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How to Order Your Wedding Flowers
Tips From a Professional Floral Designer & Wedding Consultant
An experienced wedding flower designer and consultant, I have for you "insider" suggestions for choosing and working with a professional florist. Ordering wedding flowers is something people normally do only once in a lifetime. Here you will learn how to make that experience successful and enjoyable.
Why Use a Professional Florist?
A professional floral consultant is trained to work with you to find the perfect array of flowers and designs to satisfy your vision and your budget. Using a professional florist or event designer is one of the best decisions you can make for a perfect wedding. With their experience, knowledge of flower varieties and flower care, as well as access to all the latest tools and trends, they can make magic.
Getting married is a life-changing event. It is exciting and challenging at the same time. With so many details to attend to as you plan, it is important to have professionals available to assist you and offer expert advice. A wedding flower specialist or event consultant can give you the confidence that things are being taken care of and that everything will be beautiful and of high quallity.
Where to Begin
One of the best ways to decide on a florist is through word of mouth. Ask your friends and family who they would use. And, the obvious, check out the websites of the florists in your area.
Resist the urge to walk into a shop without an appointment and start asking questions about flowers for your wedding. Flower shops can be very busy places and you will receive much more attention and get a better feel for things if you make an appointment for a sit-down consultation.
To further help you choose which florists to consider, try visiting some shops. What is your first impression? Have an arrangement sent to you from them and describe the style you want.
There are alternatives to a full-service flower shop. Wedding and event design studios do not produce daily orders like a flower shop, rather, they specialize in large events, such as weddings. In this case, there may not be a storefront to visit and you definitely need to make an appointment.
Most florists do not charge for an initial consultation. Those who do, will apply it to your final order.
Unless it is clear to you who you would like to use, I would suggest making inquiry appointments with 3 florists to help you narrow it down. Ask if they have information they can give or send to you prior to your appointment.
How do Florists Differ? - Why choose one over another?
Not all florists are created equal. And, unlike doctor's, electricians and other professions, there is not a standard of certification for florists. That is one reason why word of mouth is so important when choosing a florist. Here are some things to look for:
Choosing Your Designer
- Some florists are AIFD certified (American Institute of Floral Designers). The certification process is rigorous and it shows that the florist is an expert in execution of many styles of design. This does not mean that someone who is not AIFD certified is not excellent. Its just one marker. It is not neccesary to have AIFD after your name to be a fabulous designer, but it does show a high level of commitment to the profession.
- Consider how they present themselves to the public. Is their shop, showroom, website and personal presentation organized, attractive and of high quality?
- When you speak with them, do they spend time listening to you and your goals and do their suggestions to you reflect that? As they talk with you and as you refine your understanding of each other, they should begin to get a feeling for who you are and what will make you happy.
- Do they take the initiative to offer suggestions based on their experience with your wedding/reception site and the latest trends?
- Do they encourage you to consider some different ideas that you may not have thought about but which can make your wedding stand out as unique? A talented designer can help you create something different, not just provide a cookie cutter service.
- Do your personalities click? This is very important. You want to feel at ease with your consultant.
- And, will the person you're talking with be there to coordinate and make sure that everything is just right for you when the designs are made?
Preparing for Your First Consultation
Once you have an appointment in place, organize your ideas.
If you have not been cutting out photos of bouquets and arrangements you like, consider doing so. It will give the florist a good idea of your style. Be prepared to provide information on dress colors and dress styles and have information on the number of people in your wedding. If you are having a church ceremony, ask if you need to bring information on the policies of your church and photos of the space. Some florists will already know your church.
For this first appointment, especially if you are visiting more than one florist, don't expect to pin down every detail. Both you and the florist are deciding if you are a good fit for each other, but this is an introductory visit, and not the time to go over every detail. Respect your florist's time. Do not use the florist to plan all the details for your flowers if you have signed a contract yet.
Don't be surprised if, at first, your consultant spends a bit of time talking to you about yourself. It is important to get to know you in order to have a sense of how to most effectively suit your needs and follow your vision. Nothing compares to the simple action of getting to know your florist -- sharing thoughts, feelings and ideas and creating a good relationship with them as you plan your wedding. Not only will it help the florist to understand your style, but it will also help you to enjoy the time spent in the planning process and will likely help to assure exceptional service. We always want to do good work, but, as with most people, we are extra motivated when a bond has been created and we like and respect the customer.
Here's a Great Book on Bouquets
David Stark & Avi Adler are fabulous designers. Looking at this book will give you ideas for the some of most up-to-date and high class designs. Check out their websites below.
Bringing a Friend Along
Should you or shouldn't you?
Sometimes brides are tempted to bring along a friend to help them make decisions. I highly recommend a personal, one-on-one consultation where you--or you and your fiancé--can more readily bond with your florist and take full advantage of his or her expertise. Your parents or friends may wish to come along, however, getting too many people involved can lead to confusion, can potentially dilute your vision and can make it difficult for the florist.
