THE ATELIER CARMEL
WEDDING FLORALS PLANNING GUIDE
I wrote this guide in the hopes of making the task of planning your wedding florals a bit less daunting. What can seem like hours of fun for some can be terrorizing for others, and I truly believe that organizing this part of your wedding should be an inspiring, stress-free experience. Over the years I've met with thousands of couples and have an intimate knowledge of the difficulties they've faced; with this guide I aim to help you understand the different steps that will take you from excited, newly engaged dreamer to happy newlyweds. We'll tackle each step one by one and streamline the work that needs to be done so planning your flowers leaves you feeling enthusiastic, confident, and on budget!
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN
STEP ONE - FINDING INSPIRATION
STEP TWO - FIGURING OUT YOUR NEEDS
STEP THREE - DECIDING ON YOUR FLORAL BUDGET
STEP FOUR - FINDING THE PERFECT FLORIST (FOR YOU)
STEP FIVE - GETTING QUOTES
STEP SIX - COMPARING QUOTES & BUDGET TWEAKING
STEP SEVEN - SIGNING THE CONTRACT
STEP EIGHT - WHAT HAPPENS UNTIL THE WEDDING
A QUICK NOTE ABOUT THIS GUIDE...
Over time, every florist develops quirks and ways of working that they feel are 'the best". I'm no different! The content of this guide is highly influenced by my experiences and beliefs, and may not be right for you or for the florists you'll meet with. Please take all of this information with a grain of salt, keeping what works for you and leaving the rest behind. I won't be offended, I promise!
Here are different centrepieces, all in the ever-popular "White & Blush" colour palette, but in very different styles. Some are minimalist and graphic, some more modern, some organic and garden-inspired, and some very classic and traditional. It's likely you'll be pulled in one direction right from the get go, but it could also be that more than one style speaks to you.
This is a good example of a very consistent colour palette. This could be called Earthy red tones with touches of peach, coral and pink.
In this case, while the colours in each image don't match per se, the palette is still consistent enough to communicate a clear vision. This could be called Pale neutrals with pastel accents and a few pops of colour.
Before you find yourself swallowed into a sea of Pinterest pictures, ask yourself what you want your wedding to feel like. This is the first question I ask my clients, way before we even start talking flowers. Try to come up with half a dozen key words that represent the vibe you’d like to create for your guests. Here are a few examples:
Timeless – Classic – Sophisticated - Romantic - Soft
Clean – Simple – Modern – Minimalist – Fresh - Graphic
Original – Intimate – Moody – Elegant – Surprising - Warm
Laid back – Fun – Quirky – Whimsical – Cozy – Playful
Note that none of these relates to flowers specifically, but could be used to decide on the venue, the music, the catering, everything!
The next step is to collect inspiration without thinking too hard about your final result. I’ll assume you’ll be using Pinterest for this since it’s by far the most popular with my clients, but these tips hold true no matter how you’re collecting your inspiration. Just go for it and add whatever you have a positive gut reaction to. For many clients, this can yield surprising results and take them in unexpected directions. Don’t try to limit yourself too much, but at the same time, the next step will involve sorting the pictures you’re initially drawn to, so for your own sake you might not want to create a board with 7000 pins on it!
Searching on Pinterest (or any other search engine)...
If you find your searches are coming up short and you’re faced with image after image you find uninspiring (or atrociously ugly), try being more precise with your key words. For example, WHITE GREEN WEDDING will yield very different results than WHITE GREEN WEDDING GARDEN ORGANIC. Once you have even just a few pictures you can take advantage of board suggestions where Pinterest will find images that are closely related to the ones you already love.
Once you feel like you’re ready for the next step, it's time to start editing all these wonderful images. You’ll know the time has come when you keep seeing the same pictures over and over again or just aren’t inspired when you scroll through blog posts, Instagram or Pinterest. For some this process can take a year, while others will be done after one afternoon. Both are absolutely valid! Now, you may have 50 pictures and you may have 5000, and the time has come to curate these into a smaller board that truly represents the vision you have for your wedding flowers.
