Charlie's Flower Boutique


How I Made a Non Foam Flower Spray

Since making the decision to go ‘no foam’ I will let you in to a secret, I’ve been slightly worried about the day when I would be asked to create a casket spray …

Well, that day came not so long ago and being the stubborn sort of person I am and given my sustainability beliefs in my personal Vegan lifestyle and with my work, I knew I couldn’t take the easy option and order a foam based product. It was time to get creative and think of a way of achieving this myself, after all - what did florists do before the days of foam?

A bit of research and doodlings, here is my step by step process.

  1. Plan

    How long does it need to be, how are you going to keep the flowers hydrated, which materials are going to compost?

  2. Shop - I decided to check out a hardware store and bought a plank of FSC wood 80cm long and some screws. I also bought some chair leg stoppers to put underneath to help the wood not slide around.

  3. Construct - I needed to trim the corners from the plank of wood (as you might do with foam anyway)

    I knew chicken wire and moss were probably the way to go to construct the height i needed. I had sought the advise of @nofloralfoam who sent me images of empty ice cream containers with wetted newspaper in being used to keep stems in place - however when I ordered the moss from my wholesaler - there was an option to purchase them in wooden boxes which i thought might work as well and i thought it would be good to reuse a material that would rot.

    I then took out the moss from the boxes and screwed them onto the base, i refilled them with moss making sure it was nice and wet.

    Even with the moss I decided that extra stability for the stems might be needed, so I used halves of the FloraGuppy’s to create a longer raised area. I used strong wire to create hooks to fasten them into the moss. (The FloraGuppy is resuable and recyclable).

    I then drilled holes into the boxes to provide areas where i could insert the stems - this took the longest time and i definitely had achy arms afterwards!

  4. Fix moss to the ends and wire on to board until it’s nice and firm. I think here is where you do need a good 10/20cm length wise to build the moss up to the top of the wooden boxes, plus the more wet moss there is, the longer the stems will last.

  5. Start your flower arranging. I must admit, there was a bit more jiggery pokery getting the stems in and had to drill a few more holes as I went


Lessons Learnt

To be honest, it all went to plan really! I think in hindsight the boxes could have been a little shorter as I felt like there was a bit of a bank of foliage, however the viburnum draping over helped to break that up.

Some stems didn’t like being in the moss overnight and were wilted by morning (clematis, some viburnum) but stems such as craspedia, aster, sweet william) were fine, but I think this is just part of the process to find out what works and what doesn’t. I quite enjoyed the challenge and i was pleased with the end result.

I know that I’m in a different position to those bigger and busier florists who maybe wouldn’t have the time to make their own bases but I do think there’s a gap in the market which would help florist like me who want to reduce our impact on the environment.

Do you have a price list please?

More often that not when a new enquiry comes to me it will usually say something like

‘ Can you provide a cost for a bridesmaid bouquet, bridesmaids, buttonholes and maybe some centerpieces’

Well, no not really…..

Here’s why and this is good advice when approaching florists if you want to find a few different quotes.

  • Firstly, know roughly how many items you need, 2 or 20 buttonholes?

  • What time of year are you getting married?

  • Are there any particular flowers your really want or really don’t want?

  • What colours do you like or hate?

  • What budget are you thinking you’ll spend?

  • Where are you getting married? Will you be at the venue in the morning? Where will the groom be?

  • Are you bringing in a venue dresser we can work with?

  • Does the venue need us to come back at 1am to pack up?

The budget question is really important, florists will always cost up items based on the best possible flowers available to them, afterall, it’s your big day and you deserve only the best! However, keep in mind that even when flowers are seasonal, they can still be very expensive - hydrangeas a wedding favourite are incredibly expensive and personally I will always order more than I think I need because you’ll always get a couple that decide to die at the last minute unexpectedly! I’ve heard that some florists say 10% of your wedding budget should go on flowers. I’m not sure what this is based on to be honest but I think you should think of a budget and add on another couple of hundred just to be on the safe side.

