How to Hire a Florist for your Wedding / Style over Price
Let’s talk about hiring a florist for your wedding. It’s a big purchase, one that you’ve most likely haven’t shopped for before besides ordering flowers online or buying a bunch of blooms at Whole Foods. Floristry is also an art, not simply a commodity, which makes the purchase process tricky for a first timer. When buying art, there are two choices: style over price or price over style. For example, you could purchase a mass produced canvas from Home Goods or a custom painted artwork from a local artist. They differ in price, client experience, emotional connection to the piece, and quality. Same goes for floral design.
Today I’m teaching you how to book a florist based on style, not based on price. I’ll write a post soon about booking based on budget, although my preferred way to purchase art is to look for style first, price second. This doesn’t mean you have to have a million dollars to spend. But you will need a fair amount to pay for what you want, which I’ll explain below.
Just as caterers specialize in a certain type of food, most florists specialize in a certain style of floral design. Some are great at drippy orchids in crystal vases. Others excel at farm-fresh florals that look freshly picked. Choose a florist based on the style you love.
Grab a drink and let’s get started. At the end of this post, you can download a free quick one-page guide to keep for reference. You could also pin this image on your wedding pin board to refer back to.
1. Make a pinterest board
Before you start your search for a florist for your wedding, I recommend making a pinterest board to gather all of the images that you love. This doesn’t mean you are going to get lost down the rabbit hole of pinterest. You are going to make a concise board full of inspirational images that evoke the colors, style, mood, and aesthetic of the floral arrangements you are drawn to. Start pinning any photo you see online that you’d want to show a florist. Look for types of flowers you are drawn to, specific bouquets and arrangements you love, examples of your venue, photos of your dress and the wedding party’s clothing, and general color inspiration. Write in the description why you like each image. Pin a million images. THEN – go back through your board and delete anything that’s repetitive, you’ve decided you don’t like, you’ve found a better image of, or doesn’t apply to your wedding since you’ve pinned it. Your board should have a maximum of 20 images. YES, TWENTY. That’s it.
The research phase is for couples that are not working with a wedding planner. Research, sourcing, and knowledge of area vendors is one of the main reasons why you’d hire a wedding planner. So if you are working with a planner, ignore this step and go ask them. They know who is best for you, your wedding, your venue, and your style. They are smart. Trust them.
For the rest of you…now it’s time to find florists that work in your area to get proposals from. Start with your pinterest board. Is any of the floral design work you pinned from a florist in your area? Put them on your list. Move onto the vendor recommendation list from your venue. These florists have either paid to be on this list or are honestly your venue’s favorite florists. It’s hard to tell. Anyways, check out each of these florist’s webpages and instagrams to see if you can groove with their design vibe. Do you like their style? Yes? Great, put them on your list. Next, move onto instagram. Search the geotag of your venue. See any beautiful floral work you love that was at the venue you will be getting married at? Cool, put that florist on your list. Now, ask your family, friends, hair stylist, dog walker, doorman, coworkers, for recommendations. Nothing like an honest rec from a trusted source, right? Finally, check with google. Add any more florists you’ve found using a search engine.
Now you should have a nice looking list of florists to check out. Open one browser tab of your list, one tab of your pinterest board, and one tab for each florist on the list. Compare each florist’s website to the images on your pinterest board. Do the styles of flowers look similar to what you love?
Florists differentiate themselves from each other by the style of their artistic vision. Florists will often have a very specific style that they stick to. They know what they do and they do it well. These are the florists I recommend you keep on your list. Does their website look cohesive? Do all of the flower arrangements have a similar style to them, whether it be clean and modern or wild and organic? Do you get a very specific sense of their craft, aesthetic, and talent by looking through their website and instagram? This is called trust. You trust them to execute a specific style that you love. Just how you’d go to Anthropologie for a whimsical pick jacket and to J.Crew for a more tailored black peacoat, each studio has a style they excel at.
Edit down your original list of florists to your two favorite options. Yes, I said two. TWO. That’s it.
Chances are that this is the first time you’ve ever hired someone to decorate a party for 100 people with fresh flowers. Getting more than two proposals is going to be overwhelming. Choice fatigue will set in and you’ll go do a downward spiral of indecision which leads to distrust (more on this later) and confusion. I know it’s difficult to buy something you’ve never bought before. Floristry is an art. Choose which florists you love based on their art, their style, their personalities, and you won’t go wrong.