There are two ways to do this: you can either add or subtract. If your board isn’t already huge, you can simply scroll through and delete any picture that doesn’t make the cut. Ask yourself “what’s my least favourite picture here?” and get rid of it, over and over until you’re left with only your top choices. If you have a board containing hundreds or thousands of pictures (or if you added friends/family to your board and they’ve pinned tons of random things or pictures that make your skin crawl!) you’ll want to do the opposite. Create a brand new board and add your faves until you get a beautiful but edited vision of what you’re going for.
AIMING FOR CONSISTENCY
When I study an inspiration board and try to gage how harmonious and coherent it is, I look at three elements: the style of arranging, the colour palette, and the quantity of greenery. Keep these concepts in the back of your mind while you’re going over all your images. Perhaps there’s a picture you love but it’s the only one in your entire board that has no greenery in it... Unless you’re able to clearly articulate why you’re attracted to it, it probably has to go. Here are a few examples I made using images I found on Pinterest.
KEEPING IN MIND YOUR PARAMETERS
There are a few things that you’ve already decided about your wedding. The venue, the décor elements, the season, all these should be in the back of your mind when you edit your images.
If your venue doesn’t allow candles, there’s no point in pinning tons of candlelit tablescapes. If you’re getting married in a church, the lovely images of a circular arch in a big empty industrial space maybe aren’t the most useful. You may be in love with the idea of suspending florals over the bar/the dance floor/your sweetheart table, but if your venue doesn’t have any rigging points or won’t allow it, it’s time to let that dream go. When possible, try to select pictures that take into account the realities of your venue.
REAL LIFE EXAMPLE
I had a lovely couple a few years ago who came to me with a board filled with images of outdoor tented weddings featuring lots of string lights and al fresca dining in gardens. It was all great until they told me they were getting married in a hotel ballroom! Very few of the pictures we were looking at were translatable to an indoor meal in a carpeted, curtained room. So, we tried to identify what it was that spoke to them in these pictures and adapted it to their reality. Since we couldn’t hang anything, the glow of string lights became hundreds of tea candles on the tables, and the woodsy garden setting became textural foliage centrepieces that still blended elegantly with the look of the ballroom.
A good (and common) example of this is clients who come to me with image upon image of long rectangular tables with greenery running through the centre, except they have round tables at their venue. In a case like this you could try to find pictures that feature lots of foliage but on a round table. Also keep in mind what else will be on the table (family style service requires that there be enough space on the tables to set down platters of food) and the table size (if your tables are 26 inches wide, there’s no point in pinning lush, full centrepieces).
Seasonality is less of a limiting factor and more of a conceptual one. For example, "Dark and Moody" looks more natural at an October wedding than in the middle of May. Light, airy pastels are a natural fit for an early summer wedding. But rules are meant to be broken so seasonal vibes are really open to interpretation!
YOUR FINAL BOARD
Depending on your needs, you’ll want to have 4-5 pictures of bouquets, 4-5 pictures of ceremony décor, 4-5 pictures of tablescapes or centerpieces, etc. Throw in inspiration for unique elements you’ll need such as a specific flower girl bouquet you love, that hanging floral cloud over the bar, the frame for the escort cards and so on. In total you should aim for a board containing between 10 and 30 pictures maximum. More than that either means the pictures are redundant (you really don’t need 15 pictures of a white and green centerpiece in a gold footed vase) or too dissimilar which will eventually be confusing.
WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS
So, you’re trying your best to keep it all in mind... Your venue, your tables, what colours you want, greenery or no greenery... And no matter how you look at it, your board looks like a big mess that doesn’t make any sense, even to you. Don’t worry! It’s part of my job (and any other florist) to help you figure out the inconsistencies and ?? In your inspiration. I often see recurring ideas in a board that to the bride seemed completely disjointed. The only really essential work there is to do is to narrow it down to 30 pictures max, and then professional help can take over!
REAL LIFE EXAMPLE
I had a client who when we first met had one of those monster Pinterest boards... It was huge, and all over the place. She did however, have very clear key words for what she wanted the wedding to feel like. Keeping in mind her venue, season and the vibe she wanted to create, she did an amazing job of editing the board down. After all that work, she was still left with a board that lacked consistency and a clear vision: half the pictures were in a crisp white and green palette, with lots of foliage, in a classic English garden style. The other half were a lot more quirky and featured lots of peach, coral and watermelon pinks. She was truly being pulled in two different directions.