It’s not just the act of creating your flowers that you’re paying for it’s other factors that are built into the costs such as;

  • Initial meeting, creating and putting together an estimate , changes and amendments to this

  • Venue visit - double checking against estimate

  • Second client visits if meeting was over 6 months ago

  • Speaking with venue / cake / wedding planners contacts regarding logistics

  • Sourcing non flower items if necessary - this will include trips to wholesalers or haberdasheries,

  • Ordering and prepping your flowers, often this will be a split order to ensure some flowers open on time

  • Care of the flowers whilst they are drinking and hydrating

  • Creating your bridal party flowers, boxing up , tagging, dividing flowers up

  • Venue flower creation, I try to do most of this on site if possible to cut down on the time in my workshop. I will probably have had a couple of hours of sleep before this!

  • Packing up, cleaning up,

  • Returning to venue to collect items (here’s where you can cut some costs by offering to do this)

So, maybe a bit more than you may have thought and this is why flowers can be 3/4 times more expensive than you see in the shops. Afterall, we are a business and whilst I always (luckily) have had great relationships with all of my brides - I don’t think one of them would like to think I’ve come out of it, out of pocket. Some may ask why on earth do it? My reason is that yes it can be stressful but I love the process and I love creating something different every time - and the biggest reward? Seeing the bride’s face when she sees her bouquet. If they cry, I’ve done my job properly!! ha! I’m joking, some brides aren’t that fussed about flowers and I get that, but as long as they’re happy. So am I. My other half and my lovely assistants will testify that i’m a nervous wreck until that bouquet is handed over. It’s a massive thing to be entrusted with something so important and that’s why I will take 2/3 hours alone creating the bridal bouquet.

I’ve had to make a decision recently that after working in the industry for nearly 7 years and still not really making enough (it’s a labour of love) to be able to warrant not having a weekday job and with there only being a certain number of weekends in the year, that I will no longer take any budgets under £1,000. This is partly down to thinking I still need to build my portfolio up but actually after rejigging my website - I think i’m a bit past this now! I know that rules out some customers but there are plenty of up and coming talented freelance florists who would be happy to take on smaller budgets.

I hope this helps you and keep this in mind when you’re speaking to your slightly frazzled looking florist.

Top 10 Places to Propose in Liverpool

Where are the best spots to propose in Liverpool?


With the help of Angelic Diamonds, who offer a variety of marquise engagement rings , here is a guide for you If you’re thinking of popping the question in the city and exactly where you should do it. After all, Liverpool has a romantic side to it that you may want to explore if you’re thinking of popping the question!

One 2018 survey highlighted that Liverpool is home to some of the kindest people in the UK. Of course, it’s also home to The Beatles too! Overall, Liverpool is a place full of life, so where better to propose to your partner?

St George’s Hall

The architecture and décor of St George’s Hall are elegant and romantic — a perfect setting for not only a proposal, but a wedding too. Visit the venue on an ordinary day or get tickets for an event for something spectacular.

Ghetto Golf

Ghetto Golf is Liverpool’s 18-hole mini golf experience, situated in the Old Cains Brewery and is most definitely a unique way of proposing to your partner. Enjoy good music, some street food, and try to impress with a hole in one.

Hope Street Hotel

Hope Street Hotel is known for its chic furnishings and organic feel, it doesn’t skip on romance though. It’s actually been voted as one of the world’s coolest hotels in its opening year of 2004. Rooms have oversized beds draped in Egyptian cotton where you can enjoy a cosy morning, snuggled up to your fiancée. Pop the question over some delicious food and a bottle of bubbly in the award-winning restaurant or keep it private in your room and book a table to celebrate.

Sefton Park

Sefton Park may be the perfect place if your loved one is fond of a picnic on the grass! There’s plenty to see in Sefton Park, from waterfalls and bandstand to the Victorian Palm House — enjoy a full day together.

Royal Albert Dock

Albert Dock once played a huge part in global trade in the 19 th century, and now they’ve been transformed into a scenic hub of restaurants, bars, and museums. Take your pick from a range of cuisines and reserve a table for you and your loved one, looking out onto the water.

Chill Out Spa

Take some time out to enjoy their expert treatments and award-wining facilities. Chill Out Spa impresses before you step through the doors, situated within the gated walls of the home of Lord Derby — Knowsley Hall. Spend some quality time together, away from the hustle and bustle of the main city before asking the big question.

