Red Floral Architecture
Mat Hepplestone from Red Floral Architecture, based in Manchester, tells us about celebrity weddings and why he hates the term ‘florist’.
When did you set up your business?
I have always worked in the floral industry from being 12-years-old but took a break, as you do, to study English and theatre for my degree but then decided I couldn’t control a class of sixteen year olds.
Flowers were a distant family business and I was often dragged in to work the busy valentine’s and Mother’s day periods from an early age. I always vowed I would follow my parents and other family members and become a teacher but somehow the flowers drew me back in. I could now be enjoying two weeks holiday, instead of working the whole of the festive season.
Why is your business called Floral ‘Architecture’?
I have a personal hatred of the word florist.The word to me seems like something that auntie Mary would call her shop selling tired bunches on a street corner. I like to push boundaries and design for the individual, hence the word architecture
Do you remember your first wedding?
Yeah, I remember my first wedding well, back in the late eighties. It was all based around peach with masses of carnations and a bouquet that trailed along the floor. I still have the pictures of it somewhere, looking a proud 14- year-old surrounded by peach blooms. How fierce!
What did you learn from it?
I learnt from that day that brides, well most of them, know exactly what they want and it is my job to deliver the goods. It still happens to this day where brides will ring me on a morning of their wedding to say I was going to book you but my auntie wanted to do my flowers, can you please, please please come and sort them out. Many just don’t realise the importance of flowers on the wedding day, they really provide the essential glamour and sophistication needed and are the vehicle for driving your overall colour scheme and theme through your special event. All weddings are different but some are more so than others,
Can you tell us about the more unusual ones?
Good grief, I really have had to do some unusual weddings from underwater themes to star wars. A bride loves to bring her hobbies and interests into her special day so long may this continue. I have dressed horses, dogs and cats as bridesmaids.This is what makes the job so worthwhile.
What’s the most outrageous floral design you’ve had to do for a wedding?
When red floral architecture first began back in 2003 it specialised in the weird and wonderful and every week I could create a very off-the-wall creation. However as we reached the later part of the 00’s vintage theming overtook the weird and wonderful and this has been my concentration over the past few years.
How did you come to do celebrity weddings? Tell us the story of Michelle Marsh, how you met etc and the same for Tina – why you?!
Michelle Marsh came to me from a direct referral and I went to meet her at the venue just a few weeks before her wedding. She was by far the most ideal candidate as she was so laid back and lovely and literally hadn’t done anything with regard to her day. Me being me, took the role very seriously and set about sorting her day. I always go into things to win and was determined that Michelle’s and Wills wedding was going to win Celebrity Four Weddings. We worked together tirelessly for the two weeks prior to the wedding to bring in all the acts, linen, cakes, lighting and entertainment. It was a very stressful time but was well worth it when Michelle rang me to tell me that we had done it and taken the Four Weddings crown.Tina was a similar story, she came to me as a referral from the hotel where she was getting married. I went to meet Tina, again only about four weeks before the wedding and we sat and discussed in great detail how we wanted the overall look and the importance of the colour red. Tina loves the colour and even though is it is the name of my business, I’m not a great fan of it for weddings. Red has to be worked very cleverly to create a rich look rather than a clumsy non-matching affair. Red worked with white is too strong a contrast, yet red worked with champagne is a completely different look that works fabulously. Me and Tina spent many an evening at her house playing with different colour swatches to get the desired look that would enhance her red and champagne theme with the obvious hint of bling for good measure.Tina wanted a complete none Mimi look to her wedding as her association with this character needs to end when Shameless goes off the box. We worked tirelessly on the designs throughout the process and created a look with red that I would be proud to have at my own wedding. Once again after a hard fight,Tina took the Four Weddings crown and I cannot describe how happy I was when I got that phone call in the middle of the night to tell me that her and Paul had just scooped the prize.
How does a celebrity wedding differ from that of a less high-profile one?
To me every bride is a celebrity, it is their one day at the centre of attention and their one chance to shine. Therefore the only difference are the masses of film crew and photographers. Apart from that, each bride is the same, they all deserve the special attention and more importantly an amazing finished product.
Do you do things differently for TV?
Obviously, you really have to turn your swag on when working for television as that camera will never tell any lies. Everything has to be absolutely perfect down to the finest of detail. I am a complete stickler for detail anyway so I would say I don’t really do anything different as such. Maybe just a little bit more twinkle to capture the lights!
What’s the most someone has ever spent on flowers for their wedding?
This is a question I get asked all the time and is a real difficult one to answer.Your average wedding usually has eight to ten guest tables, whereas Asian weddings can have eighty guest tables. I can remember having to create a full indoor duck pond complete with real ducks and swimming fish and having to hide a Lamborghini under masses of flowers.This wedding probably spent in the region of £20,000 in flowers and décor. Ouch!
Whose wedding do you wish you’d done?
That would have to be the wedding of Victoria and David Beckham.
What are your own personal favorite flowers?
I actually change my mind on this depending on the season but I suppose at the moment I would have to say peonies and orchids.
Is it better to have one beautiful flower than a dozen lacklustre blooms?
Absolutely! Lacklustre flowers should never appear at your wedding.Wedding flowers should be perfection as they are going to be viewed above your parents’ fireplace for your entire lifetime.