After discussing this, I gave her two options. We could either take both inspirations and mix them together by adding pops of peach and coral into the white and green arrangements, creating a hybrid of the two. Or we could create a progression and treat the wedding as several smaller events, using the white and green scheme for the ceremony flowers and bouquets and then a brighter, funkier style for the reception. In the end she decided she preferred one look for the entire day, and to make sure there wasn’t too much contrast we kept the peach and light coral flowers but not the brighter melon pinks. I made sure there was just enough whimsical touches to give the centerpieces a bit of a twist all while keeping the overall style classic. The end result was truly a reflection of her taste and even though it was a bit more work to get there, it was totally worth the extra effort.
FLOWER TO GREENERY BALANCE
These two arrangements have an organic, lush style but feature almost no visible greenery. The absence of foliage means more blooms are needed, so an average-size centrepiece like this could easily cost 300$ or more.
These two centrepieces are the same naturalistic style, but using a medium amount of greenery as a backdrop for the flowers. An arrangement of a similar size could cost around 200$ since the leaves provide a good base and build up size.
These two are in the same style still, but feature lots of interesting and textural foliage that becomes an integral part of the design. Since the greenery takes up a lot of space, less flowers are needed and an average-size centrepiece could cost around 100$.
FIGURING OUT YOUR NEEDS
So, now you have this beautiful vision of what you want your flowers to look like on your wedding day, and it’ll be glorious!!
Except that feeling is immediately followed by the obvious question: Can I afford this?
Now, you can’t answer that question yourself, of course, that’s why you’ll be meeting with florists. In preparation for this, you first have to figure out what your needs are.
MAKE A LIST
First, make a list of what you’ll need for the wedding. Be thorough and as precise as you can. How many bridesmaids will you have? Corsages for the grandmothers? Figure out the number of tables based on your guest list. Will the ceremony be a simple or lavish affair? Just jot down everything you think of. Then take a few days off and let that settle.
Next, make a second list, an edited one. Same process as with the pictures! Ask yourself if you really need each element... If you’re getting married in a very ornate church, do you really need to decorate the ends of each pew? If you’re getting an exquisitely decorated cake, do you really need it to share the table with flowers? If the cocktail will only last 30 minutes it might not be necessary to decorate, but if the cocktail is before the ceremony and will be the guest’s first impression of the wedding it can be fun to set the tone with a few arrangements.
Keep both lists.
One will be your must haves, and the other will come in handy if the budget allows for a few splurges.
DECIDING ON YOUR FLORAL BUDGET
So, how much do you want to spend on your wedding flowers? It’s a hard question to answer isn’t it? Do you want flowers to be an important part of your décor, or are you happy with a few touches here and there? Both are perfectly good answers. The goal of this part of the process is to find the sweet spot where your inspiration and budget meet so you don’t spend more than you’re comfortable with but you’re also satisfied with the results. This sometimes happens easily and sometimes there’s more back and forth and adjustments to be made before the sweet spot is found. This is also a step where input and advice from your florist will be invaluable, and their expertise on what things cost will be the foundation for your budget.
- One simple thing to consider it what your global wedding budget is and what percentage of that you want to spend on flowers. Most professionals will agree that 10% to 15% is good rule of thumb for florals. You can also ask yourself if your wedding budget is under or over the average budget in your area (this info is easy to Google).
- Ask yourself what type of wedding your inspiration photos are based on... Let’s be honest, the majority of the images that are popular (and hence get more visibility) on Pinterest are the ones that are aspirational, above average, and flower focused. Keep in mind that if the pictures you love are mostly from higher-end weddings and very flower-forward, you will probably need to plan your budget accordingly to get a similar result.
- Approach a few florists who’s work you admire and ask them for an average or starting price list. I send this out automatically to everyone who inquires about my services. This will give you a fairly good idea of what you can expect your total investment to be.
- If you’ve been to friends’ or relatives’ weddings recently and loved their flowers, ask them if they’re willing to share their experience with you and tell you how much they spent.
- Don’t forget there will be delivery charges and taxes!
