What Would They Know? Youki Nakahara of Sugar Bee Flowers

Sugar Bee Flowers

I love a bouquet with a ‘just picked as I walked around the garden’ look and this is a style that Youki of Sugar Bee Flowers excels in. Yet behind every seemingly casual arrangement there are hours of meticulous planning, sourcing of blooms and foliage and finally the creation of the perfect arrangement. Located at the entrance to the Yarra Valley, surrounded by vineyards, beautiful produce and flower growers, and amazing wedding venues, Sugar Bee Flowers can’t help but be inspired by the beauty of nature – it’s right on her doorstep. And creating something you love every day, to give pleasure to others, must surely be the best way to spend your time!

How did your business Sugar Bee Flowers come into being?

I went to floristry school for a year in Sydney, and worked at a couple of florists. Soon after this we moved to the Gold Coast, and (at that time) I couldn’t find any florist that I really wanted to work for. That’s when I started Sugar Bee Flowers. :)

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Is this your dream profession? What excites you about it?

Yes absolutely! I wouldn’t change this for anything. I actually became curious about the wedding flower industry when my wedding flowers were completely off brief. This is what pushed me to study floristry.

There is so much love, laughter, emotion, and sometimes drama that goes into weddings and it’s such a special space to be in. I love that I’m working on the most special day of my client’s lives, I adore all the energy and effort that goes into the creation of the wedding, not just us, but also the couple and the other wedding suppliers.

Where are you based?

I’m based in Coldstream in the Yarra Valley. I am at the very entrance of the Yarra Valley, surrounded by most beautiful and incredible wedding venues.

What do you love about the region you live in?

Yarra Valley is such an amazing place in terms of nature, colours of the seasons, coffee, food, people… I’m constantly amazed by the beauty of it.

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Which areas of Victoria do you mainly service with your wedding and event flowers?

I mainly focus on Yarra Valley, because I do have a very good relationship with the venues around here. I am familiar with the venues which probably is a very good thing for the clients too! I just feel so blessed to be surrounded by such amazing and professional venues and wedding suppliers around here.

Are there (wedding) venues in your area that recommend you as a go to florist for wedding events?

I know Stones of the Yarra Valley and Coombe – The Melba Estate recommend us, as well as other stunning venues like Zonzo, Yering Station, Oakridge, Riverstone Estate, etc. Lucky me!

Where do you source your flowers?

My main supplier is based in Silvan, and many of the flowers are grown in that area too. Majority of my roses are from my stunning growers in Healesville and Geelong, and for the rest I go to the flower market. My main aim is to avoid imported flowers – there really isn’t any need to use imported flowers, when the flower grown here are so abundant and beautiful!

I found it funny when I moved from the Gold Coast to Melbourne, I realised that I was using the same flowers as what I was using up in QLD. Now that I’m only 18 minutes drive away from where the flowers were grown, I completely realised that I came to the right place! Absolute heaven as a florist!

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What is your favourite way of creating flowers for a wedding a tight brief, or being given creative reign within a colour palette or style?

I am happy to work with either, but I do prefer to work to a brief. I am very lucky because my clients are like that – they trust me and give me the freedom to choose the appropriate flowers for their brief. This gives me the freedom to pick up any suitable flowers I find at the market, which usually becomes a beautiful addition. While I enjoy the freedom, I do what I can to make sure I completely understand the brief – sometimes it’s hard to describe in words the colours and styles of flowers. For example, “coral”, “peach”, “nude” can mean such a diverse range of colours. I do try to be thorough with communication. After all, my wedding flowers 10 years ago were TOTALLY off brief and I don’t want that to happen to any of my clients.

Do arrangements look just as you envisaged them, or are they always a delightful surprise? 

Quite a lot of the planning would have happened before ordering the flowers so making the flowers, it’ll look like what I would have envisaged. However I do tend to go into a space of zen when making flowers – I’m usually not thinking anything, but rather feeling the design. It’s actually quite a nice space to be in!

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Are you known for a particular floral style?

I’m not sure – I do love the natural and flowing designs but I’m not sure if I’m recognised for that kind of style.

What accessories do you like to use amongst the flowers for maximum impact?

That’s a difficult question, because I don’t really use accessories! I think the flowers and foliage are just so beautiful on their own.

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What are some creative ways the bridal couple can give away their flowers after their wedding? 

We sometimes set up a flower wrapping station so all the flowers can be taken home by the guests. I do sometimes have requests to donate them to nearby hospitals and nursing homes and we can definitely do that too.

What can brides use more of (for impact) in their wedding flower arrangements for the ceremony, reception, and bouquets?

That is also a very difficult question because I’ve never thought about it! I find that most of the brides have a some idea of what kind (size, flowers, colours, etc) of flowers they’d like and I may make some suggestions to make it more beautiful or more matching to the other things (dresses, overall theme, etc) like adding some foliage, adding or taking out any colours and so on. I think it can depend on each of the couples.

Do see some strong trends for florals in 2015?

Definitely the bolder colours and natural styling. There has been such a huge increase in use of foliage, which I absolutely love and a lot of couples going for bright, bold colours like burgundy, fuchsia, reds, complimented by the fresh green. I am completely in love with this trend.

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Now winter is on its way, there will be fewer blooms what do you use instead for maximum impact?