Heavenly Desserts

From irresistible cookie dough treats, to Instagram-able waffles, this place is the ultimate destination for indulgence. Does your partner have a sweet tooth? If so, popping the question over a luxurious delicacy at Heavenly Desserts could be an unforgettable proposal.

Liverpool Cathedral

It’s a view not to be missed. Take in 360˚ views of the city from the tower at Liverpool Cathedral which is 152m (500ft) above sea level. If you want to pop the question beneath the stars, head to the Cathedral on a Thursday for extended opening hours.

Panoramic 34

Panoramic 34 offers a fine dining experience along with magnificent views where you can look out onto the river and take in the buildings below. Where better to see Liverpool’s skyline from than on of the UK’s highest restaurants? After you’ve enjoyed your meal, ask your loved one to marry you with the full city as your backdrop — how could they say no?


The Cavern Club

Situated on Liverpool’s famous Matthew Street, The Cavern Club is a great place to declare your love for your partner if they’re a music fan. If, like a lot of people, your appreciation for Liverpool began with The Beatles, where better to express your love than at The Cavern Club? With music playing most days in the venue, why not choose a quieter time of day to drop to one knee?

Liverpool Map.png
Crowning Floral Glory

One of the biggest trends I've seen last year is the flower crown and it looks like this hair adornment is going to be big this year too.

Whether you are after a petite and delicate crown or a big in your face blousy item, they are a must for any boho chic, country affair type of wedding. Traditionally, the flower crown was an item just for the cute flower girls, but now everyone is wearing them (ok, maybe not the Mother in Law!), not only for weddings but in general fashion too. 

The likes of Selena Gomez, Alexa Chung, Kate Moss and Kirsten Dunst have all been spotted adorning the floral hair decoration. 

It's actually fairly easy to technically make a flower crown, all you need is some sturdy wire wrapped with floral tape, over lap your flower heads in a garland style and wire them to you main head wire, or cheat and use hot glue! 

I have ran a few workshops on flowers crowns for hen parties and wedding fayres and every time I always hear 'oh, I won't be able to make anything, i'm not creative at all' , then at the end of the class said participant is proudly showing off her crown with a smug face! Not only has she created a gorgeous arrangement but had fun in the process. 

I love the flower crown, a perfect alternative to the tiara. 


Want to book a flower crown workshop? Email me for more details and costs -

Find out more about my workshops here -







Charlie Banks
Bloomin' Waste!

In my previous life before I became a florist, I worked in the event industry and more specifically, implementing sustainable management systems within events and their organisations.

Being passionate about looking after the environment, staff welfare and ensuring process are in place to help the business or event run to plan - should have ensured that I do the same with my own business.

To some degree I have naturally followed a sustainable way of working by doing the following;

- Not over ordering and creating more financial and actual waste

- Recycling where possible

- Using materials that can be reused by the customer (jugs, gift bags, transporter boxes)

- Combining orders so less transportation required

- Minimal printing of marketing material and always on FSC paper

- Exhibition materials are non dated and resuable so cuts down on waste and is financially sensible!

- Processes for operational control being developed

- Stakeholder engagement though social media

So, all going in the right direction for a fairly new business but I know I can do more and I think that if I can lock down my operational processes and start to measure my waste, mileage, materials etc I will feel happier and more secure about the business and will allow me to communicate more about practices and maybe help others.

I've already started looking into how to reduce plastic waste and sourcing a more sustainable solution - hopefully I may have found this with a VegWare product but it needs further testing. I've reduced the amount used on bouquets by 2/3's by cutting out the 'dressing' and just using enough to hold water for wet packs. (See pic)

So my goal over the next few months will be to identify my targets and set time scales to them, I need to be selfish and set aside a good day to do this without kids, dogs and weddings :D

Any feedback you have would be great, I'd love to hear if you think this is good practise or if you're not at all bothered!

Are bridal flower workshops taking business away from florists?