3. Get a proposal
Now, out of those top two, pick ONE to get a proposal from. Your absolute favorite one. Go on their website and fill out their contact form with your wedding date, partner’s name, venue, and budget.
A quick word on budgets: the internet says that a good place to start is 10% of your total wedding budget on flowers. It’s impossible to pull a budget out of thin air for something you’ve never bought before. For example, I’ve never bought a washer dryer (hello….pre-war Brooklyn apartment building). If you asked me how much that would cost, I’d probably guess $500. A quick google search tells me that the price for only the washer could be upwards of $1400. See? I have no clue. And neither do you about the cost of floral decor for a party of 100 people.
This post is about choosing a florist based on style, not price, but I know you don’t have unlimited money to spend. Be transparent about your floral budget upfront. Use the math below to come up with a rough number that you are comfortable with. Ask the florist, “based on the images on my pinterest board, is my budget reasonable?” If it’s not, ask why. Ask the florist to educate you. It’s part of our job, honestly.
I recommend using the prices of flowers you do know and some simple math to figure out a very basic budget. The last time you sent flowers to your mom on 1-800-flowers…how much did it cost? Let’s say $100. I’m sure that the arrangement she received was smaller and less impressive than how you envision your wedding centerpieces. A good starting point for a wedding centerpiece is $200. Multiply that by the quantity of tables you have then add on 30% for delivery, labor, and sales tax, to be safe. You now have a starting point for your centerpieces only. This does not include bouquets, chuppahs, arches, backdrops, personal flowers, ceremony flowers, etc. Yes, it all adds up. Yes, it feels expensive. No, this is not the post about how to save money on wedding flowers. I’ll get to that novel soon. Promise.
Let the florist educate and guide you to how much flowers cost and strategies for getting the most with the money you have to spend. We are smart. We know what we are doing. We are not ripping you off. We all use roughly the same mark-up on wholesale goods to provide you with beautiful, high-end, thoughtfully arranged flowers.
If they are available, follow their lead to start the proposal process. If they are booked or they have an event minimum that is way (like thousands of dollars) above your budget, they will tell you. Then ask them for other florists they would recommend.
You’ve gotten a proposal from the first, most favorite, amazing florist you chose. Is the total an amount you are comfortable spending? Do you 110% trust this florist to execute amazing work on your wedding day? THEN BOOK THEM.
Do not get another quote. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Do not make more work for yourself by taking their proposal and comparing to the proposal of another florist. Pay their deposit. Pour yourself a glass of wine. And check one more thing off your wedding planning list. Go you.
If you weren’t happy with the first proposal – maybe it was way over your budget, your gut is telling you no, or you aren’t keen to their design ideas. Ask them kindly to make a few changes. If you still aren’t into the second round for whatever reason, move onto the second florist on your list.
Now, this might be controversial in the world of wedding planning on the internet, but I don’t agree with getting more than one proposal at a time and comparing them. It’s impossible to compare one florist’s proposal to another apples to apples. Floristry is an art form, one that is drastically effected by the experience, artist talent, taste level, business overhead, geographical region, etc. Choose your florist based on their style and their art, not on a line by line comparison with another company. You are buying art. You are buying creativity, professionalism, experience, and talent. You are buying the difference between a $100 rose bouquet made from standard roses by a first year florist and a $250 rose bouquet made from garden roses at the hands of an experienced teacher of floristry. Most importantly, you are buying trust.
The worst feeling as a florist is having a client that doesn’t trust me. Or a prospective client that is going into the proposal process already not trusting me because the internet has led them to believe that I am ripping them off in order to feed by child. Booking a floral company – an artistic, knowledgable, smart, creative company – is not a practice of finding the person who will sell you the same number of candles for $5 less. It’s booking the business that you believe deep in your gut that will design a visual experience for your guests that creates happiness and joy.
In order to fully trust your florist, book someone that jives with your aesthetic. Do not find someone that is cheaper with a different style and try to make them fit into a the box of your pinterest board.
Not feeling the first florist? Move onto florist #2. Talk to one florist at a time. It’s easier and less confusing that way. If you’ve gone through three florists and haven’t found a proposal that you are happy with, I hate to say it, but it’s probably you not them. Are your expectations of grandeur not aligned with your budget constraints? Is someone else paying (mom, dad, partner) and you are navigating that relationship as well? Are you mad because all you wanted is peonies and your wedding is in August? Are you simply having sticker shock?
