Pampas Grass: Friend or Foe?

Pampas grass has been a hot hot hot wedding trend for years now, but at what cost?

There’s a really easy way to get florists and stylists (and an increasing number of other wedding vendors) all fired up – simply say the word ‘pampas grass’ and watch the fireworks. There’s no denying it’s gorgeous – fluffy and wild and whimsical and a definite staple of the current ‘boho luxe’ trend – but it has a huge environmental impact and is a noxious weed, meaning it’s illegal in New South Wales.

If you didn’t know that, don’t worry, you’re definitely not alone! Lots of people don’t – including florists. The law is relatively recent, quietly coming into effect in late 2017, and pampas grass still seems to be everywhere – we’re still seeing it in styled shoots and weddings all over the Hunter and the rest of New South Wales.

One of our 2016 weddings – before we knew more.

There are a couple of myths about pampas grass, which could be contributing to its ongoing use.

The first is about what the law actually is. According to the Weedwise website, Pampas grass is not to be ‘bought, sold, grown, carried or released into the environment’. There are some who argue that foraging it and using it in a wedding – or only in your own styling – doesn’t break any of those rules.

We’re not so sure. In fact, we don’t think these grey areas are particularly grey at all – especially not when it comes to its environmental impact.

Here’s the thing: pampas grass is an invasive noxious weed that outcompetes native vegetation, harbours vermin and is a huge fire risk. Each stem of pampas grass contains up to 100,000 seeds and anyone who’s touched one knows how prone they are to coming loose – aside from everything else, pampas grass is messy. Whether it’s being bought or sold or “used for styling”, it’s just as damaging to the environment. Yes, technically you might be on the right side of the letter of the law, but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

And then there’s the other big myth – that while pampas grass is illegal, you can import a legal version that has been treated to kill all the seeds. It makes a sort of sense: appropriate irradiation would make pampas harmless. Those 100,000 seeds can no longer sprout so there’s no threat to the landscape when using it, and it would explain why it still seems to be used so liberally through the wedding industry. People who are buying or selling treated pampas grass are genuinely trying to do the right thing, and, if it actually is imported and treated, they’re doing so at considerable cost!

The one problem: there’s no way to prove that a particular piece of pampas grass has been treated, so you don’t know what you’re actually getting. And the authorities know that too, which is why when it comes to legalities, this is a big old myth. There’s no such thing as legal pampas grass in NSW – no matter where it comes from or how it’s been treated, it’s illegal and anyone caught buying, selling or growing it can face a hefty fine.

As a florist, it’s frustrating.

We still get regular enquiries from couples who love the look of pampas grass and want it for their weddings. We get why – we used it a lot before it was outlawed, even with the knowledge that it probably wasn’t the most environmentally friendly flower!

Our first step is to educate and inform, and then offer alternatives: either different plants which offer similar looks, or faux versions, which are just getting better and better! Some couples listen, but many just go and find a florist who’ll provide pampas, legal or not.

Faux pamas is getting better and better. We’re loving it both as a feature or a finishing touch. Image by Rhys Ireland for Hungry Heart Co.

So what’s the solution? We don’t know. It’s great to see that this issue is getting a little bit more mainstream attention – this article by the ABC tackles the issue really well and spells out lots of facts, and we hope this raises awareness among florists, engaged couples and the wedding industry as a whole and makes everyone involved think twice about pampas.

At the end of the day, though, we can’t tell anyone else how to run their business or couples how to plan their weddings – everyone has their own lines in the sand. This is ours, and we hope by sharing that we’ve made just one person think about theirs.

Romance at Stonehurst

Image: Stories With Mel

It’s been a while between styled shoots!

As our real-life couples are looking to avoid the busiest months, we’re finding wedding season is getting longer and longer. We’re not complaining, but it doesn’t leave us with a lot of time to experiment or create (or blog… shhh). By the time the quieter months roll around all we want to do is sleep, and then all of a sudden everyone’s getting married again!

With the acquisition of our new Styling and Hire business White Roses Styling, we thought it was time to change that! And honestly, we love styled shoots; not only are they an opportunity to meet and work with our favourite wedding creatives, but they let us play by our own rules! We get to choose the florals and foliages and techniques, so they’re the perfect opportunity to experiment and extend ourselves creatively – and the photos at the end are always an added bonus!

Playing with colourful orchids, dried flowers and metallic details

We were thrilled when Stories With Mel approached us to be part of this amazing shoot at Stonehurst Cedar Creek – which has got to be one of our favourite venues in the Hunter – and even more thrilled to see the result get picked up by Dancing With Her. Mel even managed to get Jade in the frame – a rare feat!

