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We love what we do!

2020 has been a strange and trying year for everyone, and it unfortunately saw many of our lovely couples forced to postpone or cancel their weddings entirely. We really felt for them during these times, as well as for all the wedding vendors that have similarly been affected by the uncertainty of COVID. Here at Jade McIntosh Flowers, we weren’t sure when we as a team, as tight-knit as we are, would regain a sense of normalcy and calm either.

Thankfully though, we were back in business in early October – and it’s just been the best! It’s put the biggest smiles on our faces seeing our happy couples finally able to get married, surrounded by their loved ones and lush spring blooms.

Meg and Justin were one of the first rescheduled weddings we were lucky to be a part of. It was a such a beautiful day, and the photos below by Henry Brodbeck at Stripey Shirt really capture this. Congratulations, Meg and Justin!

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This is 40

2020 has been a strange, chaotic and stressful year for many, myself and the business included. Throwing a milestone birthday into the mix could very well have added to this emotional fatigue that was kickstarted by a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic – and I anticipated as such – but turning 40 in September proved to be a positive and empowering experience. Allowing myself to be professionally photographed on the day, feeling vulnerable but also beautiful, was a turning point and cause for celebration too.

I always saw leaving my 30s as a high-risk flip of the coin – I’d either collapse into a heap, consumed by the grief that inevitably comes with mourning one’s youth, failures and losses, or a fire would be reignited from within and I’d finally stop holding back, hanging on and caring what others think. I saw it as crossing an invisible line, one that few publicly talked about and even fewer had control over. Suffice it to say, I was apprehensive with my turn fast approaching.

I decided to take this growing unease and do something with it. I wanted 40 to be extraordinary – in the best way possible. So, with the incredible support of Little Black Bow Photography, Ivory State Hair and Makeup, Blush N Bronze, Renee Walkom and of course, my tight-knit team at Jade McIntosh Flowers, I commemorated this big birthday with a big photoshoot! It was rejuvenating and confidence-boosting, and it made me sure of all the great things people had said about me over the years that I, up until this point, didn’t quite believe. I felt inspired and ready to tackle the next decade.

I think there is a tendency for us all to put pressure on ourselves to achieve while we’re young, and this is perhaps particularly true for females. After reaching 40 myself, however, I’ve come to really value what I have to offer the world – as a mother, daughter, friend and businesswoman. So, keep posting the ‘Under 30’ lists on social media, because it’s important we cheer on our youth, but also show me the people who got their PhDs at 55 after switching careers, and the 70-year-old debut novelists who write from a lifetime of experience. Give me an uplifting, fun and flower-filled photoshoot any day, too!

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Hello from Melbourne

Claudie here! I’ve recently re-joined the Jade McIntosh Flowers team after a 6-year hiatus – and it’s a lovely feeling. I’m a current university student and mental health writer living in Melbourne, and while I’m absolutely loving my course and cannot wait to be a youth worker, Jade knows better than anyone that flowers will always be one of my passions too. I’m lucky enough to have been a part of many memorable weddings (though just on the admin side of things) with her team over the years and I still get so inspired by their creativity. Our brides are in very good hands!

Spring is my favourite time of year, mostly because this is when peonies come out to play. The coral ones are particularly beautiful. I’m also partial to French lavender, as well as garden roses in just about every shade. Spring is extra special in Melbourne in 2020, however, as it marks the end of almost 25 weeks of tough COVID-19 restrictions and the beginning of the city’s comeback tour. Slowly but surely, it’s getting back to its vibrant and welcoming best. (Suffice it to say, I’ve fallen hopelessly in love with my new home!)

To breathe some life back into Melbourne after lockdown, a bunch of the city’s florists got together this past fortnight and flower-bombed iconic landmarks and laneways. I went on a little walking tour on my day off this week and took some photos of the installations. Have a scroll!

Roses at the Regent Theatre. Pure romance!
Gerberas outside of the National Gallery
‘Tree of Hope’ installation
Melbourne’s GPO

Unfortunately, I missed out on seeing a few of the installations but they were too spectacular not to include in this post so below are some additional photos courtesy of Melbourne City Council. The “Arch of Resilience’ at Flinders Street Station is the standout –  it is 6 metres high and 18 metres from end to end, and made up of more than 1,200 native stems, such as bottle brush, eucalyptus, banksia, callistemon, red box gums and kangaroo paw.

