You’re about to become as obsessed with Oh Hello Petal’s work as we are! We absolutely adore how much thought, love and talent goes into their floral and event designs, and if you take a peek of their website or have a scroll of their Insta you can really see this radiating out of every single image. If you’re in Melbourne and want amazing blooms and/or styling for your wedding, you need to book Oh Hello Petal ASAP. Below, we chat to Ione Faragher of Oh Hello Petal about her beautiful business, the services it offers for weddings, where she gets inspiration and the trends she’s noticing in floral design right now.

Hello Ione! Where are you based?
I grew up on Wurundjeri land, in the north-east of Naarm/Melbourne, and have recently moved to live and work on Bunurong land, in Melbourne’s inner west.

How long have you been a florist?
I began my floristry journey in 2012, but I’ve been surrounded by flowers my whole life! I inadvertently absorbed a heap of knowledge thanks to my nana, who had the most beautiful garden and was on her church flower roster for years and years. By the time I came to floristry, I had a pretty impressive understanding of what was in season, which flowers work together, what needed a lot of water and what would survive without. Everything else I’ve learned on the job!

Can you tell us about all the services you offer? As you gained experience did you add event design and day of coordination – or were they always part of your business?
Oh Hello Petal offers weddings and events floristry, styling and co-ordination, with other event support too, like planning, and connecting clients with aligned suppliers.

I got my start in the industry as a retail florist, but really quickly realised that the part of the work I enjoyed most was journeying with couples to create bespoke weddings and events for them. I love going deeper in the design work than just the flowers themselves, and include candles, linens, cutlery, paper suite etc, so event styling expanded effortlessly. Celebrating and supporting my petals from freshly engaged, all the way down the aisle and heading for their honeymoon has always been a thrill, so offering day of co-ordination felt like a natural service to add too!

Image: AM For Love

Do you have a public studio or do you work from home?
I’m lucky enough to have a beautiful home studio. Setting up a work space in our house means a short commute — it’s two steps from our kitchen, ha — I also get to be a close-up example of hard work and determination for my four-year-old, which is pretty special.

You have such a bright and happy looking website. We especially love your values page – what a great way to get to know you! And we love this: “Learning about your story and heritage, helping you feel worthy, seen, respected, loved”. How do you do this in the course of your journey with your couples?
Big yay and cheers to By Jena Marie for my brand design! She’s the best!

Teasing out my couples’ stories — the first bunch of flowers they bought each other, places they’ve travelled, flowers that appeared in mum’s or nana’s wedding bouquets that we can include, where their family is from — tells me a lot about who they are, how they love, and how to design a wedding that feels really ‘them.’

So we start off by talking, a lot! I first have a phone call with my couples before they’ve even booked me, and then once we’re locked in we catch up for drinks and dinner to celebrate. I love following my couples on social media too, learning about their interests, their sense of humour, how much online PDA they share!

Then I gather all that information and get researching. I’ve explored everything from state and national flowers, cultural observances from around the world, sourced seasonal vegetables to display on their reception tables, all with the intention of finding the best way to personalise my couple’s weddings even more.

Mostly these touches are for the benefit of the couple alone, but they all add up to make an already important day of their lives even more memorable. These touches become something their guests can feel but not quite put their finger on — that je ne sais quoi essence of the couple themselves, all expressed through event design.

You can see how I put this into action in this reel.

Images: Emily Howlett Photography

How has your style evolved over time? What do you add (or not do) to your work now, that is different from when you started?
Honestly, I think it’s been a decade of practicing my craft, and growing my confidence that has helped me evolve to where I am now. I trust my instinct a lot more than I used to — nowadays I’m cheeky enough to pitch a completely different colour palette than the one my couples first come to me with, because I know I can back it up with solid creative reasons !

What do you love most about creating wedding florals?
It blows my mind, even after 10 years in this industry, that people invite me to traipse through one of, if not the most, important days of their lives, to create, beautify and tzjush the day as I go. Planning a wedding is wickedly stressful, and comes with high expectations (intentionally or not) so to be trusted to support my couples through it all is such an honour.

It also makes me pretty emotional to think that my work will become part of my couple’s legacy, creating what will become mum or nana’s wedding bouquet that one day another florist might ask about and pay homage to. The idea that I get to design and create the bouquets their grandchildren might one day look at in faded photographs (or, old Instagram posts perhaps, haha) sends shivers down my spine.

And then, the love I share with my couples. We end up feeling like old friends by the time it’s time for their wedding, and to give them a squeeze and have a little cry that we made it to The Big Day is just the best!

Image: Duuet Photography

What are your favourite flowers to work with?
Textural beauties. Anything that adds interest to my arrangements — gloriosa, lilac, chamomile, gomphrena, sweetpea, zinnia, grevillia, parrot tulip, lupins. I love the weirdos! It’s also probably a good idea to check my temperature if you see me at market without carnations or alstromeria on my trolley, coz if they’re available, I’ll buy them. They make me think of my nana, and I love honouring her in my work as she’s a big reason why I’m in flowers.

