Wedding florist and stylist is interviewed by hopelessly devoted, gleaning insider tips from Melbourne's top wedding professionals.

Ep7. Keep it Real, Stylist & Florist Tori Wood, Tori Allen Events

Sally Mussared is the designer and founder of Mussared design studio creating luxurious handmade silk wedding gowns.

Tori Wood creates stunning florals, perfect styling and breathtaking installations at Tori Allen Events.

Recording by the fabulous Miss Bella Hazelton.

Time Stamps

00:51 First Contact
02:18 Tori’s Special Way
03:03 The Venue of Choice
04:08 The Motivation for it All
06:36 Back to the Roots
07:56 The Strangest Request
08:53 Tori’s Tips
11:25 The Unromantic Romance

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Hopelessly Devoted podcast. I’m bridal designer Sally Mussared, delivering you the inside tips from Melbourne’s top wedding professionals.

Very excited today to be here with Tori Wood, at Tori Allen events, who do.. . well, what do you do, here at Tori Allen events?

We are a team of creatives who deliver wedding concepts and corporate concepts for clients. We are all inclusive of styling and the floral design for all events, anything from a bridal bouquet right through to a large scale installation, things for corporate events and private parties as well. We not only do the floral design, but also bring in the furniture and styling elements and design the tablescape, and all those small details.

First Contact

So, when a bride contacts you, you get an email from them and what happens next?

Ah, our lovely Jess responds, and a thing we like to do is give the bride the information and encourage them to come in and have a chat, because there’s nothing like a face to face conversation, to further explain what we do, and hear what the bride’s requests are.

And then how do you develop the design of what you’re going to?

Yeah, so, our… once our bride comes in and decides, you know, we’re the stylists and floral designers they want to work with, we often hear their brief, and they may have a Pinterest board, or they’ve collected imagery over time from magazines, and various, sort of… sources, and quite often it has ten different ideas. So we help tailor and tame their ideas to one sort of way that will bring what they want to life with our experience, so we will consider their venue, we will consider the type of personalities that they are, their requests are, and then assist with saying well, we think your colour palette should be this, we think that your textures should be this, your vibe of the wedding should be this… yeah. It’s a collaborative approach, but we definitely come in with a strong opinion and a really, I suppose educating the bride on what we believe is best, and what our opinion is. We adapt our creative language to the bride, orthe client, depending on what type of person they are, and what their kind of brief is as well.

Tori’s Special Way

Yeah nice, so, what makes Tori Allen unique?

We are a one stop shop, we offer the styling and floral and stationery solutions for your wedding. Being, you know, a group of designers, we sort of come from a different approach perhaps your normal retail florist or an independent stylist where we, we look at the total concept and we, everything works together. We look at things with a, quite a contemporary and sheik approach, you know, we’re not too traditional but we don’t buck tradition at the same time, we like to sort of merge the two together, so that things do have a bit of depth, but they’re still in line with the trends that are on Instagram and Pinterest and, you know, in vogue et cetera.

The Venue of Choice

So once they’ve let you know what venue they’re going to have it in, how do you work from that?

Generally speaking we may know the venue, because we would have worked there before, or we’ve been on a site visit, so we will look at the couple and their requests, and look very closely at the venue, and work out or envisage what we believe will fit best. We like to work with the feel of the venue, and bring a design in that adapts to that space, as well as looking at the brief that the client has, so sort of combining the two very carefully.

Everything works together, so the florals will complement the name tags, the name tags will complement the seating chart, the installation might give the venue soul and depth and a lot of people want installations, but they don’t always work in every venue, so we really look at recommending to the client what is best for them. We also are very big believers in that you don’t need to do a hundred things, you can often do five things and do them really well, it’s a better use of your budget and it’s a better use of the way the whole space gets presented in the end.

The Motivation for it All

Yeah nice. What gets you out of bed in the morning, why do you do what you do?

Not only what we’re doing here at TAE’s exciting in terms of the designs and the clients we’re working with and the brides that we have, but I guess as well what gets me out of bed is more the challenge of having your own business, and the reward that you do get. There’s times that it’s very hard, as you would know, but there are times where it’s incredibly rewarding and to come to work and have such a great team behind you and the reward from your clients and the great experience that you create, that excites me.

And I think what also excites me when we get a fantastic brief or we work with some exciting clients, especially, we were lucky enough to do a pop-up restaurant in April for one of the world’s best restaurants, we have done exciting jobs at the spring racing carnival, as well as working with brides in transforming an entire venue or bringing together a marquee wedding. Full styling or pushing the boundaries or innovative design really excites me.

We’ve thought a lot about what we get excited about and, the bit we like the best is when she takes his breath away, because as she walks in, the gown is an extension of her personality.

Yeah, I think as well, I think we all hold our breath until we hear from the bride after the wedding, to make sure that they were happy with what we did. And as soon as we get that ‘thank you so much for everything’ it’s just-

‘Yay we’ve done another one that was wow!’

-I know, and you know, we often don’t really think about it but we’re part of a pretty special day in someone’s life, you know we mustn’t take that for granted because that’s really special, the relationship that you have, and, you know we’re in contact with our brides quite a lot, and you build these relationships with them, and you know, some of the things that people in their family don’t know, like what does their dress look like, you know, they might be dong a surprise, for the groom on the night, their speech they might have sort of touched on, so we hear all these ins and outs of their planning process, and you’re kind of privileged to be involved in that, so when you know you’ve met their requirements, and not only met their requirements but made their day a little bit more special, because the flowers and the styling was more than they imagined, it’s just a buzz, makes you feel good.