Big, beautiful botanical arch
Peonies at Pellegrini’s Italian restaurant
Melbourne’s famous Hosier Lane
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An anniversary to celebrate!

Twenty-one years ago, on November 15th in 1999, I opened my first florist shop. Unbeknownst to me at the time, it was the start of the big, beautiful, and occasionally slightly stressful flower-filled world of Mala Rose Events – something I am enormously proud of, both professionally and personally. I’ve never missed an opportunity to honour this special day, whether with a celebratory dinner or just a quiet moment reflecting on the important milestones I’ve passed as the business has evolved in wonderful and sometimes unexpected ways. I remember the sacrifices I’ve made and all the extra hours that my tight-knit little team puts in, all the thorny roses we’ve handled and our failures along the way, but I also cherish the smiles, tears of joy and lovely comments from our brides. Just like these laughs, the creativity and gratitude make it worthwhile, so too do the setbacks that have allowed me to grow as a businesswoman and employer.

My first florist shop in The Junction

As many of you know, I started off in retail before shifting my focus to weddings and functions with the launch of Jade McIntosh Flowers in 2007. This was the first of several changes and I’m so glad I made it! Since then, we’ve been lucky to work with some incredible couples who’ve made our jobs that much more enjoyable. We’ve also been a regular at Love: The Wedding Festival and featured in magazines like Vogue Australia, Bride to Be, House & Garden and Hello May.

As featured in Vogue Australia

2017 was a breakthrough year for us. In March, we were named as Top 5 finalists in the floral design category at the Australian Bridal Industry Academy Designer of Dreams awards. Receiving accolades like this, especially when they’re based on real-world feedback in a four-year period from our brides, is a solid reminder that what we do is valuable and that our success isn’t based on short-term trends.

A few months later, Jade McIntosh Flowers relocated to a gorgeous warehouse in Carrington to join The Wedding Collective – a collaboration between some of the Hunter Valley and Newcastle’s most well-respected, innovative, fun and down-to-earth wedding vendors. While flowers are obviously our passion, we love everything to do with weddings and are committed to making your big day as easy and extraordinary as it can possibly be!

To this end, I acquired a new business in 2019 – White Roses Styling. Along with Jade McIntosh Flowers and alongside The Wedding Collective, it is part of my umbrella company, Mala Rose Events. It’s been challenging and exhausting but I continue to get so much inspiration from the senior stylists who are just as dedicated to our vision and values. Everyone involved in the business is honest and transparent and eager to contribute to unforgettable wedding day experiences for each and every one of our beautiful brides.

Of course, the story of Mala Rose Events wouldn’t be complete without mention of our bright and bubbly longstanding assistant, my daughter Marli. She’s now a teenager, but from a very young age showed a keen interest in all things floristry and a unique creative flair. Look out, world!

Happy little helper, Marli
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Creative ways to use flowers in your wedding

Flowers have the ability to instantly transform spaces. A bare and musty church can morph into an intimate, colourful and sweetly-scented wedding ceremony location and a wooded outdoor barn can become a whimsical and elegant reception venue like no other, with lashings of textured wildflowers and fresh blooms suspended from its high ceilings. We believe there’s no such thing as “too much” when it comes to incorporating flowers on your special day, so why not be a little imaginative and create something exquisite!

One of our biggest tips for florals and styling – embrace your venue. Remember why you chose it and then use flowers to emphasise the features you love most. We’re loving the look of lush, dark foliage in rustic country spaces, for example, and this time of year is perfect for brides wanting to capitalise on the romance of spring with softly-hued peonies, ranunculus, sweet pea and hydrangea. While it’s custom to have bouquets at the wedding ceremony and to decorate tabletops at your reception, there’s no rule that says you have to be traditional with your choices. Including unique pieces like floral arches, draping garlands and other striking backdrops, and using mismatched vases and bottles can help to make your wedding one-of-a-kind. The possibilities are quite literally endless!

We’ve been so lucky to work with very creative and adventurous brides over the years. Some of our favourite moments are below!