4. Book and Pay
Read the contract. Yes it’s probably long. Yes it’s probably written in a serious tone in legal jargon. Yes it’s completely one sided to protect the florist. You can ask for reasonable changes to a contract before you sign it. Examples of reasonable changes are: to split the payments into three installments instead of two, to not give the florist permission to post images of your faces or your guests’ faces on social media, or to negotiate their cancelation policy in case your wedding doesn’t end up happening (the first payment is often non-refundable, that won’t be able to be changed in most cases).
We’ve all had lawyers write our contracts for us. We aren’t trying to scare you or be dicks. We are protecting our company, which pays for the food on our tables, from horror story clients that end up not paying, from unavoidable situations like hurricanes that stall all flower shipments for a week, from drunk uncles that knock down centerpieces, and from sticky fingered aunts that leave with four of our vases in her car.
Pay the deposit. Some florists take credit cards and some don’t. Just the nature of the business.
5. From now until your wedding
Do you want to make changes? Start a big list of possible changes in a google doc. Two months before your wedding send those changes to the florist. Three weeks before your wedding, send them the final table count to update your final invoice. Some florists will offer a mock-up meeting either free of charge or for a fee. Some don’t offer them at all. Feel free to ask about a month before your wedding.
6. Your wedding day
Yay! The big day is finally here! Bouquets should be kept in water until your photographer wants to photograph it. It will stay hydrated and fresher longer. When you are holding it, don’t fling it around. The flowers are delicate. Walk down the aisle with the stems down at your belly button at a slight angle facing towards the altar.
Can your guests take the arrangements at the end of the night? That is something that would have been spelled out in your contract. Vases are often a rental item. The florist rented the vase to you and filled it with flowers for your centerpieces. Can the guests take the individual flowers out of the vases? Maybe – check with your florist before the wedding to ask.
Whew – that was a lot more information that I intended. Can you tell that I’m passionate about this issue? As a creative that strives to keep curating my own personal floral design aesthetic, I hope that this helps you choose a florist for you based on the style that you love!
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Style over Price
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Livia and Rafael / Wedding at Ramscale
Two words: balloon room.
Three words: custom leather jackets.
And again: hanging greenery installation.
Those are my top three favorite things from this wedding I decorated at Ramscale Studio. Planning by Firefly Events and shot by Love & Co Photography, picking three favorites was tough. If I were to pick a few more (ok, you twisted my arm), they would be the bride’s insanely amazing dress, the coolness factor of this entire event, the view from the rooftop ceremony, the light curtain behind the bar, and the gold foiled ’till death do us part cocktail napkins.
Yep, pretty much everything.
This year has held some of the most aesthetically varied weddings that I’ve been given the chance to decorate. Each having it’s own bit of unconventionality, my design muscles have grown with every one. Take for example this wedding’s hanging greenery installation. When I was at Brimfield earlier this year, I happened upon a pile of what looked like giant iron baskets. I thought that turned upside down they would make the perfect mechanic for a hanging installation covered in greenery. I bought one for $10.
That was the best $10 I’ve ever spent on a vintage piece at a flea market. Turns out that the giant iron basket was actually those cages that are put over lights in gymnasiums. I’m sure you remember them from high school. It’s creative, unusual, and smart applications of everyday items that create interesting installations for your guests to experience at your wedding.
This is the hanging install I mentioned above. Constructed on a vintage light cover from an old gymnasium. That light cover used to watch sweaty high school kids try and dunk. Now a bride and groom danced underneath it with their closest family and friends. Don’t lose it, reuse it.
(if you know you says that last line, I give you a fist pump in toddler parent solidarity.)
Nimi and Rush’s wedding at Parrish Art Museum
Nimi and Rush’s wedding at Parrish Art Museum was one of my biggest wedding to date. With almost 300 guests and an 8′ x 8′ hanging floral installation over the table, we brought over 2000 blooms, 100 lanterns, 75 terrariums, 150 succulents, and 200 airplants out to the Hamptons to create a modern, cohesive wedding under the planning direction of Polka Dot Events.
This was also my first time at Parrish Art Museum. Woah. This place is the coolest. Everywhere you turn the architecture blends into the surrounding fields and creates bold, negative space in the neatest shapes.
This wedding, with Amber Gress‘s incredible photographs, is featured in the current issue of The Knot New York.