You don’t see this very often!

And this is just the beginning. Stay tuned for more styled shoot spam over the next few months!

Credits: Photographer Stories With Mel | Venue Stonehurst | Bar & Drinks Willow & Me | Hair & Makeup Gloss Girl | Gowns Studio C Bridal | Styling & Furniture Hire Willow Tree Vintage | Catering Covered in Crumbs | Lights Love Glow | Backdrop Hire Confetti Party Hire

Jade McIntosh Flowers and White Roses Styling: A Perfect Union

We’ve started 2019 off with a bang and added a whole new business to the Jade Mcintosh family!

I start off every year in the same way, by giving my business (and my life) a good, long look. I spend almost a month planning and thinking, figuring out what’s working and what needs improvement, and deciding where I want to focus my energy. 

This year I decided I wanted to take action on something I’d been thinking about for years, and expand the hire and styling side of Jade Mcintosh Flowers. Many of our couples ask us for styling advice, and we’d love to be able to meet their needs. I set that as a goal and put it out into the universe, at once letting go of how and when it would be delivered to me, and taking control by starting to plan how to make it happen. 
At the time I wasn’t thinking of anything as big as acquiring a new business, but a few weeks later fate stepped in when Bec sent me a link for a styling business for sale on Gumtree. She’d been looking for old doors for a renovation, and found White Roses Styling instead – what are the odds?

A week later I was meeting with Elissa at their storage unit and looking over their paperwork, and now we’re in the middle of exchanging contracts! My head is spinning but I’m so thrilled with how it’s all worked out. It’s challenging and exhausting but I get so much inspiration from working on a new business, helping it grow and evolve. I’m so optimistic for the future of both Jade McIntosh Flowers and White Roses Styling, as part of my new company Mala Rose Events and alongside The Wedding Collective. 

One thing I know after so long in this business is that change can be scary, especially when you’re talking about one of the biggest days of your life, so if you’ve booked White Roses Styling for a future event, don’t panic! We’ll be in touch to give you all the details on what this means for you. In short though – nothing will change. Elissa is joining us as Senior Stylist and everything you have in place for your big day will stay the same. The Jade Mcintosh Flowers team will be as committed to making sure your day goes exactly to plan as we have been for all of our couples over the past decade, so if you contact us and hear back from someone new, know that you’re always in the best of hands! We all look forward to working with you on your wedding and helping making your dreams come true!

Trusting Your Florist

The best thing about having our work featured in Vogue isn’t being featured in Vogue, it’s realising that one special couple trusted us enough to let us create something magical for the biggest day of their lives.

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Allow us a moment to brag: our flowers were recently featured in Vogue as part of this feature on Jess and Matt’s wedding back in September. From the moment Jess contacted us earlier this year, we were excited to be working on her flowers, and it’s such a thrill to see our work in such a prestigious publication.

But our favourite part wasn’t the exposure or getting to work on a high-profile wedding – although we were honoured to be chosen – it was summed up by this quote from Jess:

“She totally went above and beyond to style the entire wedding from flowers to little details like stunning brass and copper chairs, vases and candle holders. We wanted the styling to reflect us and our music, and she really captured our spirit.”

It just sums up what we try to do for every single couple that contacts us, no matter what their budget and style. We want to create something that is about you, that compliments and perfectly finishes off your wedding, that your guests will remember but that doesn’t overshadow what the day is really about.

But it also got us thinking about our favourite weddings and our favourite couples – and it’s not the ones with the biggest budgets or the highest profiles. It’s the ones who trust us.

The best thing Jess did, as a client, is put her trust in us. She had a look at our work, read our FAQs and made the decision to put her wedding styling in our hands. She gave us a brief and a budget, and an idea of the kind of wedding she wanted, and then left us to it. In fact, when we headed into the valley on the day of the wedding with her flowers and a van-load of hire items, we were still plotting exactly what we were going to do!

It’s a huge thing, and such an honour – one we don’t take lightly.

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It’s also something of a rarity these days! With Instagram and Pinterest showing couples hundreds and thousands (and probably hundreds of thousands!) of images of wedding flowers, many couples come to us not only with a few inspo shots, but an exact prescription of what they want every single aspect of their florals to look like. We understand why – a wedding is one of the biggest days of your life and you want it to be perfect – but sometimes we worry that couples are setting themselves up for disappointment, when the final product doesn’t match their inspo exactly, which it likely won’t.

Why? Well, it’s worth remembering that what you’re seeing online is often an edited professional photo, often colour corrected or enhanced, sometimes manipulated in other ways. You’re seeing the photographers vision, as well as the florists work. Often, we receive professional photos of our own bouquets and they look completely different!