A floral arch.. like something out of a fairytale
Floral arbour adorned with Australian natives
Rustic meets boho with sunflowers and trailing ivy
Honeycomb backdrop with red roses and lots of foliage
A one-of-a-kind backdrop for the bridal table
Neon sign with cluster of green foliage
Stylish high frames
Draping garlands.. classic and beautiful
Bright pops of colour in pastel vases
A cake for the ages
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It’s finally peony season!

We’re a little bit obsessed with peonies – their big, romantic ruffles and hues that range from the delicate and pretty to the bold and captivating. They’re also regarded as a symbol of happiness and good fortunue, which only makes them more attractive and fitting for our beautiful brides on their special day. Peonies are loved the world over and so we thought we’d put together a quick and easy-to-follow guide to including them in your wedding (Hint: November is the perfect time for peony-filled nuptials!).

When are peonies in season?

Unfortunately, peonies have a very short season in Australia! They’re only in bloom for about two months, usually from late October until the middle of December – and this means they’re hugely popular. It also means that there can be limited availability during this peak period, so if you’re wanting these stunning flowers in large quantities for your wedding, it’s best to get in touch as early as possible.

Florists are often able to import peonies from overseas at other times throughout the year, but this can get quite expensive. If the full-headed, fluffy look of the peony is something you would really like but can’t afford during this off season though, fear not – there are plenty of ways you can achieve the same dreamy look. David Austin roses, dahlias and ranunculus are great alternatives and they’re also cheaper and available for longer periods.

What types of peonies are available?

Peonies come in many shades, including white, soft and bright pink, burgundy and coral. All of these colour choices mean there are lots of flower and foliage options they can be paired with too, such as anemones, lisianthus, lamb’s ear and eucalyptus. There’s actually not a lot that doesn’t complement peonies – and whether you’re hosting an intimate rustic ceremony amongst the Hunter Valley vineyards, a beachside bash or a chic city celebration in the heart of Newcastle, peonies themselves will complement every type of wedding!

What can I do with peonies?

There are so many possibilities! Peonies are obviously great for bouquets, but they can be used in flower crowns, floral arches and table arrangements as well. They really are a vibrant and feminine feature flower. Have a scroll through some of our favourite peony moments below!

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A Reminder…

It’s only been a few weeks since our last wedding, but it feels like forever! We can’t wait to get back out there and create more memories with all our couples, but for now, we thought we’d take a moment to look back at some of our favourites from the past year – just to remind us what we’re looking forward to!

Madi and Jason. Photo: Nat Salloum Photography
Clare and Dane. Photo: Nathan Lapham
Joel and Daniel. Photo: Gez Xavier Mansfield
Shannon and Joe. Photo: Clarity Photography
Caitlin and Clint. Photo: Blake Chaney
Emma and Luke. Photo: Wolf and Wildflower
Kristy and David. Photo: Little Black Bow Photography
Miho and Joel. Photo: Caitlin Schokker
Shannon and Mathew. Photo: Hello Charlie
Kayla and Ben. Photo: Nicole Butler Photography
Liz and Chris. Photo: Fox & Kin
Kaitlyn and James. Photo: Raquelle Loraine
Richard and Shaun. Photo: Ben Howland
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7 Reasons Not to Ghost Your Wedding Vendors

Nobody likes being ghosted, so why has it become such an acceptable thing to do to vendors – and why should you avoid doing it? We break it all down.

It’s not all about the flowers…

We get it.

You’ve found a couple of vendors whose work you like and emailed them for more information. Maybe one’s your absolute fave, but you’ve been told you should shop around, so you’ve emailed three. Maybe you’ve sent out that email and then had a look at our pricing and realised it doesn’t match up with your budget. Maybe you’ve read our FAQ and realised we don’t offer a service you need. Or maybe it’s not us. Maybe you’ve put your planning on hold. Maybe your date has changed. Maybe you’re eloping and don’t need flowers after all.

(Get flowers, even if you’re eloping. Trust us).

Anyway, the bottom line is, you’re not going ahead. Like we said, we get it. We get over a dozen enquiries a week and we don’t expect to turn them all into bookings – we couldn’t, even if we wanted to – and we get that responding to enquiries and quoting on weddings is just part of our job, even if it doesn’t lead to anything.