I've sat in many consultations where brides have brought others with them--sometimes the whole family! It has never been good. What happens is that the appointment loses focus, people talk about extraneous things, time is wasted and the bride's voice is muffled.
Fantasy Weddings, For Sure!
Ooooo....if you want to see just how far you could go with flowers for your wedding, check out Preston Bailey's book. Its a WOW. See his website under the "New York" section.
And...Pricing! - The Big Issue
I know that there can be suspicion about the pricing of wedding flowers because I have read cautions about this in articles written by non-professionals and it has been brought up in consultations. Here are some comments regarding this important issue.
Getting Your Money's Worth
- Professional florists these days are very precise. Gone are the days when florists used to make something and then stand back and say, "That looks like $50 worth." And, I can tell you that when this was done it was usually not in the florist's favor.
- Florist's have a formula or "recipe", as we call it, which we use to make arrangements. The recipe includes everything: the container, the floral foam, the greens, the flowers and labor. This holds true for weddings as well. You will not be short-changed.
- Just like with any other business, there is overhead involved: cost of equipment (including refrigeration) and maintainence, cost of flowers and supplies and shipping or travel, labor, advertising, etc. every florist considers these costs. You can't compare the price of a flower you may see somewhere to the cost of your wedding flowers.
- Florists handle a perishable product and, as for a restaurant, there is a certain amount of loss involved. Of course, this is kept to a minimum, but it still figures into pricing. It is part of the nature of the business.
- When you are given the estimate, the designer is most likely not going to tell you, to the flower, how many they will use, unless they are showing you bouquets from a recipe book, which you probably don't want anyway. An experienced and creative designer will be able to give an accurate price which will allow them to be flexible, be creative, and fulfill all your desires.
- Trust your florist and his or her style enough to allow them flexibilty. Some flowers are ordered ahead to arrive the week of your wedding and others may be selected at the nearest flower market much closer to the date. When you are flexible, as we go to market or place an order and there is something perfect for your wedding, we can use our best judgement and provide the freshest and highest quality flowers available.
- If there is something you really want for your wedding, it is usually available. Seasonality is not as much of a consideration as it used to be now that flowers are shipped from all over the world. There may, however, still be some flowers at certain times of the year that just can't be provided and others that will be more expensive. This is, however, not a big issue. Your florist will let you know.
- Some flowers and design styles are more expensive than others. If you have a tight budget, let the designer know ahead of time so that you can work together to stay within your range.
- Don't try to haggle over price like you would for a used car. It just doesn't work that way. Florists carefully plan their prices to be fair and accessible.
- Preferences vary so much in terms of the importance of flowers at each wedding that there is really no average I could give for a flower budget per wedding. It varies depending on the number of attendants and tables, but it also varies based on how important it is to you to have an abundance of flowers. It could run anywhere from $300 for the very, very simple with personal flowers only to $25,000 and even more for a fabulous flowery wedding.
- If you want to find somewhere to cut back on your budget, I usually suggest the church, as your guests will probably be spending a much longer time at the reception. Also, remember that 2 other ways to cut back on the expense is to reduce your invitation list and to have a small wedding party. It is actually more fashionable these days to have fewer attendants and it will save you money.
- I find the greatest sticker shock comes from hearing the combined reception table costs. People tend to not think about what a difference it makes once you multiply all those tables by the price of each centerpiece. Just keep this in mind so you can plan accordingly.
- It is hard to compare estimates between shops based on one thing. Prices by category may vary from shop to shop, but aren't necessarily a marker for comparison. For instance, some shops may price their corsages lower, but make up the difference elsewhere.
- Finally, once you have found a florist you really, really like, go with it. Prices don't vary that much and, even so, you get what you pay for in this business, just like any other. If you love the designer and their ideas and you trust their ability to create what you want, book it!
Make Giving to Others a Part of Your Celebration
- Flower Empower | Dream Foundation
Flower Empower/Dream Foundation, located in Santa Barbara, CA is a volunteer-driven program that collects donated flowers, reworking them and delivering to those who need a little love and joy in their lives. Find something like this near you.
This Was Fun to Make
This a bridged centerpiece made for a long table. The long orchids from each piece are woven together.
Above All, Have Fun!
Flowers are a vital part of any wedding. Well-designed flower arrangements and bouquets can completely change and enhance the ambience of a room. Studies have proven that flowers affect people in a very positive way, and, at your wedding they can determine the overall feel and mood, adding color, texture, fragrance and style.
Get all the help you need so that you can let yourself relax and enjoy the whole process of planning your wedding. Make sure you are well rested and able to enjoy every bit of your day once it arrives.
Congratulations and make it FUN!
Do you have questions about ordering flowers for your wedding? Use this to ask me and I will answer on line.