Wedding Planning: Selecting Your Florist
By Kimberly Wallner
It's no secret that the biggest time of year for engagements is the span between Thanksgiving and Valentines Day. Known throughout the wedding industry as Engagement Season, this is also the time of year where many couples start their wedding planning process. There is no shortage of information out there on wedding planning, but I’ve found very little that specifically talks about a major element of most weddings: flowers!
I handle all of our initial inquiries, and I've noticed that most couples don’t really know where to start when it comes to selecting a florist. Generally they have a few favorite flowers and a Pinterest board full of inspiration when they start their search, but that is about where their floral knowledge ends, and that’s fine! The point of hiring professional vendors for your wedding day is that they are knowledgeable and can guide you in the right direction for your vision. So let’s talk flowers and remove some of the mystery of this part of the planning process!
Most of our clients book with us 6 months to one year out from their wedding date. This of course is not a hard and fast rule; we have some clients who book more than a year out and others who reach out 3 months from the big day. The most important thing when beginning your florist search is to have your venue selected and locked in. Your venue choice will determine the overall style of your wedding, your guest count (and therefore number of tables) and the style of centerpieces you can have (tall arrangements work best in venues with high ceilings, low arrangements work well outdoors where wind can be an issue). Since the cost of flowers can change drastically, we generally don’t book more than a year and a half in advance.
Generally speaking, flowers will account for 10% of your overall wedding budget. Once again, this is not a hard and fast rule, but for the average wedding incorporating personal flowers, floral centerpieces and some floral at the ceremony, this is a good place to start. Some things that will increase the amount you will spend on flowers include a large bridal party, wanting all tall centerpieces, and expensive flower choices (orchids and peonies cost more than most roses, for example). It’s important to at least have a rough budget in mind before you start meeting with florists, so they can give you realistic ideas to fit within your price point. Also keep in mind that most florists have a minimum, which may vary depending on the time of year (we tend to waive ours during winter months).
Everyday vs. Wedding Florists
Everyday Florists are the shops you see around town where you can pop in and pick up a bouquet of roses or call to have an arrangement sent to your mom for Mother’s Day. Most of these shops are best equipped to handle smaller weddings or bouquet orders, since they generally do not have a large inventory of rental items. Wedding Florists (like us) specialize specifically in weddings and special events. We only have flowers in our cooler if we have events taking place, and we own an extensive collection of rental items that our couples can select from when designing their weddings.
Making a Selection
As with any vendor, selecting the right florist is a personal thing… You want someone you connect with, someone who is professional and someone who understands what you’re looking for. You need to be able to go in to a consultation with inspiration photos and trust that you’re getting something similar on your wedding day. Begin your search on sites like The Knot, where you can quickly and easily find several florists in your area. Also talk with friends who have recently been married, as well as vendors you’ve already selected. (Wedding vendors are an amazing resource since we work with other vendors every weekend!) From there, visit florists’ websites to get a better idea of their style. Once you have narrowed your options to three or four, schedule consultations so you can meet, chat and really get a sense of the team you’d be working with.
The Floral Proposal
Once you’ve met with each florist, you’ll begin receiving proposals from each one outlining the style, types of flowers and greenery, rental items and labor costs. While there might be some wiggle-room for negotiation, keep in mind that you are contracting a custom service and it takes a team to make it happen. From the floral designers to the setup and breakdown crews, some weddings require a small army to bring the vision to life! Proposals not only include these labor costs and the costs of the flowers, but also rental items, taxes and delivery fees.
The Wedding Day
On the day of your wedding, your floral team is running around behind the scenes delivering bouquets, pinning boutonnieres and setting up the ceremony and reception. If your wedding day includes a room flip, the floral team is waiting in the wings to help transform the space quickly before your guests have finished cocktail hour. If your contract includes breakdown, the team will return to strike the room and take all the rental items at the end of the night.
Most importantly, remember that choosing a great team of vendors means you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your wedding day!
Special thanks to Mike Cassimatis for his beautiful images of Liz & Daniel’s wedding!