But more than that, it’s worth remembering that flowers are a natural product, and that means they’re fussy and unpredictable and affected by so many things. Temperature. Rainfall. Wind. Sunlight. Even after nearly twenty years in the industry, sometimes we see a bunch of flowers arrive from the market and they’re a colour or a shape we’ve never see before. No two flowers are ever identical – and that’s part of what make them amazing!

We love seeing inspo (we also love being inspo, but that’s another story…), but we love it best of all when a couple comes to us and says ‘here are a few images we like, but we also trust you to create something just for us’. Purely selfishly, it means we can get a little bit more creative, but it also means you’re getting something truly unique, made just for you. And if you love it – and we sincerely hope you will – then that means even more!

In some ways this applies to every single vendor you have for your wedding. You’re never going to be able to control exactly how things work out, but what you can do is make sure you’re working with people who have your best interests at heart, who understand what you want out of your wedding day, and who you trust – just like Jess did!

All images by The Evoke Company
Venue: Wallalong House

All In The Family

LAUREN _ NICK (436 of 915)Oh, the perks of having a florist in the family! Jade’s brother Nick got married earlier this year and Jade took on the florals and styling for their beachy-boho Crescent Head wedding. It was the most rewarding, but most stressful wedding we’ve been involved in for a while and we thought we’d share some thoughts with you, straight from Jade. 

Nick and Loz really wanted a fairly casual affair, with a beach ceremony and a a surf-club reception. They had their hearts set on beautiful Crescent Head – it’s a perfect, picturesque spot, but it did create a lot of logistical challenges I had to overcome. We ended up with a ute, a trailer and a few other cars, all loaded up with props, vases, flowers, foliage and anything else we thought we might need. For a Newcastle or Hunter Valley wedding we do a lot of the prep work in the day or two before in our Carrington studio, but because this was a family wedding we were heading up earlier in the week, so everything had to be done on-site. That meant making sure I had everything I could possibly need – all those little florist tools I take for granted: tape, ribbon, wires, cutters… things that I take for granted in the studio!

There was also getting used to working out of a new space – a laundry and a garage in this case, without all the benches, sinks and open space that I’m used to. It was challenging but lots of fun to be out of my comfort zone and seeing how that affected what I could come up with – a bit like cookouts while camping, but with flowers!

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The best part? Being able to throw out budgets and briefs and get really creative. Nick and Loz gave me a very basic outline and left me to it, and while I had to keep an eye on flower costs, we had access to everything in our amazing hire gallery, and made use of it to create a ceremony and reception that was bright, beachy and unique. The JMF team had to go a week without the vintage writing table they use as a computer desk, but even they agree it was worth it! I loved being able to try things that we don’t often do for weddings, like combining tropical foliages with natives and using driftwood, burnt banksias and other unusual materials. It was an opportunity to really play, which I love.

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The day itself was a completely different experience to one of our typical weddings. Usually we deliver the personal flowers to the bride (and groom, often), so we do get to see their faces when they receive their flowers, but we’re in and out in less than half an hour, so it is a quick interaction, usually while they’re getting their hair or make-up done, thinking about fifteen different things! Then we head on to the venue, where we’ve set up and gone well before the first guest arrives. Any feedback we get from our couples about their ceremony and reception flowers is usually a while afterwards, by email, when the emotion of the day has worn off and they find a moment to get in touch.

Don’t get me wrong – we absolutely love that (especially when the feedback is good!) but it’s a completely different experience being present for the whole day and seeing everyone’s spontaneous reactions to the flowers and styling. I’m not one for being the centre of attention and having guests know I was responsible for the flowers and styling and commenting on them during the speeches and in conversation was quite overwhelming, but in the most lovely way!

It was also quite emotional to see our flowers in use over the course of the day. We never see brides walk down the aisle with our bouquets but it was a gorgeous reminder of how much of a difference the right flowers can make to a ceremony and a reception, and gave me a new perspective on how people interact with our creations.

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Another perk for Nick and Loz having a wedding professional in the family is that when it came to their other vendors, I could make sure they chose wisely. They booked two of my favourite vendors – Dea from Little Black Bow Photography and Sam from Silent Shout Entertainment. I’ve known Dea and Sam for ages and we’ve often worked on weddings together but because we’re in and out before the fun begins I’ve rarely had the opportunity to see them in action – we’re usually ships passing in the night, involved in different parts of the day, saying a quick hello and not much more. This was completely different. I got to see them at work, and we had some wonderful conversations in their downtime.