But please – please – don’t ghost your wedding vendors. Yes, it’s business. No, you don’t owe us anything. Yes, it’s a hassle to send those emails. But there are some really good reasons why you should do just that, and they don’t all just boil down to ‘it’s the right thing to do’.

1. It lets us know you’ve got our emails
Emails – they make our jobs a lot easier. But there’s no way to know they’ve gone where they need to unless we get a reply. We’ve all had those clumsy-fingered moments and typed in an address wrong. And while the software we use to create our quotes doesn’t have clumsy fingers, it does have an annoying habit of sending things into spam folders. Letting us know you’ve received what we’re sending – even if it’s with a polite no – means we know our emails haven’t been lost in cyberspace, while you’re sitting there thinking we’re ignoring you!

2. It saves us time
A quick polite no means we can file you away, cross you off our follow-up lists, and focus on something else.

3. It lets us move on
As we say in our FAQ, the only way to secure your wedding date is with a booking fee. Even if we’ve sent you a quote, if somebody else comes along with the same wedding date and puts down a booking fee, you could be out of luck. That’s our rule – and it’s our rule for a reason – but that doesn’t mean we don’t bend it a little. We don’t want to muck around our couples, and if we’ve chatted to you on the phone and put together a quote, we want to give you every opportunity to book with us, and sometimes we will hold off on replying to that new enquiry in the hope that you’ll come back to us, despite knowing that could leave us without a booking at all! Telling us you’ve moved on lets us move on, without the worry!

4. It helps us improve
You don’t have to tell us why you’ve chosen not to go with us, but if there’s a reason, we’d love to hear it – especially if it’s something we can work on in future. It’s all about growing and learning and offering the best possible service, and we won’t be mad, we promise!

5. It gives us the opportunity to solve problems
If you want to go ahead but there’s a specific reason you haven’t – budget, a question about how we work, a service you’re after that we don’t advertise – the absolute best thing to do is tell us. We might have the perfect solution!

It all comes down to paperwork

6. It recognises how much work goes into our service
This is a long one, but an important one.
You may not know it, but from the minute we recieve your first email, we’re working on your wedding. We’re creating a file, adding your inspo and notes, checking whether we can fit you into our schedules — and that’s before you’ve even booked a consultation!
Once you do, then it’s quote time. We’ll chat to you about every aspect of your wedding flowers for half an hour, often more.
Then once we’re off the phone, we pull together everything we spoke about, and add in any inspo you’ve sent us. Then we break each part of your quote right down to the individual flowers, the foliage, the ribboning, the styling and hire items, and work out the costs for each possibility we’ve discussed. Sometimes, if we’ve discussed two options for a bouquet or table flowers, we’ll do that for both, so you can see how they compare. 
If you’re looking at any third-party hire through us – like signage or other styling items – or if we need to source anything to bring your vision to life, we’ll contact other vendors for quotes. We might contact your venue to confirm table or room sizes. 
We’ll also work out how long it’ll all take us to put together on site and the delivery and set-up costs, based on our estimates. 
Once we’ve got all that together, we’ll send you a personalised, detailed quote. The prices exactly reflect what you’re after – they’re not averages or estimates, and they won’t change unless you ask us to make changes. 
For a simple quote, that all adds up to a couple of hours work. For a bigger job, or if we end up involving other vendors, it can be most of a day – or more! 
All of that happens for free and without any obligation for you to book us, so you can see why it might be a little frustrating when we send that quote out and get nothing in return. It might be business, but we’re people too, and we work hard to offer the best possible service, and it’s worth keeping that in mind.
And yes, that is skating very close to ‘it’s the right thing to do’, but at the end of the day…

7. It’s the right thing to do
It just is. It’s polite and respectful and it means everyone knows where they stand. And it really doesn’t have to take very long, if you don’t want it to. Yes, we’d love some detail, especially if it could lead to us improving on something, but a one-line email is enough! And we’ll think you’re great and wish you all the best for your wedding, even if you’re not using our services, because you’ve treated us with respect and done the right thing.

And isn’t that what it all boils down to?

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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.

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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