Tell us about some of the best bouquets you’ve put together recently…
It feels braggy, but I really do feel like I’ve been creating some of my best work recently! I’ve been more adventurous with colour palettes, and I’m working with couples who really trust me to do my thing.

I loved Annie’s bouquet; I drove up to Bendigo Pure Maiden Flower Farm (run by Annie’s brother and sister in law) and got to pick the florals specifically for the feature bouquet. The quality of the blooms was unreal, and the colour variations were so fun, only made more special having been grown by people who love Annie so deeply.

Another bouquet that I loved was the one I made for Gabriella — all white everything, with hints of black. Black-eyed anemones and delphiniums were absolute perfection against the crisp white of the other blooms, elevated even further by Gabri’s incredible couture dress designed by Oglia Loro, and her striking dark hair. Her maids each carried single-bloom bouquets of carnations, ranunculus, freesias and lisianthus, which were also featured in Gabri’s bouquet.

Images: Annie’s bouquet, Bec Matheson Photography & Gabriella’s bouquet, La Moment Photography

Where do you find inspiration?
A lot of inspiration for my work comes from my couples, spring-boarding off from their ideas and developing them further gives me such joy.

I do find a lot of colour palette inspiration in nature — the blue haze of the night sky meeting with the golden of the setting sun, sage green eucalyptus and soft brown gum trunks, lime green leaves against frilly white creeping roses against our fence, the way blue, green and sand meets at the beach. Dreaming about how to find the perfect balance of fun and class for a Harry Styles ‘You’re So Golden’ party made for a pretty excellent brief; pop culture, music and entertainment give me endless ideas. I am also a total sucker for a wander up and down the fabric and ribbon aisles at Spotlight!

Where do you source your flowers? How do you choose and practise restraint when buying them for your work?
I do my best to prioritise locally grown blooms over international imports, but there can be some factors for why this isn’t always possible to stick to. I’ll never ever promise specific flowers to a couple for their wedding, because it only leads to heartache with the unpredictability of the climate. Many years ago I promised a bride peonies for her bouquet … and then an earthquake went through the area where the flowers were grown, so, no peonies. She was a total superstar when I called and explained, but it’s made me nervous to promise anything like that ever again!

I’m definitely an over-buyer ; I’d always rather have too much, than not enough. I like to create pretty lush designs, and definitely believe that more is more! So long as I’ve covered all my technical bases (foundation, structure, movement, shape/support, texture/interest, heroes) it’s not often that I experience buyer’s remorse!

Images: Duuet Photography & La Moment Photography

What trends are you noticing in wedding florals right now?
Neutrals: think earthy, spice tones. Cinnamon, latte, chai, mixed with peaches and pinks for a more feminine feel, juxtaposing grasses and harsh textures with soft frilly roses and other blooms.

Retro: the 70s are back, and so is the psychedelic. Interesting shaped vases with difference coloured glass, clashing colours and way more sparkle.

Not just flowers for the centrepieces: fruit, vegetables, minerals and more can be placed on your guest and head tables to tell your story through your wedding design.

Statement ceremony florals: lush tower pieces and floral-laden arches, more is more when it’s coming to the way we design for the space where you say ‘I do’.

Sustainability: …so long as we can move those ceremony florals to our reception space, and then pull the pieces apart and wrap the flowers for our guests at the end of the night. (Which, as it happens, is offered as a matter of course in Oh Hello Petal’s wedding services!)

Do you see a change in what couples are asking for since the pandemic?
Sure do — couples are having weddings that are more aligned with their values, and are unapologetically motivated to go after what they want for their weddings. I’m noticing that couples are going one of two ways: either, they’re not being guilted into ‘The Big Wedding’ by their families and are opting for more intimate celebrations, or, they’re throwing bigger and better, no-expense-spared weddings, because there’s such joy and relief to be allowed to party together once more.

I’m also noticing that a lot more of my couples are opting to include family florals such as buttonholes and corsages for grandparents, aunties and uncles, which I think shows the beautiful perspective of cherishing the time we have with family, even more than we used to.

What would you say is your signature?
Intentionality in the way I ask my couples about their lives, and going that extra mile for them. Yes, planning and preparing for a wedding is our number one task, but I also want to hear how their families are, what’s going on at work, how they’re investing in their relationship while in the trenches of wedding planning. I’m naturally a relational person (and a bit of a sticky beak!) so caring deeply and holistically for my couples comes naturally to me.

Image: Daniel Miligan Photography

How do you relax from a busy working week?
We’ve recently moved to a house with the most beautiful garden, so I’m finding a lot of joy in getting dirt under my fingernails. I also love baking and cooking, and I’ll almost never say no to a gin & tonic!

What do love about living and working in Victoria?
I love that Melbourne caters to almost every taste with her landscape — rural, city, beach, romantic, industrial, classic, quirky — there’s always something to do here! I appreciate that good coffee isn’t too hard to come by, and love that Melbourne wedding industry circles are small. There’s always someone who knows someone at each wedding I do, which is a good reminder to be good everywhere you go, ha!

Thank you Ione for sharing your story with us! To find out more about Oh Hello Petal, head on over to their website or check out more of their gorgeous designs on the Polka Dot Directory.

Header image: Daniel Miligan Photography