How To Hire a Florist For Your Wedding / Price over Style
I wrote an epic blog post called How to Hire a Florist for your Wedding / Style over Price back in October. It has since been the #1 post from 2017 (or maybe ever) that people have asked me about, referenced, loved, and found informative. This post is it’s cousin. That post was for the couple who values art over price. They have some extra cash to put towards florals and want to give it to the florist that meshes the best with their aesthetic.
This post is for the rest of you. You either A) could care less about flowers and simply want something nice enough to put on your tables, B) have to hire the least expensive florist in town due to budget constraints, C) will only buy anything if it’s on sale/a bargain/you have a coupon, or D) honestly believe in your gut that florists are ripping you off. That last sentence is totally not TRUE AT ALL. But I must not ignore the fact that many articles about wedding flowers spread lies about the “wedding upcharge” and give you advice such as “tell them it’s a party not a wedding.”
It’s all bull. Those things are not true. But, alas, some people’s minds cannot be changed. I’m not here to change your mind about how much value you put on flowers at your wedding. I’m not going to convince you that you NEED to spend $200 on each centerpiece or else your wedding will be a failure. I touched on my opinions about valuing a florist’s creativity in the last post.
(I personally recommend shopping based on style, not price. Although, I’m not naive and I completely understand that everyone does not have the luxury to book their favorite florist. Throwing a party for 100 people gets pricey. All the costs add up quick. Flowers aren’t on your priority list, that’s cool, this post is for you.)
This post is for the price shoppers out there. This is transparent advice on how to purchase floral decor for a wedding ceremony and dinner for 100 people. Something I’m sure you’ve never done before. Let’s dig in.
1. Set your budget
I could write (and most likely will) a whole post about how to come up with your floral budget for your wedding. And no, going against popular belief and the information from big wedding media, it’s not a percentage of your total wedding budget. That’s a silly way of setting budgets for things. Because it doesn’t take into account the amount of money you are comfortable spending in a certain category. In this scenario of finding the least expensive florist, the amount you are comfortable with is low, but it still needs to be realistic.
Think about the last time you sent flowers to someone. How much did it cost? $75? What did the arrangement look like? Was it small? Medium sized? Did the flowers look fresh/nice/basic? If that same arrangement is your table centerpiece, will you be happy with that look? Will it look dinky on a giant table in a giant ballroom? Will it be too big for a very narrow table at a restaurant reception?
Use your answers to those questions to decide if $75 is enough money to buy a centerpiece you will be happy with. Now multiply that by the number of tables you have. Say it’s 10 tables. We are at $750, which will turn into $1,000 after adding on delivery and sales tax. Add on ceremony decor, personal flowers, some simple decor for the bars and cocktail tables, you are probably up to $2k.
Visualize the types of florals you want at your wedding. Even if you don’t care about florals, entertain the idea of making a pinterest board and adding a few images on it that convey the colors and style you like. You are going to send this board to two florists in your area to get quotes.
2. Research florists
Nothing is worse than having an inbox full of replies from florists all telling you your budget is too low for their minimums. Yes, many florists have per event minimums. We do this in order to pay our staff and feed our families. First, look at photos of your venue decorated for past weddings. Find ones where the flowers don’t look over the top. Contact those florists first. Next, get referrals from friends and family. Finally, check the local vendor listings on big blogs like Style Me Pretty, A Practical Wedding, Wedding Chicks, and The Knot.
When you reach out to the florists, tell them a little about your wedding, send them your pinterest board, and tell them your budget you are comfortable spending on flowers. End your email by asking for their advice.
What can you provide me using my pinterest board as purely inspiration and my budget? How do you recommend we stretch my budget to fill the space at the venue? My pinterest board is simply for color reference, please quote using the most economical flowers possible.
And be completely honest if flowers really aren’t your thing but you need something on your tables…
Hey florist, flowers aren’t really my thing, but my mother is insisting I need them. Can we work together on a budget of $2k for a 100 person wedding? What could you provide me for that price?
3. Comparing pricing
This is tricky. Once you have quotes from two florists, you can compare what they both sent you. Since you’ve never shopped for flowers before, and floristry is an art, it’s actually impossible to compare apples to apples. One florist’s bridal bouquet is not exactly the same as the other’s. Same for centerpieces and ceremony decor. They will both probably use some of the same flowers and be in the same color palette, but without seeing the exact bouquet already made, it’s impossible to compare the art that they are describing to you. Trust them that they gave you the best price for what you asked for. Trust them that they are taking your small budget and making it work. Since you are shopping based on price only, pick the cheapest one and book them. Or, if their quotes are very very close in price, pick your favorite one and book them.
Do not send the cheaper quote to the more expensive florist and ask them to match it. This is insulting. I’ll go into more detail on this in a how to save money on your wedding flowers post that’s coming up soon.
In all honesty, you will always be able to find someone to do it cheaper. The quality and professionalism and experience will dwindle the cheaper you go. Be aware of this. Just like I could buy denim at JCrew or at Old Navy or at the thrift store. There is always a cheaper option, although the cheaper option might not always be the one that makes you the happiest or makes your butt look the best.
It’s here. 2018. Are you tired of saying Happy New Year to everyone yet? I was ready to dive into my 2018 goals last week, but forgot our nanny is on vacation and then school was canceled because of a blizzard. It was me and Dean and multi showings of Toy Story and Cars 3 in pillow forts on the living room floor consuming absurb amounts of popcorn and hot chocolate. Now that we are back to our regular childcare schedule this week, let’s dive into these 2018 goals together, shall we?
I want to use another word besides goal though. It sounds…so…definitive. Like once we reach it, we will stand upon the mountain top, holding the big goal we finally hit. Then what? What’s the next step? A goal sounds like a stopping point.
