31 Aug Understanding Wedding Vendors VI
I have to say when it’s time for client floral designer meetings, I absolutely love to attend these. There are so many talented and fantastic designers in our area and these meetings are when all the inspiration begins to swirl. Whether a client knows exactly what she wants or if she has no clue, watching how floral designers are so good at drawing out the bride’s style without her even realizing it is very fun for me to witness. Also for me, it’s important that I pair my bride’s with designers that I feel will fit their personality, not just the budget. I want the bride to experience the “tell me about your dream” first and then let the designer work around that to creatively bring the look and feel desired while reigning it in correctly to fit within the budget. Every bride deserves to feel special no matter what her budget and a talented yet kind floral designer gets this every time.
I asked four area and extremely talented designers to weigh in on floral related topics that they felt brides should understand or take into account. I think after reading what all they have to say below you’ll better understand just what all goes into wedding day florals and a better understanding of the costs you can expect within your budget. These designers have provided a lot of great insight into their area of the industry and I just want to say thank you to each of them for taking time from their busy schedules to help me out. Thank you Jessica Morris of HotHouse Design Studio, Andy Hopper of KG Designs, Carol Harris of Lillie Jane’s, and Ricky Whitley of Ricky Whitley Flowers… you guys totally rock!
Labor, Delivery & Set up
Jessica… “One of the biggest challenges I think we florists face with pricing, is the charge for labor. Typically, most wedding florists, will charge 20% – 30% of the total bill for labor depending on the intensity of set up and what it entails. I think that when brides see beautiful pictures of grand set-ups on places likes Pinterest, they don’t understand what actually goes into the mechanics of how it gets made and set up. There is usually a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ work and planning that goes into that flawless look. Most weddings also require several people for set up, which all factors into your labor charge. If a vendor doesn’t flat out post their labor charge on your quote, believe me, it’s hidden in there somewhere!”
Andy… “Most brides do not realize the work that goes into getting their flowers ready for their wedding. We typically receive and process flowers on Tuesday directly from the farm. My team processes every steam which entails removal of the packing, stripping of any leaves, cutting the stems and placing them in fresh water in buckets cleaned beforehand. Flowers are a lot like puppies or children, they have to be taken care of yet they are tougher than they look. Flowers are usually left out over night to properly hydrate according to how long it may take for a bloom to open, anywhere from 24 to 48 hours. During this time the water has to be refreshed and stems re-cut. All of this hands-on prep work is done before any of the designers even start to arrange the flowers. Flowers are then ready to be used in design work which is typically a two day process on busy weeks. Brides are generally unaware of how much time and labor is invested in taking a mere rose from the loading dock to their bouquet. Along with processing fresh floral my team works all week leading up to a wedding prepping containers, packaging props for travel, handling rental items and going over event orders and timelines.”
Ricky… “The labor is a charge that generally can run from 10-30% of the total flower order. This charge helps pay for qualified and trained designers, and gets the flowers to your location on time so you do not have to worry about it. It also covers the take down and cleaning and putting away of all items which can last well into Tuesday following your wedding on Saturday.”
Carol… “My job is quite physical. Before your flowers arrive at the church, we have worked to make sure the blossoms are at the perfect fullness on wedding day. We have opened the boxes, cleaned the stems and put in buckets of clean water. We’ve arranged the blossoms, packaged the arrangements, loaded the flower vans, delivered to the church, unloaded the vans, placed your arrangements, swept up the trash and reloaded the van. This process is then repeated for the reception site. We have a few hours rest before we come back to clean up the church and reception. We then break down, pack up, load the vans, deliver your flowers to the charity of your choice, clean and put away every last vase and candelabra. Yes, I even clean each and every tiny votive candle holder from your wedding. It’s hard work!”
