Travelling to Italy to do wedding flowers sounds somewhat romantic and rather exciting.
It was…. SUCH. A. THRILL! ….but…! It wouldn’t be an adventure without a flat tyre, getting lost on foot in the narrow one-way lands of the Florence hills and watching in nervous delight as all our flowers bobbed up and down in a little red tractor to the villa.
This post is packed full of pics and videos of our floral adventure in Florence plus accomodation, supplier contacts and handy tips for what you need when travelling for a flower gig.
When Little Twig Flowers (my other project) was asked to do the flowers for a wedding in Florence last year, it took all of 5 seconds to say hell YES!
What’s not to love – Italy, flowers, travel, adventure, complete uncertainty about every single element…. sure why not!?
So last July, with our trusty snips and aprons, (and some vase ware!) we braved the unknown and escaped Melbourne’s winter to work with summertime flowers on the other side of the world.
The brief: elegant, full, luscious, solid blooms with quite a specific colour palette; rich burgundies, purple, dusty pinks and pale blue. There was an art theme running through the wedding so that was incorporated into the arrangements as well.
The venue: Villa la Fontanelle
- Ceremony on site outside in front of a chapel
- Reception – drinks on terrace atop the villa overlooking Florence below
- Dinner and main reception – long tables in the garden in front of the villa
The research – We quickly got to work sourcing flowers, working out costs, establishing vase ware and getting our head around the venue from videos and facetime.
After a few dead ends we finally secured our source of flowers.
Our heroes – Flora Toscana – the best wholesale flowers in Tuscany. These guys were the bomb!
We starting emailing back and forth to establish the order – which involved a heavy reliance on images and google translator to ensure nothing was lost…. in translation!
We sent exact colour palettes and Pantone numbers and then went to visit a couple of days before the wedding.
The service provided by these guys was second to none. They bent over backwards to ensure they could get what we needed and to ensure we were on the same page.
And after the first meet up we were having happy snaps together and sharing baby photos!
Flora Toscana is an organisation run by its grower members. Originally it was set up by 15 growers who came together for the purpose of average prices and more efficient selling. These days there are 100 growers from mostly Tuscany and down south as well, who supply product to the company.
Having confidence in our supplier gave everyone else confidence – the bride and groom and the wedding planners. And us!!
- Bridal bouquet
- 3 bridesmaids bouquets
- 4 corsages
- 6 buttonholes
- 1 flower crown
- Arch for ceremony
- Ceremony chairs
- A swing
- 4 large urns
- 40 clustered table arrangements (3 different vases, candles and paint brushes)
We established early on in the piece that we would not have the manpower we needed to get the job done so we outsourced one of the major elements to a local florist – Violamalva. These guys were great to work with! Super friendly and collaborative.
Our accomodation: It was pretty important that we stayed close by, so as soon as we found Villa Tanteferra – we booked it for the week. Sure it had seven bedrooms, but a bit like Wayne’s World, “If you build it they will come” we thought it just might fill up.
And it did!! What a find, this place was sublime. The view over Florence is seared into our minds forever.
The wonderful owner, Roberto, couldn’t have been more hospitable, helpful and welcoming. The villa was full of beautiful Italian food and drinks. And he even helped us make a wooden swing for the bride – which was a last minute addition. Brilliant.
Transport trouble in Tuscany…
According to the map our villa was just down the road from the wedding villa. Sounded too good to be true..
Well it kinda was……. it was five minutes to get there but tiny one way roads meant 30 minutes to get back!!!
So the first lot of trouble started when we put way too much trust in google maps and got horribly lost on foot, with an old Nokia phone…. This was for our first meeting at the villa – with the bride and wedding planners… eek!
Somehow it took us two hours to find the place and the rest of the day to recover!
The next day it was time for a flat tyre on those crazy roads – our little Fiat hit the edge of the road and bang, tyre popped. Just a little delay to our day and something to add to the story! At least none of this happened the day of the wedding!
We were super happy and relieved to have delivered stunning flowers for this special couple. An exhilarating adventure and a successful event. Phew!
We were so very lucky to have found the best wholesalers to help deliver the job, the villa owners and staff were amazing and the Florence based wedding planners were a great help. Not to mention the bride and groom who were so wonderful to work with.
There was so many but a major one has to be the vision of a dusty red tractor full of blooms on the way to the villa.
I can’t remember why but the small truck delivering the flowers couldn’t take them the last step of the way and after much Italian confusion and us stressing about getting the flowers out of the sun, a dusty old red tractor came over the rise towards us.
Next minute the tractor was full of flowers and heading to the Villa. It was one of those moments to throw your head back and laugh and pinch ourselves that this is the moment we’d remember the most.
The other highlight was bringing together floral friends from around the world to work on the job. It was an excuse to do something together and create some memories. We all stayed in that amazing villa, had chefs (Chef in Tuscany) come in one night to cook for us (best experience ever!) and had a pool to cool off in after a day on the tools.
It’s something we will never forget and in fact we are off to Europe for two weddings next year.
If you’ve ever toyed with the idea of styling a wedding and doing flowers in another country, while it can be absolutely wonderful it’s not something to be taken lightly. But as they say, it’s all in the planning.. especially planning for the unplanned!
A few tips for doing wedding flowers overseas
- Plan for the gig to take 2-3 times as much planning as a local wedding.
- A basic one but think through absolutely everything you will need – water source, flower storage, ladders, vase ware from the venue or another local florist, floristry tools and materials, ribbons.
- Relationships are key – establish a great working relationship with wedding planners, venues and suppliers
Suppliers and contacts