With this info you should be well prepared for your first meeting with a florist, who will then prepare a quote based on your vision. Once you receive this, you’ll be able to make adjustments to either your budget or your needs.
REAL LIFE EXAMPLE
I once had a meeting with a client who had both a sizeable floral budget and sizeable floral dreams. She was from out of town and we’d already discussed prices on the phone, going over how much her centrepieces could cost, the price she could expect to pay for her 10 foot arch (hint: it was a lot) and all the other details she had in mind. When we met I was expecting things to go smoothly and to have a signed contract by the end of the meeting, so I was surprised when she balked at the quote. “It’s so expensive!” she said. I was confused because it was the exact prices we had already discussed, and she’d decided to come meet me in person... Turns out she’d never thought to take a moment to calculate, add up all the elements, multiply the centrepieces by the number of tables, etc. So when she came to get her first quote, she was dumbfounded at the final price even though in theory she thought the price was reasonable for each individual element. Moral of the story: take a moment to do some basic math and get a sense of what your wish list adds up to.
FINDING THE PERFECT FLORIST (FOR YOU)
HOW TO CHOOSE A FLORIST
Ok, so now you have your three basic elements: your floral inspiration, your needs, and your budget. You’re ready to start meeting vendors and seeing all your preparation pay off! Who to choose? There’s no perfect answer to this question because everyone’s priorities are different, and of course they will impact your decision. It’s like asking “what car should I buy?” My opinion is of course based on my business style, and what I feel is important. That being said, here is my 10 cents on the question...
There are three things you should consider when choosing any professional: their work, their personality, and their prices.
This is what you’re purchasing, the thing you’ll eventually be contemplating while you’re eating your wedding meal, the thing that will be in all of the pictures you one day show your kids and your grandkids. Any florist who isn’t consistently producing work that sparks your imagination or makes you swoon shouldn’t even be on your short list. If a florist is known for a naturalistic, organic style, why hire them if you want classic domes of white flowers? And if the florist your venue usually hires has nothing in their portfolio that resembles what you have in mind, why even get a quote from them? Even if the price is right, will you get the result you’re dreaming of?
This is the person you’ll be working with over the next few months. In some cases there’s a lot of back and forth and collaboration, in other cases it’s really minimal. You want to feel like the person you’re hiring wants to make YOUR vision come true, not theirs. If it feels like your florist is tugging in a different direction all the time, you're either dealing with someone who isn’t comfortable with the style you love, or someone who thinks they know better than yourself what you want. The ideal florist will listen to your ideas, be enthusiastic about your dreams, and chime in with suggestions to make it all even better.
Having a few quotes in hand might make your decision easy, or it might make you more confused than ever! Skip HERE to learn more about comparing quotes. All I’ll say here is that although the price is certainly an important part of selecting your florist, you really shouldn’t consider a less expensive quote if it means you have to sacrifice the two other factors, the work and the humans behind it.
HOW MANY FLORISTS SHOULD YOU MEET?
I once met a bride who met with ten designers before choosing her favorite one, because she had read on a blog that that was a good number. She did this with each type of vendor, going to hundreds of meetings during the year prior to her wedding. I think I’m right in guessing that most people don’t have the time or inclination to do this! On the other hand, I have several clients who don’t meet with anyone but me before signing the contract. It comes down to personal preferences. My opinion is that if you do your research first and select florists you admire and think you can afford, you could easily start with just one consultation, and only schedule others if you’re disappointed with the meeting or the quote. If you want to compare offers or see what different ideas designers have, three would be a reasonable amount. More than that can get very confusing when trying to decide who to hire.
- Typically, consultations take place in person but as Covid taught us, phone calls or Zoom meetings can be just as efficient.
- Expect to spend anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours discussing your ideas depending on how clear your are about your vision and your budget.
- The groom can come if he’s interested, but his presence is absolutely not mandatory. I’ve seen countless grooms staring blankly at the ceiling, trying to be helpful but simply not that interested in the florals. If this might be the case for you, consider letting him skip this consultation.
- Come by yourself, bring a friend or a bridesmaid or your mother. I don’t recommend bringing more than one person to this meeting, unless it’s your wedding planner. Large groups (which could include sets of parents, members of the bridal party, etc.) are NOT a good idea. Diverging opinions about style or budget can be confusing for the florist, and everyone adding their two cents makes for meetings that drag on for hours.
