Vendor 101: 3 Tips to Finding Your Florist

Romantic flowers are one of the lovely details that separate a wedding from just another party. Whether your style is traditional or trendy, your wedding florist can work with you to design just the right floralscape. Some wedding florists oversee just the peonies and poppies, while others may veer toward more of a full-service event planner who can help steer the look of your entire day—not just the beautiful blooms, but also linens, decor, and rentals.

What to Look For
Start looking for a florist around six to nine months before the wedding, or whenever you have your date, location, and a rough guest count. Many floral designers do only one event a day, so they can book up quickly. Talk with recently married friends about their experiences, and ask your caterer, ceremony site or reception venue for recommendations. You can also visit local flower shops to get an idea of different florists' work. Check out online portfolios and meet with a few of your favorites to narrow down the field. If all the arrangements are spare and you prefer an abundant look, or if you're thinking of casual wildflower bouquets and the florist's work is very formal, keep looking until you find the right fit.

Meeting with the Florist
When you meet with a potential wedding florist, make sure that she's the one who will be working on the wedding. Choose the florist who seems the most excited by your vision. It's also important that they're willing to go the extra mile, like visiting your venue if they've never been before, or showing you how to hold the bouquet on your wedding day.

Be honest about your budget from the start. The florist should be able to give you a good idea of what can be accomplished within your budget and offer advice and alternatives if your requests are unrealistic. If you're not satisfied with one estimate, shop around; prices can vary widely among vendors. And while rates vary, transparency is key: Costs should be clearly broken down item by item.

In explaining your vision, it's helpful to have pictures to avoid misunderstanding. The setting is also important—a hotel ballroom, loft, and garden all inspire different moods. Schedule planning meetings at the ceremony and reception locations or have photos so you can discuss what will best complement what is already there. Also establish what other decorations the florist will provide. Some only handle flowers and accessories such as ribbons and vases. Others may provide candles, light fixtures, and even aisle runners and table linens.

Budgeting Tips
It is common to allocate about 10 percent of the total wedding budget to flowers, depending on your priorities. Put your flower budget toward the reception and keep the flowers simple for the ceremony—it's short, and all eyes will be on you anyway. Anything you use during the ceremony can be repurposed for the reception: Decorate the cake table with bouquets, and hang altar garlands on the bar.

Looking for more ways to save on stems? Reuse the bridesmaid bouquets as part of the arrangement for the head table (also consider cutting down the size of your bridal party to save on the cost of personal flowers like boutonnieres), or reuse the pew swags on the tables. Selecting a flower that's in season and locally grown will also save money and offset shipping costs. Bigger blooms, like hydrangeas and peonies, are quite lush and only require a few stems to fill a vase or bouquet. Or, consider non-traditional arrangements: Talk with your florist about using fruit, candles, pine cones and other non-floral items in your centerpieces; or consider herbs like lavender, rosemary or sage, which look beautiful in a bouquet and are less expensive than flowers.

If you're considering doing the flowers yourself, you can buy them at a store like Costco and gather friends to assemble arrangements— some wedding florists will even help couples buy flowers wholesale and show them how to assemble them. Even if you plan to arrange your own flowers, it's a good idea to consult a knowledgeable wedding florist who can offer advice and provide flowers that are not readily available to you. In addition, florists with wedding experience will know about the little things you might overlook—from petals for the flower girl to scatter to powder-room arrangements to an extra, smaller posy for the bouquet toss.


Be the first to comment!