Selecting a wedding florist can be a somewhat daunting as most people don’t have vast experience ordering flowers. How should you go about planning all the floral details of your wedding day? Where do you begin? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions I receive when I start the planning flowers with a new couple.
When should I begin looking for a florist?
Most couples book their florist 8-12 months before their wedding date. You should start researching florists early in your engagement. To get the most accurate quote, there are some key details to have worked out before you sit down for a floral consultation.
- Wedding date
- Ceremony and reception venue
- Wedding party size
- The number of tables at the reception. (layout, size, and shape helpful also!)
- Color Palette
- Style of Wedding
- Floral Budget
Once these items have been decided, it is time to start setting up meetings with potential florists. I recommend sitting down for a personal consultation if at all possible. On your wedding day and throughout the planning process, it is important to be surrounded by vendors who you enjoy working with and you trust. Meeting in person with potential florists gives both you and the florist a chance to feel each other out. It also gives them an opportunity to ask questions, make suggestions and help you make decisions. This helps the florist give you the most accurate pricing quote. It is helpful to have the list above as well as a few pictures to share of bouquets and centerpieces that have grabbed your attention when you sit down. Pinterest is great for starting to narrow down the style of floral arrangements you gravitate towards. We will talk more about the downsides of Pinterest in a bit.
What should I look for in a wedding florist? How do I find them and what are some questions I should ask?
Every florist has a style they gravitate towards. That isn’t to say they can’t create designs out of their normal scope of work. Looking at galleries on their website, Facebook page and Instagram feed will give you an idea if your style matches up. Also, be sure they are well rated and experienced.
Word of mouth is a great way to find your wedding florist. Ask family, friends, and other wedding vendors (photographer, venue, etc) for a few names. Another great way is to head to Instagram and search some local wedding hashtags. A few to look at are regional hashtags like #centralillinoiswedding, #centralilwedding and #yourtownwedding (ex. #champaignwedding or #bloomingtonwedding). This should lead you to florists in your area who specialize in weddings.
Be sure and ask potential florists what their wedding week work schedule looks like, how many weddings they do in a weekend, if there will be additional fees such as delivery, set-up, or tear down and if they offer any rental items such as vases, vessels or arbors. If you haven’t found reviews from past couples online, feel free to ask for them. Also, be sure and get a copy of their wedding contract and read it completely.
Studio florists who specialize in weddings and events are becoming increasingly popular. These designers work from home or a studio space and don’t normally do everyday arrangements. The internet and social media make it ever more possible to market and do business without a brick and mortar store. If you are interested in a studio florist, be sure they are operating as an official business and have a contract that protects both you the customer and them as a business.
How do I determine my floral budget?
I advise brides to appropriate 10-15% of their overall budget towards flowers. A good photographer is one of the best investments you can make on your wedding day. They will capture the images you will look back on for years to come. Keep in mind though, that your flowers end up being in most of those images. Scroll through the wedding galleries on any wedding photographers website or look through a friend's album. You will quickly see many photos have flowers in them. From your couple portraits and full party pictures to detail shots and candids taken at the reception, you will find flowers front and center in a majority of the pictures from the wedding day. Most weddings here in the Midwest spend $1500-$4000 on flowers. Obviously, some are way more and some are less. The size of your wedding party and the number of guests is a large factor of your overall floral budget. Take the budget number you are considering and divide it by the number of arrangements you need. This will give you an indication if you are on the right track. For example, if you are considering spending $1500 on flowers and need a bridal bouquet, 6 bridesmaid bouquets, 4 corsages, 12 boutonnieres, 2 altar arrangements and 25 reception centerpieces, that gives you about $30.00 per piece ($1500/50). Considering most bridal bouquets range from $140.00-$300.00 and most centerpieces start around $50.00, you most likely don’t have enough money set aside for your floral needs.
Why do wedding flowers cost so much?
Flowers are not cheap. Consider the input cost of growing and harvesting the product as well as transportation, processing, and delivery. Those all add up prior to the stems reaching your florist’s door. When it comes to detailed events like a wedding, your florist will spend several hours in communication with you about all the small details, preparing quotes and invoicing. Then they must select, source and order varieties of flowers specific to your arrangements. Add in the staffing needs to prepare, design, deliver and set-up each wedding over the small window of 2-3 days and you can quickly see why the price tag may be a little more than you were expecting.
Does selecting seasonal flowers make it cheaper?
In some cases, yes. Selecting flowers that are in season means you will most likely get the best price and quality for that flower compared to other times of the year. But, a peony is still a peony and a dahlia is still a dahlia. High end, large impact flowers always come with a higher price tag. A peony may be $6-12 a stem in June while they are in full season. Trying to source them as supply decreases towards the end of the season or when they are out of season will raise the price of each stem significantly. Many wedding sites will tell you that greenery and mixed foliage is cheap. Or, that a bundle of baby’s breath isn’t going to cost you much at all. The truth is, those products do still cost money. They will be less than the bouquets full of peonies, garden roses, and orchids that fill your Pinterest board but don’t expect them to be practically free. Trust your florist to help you find flowers that get you the most bang for your buck.
Is this where the downfalls of Pinterest come into play?
Isn’t Pinterest grand! All the inspiration, creative ideas, and lush pictures can put any of us into a pinning frenzy. I love Pinterest, don’t get me wrong. I find it very helpful as I start talking with a couple to get a feel for their style and color scheme. What I (or any florist) doesn’t like is to be the person to tell you that the tall, round pedestal centerpiece you have your heart set on will cost $400.00 each. Or, that the beautiful ceremony arbor comes in at $950.00. Please keep in mind that many of those popular, Pinterest worthy pictures came from weddings with floral budgets in the tens - if not hundreds - of thousands of dollars. Look to your florist to help you focus on the most important pieces of the day and to offer suggestions on how to make the most impact. You may not be able to afford everything on your floral wish list, but together you can make the most of the arrangements your budget allows.
A few other things to consider…
- Give your florist room to create. Don’t be locked into specific flowers and colors. Many times, including shades or textures you haven’t considered will result in a more visually appealing arrangement. Appreciate their artistic abilities.
- Flowers are natural products. Factors like weather (drought, excessive rain, high heat) may impact quality and availability. Flowers may arrive a different color than anticipated. An experienced florist knows how to roll with the punches, but needs you to be flexible and understanding in these cases.
- Consider the weather, your venue, and schedule for the day when discussing floral pieces. Flowers can be delicate and may not withstand frigid temperatures or blaring sun. Let your florist know if you plan on outdoor pictures in December prior to the ceremony. Give them a heads up if your ceremony will be outdoors in August and there is no shade. They can steer you away from delicate stems or provide clear instructions for care throughout the day.
- Is anyone in your party allergic to certain flowers or foliage? The last thing you want is grandma breaking out in hives from something in her corsage.
Flowers add depth, texture and visual interest to any wedding. The key takeaway is to find a florist who you feel comfortable working with and can look to for their professional expertise. I would love to sit down with you to learn more about your wedding and the look you want to achieve with your flowers. Let's chat! Send me a quick note and we will get the ball rolling!
Julie Blunier is the owner and lead designer of J.Blu Design. Located just outside of Peoria, IL, she works from a home studio designing wedding and event florals throughout Central Illinois. She specializes in colorful, textural arrangements and loves when clients give her freedom to explore creative vessels, mechanics, and installments.