- Be prepared, bring your inspiration images, and know your numbers (needs and budget).
- You might see actual flowers, you might not. Florists operating out of traditional retail shops will likely have flowers around, but maybe not the types they would use for weddings. Designers running studios that specialize in events (as we do) won’t have flowers in stock unless they have a wedding coming up, but they don’t typically have time to meet with clients on those days!
- Write down any questions you may have beforehand so you don’t forget to ask them. During the meeting you'll be bombarded with questions and information, and it's normal to feel bit overwhelmed by the end of it. Having a list of questions ready ensures you leave will all of them answered.
THOUGHTS ON DEMOS
What is a demo, or a mock-up? A demo is simply a chance for you to see with your own eyes what you will be getting on the day of the wedding. Some florists love them, some refuse to do them and I fall into the latter category. First, they can be very expensive. If your florist plans to use three roses in your centrepieces, they still need to order the full package of 25 stems. Same goes for every other flower in their design, and that adds up to a whole lot of blooms you’ll have to pay for. If they have a retail shop they may be able to offset this price by selling some of the blooms, but a studio-based designer won’t. Second, your flowers may not be in season or available, so the demo you will see might not be a very good indication of what the florals will look like on your wedding day. The more local and seasonally focused your florist is, the truer this becomes. Third, feeling like you need a demo usually means you’re worried about the final product... If a designer has a strong portfolio filled with work you admire, a good reputation, and lots of experience, you shouldn't be wondering if you’ll like the end result. Either kindly ask them for more details to get a better sense of what they’re planning, or keep looking for someone who can communicate their vision clearly and make you feel confident about your big day. If you truly think you need to see some of their work in person, you can ask them if they have another wedding before yours that has similar florals, and if it would be a bother for you to pop in for 10 to 15 minutes to have a look.
WHEN PICTURES ARE THE STARTING POINT
The first way to proceed is to have a clear vision of what you want and go from there. This could also be called the “get ready for sticker shock” method! It is however a pretty efficient and straightforward way to approach things when you have a very precise idea of what you want. Keep in mind that if the total price is over what you’re comfortable spending you’ll have to make some changes to your plan. A good florist will be able to suggest ways of doing this.
WHEN THE BUDGET IS THE STARTING POINT
This is my preferred method of preparing a quote. After we go over their inspiration photos and we’re all enthusiastic about what the vision is, I ask my clients the uncomfortable question: “So what’s your budget?”. First thing to know: this should absolutely not be an awkward question. Believe me, we’ve heard it all! Whatever number you have in mind, just start with that. Turns out most people are just naturally aware of how much their flowers might cost, and if you’ve gone through the steps I suggest above you’re likely to be in that category. From there I’ll input some info into my quote and come up with the best way to divvy up the budget. Does that mean that sometimes the ceiling installation has to go? Sure. Do we go from all tall centrepieces to only half the tables? Maybe. But my job (or any other good florist) is to figure out what you love most about your inspiration images and how I can make that happen within your price range. It does happen sometimes that I have to tell a client that their dreams are just truly not compatible with their budget, but honestly I can’t remember the last time this happened.
SIDE NOTE: THE BUDGET BLUFF
Here’s my opinion in the matter... There really is no point in approaching the situation like this. If your budget is 5000$, why tell your florist it's 4000$? If you’re working with a reputable designer, they’ll tell you if you can get more for the price. I know I have! I’ve come to the end of a quote and realized the client could get everything they wanted for under their budget. I then suggested we use premium flowers, or add fun elements that weren’t on their list, or simply reduce the budget. My advice is find a florist you trust, give them a reason to trust you and be transparent about what your budget is. If anything, get ask your florist to explain what the difference would be if you spent 4000$ vs 5000$. They should be able to easily explain the different options for you and you can then decide which suits your needs best.
COMPARING QUOTES & BUDGET TWEAKING
So you've met with a few florists and received their quotes, now what? Sometimes the quotes will all come in at similar price points, as, making the deci simply go forward with the florist who’s work and vibe you like the most. Sometimes however, there can be large difference in price tags... Why?
