Searching for the most amazing wedding florist to add pops of pretty and colour to your special day? Feast your eyes on the work of Kris McKee Floral Design! If you’re looking for a personal approach to your wedding florals, and the concept of ‘no rules apply’ excites you, then you’ll want Kris on your wedding vendor dream team. Sustainability on your mind too? Kris has got you covered there too. She only uses quality floral materials, hand chosen from the markets, and aims to use locally grown produce whenever possible. She also has a strong focus on sustainable practice and makes every effort possible to reduce negative impacts on the environment. Below we chat about what got her into floristry, find out all about her signature style, and hear about the magic of flowers.
Hi Kris! Where are you based?
Right on the border of Enmore and Marrickville in Sydney’s Inner West. I’ve lived in the area for the entire time I have been in Sydney (eight years). I love it here, it’s a really wonderful community, and it just makes sense that this is where I want the business to be based too.
What made you decide to pursue your career in floristry?
This is a bit of a long one, but to try and squeeze it into a nutshell…
When I first finished high school, I went straight into a performing arts degree (vocal performance, opera, in fact). I had always been a creative – this is where I get my energy. I’m an introverted creative. However, I soon discovered that it’s hard to make money in the arts so I considered a “back up career”. I was never going to be an accountant (ha ha) so I chose nursing. I tried to maintain my creative pursuits and my passion for singing but the demands of nursing took over and 20 years later I was still trying to find a way back to my creative self.
I have had a very successful career as a nurse here in Australia, and an eight year stint in London. I’ve set up services, led research projects, and travelled internationally to present my research, but as fulfilling as this tried to be, it just wasn’t filling me up and making me deep down, in my soul, happy.
I’d missed the boat when it comes to a performing arts career so I looked toward other creative outlets and after a few workshops I fell in love with floristry. And I get so much enjoyment from it!
From beautiful, simple bouquets to full wedding and event concepts, I love every element of the creative journey. I feel that my career as a nurse has taught me the intricacies of human emotions and how personalised and genuine connections can make such a huge impact. I approach all of my clients with the aim to build a beautiful rapport, whether it’s a one-off bouquet order or a full wedding service.
My business is relatively young and I won’t lie, it’s hard work building something from scratch, especially when I want so much of it to contain “me”, but I am having fun with it and it really doesn’t feel like work, for a majority of the time.
Can you tell us about all the services you offer?
The website offers a bouquet service with some add on gifting options. I also run workshops, bouquet making, flower crowns and then festive style designs at Christmas time. And, of course, the part that I enjoy the most is weddings and events. Everything from small elopement style designs to full scale, anything goes, ceremony and reception designs. I also offer additional styling elements, candles, and sourcing props to add to the overall aesthetic.
Do you have a public studio or do you work from home?
No bricks and mortar store, the business is run online and from a home-based studio. The studio space is just starting to become a bit of a squeeze and soon enough I’ll need to find another studio. I’m lucky I have a very patient fiancé who helps run the business, and copes fairly well with all of the boxes, and vases, and buckets of flowers that take over our lives sometimes!
How has your style evolved over time and how would you describe your style?
When I first started floristry I overthought things, looked to what everyone else in the industry was doing and what seemed to be on trend, but this didn’t sit well with me… I felt like I wasn’t being true to my innate creativity. I took a step back, stopped worrying about what everyone else was doing and just started creating what felt right for me.
I approach designs with a little preplanning. I sometimes sketch up a general outline – I know my colour palette, the overall vibe of the design, and then I just start adding flowers. The design comes together sometimes with lots of tweaks and other times it can happen straight away.
I aim to be different; I also really appreciate the artistry of Constance Spry and her designs which are quite vintage, but absolutely timeless, and highlight the skill involved in floristry. I am also quite fond of the Dutch masters floral paintings, recreating those lush, opulent designs is such fun, and something I want to do more of.
I think my style will continue to evolve as I continue to grow. And this is what excites me!
Images: Yasmina Nadine Photography
You talk about the magic of flowers – what does that mean for you?
Think about a time you received a bunch of flowers, perhaps it was in celebration, perhaps in sympathy, I’ll guarantee it lifted your mood to some degree.
That ability that flowers have to instantly change a mood, plant a smile on a face, or send a symbol of care and love. I’ve seen this a million times, working as a nurse, witnessing how a gift of flowers can let someone know they are being thought of, that in their most vulnerable state a simple gesture can mean so much! I also see the same change in emotion when I deliver a bouquet to someone’s front door, or watch a couple see their wedding florals for the first time on the big day.
If you think about the science of flowers, the biology, it’s really quite fascinating how, and why, floral species are structured in different ways to attract specific pollinators and coincidentally attract us too! From unique shaped petals, amazing colours, and textures, sometimes it’s hard to believe they were not created as a result of a flick of a magic wand.
What do you love most about creating wedding florals?