Ricky… “Every bride has a budget and flowers can be a very expensive part of the overall budget. One thing I have always told brides… give me your color theme and budget for flowers and you will get way more flower power for your dollar. Naming specific flowers does not help your game plan with a budget. What a lot of brides do not understand is, the cost difference of flowers, for instance, a regular rose can retail $4.00 to $6.00 per stem depending on the market price. Compared to a regal “David Austin” open face rose which can retail $10.00-$12.00 per stem. Peonies are very popular also but a single stem (one bloom) can retail $17.00-$22.00 per stem. A large succulent generally runs $15.00-$20.00 each. This really adds up just doing a hand tied bouquet, let alone a big Altar or food table floral. This is one reason why an Altar floral can cost upwards of $600.00-$800.00. A lowly but beautiful carnation will retail around $2.50 stem, and they come in all the different shades of jewels tones. And chrysanthemums are beautiful flowers that are even more cost effective. The point I’m making… hire a real floral designer, and give them the freedom to use all the flowers available, they know how to make every flower look good and you will get a lot more flower power for your wedding dollar.”
Carol… “Flowers cost money. I purchase flowers the week of your wedding. The price of your wedding flowers is tied directly to the amount of flower stems in each design. Because of this, it is difficult for brides to compare apples to apples, no two designers will create the same wedding look. Designers really want to give you a good value. Allow us to give you ideas and make suggestions of ways to best use the amount of money you have budgeted for decor. Yes, you can change your mind about the initial design. Your price will change too. This is because the price is tied to the design and the amount of flower stems required to create the design. Also remember, too much DIY can backfire. Personal touches are charming however, be careful not to take on too much work in an effort to save money. ASK what we have before you rush to a craft store and purchase wedding decor. I am happy to bring the chalkboard signs, votive candles and baskets as they are already on the shelf in my workroom. It is sad for me when a bride arrives with bags of expensive items she will use only once when I would have been happy to share.”
Jessica… “In addition to labor, I find brides don’t take into account, tax on their order. Depending on where the ceremony and/or reception take place, tax can vary from 8%-10% of your total bill. If you come to me with a $3,000 budget, you have to remember that $300. of your invoice is tax, which takes away from your actual floral budget. With delivery and tax, a $3,000 bill, $900., of that budget is already taken with just tax and delivery/set up.”
Courtesy & Freebies
Ricky… “This really applies to all wedding vendors, but when a floral designer takes time out of their busy schedule to meet with you, gives you advice, buys you a latte and then types up a quote letter and sends that to you, this is a big time commitment. For whatever reason you decide not to book them, please just drop an email to say… I enjoyed meeting with you, and thank you for all your time, but I’ve decided to go in a different direction with my flowers… a few words really goes a long ways and viewed as being very considerate.
No, I cannot just throw in that arch or pedestal. This also applies to glass vases, etc… The thing about prop rentals is that props cost money. First there’s the cost of the item and then most likely it had to be shipped half way across the country. And that’s just the beginning of the life of the prop. There’s the cleanup and maintenance of the item during and after each use not to mention the storage cost on storing the props. And finally the time and effort it takes to load, deliver and unload those props and then deliver back to storage… there’s a lot involved in handling these items.”
The Big Picture
Andy… “One of the biggest misconceptions is color or shade of flowers. Flowers come in some beautiful colors but sometimes they don’t match the exact color choice a bride is trying to achieve. My goal at all times is to make sure that the bride’s color scheme is accomplished which means using shades and tones of the color(s) she has picked out. Simply put, flowers are like people and they can be all the same yet vary from stem to stem.”
Carol… “I want to create a wedding look more beautiful than you have imagined. Yes, it’s all about the details, but the details add up to create the total overall look. A professional designer has the ability to picture the final look of the wedding with all of the elements you have chosen. Believe it or not we can picture it in our heads! Florists are very visual. Don’t get so worked up about the details that you miss the big picture. Give your floral designer wiggle room with your choice. Talk to more than one designer. Choose the florist that you feel best “gets you!” If you have a good connection with your designer, you will not be worried about the way your flowers will “turnout.” If you are flexible and open you will allow your florist to give you happy surprises throughout your wedding weekend. You are the Bride after all! Relax and enjoy the beauty of your day.”
I hope these tips and insights have helped you understand the world of wedding florals better. Next up I’ll be covering entertainment including bands and DJs. In case you missed the previous posts in this series, I’ve included those links here… overview, wedding planners, wedding photographers & videographers, venues, and catering.
Rachael Grammer, Professional Wedding Planner and Fairy Godmother
Two Hearts Weddings and Events