WHAT ARE YOU ACTUALLY PAYING FOR?
When you hire a photographer or a band, you are paying for someone’s time, their experience, their aesthetic. Prices can vary wildly and reflect offer and demand. When you’re hiring a florist, you’re purchasing a product. Simply put, twice the price will result in twice the value in flowers. We all order from the same wholesalers, all pay the same for our product, and all use similar mark-ups. No matter what the price, you will get what you pay for. If one florist quotes you 300$ for your bouquet and another 150$, they are not selling you the same bouquet, and the 300$ will have twice the value of the other.
When comparing quotes, ask yourself if you are comparing a similar product.
You can also compare the price of delivery and installation. What is included in these? One address or several? Will your florist also set up candles? Will they come back the next day to pick up their rentals or is that a separate fee?
TYPES OF QUOTES
Quotes are as unique as the florists who make them, but they will mostly fall into 3 categories.
- Global pricing quote.
In these you’ll find a description of the order as well as the total price, without necessarily knowing how the budget is allocated.
- Itemized quote.
In these you’ll see a line by line breakdown of what each element costs, including delivery, installation, taxes, etc.
- Descriptive quote.
These will include a full description of what goes into each element, for example “centrepieces will have 3 Cherry Brandy roses, 2 hydrangea, 3 light pink tulips with salal and eucalyptus as foliage".
Everyone has a preference in this matter, and most florists feel very strongly about their method of quoting! I personally think it’s very important for my clients to be aware of the cost of each item, which enables them to prioritize and make their own decisions. I feel it’s perfectly reasonable to receive a quote and get back to your florist saying: “We’ll take this, we won’t take that, and we’ll scale down on this.” In this regard, my quotes are more of a personalized price list. I also firmly believe that quotes that include floral recipes are not compatible with the way we design. Finding and choosing the freshest and most original blooms is one of my favourite things to do, and a big part of our distinctive style. I also focus on local flowers and foraged produce, both of which are vulnerable to weather and usually come in small quantities. And I love changing things up from table to table, so each piece is a bit different than the next. Finally, it’s not unusual for me to order 30, 40 or 50 different varieties of flowers for a single wedding. For these reasons, I don’t include flower descriptions in my quotes. My clients love the surprise on their wedding day! If, however, you find you’d be much happier knowing exactly what your florals will look like ahead of time, it’s best to find a florist who also feels more comfortable working this way.
PRICE DIFFERENCES EXPLAINED
What impacts the price of bouquets? What will be the difference between a 150$ bar arrangement and a 400$ one? Here are the main factors that will affect the price and look of your florals.
- The type and quality of flowers used.
We all know a carnation is less expensive than a rose... They’re a great filler and I love using them, but I also love foxgloves, peonies and dahlias, and these all come with a steeper price tag. Garden roses are often 3 to 6 times pricier than standard roses, so a bouquet of Avalanche roses could cost 140$ and the same bouquet using Juliette roses could result in a 600$ price tag. In my work I try to find a nice balance of the two, using more modest flowers for size and colour variations, and fancier flowers to give the arrangements an original, unique look.
- The number of stems used.
This one is easy... The sheer quantity of flowers used will directly impact the price of florals. You’ll need to mass more small, dainty flowers to achieve a certain size than if you’re using large hydrangeas. For example, it’s not unusual for me to use 50 to 60 stems in a bridal bouquet to give it the lush, layered look we’re known for. A high stem count can mean more types of flowers and more colour variations, resulting in more multi-dimensional arrangements.
- The size and fullness.
Although the number of stems isn’t directly linked to the size of an arrangement, it can certainly impact the final size of the arrangement, as well as how full and lush it looks. Some looks need to feel full, such as English garden, whereas other styles don’t, like minimalist, ikebana inspired ones.
- The flower to greenery ratio.
Greenery is a great tool to build size and a textural base for the flowers to rest in, it’s the backbone of the arrangement, and can often be cheaper than flowers. For that reason, pieces with little to no greenery are more expensive, and pieces made entirely of greenery will be less expensive.