Can I be honest? Understandably some people do not know what to expect or have no idea about the cost of flowers for weddings, there is (I think) a common misconception that we florists hike up our prices when the word 'wedding' is mentioned. Maybe there are some that do, but I think mostly florists want to provide a good service at a fair price, after all, we want a return trade and good reviews which leads to more business. I think alot of people would be surprised at the amount of hours that can go into creating wedding flowers (I'll make another blog on that!). Anyway, I feel that there is a real trend in DIY weddings boosted by the sharing of information and inspiration on sites such as Pinterest and YouTube, where you can virtually find out anything and how to do it.

There can be many reasons why a bride wants to organise her own wedding flowers, being part of the creative process if you are that way inclined,  control, having a budding florist in the family, but I think in most cases it comes down to budget.

Talking to a fellow florist at an industry function about this subject, she commented that if a bride decides she is going to arrange her own flowers, then she will do it and so I think you can't take business away if it's not there in the first place, but what I can do is help be a part of the process. So if they can come along to a workshop, have a nice day and learn a few skills whilst paying for the educators time and knowledge then I think everybody wins. The florist receives some income from a wedding client they wouldn't normally have done and the bride has more confidence in her floristry skills whilst eating cake and drinking champagne, and with my workshops, they also receive ongoing support and advise until the big day which surely will help with any last minute changes.

I think there is room in the industry for freelancers such as myself who can offer workshops and courses along with the more traditional florist shops. I like running workshops, they're fun, give me a chance to connect with some of my Facebook fans and meet new ones, and they allow me to do something different to my wedding work. I'm excited to be running Autumn/winter wedding and Spring/Summer Wedding bridal flower workshops as well as my Christmas and Mother's Day Workshops, I'm hoping that from a business side they grow and grow and I get to do the job I love all the time!

For more information on the workshops please visit the Workshop page

Please feel free to follow me on Instagram (Charliebeeflowers), Facebook or Twitter.





How to choose the right wedding florist.

So how do you decide which florist to choose when there is so much choice out there?

So you've set the big day, your venue is booked, bridesmaids dresses have been chosen (or not!) and you have your colour theme, next is to book your florist. But how?!

You might not give two hoots about flowers and quite happy with a simple classic rose bouquet, or you've been trawling though Pintrest every night and have about 3 different boards of different ideas and can decide what on earth to go with! Whichever sort of bride you are, personally I don't think you can book your florist early enough but from my experience I would advise on the following:

  • How quickly have they come back to your enquiry? Yes florists are busy people especially during wedding season, but if it's been over a week - I would say move on as they're not going to be able to show you the dedication to your wedding if they can't even email or call you back in a decent time frame.
  • Recommendations - have a look on their Facebook pages, on Google + etc for reviews by other brides, or ask your family who they have used and if they would recommend, it sounds simple but word of mouth is very powerful. As florists, we love knowing our brides are telling people about us! Nicely!
  • Have they just given you a price straight away without asking more questions about the day? If you've not specified your wedding date, I would be dubious of a florist giving you a price for your flowers (unless you are having an all year round flower like a rose).
  • Make sure when you do receive a quote that there is a description so you know what flowers are going to be included, google them and make sure you know what they are and that you like them. 
  • Make sure the quote includes everything including any hidden charges such as hire fees for any props and delivery / pick up fees. Some florists will also charge for their time on the day if you are having your ceremony room turn round into your wedding breakfast and flowers on the table, the florist will be waiting for a few hours in the wings to do this so there may understandably be a charge for their time.
  • Are they flexible? have they kindly agreed to change a few things, or look for budget saving ideas for your wedding? By having a trusting relationship with your florist, you will be more relaxed about what you will have on the day!
  • Be open minded - sometimes florists can have nightmares trying to get hold of specialist flowers for weddings, things beyond our control can go wrong but personally I am up front and honest about this to my clients so there are no nasty surprises.
  • Vintage flowers? Rustic wedding? country, boho wedding flowers? Make sure that your florist knows where you are coming from by showing them pics of what you have seen. With these whimsical and unstructured wedding bouquets, the florist's artistic flare will shine through and they will do what feels right with the materials on the day so it might not look like to picture you've showed them - but it will be better, unique and yours.