I really love winter time in flower world, there are so many of my favourites, including tulip, sweet peas, hellebores, ranunculus, anemone… In cold weather, I find that the flowers become smaller and more delicate. Collection of small delicate flowers can be as impactful yet feminine and adorable.

What do you like to do on your days off?

I usually don’t have any days off – I work 7 days during the wedding season and my down time is usually June and July. I often sleep in and try to spend quality time with my children, who are growing up so quickly!

Thank you Youki for sharing your story with  us. To find out more about Sugar Bee Flowers visit the website.

Headshot and images courtesy of Sugar Bee Flowers.

OUI! Merci Bouquet Wedding Style Guide ~ Autumn 2015

Autumn Style… there’s certainly something about the changing colour of the leaves to inspire creativity and new designs. For us at Merci Bouquet, Autumn is all about rich tones and delicious textures. It’s almost as though we bring Mother Nature into your hands on your wedding day! And how wonderful is that! Take the time to talk to your florist about how to bring a little bit of Autumn into your bouquet and wedding flowers; the results will be stunning, timeless and unique.

Here are a few of our favourite ideas to inspire your Autumn wedding…

1. Autumn leaves in brown and orange create a perfect ground coverage.

Autumn Wedding Merci Bouquet

Raoul Tackleburg

2. Rich colours, textures and shapes make a showstopping statement.

Autumn Wedding Merci Bouquet
Artsnic Photography

3. Different colours in the same rich red palette work with striking effect.

Autumn Wedding Merci Bouquet

Artsnic Photography

4. Stronger shades of purples and pinks are balanced by the softness of pastels. 

Autumn Wedding Merci Bouquet

Dig It Photography

For more wedding inspiration, please download OUI! our Merci Bouquet Wedding Style Guide for Autumn here.  We will release a Style Guide every season full of our own designs, ideas and information on us (and of course, flowers!)


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Ms Chinoiserie says: What a great idea this is! Check this out for some very useful information and beautiful images to inspire your wedding and create something that is uniquely ‘you’.

Jennie of Merci Bouquet says: My passion is creating beauty through flowers and making life that little bit more beautiful for everyone. Flowers are indeed food for the soul. With Bec as our dedicated Wedding Co- ordinator and me as Creative director overseeing all of our weddings, we know we will make your wedding day dreams come true!

Which Flowers To Choose For Your Wedding?

Flowers. They are possibly the last thing on your mind when planning a wedding. However after the delight/stress/small loans required to organise the rest of the wedding, flowers can really make your day kinda special. I mean, when else do you get to play with them (unless you’re a florist I guess or you have seriously green thumbs and lots of time on your hands!).

So which flowers to choose for your wedding? Fresh? Paper? Brooch? Artificial (don’t cringe, the latest ones are very real looking!)?  It’s all up to you. Choosing your floral styling depends on your theme, budget and time of year.

You might like a relaxed loosely bunched bouquet of seasonal flowers to compliment your theme. Fresh flowers are beautiful and feminine, smell divine and always make you feel like a lady. They can also be used for halos and arbours, as well as table decorations and aisle decorations. Just remember to have them match the rest of your theme.



Like something a little bit different? Consider a paper or button bouquet! While they do take a bit of patience when ordering (often from overseas), they really are quite stunning, and you can request your colours and make it your own. One bride even had her bouquet made from her favourite Jane Austen novels. Love that!



Love a bit of good old fashioned glamour? Brooch bouquets are the epitome of gorgeous. You’ll shine and sparkle all the way down the aisle, and you can keep all of your memories for years to come (often made with synthetic flowers).


The time of year might mean you can’t have the flowers you’ve always dreamed of. It’s OK, you can substitute for a bunch of synthetic lovelies that won’t wilt on you before you walk down the aisle, and the best thing (apart from the fact you get to keep them forever)? The camera and your guests won’t even know the difference!


It’s not all about the bouquet though! Reception details are important. A vase of flowers, a flower wall, an arbour covered in gorgeous peonies, well placed florals can really make an impact on the look and feel of your venue. It doesn’t have to cost the earth either (shhhh, I didn’t tell you that!). Even greenery looks fabulous when themed into a simple vintage style wedding. It looks so fresh too!


Let’s talk aisle style. Flowers can really make your aisle, whether it be in a church or an outdoor venue, a lovely setting for your ceremony. I love seeing flowers at the ceremony! You might also be surprised to know that it really does make a difference to your photos. Even if the thought of spending money on flowers for the aisle makes you cringe, consider a few simple paper love hearts or synthetic flowers. Baby’s breath is also a beautiful and inexpensive way to decorate your venue.


Lastly, make it yours! If you love a bit of colour, don’t be afraid to use it! Flowers are a great way to incorporate a bit of your own personality into your day to make it special.


So there you have it. I’m sure there are more yet to discover, but there are a few ideas to get you started! Whatever your plans for your day, a little bit of colour and style will make all the difference!

Some of the lovely vendors responsible for the floral wonders you see above are:

Brooch bouquet – Artificial Floral Boutique | Fresh bouquets (left and middle) – BSweet Flowers  | White synthetic flowers – Bloomroom Designs on Etsy | Jane Austen Bouquet – H Bixby Artworks on Etsy

Images by Wendy Maley Photography

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Ms Gingham says: It’s so great to see so many alternatives to the traditional. It really allows each couple to express their own personalities at their wedding.

Wendy Maley Photography: Hi I’m Wendy and I’m a photographer. I love it, in fact so much that if I had an extra limb it would be a camera.