Without a doubt it’s designing unique florals to represent the couples. The opportunity to really let my creativity loose, think up different concepts and designs and then figure out the mechanics to make it all work. Part of this is also the creativity needed to do this without floral foam and to execute the desired outcome in the most environmentally conscious way. I find this so much fun and so very rewarding.
It really is the whole process, from the initial chats about what ideas couples have, then working through these loose thoughts to a final plan, selecting the flowers and then creating the designs. And then, if the couples have opted to donate their flowers after the big day, I love dropping them off to nursing homes, health services or women’s shelters, so they can continue to spread a little joy. This is a service I love to offer all of my wedding couples and event clients.
Images: Yasmina Nadine Photography
Are there certain blooms and colours you like working with that you are drawn to time and again?
Ooh that’s a tricky one. Colours; anything bright and striking is usually a draw card for me, but equally I am loving custard yellows and soft pastels too. When it comes to specific flowers, I am a very sentimental soul and the flowers I love to use are those that actually remind me of my nanna – hydrangea and bearded iris make me feel like she is right there beside me, which is a beautiful thought. I also love to use some of the less trendy flowers. Coral shaped celosia and fluffy carnations are a couple of gorgeous florals that don’t get enough attention. Anything a bit different really!
Tell us about some of the best bouquets or wedding decor you’ve put together so far…
Hands down my recent secret garden style wedding at Q Station in Manly, NSW. The couple were incredibly relaxed and generous in letting me loose on the designs and giving me so much freedom. We created three different styles for the table centres, which gave all of the tables their own little personality. And I was able to design a “floating” install behind the wedding party’s table which consisted of florals, teal silk (the bridesmaids saris were in the same fabric), and some amazingly mossy and fungi covered branches. My fiancé, Ben, is the brains behind the rope knotting and chicken wire hanging skills, not to mention some quick snipping skills when it comes to helping out with the flower prep (swoon), so it was great to work on this together and ensure the mechanics were rock solid in order to achieve the end result I had planned.
Image: Yasmina Nadine Photography
After talking to the couple do you have a lightbulb moment of the flowers, colours and the style you can create for them, and use this as a starting point in your design?
Sometimes it is definitely a lightbulb moment. Sometimes it takes a little while, considering all of the elements, the venue, getting to know the couple, before it suddenly dawns on me and I am able to visualise the plan. It’s different every time, and it’s part of the excitement of each new job, experiencing how it will all unfold.
Where do you find inspiration? How do you keep your ideas fresh?
Quite honestly, everywhere! From Art, paintings, movies, especially Vintage styled movies, I adore the style of the 1920s, 30s and 40s! I like to look more to these avenues of inspiration, rather than other floral designers so much. I find paintings and movies, and décor from other eras remain a little abstract, and allow me to interpret them into a design in whatever way I feel works.
Where do you source your flowers?
I buy my flowers from the Sydney Flower Market. We are lucky to have a lot of beautiful flowers available every week, and lots of local growers selling their blooms in abundance!
In this post-Covid world, how important is it to source local flowers where possible?
Very important for so many reasons. Firstly, it’s environmentally more responsible to source locally – less transport equals a happier mother nature! We really must reduce the volume of imported floral products that are used on a daily basis. I understand that in some instances an imported flower might be needed due to the design or the fact that flower is not available here, but this should be an exception and not the rule. And secondly, we need to support our local growers. Everyone has struggled over the last few years, in lots of different ways, and what we need to do now is rebuild a really supportive community and we can do that by buying from local growers.
What trends are you noticing in wedding florals right now?
Couples are staring to request less of the reflexed roses en-masse in white or soft pinks, and more of the seasonal, organic designs. As more and more people start to become aware of the issues around sustainability, I am finding more couples requesting designs that really focus on this, being open to an idea and a vibe, and welcoming the inclusion of whatever flowers might happen to be in season, and local at the time of their big day, less setting hearts on specifics (e.g. must have peonies) and more on creating a theme or feeling.
What new colour combinations are exciting you at the moment?
Oooh good question. I LOVE colour and I love when people are brave and ask me to have fun with it! I am seeing more of the bright reds and oranges being requested in weddings. I think a chartreuse green is really starting to pop through in the inspo, that blended with some golden yellows and soft neutral tones looks so stunning. And yellow as a solo star, designs that utilise different shades and tones. Yellow can be so beautiful and absolutely striking! Bring on the colour is my mantra.
What would you say is your signature?
I would love people to look to my work and feel my signature is personalised designs. Something that is not repeated a hundred times for a hundred different people. Designs that are special and unique to each customer or client.
How do you celebrate the end of the working week?
That very much depends how exhausting the week has been! But as a general rule, it’s usually a nice meal, a glass (or two) of wine and a debrief with my fiancé!
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us today, Kris! To find out more about Kris McKee Floral Design, head on over to her website or see more of her incredible work on the Polka Dot Directory.
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