Exclusive Interview with London Florist Okishima and Simmonds

Today, I will share some fun things from exclusive interview with london florist Okishima and Simmonds.

Beautiful Bouquet

How beautiful is this bouquet of Sweet Avalanche roses, astilbe, protea, hydrangea, lisianthus, berried eucalyptus, and wild seaweed gathered freshly from the beach that morning? It was created by Okishima and Simmonds. Photograph by Chikae Okishima-Howland.

However long I have worked in the bridal industry, I still get excited by talented individuals. I was delighted recently to come across the creative duo Chikae Okishima-Howland and Jessica Simmonds, who formed the florist Okishima and Simmonds last July. I was delighted when they took some time out from their busy schedule to chat exclusively to me. They are exactly what the bridal industry needs, passionate individuals who are perfect for stylish and fashionable brides.

Chikae, I understand that you were brought up in London and were creative from a young age. What made you decide to do a course at The Covent Garden Academy of Flowers?

I have always been someone that has wanted to try everything. My only outlet to try everything – is through courses, and floristry was one of the things on my list. I have always loved Ikebana (the Japanese art of flower arranging), partly from growing up with it, being half Japanese, but also with the fascination with the simplicity and beauty of it. I hope to one day do an Ikebana course in Japan. So I enrolled to do the course and fell in love and haven’t looked back since!

Please describe the type of weddings you do?

Our style of flowers is very wild, untamed and natural so we tend to attract a lot of relaxed brides who are having low key weddings in the countryside or who want to bring the outdoors inside. We always encourage our brides to use plenty of foliage and not to overcomplicate anything but let the flowers almost speak for themselves.

Floral Head Crown

I adore this English grown foliage headdress created by the duo.

When are you meeting a bride for a consultation, does she need to bring anything/tear sheets etc?

When we first meet a bride, all we ask her to bring is an open mind. As floristry is such a creative industry, we always love to meet brides who want to talk everything through with us so we can imagine an overall concept together. Wedding flowers are so much more difficult to plan if the bride comes to you with such a firm idea in her head and specific colours, as seasonally flowers change. Colours of flowers are ever changing and rarely the exact shade of what a bride might be envisioning exists, that is the way nature is, and why we love it! Of course, images of the style, colour and themes that appeal to them is always a great start and from there, we can always dream up the perfect flowers together.


bouquet with vuvuzela roses

I adore this ‘just picked’ feel of this bouquet with vuvuzela roses, purple passion and Juliette David Austin roses, gloriosa, asclepia, poppy seed pods, succulents, albiflora, berried eucalyptus, celosia.

What are the next big things when it comes to wedding flowers in 2015? What do you foresee will be key trends in terms of colours/flowers etc?

We have noticed a massive trend in wild, country garden flowers for 2014 and hear the phrase ‘freshly picked from the garden’ all the time. I think 2015 is going to take this trend even further by brides putting an emphasis on British grown flowers, rather than imported. With events such as British Flowers Week running, which is something we have been lucky enough to be a part of, and such fantastic British growers at the moment we are spoilt for choice. We are also going to see a return of some ‘outdated’ flowers coming back with a bang. Gypsophilia and carnations are two big ones that spring to mind – having become unpopular during the 1980s, they are well on their way to making a comeback.

bouquet with English grown foliage, delphiniums, poppy seed pods, dusty miller

This bouquet with English grown foliage, delphiniums, poppy seed pods, dusty miller, berried eucalyptus, and albiflora is perfect for the country bride.

Are there any no no’s when it comes to wedding flowers?

We have no rules when it comes to wedding flowers. If you like it and we can work through any logistical problems together, then there is no reason why you can’t have exactly what you want for your big day! Everyone has different taste, and we don’t believe in the word ‘clashing”. I for one (Chikae) have never known how to match anything colour-wise! I like too many colours and want to bring them all together. In nature, colours are scattered, and what a beautiful thing that is!

Where do you find your inspiration from?

Our inspiration comes from everything natural around us every day. From wild flowers growing on the side of the road to a beautiful summer sunset we draw our inspiration from the colours and shapes that are right on our doorstep. There is so much to see, even in a big, built up city like London – all you have to do is look!

What is the most lavish wedding you have done the flowers for?

We have one wedding coming up in August which is going to be spectacular. Inside a very old town hall, with 8m tall trees and an entire aisle lined with a fresh flower flowerbed with stems such as delphiniums! We can’t wait – but shouldn’t reveal too much yet! You’ll have to wait until after August to see the full extent of it.

If you had to choose your perfect bouquets for a spring/summer/autumn/winter wedding, what would they be and why?

Spring – Plenty of gorgeous parrot tulips and flowering blossom. Simple yet so effective – when the blossom comes out on my street its my favourite time of year
Summer – So hard to choose for this one but I would say bright colours with lots of fresh summer foliage and fillers such as alchemila in lime green and then bright, interesting blooms such as Gloriosa, celosia, garden roses and peonies
Autumn – Autumn again is all about the berries and foliage for me. Rich oranges, peach shades and browns with flower such as Avignon chrysanthemum blooms and gelder berries
Winter – Light pinks, whites and silvery foliage is my ideal winter bouquet. With snowberries, thistles and foliage such as eucalyptus.

We also like using what we find around us, carrying a theme throughout the wedding and encompassing the environment as a whole. For example if it is a beach wedding – we would ideally love to use seaweed, shells, sand etc.

DSC04616-706x1024Groom's Buttonhole


Groom’s buttonhole of green trick dianthus, larkspur, green bell and urchin shell detail.