“I reached my goal to lose ten pounds.” Ok, now what?
“I sold a $30k floral contract.” Ok, great, but what’s the next step?
But it shouldn’t be. Instead, a goal should be more like a stepping stone to the next thing. And the next. And the next.
I prefer the word objective. What are our objectives this year? Objectives are more fluid. They are juicy. Objectives are free flowing and can be changed, revised, rerouted, turned around at a moment’s notice. Very different then the word goal. An objective is a way of doing business, a mindset, a malleable bit of information that will ebb and flow each week, each month, each quarter.
Michelle Edgemont Design has five main objectives this year that I’m working towards. The last three years after having Dean have been consistent, which I’m proud of (because the to-do list only gets longer as a parent), but haven’t necessarily been years of business growth. We stayed on a straight line in terms of sales, profit, quantity of events, etc. We moved into an amazing studio. I was able to increase our childcare to four days a week. Five during the busy season. We booked some of our largest contracts ever. Now that I’m in the swing of things as a parent, we have a reliable schedule, a studio, and a close knit group of confidants in the industry that I treasure, it’s time for growth.
This is really woo-woo, but writing down objectives, putting them out there into the universe, makes them manifest themselves.
Here goes. Our 2018 list of objectives:
Design and decorate the studio to make it more organized, beautiful, comfortable, and inspiring.
Any interior designers out there who can help me with this? Please email me! In a true “the cobbler’s son has no shoes scenario”, it’s so much more difficult to design a space for myself then it is to design a space for my clients. I get decision fatigue, afraid to spend my own money, not sure what to buy. Who can help me with this? I want to walk into the space an immediately feel calm and inspired. A high-end, colorful, pretty space with lots of interesting little nooks and smart organization.
HIre a studio assistant
I’m hiring a studio assistant. As soon as I get the HR stuff organized, I’m putting it out there that I need help. There are a lot of day-to-day to-dos that I don’t personally need to be doing if I want to really grow this company. Starting with: studio organization, cleaning, and inventory. Keep an eye out for the job listing to hopefully go live in February. This person will inventory all of our props, keep stock of things we use a ton of, pull props for weddings, put it all back after events, help process flowers, and manage the cleanliness of the space. Job also comes with unlimited free coffee, snacks, and use of the space for your own personal creative projects in the off hours.
Build my email list and continue to develop the newsletters to be inspiring, informational, and unconventional
The email list is the way of the future. Social media is great. The majority of our clients come from instagram and pinterest, but I don’t own those audiences. At any moment they could go away. All of those lovely followers – POOF – gone. The pudding is in the email list. There is a certain finesse to writing pretty and interesting emails that people actually open. I know that I personally delete a lot of the newsletters I get. The objective here is to educate couples about hiring event designers and florists, building trust within our brand message, gaining a new audience through freebies, and loving on our current subscribers with coupon codes to the Michelle Edgemont Shop, special ebooks, behind the scenes secrets, and more.
Increase the number of amazing wedding planners we work with in order to gain larger floral contracts and continue to nurture the michelle edgemont design style
Basically, I want to book a few larger contracts this year to really be able to show off what we are capable of. The last few years brought us some clients that were in the position to be able to pay for completely custom, made from scratch, decor for their weddings. Let’s get more of those this year. The majority of these clients were working with amazing, talented wedding planners who know what their clients wanted: the unconventional, kind of weird, totally custom, fun experience of working with Michelle Edgemont Design. Are you a wedding planner with these types of clients? Come to me, my lovely people. Let’s work together to really give your clients the insane, out of this world, wedding full of personalized details that they want.
Educate couples on event design and, especially, floral costs
Look, there is a lot of bad information out there, specially about budgeting for flowers for an event. I get it, it’s impossible to budget for something you’ve never paid for before. Especially something with so much emotion attached to it. This is why I wrote a very very long post about how to hire a wedding florist based on style. This week, I’m posting one about how to hire based on price. NYC might be in a bubble, and although our weddings cost more than the rest of the USA, saving money is often important to clients. The value in what florists do as creatives is important. Clients are buying our art and it’s ability to provide a beautiful environment to their wedding.
On a more personal note…
get healthier and stronger
Flowers are heavy. 75lb base plates for chuppahs are heavy. Pushing carts up ramps and through the backend of hotels is heavy. Schlepping buckets of water, crates of candles, and disco balls – yep, heavy. This is a physically demanding job. It requires a lot and my body needs to be ready for it. I can deadlift 250lbs, but it just doesn’t seem like enough when faced with 14 hours on my feet up and down a ladder installing hanging flowers over a giant venue.
Create a comfortable, simple home
Anyone else really starting to feel like all of their stuff is caving in on them? It’s too much. I don’t need twenty different scarfs. Or three ice cream scoops. Or five pairs of black sneakers. The design studio is full of stuff, it’s nice to come home to a place that, well, isn’t. On an entirely contradictory note, we need more artwork. Got any artists with incredible work that I can buy from? I want the walls full of inspiring images.
Go on more date nights
Adam and I used to drop $200 on dinners out like, hey, just another Tuesday. Last month we spent $200 going to see Star Wars. Yep. Between the movie tickets, Ubers (too cold), snacks, and babysitter. Bye bye two hundos. How are these date nights going to happen? Be strict with our budget, find a few more babysitter options in the neighborhood, and come up with cheaper nights out. Anyone know a good sitter in Brooklyn who wants to make money just putting our well-mannered child to bed and watching netflix?
What are your 2018 objectives? Business or personal. Comment over on this instagram post and tell me! I want to know.
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 floral 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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