Side note: you also have to consider size, so a greenery centrepiece will be cheaper than a floral centrepiece of the same size, but a runner that is 8 times longer than a centrepieces will still end up being pricier! More about this HERE.
- The location of the florist
A studio situated in an urban center has higher overhead costs and probably has to pay their freelancers or employees a higher wage than a flower shop in a rural area. That can trickle down and impact how much they charge for their services.
TIPS ON TWEAKING THE BUDGET
Now that you have a quote (or more than one) in your hands, you can start making decisions. You have a clear idea of what things will cost, and you probably have a better idea of how much you'll decide to spend on flowers. But what happens when the quote is just higher than what you’re comfortable spending? (If you’ve been transparent with your florist and they’re being straightforward as well, you shouldn’t be receiving a quote that’s completely out of your ballpark). There are many ways to go about this, and here are a few tips.
- To start, if you’re within 10% to 15% of your ideal budget, there’s no point in making too many changes now. That margin in spending might easily resolve itself when you realize you’ll have 15 tables instead of 18, or when 3 of you 12 sorority bridesmaids realize they won’t be able to make it. You might also spend a bit less than expected on rentals (or cake, or catering, or band, etc.) and be able to splurge on your dream flowers. With a close-enough quote in hand, wait until you have more information before you start tweaking the floral budget.
- Get rid of certain elements completely. I’m not talking about the elements you’re completely head over heels about, but there’s often some superfluous items in the quote that could easily disappear. Aisle markers are a good example. When have you ever heard anyone say “that wedding was amazing, those aisle markers were just incredible!”. Just keep an open mind and go back to the step where you question what your actual needs are.
- Alternate centrepieces. It’s no secret that tall centrepieces (the ones on stands) are more expensive than lower ones. In our case, they are usually 3 to 4 times the price of a low one. Do you need every table to have them? I actually prefer a room where the heights vary, so alternating between tall, medium height and low centrepieces is a good way to get the look you want while keeping the budget in check.
- Candles. You can also alternate tables with just candles and tables with centrepieces. If you do half and half, you can technically afford a centrepieces that is almost twice the price.
- Simplify the design. Some elements are made to be bold focal points. You want them to be big, original, conversation starters. Do you need a ton of flowers in there? Maybe not. Ask your florist if they think they can make something fun for less, even if it’s a bit of a departure from your inspiration board. Same goes for ceremony décor or any large piece. The question shouldn’t be: “Can you do this for less?” but “If I wanted to spend less, what do you think would be a cool option for this?”
- Don’t be afraid to communicate and ask for advice. It’s literally your florist’s job to suggest what they think would be the best way to tweak the budget. There is nothing weird about saying: “I got your quote, we’re really excited about working with you, but we’ve reviewed our budget and we’re only comfortable spending X amount. Can you suggest changes we could make to to meet our budget considerations?” Just be aware that change in price will mean change in what you get, and don’t ever expect to get the same thing but for a lesser price.
- Greenery is cheaper and a great way to save money.
Sure, if you want a centrepiece that is the same shape and size but using only foliage, this might be relevant. But that’s never the case! Mostly we florists get asked for table runners that span the length of the table, usually 8 feet long. A medium-sized traditional centrepieces is about 1 foot wide... So while most greens are less expensive than flowers, they certainly aren’t 8 times cheaper! Also keep in mind that eucalyptus and other premium foliage can be as expensive as some flowers.
- Seasonal flowers are cheaper.
Another persistent myth... The opposite is true, and flowers that are completely out of season can be extremely expensive (peonies in January anyone?) not to mention their quality often disappointing. The flower industry is mostly a “seasonless” one, meaning most of the flowers we’re accustomed to seeing are grown in greenhouses year-round. That being said, there are still lots of flowers that are season specific. These, as well as local flowers (the best!) are what I’d call “regular price”. They don’t all of a sudden become incredibly cheap. Think of it like oysters or lobster... In season you can afford these delicacies at a reasonable-ish price, and out of season they’re just ridiculous. But if anyone offered you a dozen oysters on the shell for 6$ you’d probably run in the opposite direction! Same thing for flowers. Seasonality is certainly a way to get the best, most beautiful flowers around, and sometimes there are deals to be found, but it’s not a strategy to tweak your budget.