & family members as they ‘win’ their game? Genuine, ‘fly on the wall’ photos of people in their natural poses, instead of the conventional group shots outside in the garden.

Having plenty of activities available to keep your guests occupied is also a guaranteed ice-breaker. If you’re worried that your family and work colleagues have never met before… That the children present might get bored and distract their parents from having a good time… A bit of ‘bonding’ between your guests and families is inevitable when they share a common interest. A few games, with drinks, is also a great way to fill that difficult ‘gap’ between the daytime and evening reception too.

So… Don’t worry about what the weather will do on your wedding day… Ultimately, it will do what it does best, and be typically unpredictable. After all, it is one of the greatest conversation topics for us Brits. Just be prepared for all eventualities… And, odds are, even if you are lucky and the sun is shining – you will still find a number of your guests huddled together over a table playing with your scrabble set whilst nursing a pint in the bar area!

M x

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Tipi or not tipi… That is the question!





imageWe recently did our first tipi wedding (you can see the full range of photos from the day on our ‘Black Cat Bespoke’ Facebook page!) … Not just the first of this season, but the first actual tipi wedding in our 10 years of running Black Cat Floral Design!

I decided to visit the venue a couple of days before the event to have a look around and get a feel for the scale/size of the tipi, before going back to the workshop to get started on the designs.

About 8 miles from Chester, Trafford Hall is an unspoilt mid 18th century house surrounded by landscaped gardens and woodlands, with a civil wedding license, some basic-but-charming on site chalet style accommodation, and a wonderfully refreshing “you can do whatever you like” approach from its friendly staff. The tipi had been erected on the back lawn – flanked by the grand facade of the house to one side, and the rather magical charm of the woodland to the rear… With tantalising views of trees and lush green visible from every entrance inside the tipi. (Speaking to the manager Emyr, we also discovered that they can offer something really special here… A woodland wedding blessing! If you fancy tying the knot in one of their licensed rooms, then having a blessing amidst the trees, you can do it here)

Something else we love about this venue… All profits generated by weddings and events are reinvested into the charitable work carried out at the hall, as well as the development of their environmentally friendly facilities and policies. So you can also have a ‘green wedding’ and do your bit for a local charity! Take a look at their website for more information – http://www.traffordhall.com

Upon first sight of the tipi, I couldn’t suppress a “wow!” … If you want the visual impact, without the ‘grandness’ of a marquee, this really is the way to go. A tipi has all the scale of a marquee, without all the swathes of ivory fabric, and the classic/traditional feel. With its open sides and adjustable entrances, you have the added bonus of being able to have log fires, barbecues, etc all under cover – with their smoke being channelled upwards into the spaces in the rafters. The inside of the structure is filled with natural wood, canvas, lots of decorative lighting, and is perfect for a wedding party!

Because of its open structure, you most likely would only opt for a tipi in the more fair weather times of the year, for fear of ‘chilling your guests out’ a bit too literally! Although I don’t doubt that, with the right know-how, you can probably make a tipi surprisingly snug.

So … If you’re still looking at venue options, and are struggling to come up with something that bit less grandiose than a big formal stately home or marquee, why not consider this as another option? The wedding we set up was for c.120 guests… So space shouldn’t be a problem either! The company ‘all about me’ (www.marqueesandevents.com) set this up 2 days before the wedding, giving all the other suppliers involved time to do their bit, and arrived the day after to dismantle it.

Another thing… If you’re considering going for a tipi, and are lucky enough to have the contacts/resources to accommodate it in your own, or family’s grounds, why not get your full money’s worth of the 2+ days it’s there? We’ve dealt with several marquee weddings in the past, where the families have chosen to have a pre or post-wedding party as well. This effectively enables you to ‘extend’ your invites to extra friends, work colleagues etc who your initial budget simply can’t stretch to, when it comes to all the extra catering costs on the Big Day.

I recall another family choosing to use the marquee the day after the wedding, to host a charity bridge drive for 120 guests, who all brought along food & drink, and the proceeds were donated to the local church. They were able to re-use the venue, the flowers, the tables/chairs, linen, lighting etc – and effectively hosted an entire extra event, for little to no cost. It’s really worth bearing this in mind when you’re weighing up the pros and cons of choosing a marquee or tipi!

