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The Chupi Journal


Choosing Your Wedding Flowers, with The Wild Bunch’s Tina McGrath | Chupi Journal

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021

Tina McGrath of The Wild Bunch creates beautiful, modern, garden-inspired floral designs from her studio in Kilkenny. Her lush, wild blooms have been featured in dozens of international wedding blogs and magazines. She talks inspiration, collaborations and tips for picking your wedding flower style. 

Thanks so much for taking time to share your story with readers of The Chupi Journal. For those not familiar, can you tell us a bit about you and your work?

I’m a florist, working mostly in weddings and events and using as much of our own-grown and foraged flowers as possible. Mostly because of their look, I’m afraid; I’m all about the little blemishes, the bendy stems.

How did you discover your passion for flowers?

A bit of a roundabout way. The original plan was to grow flowers for markets; I’ve a background in horticulture and the idea of home-grown flowers just made sense. This was about 10 years ago when there were very few flower growers in Ireland. But with our first wedding, I was hooked; playing around with colours, shapes, textures; I couldn’t believe that I could do this for a living! I still can’t.  

I’m thankful every day for the most amazing couples who embrace this and trust us to “go with it” and do what looks best on the day. 

How would you describe your floral aesthetic?

I’m drawn towards things that are a bit raw, modern and edgy, rather than being too romantic or pretty. Wild and earthy. Sculptural, strong, distinctive; so that it stands out from its surroundings rather than overly blending in. Maybe not what comes to people’s mind when they think of wedding flowers, and I do have to rein myself in sometimes! 

What has been a career highlight so far?

It has little to do with big events or achievements and much more about enjoying myself. A photoshoot last summer stands out; just out of lockdown, a day spent barefoot on the beach with the wonderful Danu Collective. How many people get to do that for work?

How do you stay creative? 

Inspiration comes from lots of places. Any form of art really; paintings, photography, sculpture, textiles. Anything that looks good. Kilkenny’s craft scene is brilliant, and I could spend hours just looking at other people’s work, imagining their process. Online art galleries, art magazines. Music, films. 

But inspiration alone just gives me a cluttered head! I always need to stay close to nature and the landscape. It’s that connection to the natural world that stirs something in all of us; it’s the basis of every idea.  

How do you approach designing for weddings?

Lots of things come into play. The mood of the season; its colours, textures, forms. The couple, their style and vision, their priorities, their story. The venue. I get all this together and come up with a general style, and then a plan. 

In between lockdowns and with so much uncertainty, couples have just gone for it and celebrated in the way that means most to them.

I try to make one main focal point for the wedding that encapsulates that style, whether it’s a ceremony backdrop or an elaborate entrance, and then centre everything else around that. To some extent, I often keep that “everything else” a little more fluid; adaptable to changes in weather, guest numbers and anything else that the day throws at us. I’m thankful every day for the most amazing couples who embrace this and trust us to “go with it” and do what looks best on the day. 

Where do you suggest couples look for inspiration for their wedding flowers?

Keep an open mind and look at your own aesthetic, your own style. Consider your home, your taste in clothes, books, films; is it light, neutral? Or braver, edgier? Look around at different wedding styles and get an idea of the “feel” you want for your wedding.

If you’re open to something a bit different, start with online blogs and Instagram accounts that centre on the couple, rather than on a signature style, like Rock n Roll Bride or Green Wedding Shoes. Then, once you have an idea of what you’re drawn to, hit Pinterest; it’s brilliant.

How should they go about choosing a colour palette and flowers?

Lots of brides make a point of telling me that they “don’t know much about flowers” but they don’t need to. They just need to have an idea of the style they want for the day and then we can translate that together. I tell brides to send me any photos they‘ve come across and liked; regardless of the flowers or the season or the actual arrangement; just to get an idea of their aesthetic, the style and colours they are drawn to.

Any other top tips for couples?

Trust your suppliers! Choose them carefully; research their style, read their testimonials; and then let them do their best for you.

How have you found these smaller, more intimate Covid-era weddings?

A breath of fresh air. In between lockdowns and with so much uncertainty, couples have just gone for it and celebrated in the way that means most to them. Every wedding in this past year holds a place in my heart; it’s been a privilege to be part of them.

How do you think it will affect weddings in the future?

For the better. There’s no such thing as a “norm” for weddings anymore and couples are free to celebrate in whatever way best reflects themselves and their lives. Whether an intimate garden party or a full-on blowout, it’s your day; go for it! 

Is there a floral trend that you like right now?

There’s a definite move towards bolder, less muted tones and shapes; everyone needs uplifting right now. Also towards mixing different styles; try boho and glam? It’s all very irreverent and exciting!

Image: Savo Photography

What are you currently working on, dreaming of, excited about in your life and work?

I’ve really enjoyed the creative freedom of the last year and have taken part in lots of collaborations and photoshoots, exploring new ideas and simply enjoying the energy and connection that comes with working with other creatives. The most recent, with photographer Ivana Patarcic and stylist Gabi of Petal & Twine, was particularly raw and earthy and I just loved it.

I’ve recently started doing permanent installations for shops and salons too, which has been really challenging and exciting; I’m looking forward to doing lots more of these. But I’ll always love weddings! All the emotion and the excitement, the creativity and spontaneity. I love meeting couples, hearing their plans and their stories – and absolutely cherish seeing them again on the day. I love flowers but could never work with them without the “people” part.

Image: Benjamin Wheeler

If you had to pick 2-3 favourite blooms, which would they be?

Noooo! But maybe ranunculus, garden roses, and honesty seed heads.

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