Absolutely.

Yeah, Yeah.

That’s what we live for.

Back to the Roots

So was it the buzz, that got you into doing this, how did you get into flowers and styling and…?

I was always in design, I studied product development and merchandising which had a design side to it, and then I was a visual merchandiser. And the space I worked in was a shop that had homewares and fashion, and luxury body products and things like that, so I always daily was styling on instinct, and creating floral for the store and things like that, and then one of the ladies at work just asked if I would like to do her daughter’s wedding! So I did, and I had no idea what i was doing but somehow I pulled it together, and then it kind of went from there, someone else at my work asked me to do their wedding, so I used those two weddings as a platform to really begin.

I started off as an independent stylist, so I was actually experimenting with doing editorials and all sorts of different sorts of styling opportunities, but then I just loved doing the weddings, so…

Fantastic!

There I begun, and now I think we’ve done over 200 events, in a very short time, so pretty exciting!

Yeah, that’s great!

But it’s grown from that to this.

Congratulations, that’s fantastic!

The Strangest Request

What’s one of the weirdest or strangest requests you’ve ever had?

We had one once where the bride wanted the back of her gown so low that you could see her buttcrack, and we went, ‘we can’t do that’, and she said no, no I want it that low, and I’d say we’ve got three big mirrors so that they can see front, back, you know, they can see a gazillion of themselves, and we were saying look, you can see your buttcrack, and she was like that’s how I want it, and we said you can’t have your buttcrack showing, you’ll look like a tramp, you know, you’ll walk down the aisle and everyone will be going oh my god, you can see your buttcrack, and she said no, I want it that way. So did you have to do it like that? It was like, well, it’s your dress, if that’s what you want, are you sure that’s what you want, look at yourself in the mirror, is that what you want, she said yeah that’s what I want so… (laughter)

I don’t think we’ve had any peculiar requests, I know there’s sometimes when I’ve been in my head like ‘oh my god, okay’ but nothing stands out.

Yeah cool.

Tori’s Tips

What’s your one biggest tip for brides?

I think for us the biggest advice we would give to a bride and a groom is to keep it real and stay true to what they love. It’s hard when you’re searching for inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram and other sorts of platforms to get lost in all the different things that are trending at the time, and it’s always best to go back to base and recap and go what do we actually love, because just like picking a wedding dress, it has to suit you, otherwise it won’t work for you. And just because you might love all the Bohemian style weddings, Boho may not be quite the feel that suits you or the venue or the type of party or affair you want to have, so I guess it’s always about looking for what you might love in that image, and really pulling it back to what would then work with you.

And that’s where we can come in because generally when a client walks through that door we can look at that bride and already within probably the first sentence understand what type of person she is, and we will look at all the imagery she provides in that early discussion and actually pull those key things out of those images as to what we believe she actually really loves about that photo, or what will work for the venue, or what will work for the total event, so I guess the biggest advice is to not get too lost in everything that’s out there and really think about what it is that you would love.

That’s fantastic, and that’s a real skill, to pull out the elements that will actually make it work, and we find out, we’ll have a bride who’ll come and show us twenty photos of different dresses, and say ‘oh, I just don’t know what to do’, and in the process of looking through those different dresses and saying ‘what do you like about this one’ and they’ll say ‘ooh, I like the beading on this one, I like the sleeves on that one, I like the etc, and then we sketch it up for them and they go ‘ooh, how did you do that?!’ and then it’s like well, that was actually because you’ve given me all the bits-

Yeah, mapped it out.

-yeah, you know, we were able to pull all those elements together into one piece. Create one, yeah, and I think it’s the same with styling and floral, and we love seeing all those images, because they might not see the sort of underlying feel from all those images, but we can sort of track, or we can identify that, and go ‘oh ok, I think this is the direction.’

The Unromantic Romance

We have been following up with our brides to get their love stories because I’m a hopeless romantic and I just love to hear how they met. How did you and your husband meet? Me and Dave. We met through friends. We have a big circle of friends, and a lot of mutual friends, and one of my friends was actually dating his good mate, and they thought that we would suit each other, which I didn’t, at the time, and it took quite a few months of persistence, and eventually I buckled, and ended up, you know-

So did you have a double date, and then…?

-no, we would all go for breakfasts on a Sunday, after being out, and he was always sort of, happened to be there, every time, and meanwhile all my friends and everyone was talking behind my back going ‘oh, we’ve got to set them up’, so that’s sort of how we sort of how we got together, and we were together for about three years, and then I pestered him into proposing, and then here we are, we got married two years ago now, in July, down in Red Hill, and then now we’ve got a little six month little babe, so we’re, you know, yeah!

That’s lovely!

Yeah, glad I met him, in the end! So no real fantasy love story, just a, just-

I met my husband through mutual friends, and I didn’t think it was real love, cause he wasn’t that kind of, you know it wasn’t eyes across the room, you know-

Yeah, well that’s like with Dave, it was like that.

-Yeah, it’s that endearing love where if he’s not there I miss him like hell!

Yeah, well, you’re best mates.

Yeah, yeah.

Thank you for having us, it’s been marvellous to see you, if people want to contact you, what’s the best way to get in contact?

Check out our website, toriallen.com.au, and then if you would love to get in contact and hear more about what we do, then send us an email at info@toriallen.com.au, and we’d love to hear from you!

We’ll put the details down in the show notes.

Thank you!

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for listening. I’m Sally Mussared, and remember life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away…

take his breath away, Sally x