Lastly, and I think most important is - Do you like them? Afterall, why would you want to part with waht can be a large sum of money to someone you're not that keen on or is a faceless big brand? Support your local florist and seek our those independent florist who are more likely to provide you with attention to detail, time and passion.

Of course, i'm a bit biased :D



Vintage wedding fayre - the result!

As some of you may have read I was umming and ahhing about whether to invest in taking part in the National Vintage Wedding Fayre at the glorious Victoria Baths in Manchester.

Well I did! And it was a lovely day, lots of lovely people excited about their wedding, I tested out my new boards I had printed up and spoke to some great suppliers and picked up a couple of wedding clients too.

I was also more than happy to supply my flower creations for the bridal catwalk, the photography taken by Katy McCarthy ( I love them!


Funeral and Sympathy Flowers

I've always struggled with promoting myself as a funeral flower florist, I guess I just didn't like to see people upset and when I ran my flower shop in Warrington, I saw it alot.

Then I figured out that actually, I could allow the grieving process to be just a tiny bit easier as I spent a bit of time and a bit of thought with the person ordering the flowers, getting to know a little bit more about the person who had died, what colours they liked or types of flowers.

I recently provided flowers for a young girl that had passed away due to a battle with cancer and as I sat down with her Aunty I was told that 'the others were just matter of fact and sounded like they wanted to get off the phone.'

I may not be a huge florist with hundreds of orders, but I like to think that the personal touch and thought that goes into all of my arrangements means that that person has flowers that they wanted, that is more important to me.


National Vintage Wedding Fayre

I've only ever done one wedding fayre before and 1. it cost me alot of money as i totally went over board and ordered to many flowers and 2. I didn't get one job from it!

I'm hoping that now i'm a bit older and wiser and basically more confident in my skills that this time, I will be (as they young kids say) #winning :)

I decided to go with the National Vintage Wedding Fair as it's at the Manchester Victorian baths which is a fantastic venue. If you haven't been, do go!

I'm also hoping that my slightly loose and informal flower style will be met with approval and a general thumbs up, I think I maybe lean more towards the vintage / country feel and it's an interesting creative process, often the bouquet I have in mind doesn't come out in real life and usually (II hope!) it's better, I let my flowery friends do the talking.

So, hopefully if you are going to the fair as a bride you will see lots of amazing things and go home inspired, if you are attending, be sure to pop by for a bit of cake and some flowers.


Why are Valentine Flowers so expensive?

Whether you are a budding Valentino or a Valentine naysayer - I would like to demystify why flowers are so expensive at this time of year. As a florist, I also find it shocking how much they increase in price and slightly embarrassed that I have to pass this cost on to my clients. 

However, there is a simple explanation. 

Flowers are bought by wholesalers at auction, when there is a popular holiday or occasion, the cost of the flowers go up due to high demand. Wholesalers will usually release a price list prior to the big day with pre-order costs on, this is great if you are a well established florist shop with lots of passing trade. If like me you are a freelance florist, this can be harder to judge and so we need to account for any wastage that may be created (and therefore decrease in profit). For example, red roses can go up by 50% for high grade quality roses, and who doesn't want high grade? 

So, next time you buy some flowers for a loved one, do try and use your local florist rather than a supermarket, if only for the time and skill that has gone into making that bouquet and knowing that you are supporting a local business. 

New Year, New Site, New Goals!

Hello everyone,

Thanks for visiting my blog, as part of my 2017 goals, I'm going to aim to post a blog up once a week (eeeek).

So!! I thought it was time for a bit of a change, out with old in with the new I often think i don't like change, it's too scary, too much effort - but actually, when i stop fannying about and get on with it, I like it. I like a new writing pad, a new page - I'm all for doodling and thrashing things out on piece of paper.

So for 2017, they're not resolutions, they're goals, business goals to help me push what i love doing, forward. I want to grow my business, I love making brides happy, I love meeting new people and being a part of the big day, I love seeing different venues and setting out flowers in them. So onwards and upwards, a new website was required so I used the lovely Squarespace and got it done in a day!

I hope you enjoy the new look, if you have any feedback do let me know!