The biggest benefit of going down this route for your ‘venue’ is the flexibility it offers you. There are no ‘in-house’ suppliers, no packages, no minimum orders… So no limits to what you can do with it. If you’ve got a good team of suppliers – or even only one at this stage, we can all help you with extra contacts, advice and suggestions, to make the idea of planning the whole day less daunting.

Remember… When you make unconventional choices, you will also pay unconventional prices… Starting ‘from scratch’ like this, you can save a surprising amount of money, if you’re brave enough to tackle the project and take advice from some trusted sources…. Namely, small companies like us, who aren’t going to pressure you into taking extras or making upgrades that you don’t really need.

M x

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BCFDMay14 177We’ve just finished another busy weekend with three weddings. Anyone who works in the industry will have a good idea of the gargantuan amount of behind-the-scenes work that this has required. But enough said about that…. That’s destined for another post!

We’ve done three very different weddings… One very classic style church wedding, followed by a hotel reception, with some very beautiful ‘statement’ candelabra displays in stunning pastel/purple shades taking centre stage (well… Apart from the lovely couple, of course!) at both venues.

The second was a ‘shabby chic’ affair with a church ceremony, followed by a lakeside marquee. This one had an underlying bird theme – so had lots of birdcages, charms and gypsophila in an eclectic range of designs in ivory/green, to create a gorgeous ‘picked from the garden’ effect.

The third wedding was a more contemporary styled event, with an outdoor ceremony followed by a reception at the same venue. Vibrant yellow sunflowers and contrasting cobalt blue flowers, to create an informal, summery feel. The bride admitted to us at our first meeting that she wasn’t particularly ‘in to’ flowers, so we needed to come up with a range of designs that would reflect this, and not overwhelm the day.

So… Three very different brides, three very different weddings. There was something, however, very noticeably similar about all three of the ladies involved. On several occasions throughout the planning process, all three of them have said to me something along the lines of – “you’re the expert. I’ve seen what you can do… Take these ideas we’ve discussed, and go and do what you do. I trust you.”

It takes a lot to achieve this, in what, to many women, is considered to be one of the most important days of their life. Handing the reins over to someone else, to take your ideas and turn them into a tangible reality. Trust is not easily earned, but gaining it is an essential part of our work.

So how do we earn it? We make it personal. We spend as much time as necessary with you, looking through photos of our work, chatting through ideas, to help you to get an idea of what you’d like… arranging mock-ups where possible, writing very thorough and detailed breakdowns of ideas for you to look through and share with your loved one and family/friends. We’re happy to evolve with your ideas, and you can change your mind/style/colours along the way… We don’t mind.

With Black Cat, you actually talk to the people who are going to be making the designs, and be there on your big day, making sure that your visions become a reality. We steer you through ideas, trends, seasonal options and new ideas on our 3 Facebook pages.. And we’re now also writing this blog.

The very foundations on which we’ve created Black Cat Floral Design (and, since, Cheshire Wedding Flowers and Black Cat Bespoke) are on the understanding that no two people are the same… So why should their flowers have to be?

Trust us. We care deeply about every job we do. We will make sure that you have tears of joy on your face when we arrive on your big day and present you with your bridal bouquets. That’s another thing that our three brides this weekend had in common.

Dealing with a small business is the best thing you can do wherever possible when you’re planning your Big Day. You are never just a number to any of us. We all strive to do the best job possible for you, because it’s as personal to us as it is to you. We have a tendency to all stick together too… We each cross-refer clients to venues, photographers, florists, entertainers, videographers, caterers…

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself a small business in whom you find you can place your trust, don’t be afraid to ask for their advice… We all have a vast wealth of knowledge, and are all only ever likely to recommend other contacts who we feel the same about. It’s instantly cutting out the risk of being disappointed or let down by a faceless company who you’ve plucked off the internet or yellow pages.

Quality of service, not price, should always be your main point of focus when you’re looking for suppliers… Small businesses are always more flexible, it’s practically part of the job description. If you have a budget in mind, we’ll all do our best to cater to it. If we think there’s a better way to cut costs without compromising so much on what you want, we’ll tell you. Quite simply, you can trust us to do what we all do so well. This, in turn, will take all the stress out of the day for you and make the whole planning process a more enjoyable experience.

M x

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OK… So where should I start?

Right… So he’s popped the question, and you’ve said yes. Hopefully you got a ring in with the deal, from the onset.