On a personal level, I loved having chats with my brother and hearing his excitement, getting to hear Lauren’s non-official vows and seeing how amazing the venue looked during the night – all lit up and buzzing with the vibrant atmosphere of everyone having fun.
It was such an amazing night, and reminded me of why I’m in this business and have been for over a decade – weddings are magical!

All images: Little Black Bow Photography

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Meet Our Team: Claire

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Image: The Serial Narrative

Get to know the newest member of our team: Senior Florist Claire

Claire is a senior florist with over 7 years experience. She’s been with us at Jade Mcintosh Flowers since late 2017 but we’ve been so busy it’s taken us this long to introduce her formally! She is the only Brit we know who prefers Diet Coke to tea but we put that down to the years she spent living in the US. She also loves chocolate and anything vintage, and has a wicked sense of humour that we love.

What’s are your favourite flowers? Favourite flower season?

My favourite flowers are hellebores, poppies and bluebells. Bluebells remind me of the UK – they grow everywhere there but are something of a novelty in Australia. All of my favourite flowers bloom in winter but my favourite season is spring. You just can’t go past the colour and range of flowers available!

What’s your most memorable wedding you’ve been part of while working here?

Image: Popcorn Photography

Circa 1876 – Image: Popcorn Photography

It wouldn’t be fair to pick just one, but I’ve loved working with Australian natives. They’re still new and fun for me! On the other hand, I love every wedding I’ve set up at Circa 1876 in the Hunter Valley. It’s a gorgeous venue with lots of dark timber and an attached restored farmhouse straight out of the 19thcentury. It always reminds me of home.

What do you enjoy most about being a part of the JMF team?

It’s such an inspiring and fun place to work. The creativity and knowledge of the team is absolutely fantastic.

Guest Post: Creating a Selfie Wall with Click Tag Print

Up on our blog today is Catherine from Click Tag Print. Click Tag Print know a thing or two about selfies – their next-generation Live Instagram Printers are a hit at weddings, parties and corporate functions and are all about turning the humble selfie into beautiful keepsake prints. 

One of the biggest selling points of our Live Instagram Printer is that it doesn’t take up a lot of space, so it can sit happily in almost any venue. This is especially important for weddings, where you’ve probably spent months — of longer — thinking about the table layout and the decorations and the flowers, and taken your time to make sure every single part of your venue is just perfect and on-point. Some venues suit a photobooth, but a lot don’t, and that’s where Click Tag Print shines.

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While the Click Tag Print Live Instagram Printer will print selfies or happy-snaps taken anywhere in the venue — or the world — one trend we’re seeing a lot of and absolutely loving is a selfie wall — a beautifully decorated wall or corner of your venue your guests can stand in front of, to add a little bit of fun and give their selfies a unified style. You can hire one of our range of backdrops or create your own, add an arrangement of props and away you go!

And this is a perfect opportunity to use fresh flowers and foliage. Flowers always look amazing in photos and the right ones will add a little magic to your selfies. Mark out prime selfie position with a hanging garland of greenery, or mount a piece of natural timber and adorn it with lush blooms and vine. How about a chalkboard with a burst of blooms along the top, blank, so your guests can add their own message?

Our Live Instagram Printer also comes with the option to print two copies of every photo — one for the guest to keep and one for you. On the night, our attendant can pop your copy into an album or, better yet, hang it up on a custom-designed photoboard… another perfect opportunity for a pretty posy!

And it doesn’t have to stop there: Flowers make great props. Maybe an extra toss bouquet or two for your guests to pose with, or even just an assortment of loose stems, or a basket of brightly coloured rose petals for confetti shots. Sure, they might disappear by the end of the night but that’s all part of the fun… and you’ll always have the photos!

Jade McIntosh Flowers Turns Ten

We don’t get many Saturdays off in this business, and at this time of year we’d usually spend them hibernating by a fire, but a few weeks ago we got all glammed up to celebrate the end of our tenth season as a dedicated wedding florist. After seven years of running retail shops in Newcastle, it was a huge step and a bit of a risk to close up and devote ourselves purely to weddings, but we’re so proud to still be here and still loving every wedding we work on. The team has grown and changed so much over the past ten years but some things haven’t: our love of lush, boho florals and our never-ending search for new and amazing ways to use flowers. We pride ourselves on giving every single one of our brides the best possible experience, from the first time the contact us right through to I Do and beyond.

Midwinter meant it was quiet and we could celebrate with some of our closest friends and fellow wedding vendors. Mulled wine and conversation flowed, even as the rain came down outside. The cake and cupcakes were by the lovely team at Cakes to Dream On, and Jade’s hair and make-up were by Alicia at Maple Lane. Thanks to everyone who came along – it was a lovely celebration!

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The Wedding Collective

While flowers are our passion, we love everything to do with weddings, which is why we’re a part of The Wedding Collective. It’s your one-stop wedding shop: a collaboration between some of Hunter Valley & Newcastle’s most creative, fun and well-respected wedding vendors. Each of us has our own style and our own story but we all have a modern, down-to-earth approach and a commitment to making your wedding day as unforgettable and easy as it can possibly be.

From food to photography, styling to stationery, music to millinery – by way of gorgeous gowns, stunning signage, heavenly hair and make-up, luxe laser-cut lettering, and, of course, flowers – our little family of businesses has you covered and we’re growing all the time. You can check out the latest Wedding Collective happenings on Facebook and Instagram, or drop by our warehouse in Carrington.

If you’re planning a wedding, keep an eye out for our open days – we have four a year, and they’re an excellent opportunity to meet all our vendors in a relaxed, fun environment. Plus there’s cake! Check out some photos of our Autumn open day thanks to Catherine at Click Tag Print.

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and come see us at our next open day!

Best Laid Plans

There’s an old saying that life is what happens while you’re making other plans. We think this applies doubly to weddings; you can spend years planning your perfect wedding, but you never know what’s going to happen on the day. Ellie & Craig 25.02.17 (407of765)_new

Sometimes, you’ve just gotta laugh. Photo: Little Black Bow

Like anyone in the wedding business, we love an organised bride. We love it when you read our quotes and terms and conditions all the way through and come back with questions. We love when you send us the contact details for your venue, cake-maker and hairdresser so we can co-ordinate with them. We love it when you know how your venue is going to be set up and what colour your bridesmaids will be wearing and whether your favourite flower is in season on your wedding date.

Organised is great. Organised makes us smile. But where organised becomes a problem is when it crosses over to inflexible. It’s your day, and maybe you’ve been dreaming about it for years, but there’s no such thing as a wedding that goes one-hundred percent to plan. From wardrobe malfunctions to extreme weather events to  cancelled babysitters to a flowergirl sneaking behind the dessert table and picking out the one profiterole that seems to be holding up the whole crocembouche right before you start your speeches (…that happened), things will go wrong. The good news? Your guests probably won’t notice. If they do, they probably won’t care. They might laugh as the carefully constructed pyramid of choux pastry tumbles down as neatly and simply as a controlled building demolition, but they won’t think any less of you or your ceremony.

The most important thing is that you don’t let it ruin your day either. One way to do that is to plan for it, where possible, or delegate that job to someone else. On the day, switch off your phone and let someone you trust handle all the last-minute details. That way, you might not even know about them!

Outdoor weddings, especially, can be prone to things going awry. Every bride who plans an outdoor ceremony or reception spends the weeks leading up to her wedding looking at the weather forecast obsessively, crossing her fingers and toes. Most of them get lucky. Some don’t. Just recently, we’ve set up for an outdoor reception with minimal shade in scorching, extreme heat, and an exterior church installation in driving rain. Extreme weather is a hazard to work in, especially when we’re up and down ladders, and it’s almost certainly going to result in some damage to your flowers. But also, your guests are going to spend more time looking after their own comfort than at our work, and the effect will go to waste. An outdoor installation is stunning, but if your guests are rushing from cars to the church under umbrellas, or hiding out in whatever shade they can find, they will barely notice it.

The best thing to do if you’re planning an outdoor wedding is to have a plan B – one you’re happy with, rather than one that is a last-resort you want to avoid at all costs and aren’t going to use despite every supplier and weather forecast telling you you should. Talk to your venue co-ordinator about what they recommend and if, in the lead-up to your wedding day, it’s looking like the weather is going to be a problem, let them lead you. Talk to your suppliers and listen to their opinions – they’re there for you and the most important thing for all of them is that you have a magical day. And don’t forget that the most important thing about the day is the comfort and enjoyment of you, your groom, your bridal party and your guests, and that’s what you’re all going to remember.

When it comes to flowers, most floral installations can be adapted for different spaces, especially with a days notice. With ten years experience in Hunter Valley weddings, we’re very familiar with most major venues through the valley, and we’re happy to chat directly with your venue co-ordinator to see how best to modify your plans to work with Plan-B so you don’t lose out on any of the lovely florals you envisioned.

Still, things can and do go awry. The best thing to do to ensure you enjoy your wedding day is to take a deep breath, remember that your guests probably have no idea of the intricate details you’ve been thinking about for months, and won’t be upset if things go a little off-script, and that, at the end of the day, you’ll be married to someone you’re crazy in love with, and it’ll be perfect, no matter how exactly it happens.