What now? Ladies, I have one word for you. Insurance. One meagre little word that strikes fear and cynicism into the hearts of us all. In this instance, believe me it is worth every penny. We all like to think that everything will go according to plan, but you can’t take full control of the situation when there are so many external factors to consider.

Wedding insurance should be one of the first things you organise… Before you do pretty much anything else.

Giving you an idea of what most policies will cover…

If you have to cancel the wedding for any unavoidable reason, such as an injury to you or your partner, the policy should pay out if you are left out of pocket. This is likely to be one of the most useful areas of cover that wedding insurance policies will offer you.

Depending on the policy you opt for, wedding insurance can also cover you for loss or damage to wedding attire, such as the wedding dress, suits etc – as well as presents, the wedding cake, rings, flowers and gifts for the guests. Cover starts a set period before the wedding and finishes a set period after – from seven days before to 24 hours after for wedding gifts, for example – but this will again vary with each policy. Time to check out the small print.

Once you start planning your big day, you will be putting your trust in various suppliers… The venue, catering, entertainment, flowers and outfits being the obvious ones.

Wedding insurance can cover any extra costs you incur, up to the policy limit, if something goes wrong with any of these services. Wedding insurance also covers you for deposits you can’t recover, or the cost of arranging alternatives if suppliers go bust in between your initial booking and your chosen wedding date.

Another important area covered by wedding insurance is your personal liability for injury to third parties, or loss or damage to third party property. Some wedding insurance policies also cover the actions of all wedding guests as well as the couple. So if you’re inviting a few guests who you might consider likely to descend into drunken debauchery or destructive/reckless abandon after one champagne too many, this can really take the stress out of the day for you.

Spend a bit of time looking through the various options available online, at your leisure… There is a wealth of information available without the need to even make a phone call! Simply google ‘wedding insurance’ and you’ll find plenty of information to help make a decision over the best policy for you.

With average prices for a wedding now in the region of £13000 to £20000, the cost for your wedding insurance is like the proverbial drop in the ocean…. Starting from as little as £25 for a basic policy, to a still quite humble £300 for a very comprehensive policy.

Check out the website – http://www.which.co.uk … And search for their article called ‘do I need wedding insurance?’ … Having researched several sites I’ve found this one to be the most helpful. It even provides you with the names and contact details of some of the most well-established providers, to save you all the hassle.

One last thing to also think about… Over the coming months, wherever possible, pay for your wedding related expenses with your CREDIT card. Whilst you’re online checking out the insurance policies, look up ‘section 75 under the consumer credit act’ – to get an idea of how much cover you actually have in place before you even get started! Your credit card company will often help you to recoup expenses incurred, in several instances that could occur during your wedding planning. This cover isn’t wedding-exclusive either, so it’s really something that every savvy shopper should know about!

I hope this has given you some food for thought! … Watch this space for our next instalment! 🙂

M x

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Life as a wedding florist

I’ve been thinking about setting up a blog for a while now.

As an experienced wedding florist, I speak – most days – to people who say “help! I have absolutely no idea what I DO want… I just know what I DON’T want”  … And it often falls largely to me, to help them to navigate the murky and sometimes treacherous waters on their journey towards the distant island of ‘wedded bliss’.

It is all too easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the planning process… Most brides I speak to invariably begin our first conversation with “where on earth do I start??” Or something equally laden with an almost tangible sense of portent. As professionals within the industry, we’re in danger of forgetting that, to the everyday person off the street, the idea of planning a whole wedding from scratch is a fearsome one!

I plan to use this blog as a sort of ‘guide’, if you like, of some of the ‘do’s and don’ts’ for your journey towards the Big Day. If you know the right questions to ask, you might be surprised by some of the answers you will get from your potential suppliers, venues etc!

If you rely on advertising materials for the main volume of your planning, you will invariably find yourself ‘following the herd’ and struggling to put your own personal spin on things. It is also challenging at times to resist the input from family & friends… Even when their ideas don’t really fit in with your own!

Remember… First and foremost, that your wedding is about you and your partner making a heartfelt commitment to one another, and choosing to share this with your loved ones. Everything else, beyond the legalities of it, is really “the icing on the cake”.

So… Do you go for plain & simple M&S icing…royal icing… Extravagantly detailed icing… Or are you not really much of a fan of the stuff?

Start following this blog, and I’ll endeavour to help you to figure out what you really want!

All feedback, comments etc will be gratefully received and responded to whenever possible.


M x

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