Written with love, by Felicia Zammit-McMann
Of all the appointments I had with vendors during my wedding-planning process, one of the ones I was most excited about was my wedding florist. There’s something about flowers that just puts a smile on my face. I love everything about them: their color, their scent, their shape. It doesn’t matter what kind of flower, I love them all! Even in the dead of winter, I love buying bouquets of flowers at the grocery store, when everything else around you is dead and snow-covered, because of the joy they bring. They are so vibrant and full of life - they just make me happy.
For me, choosing a florist was easy because I had known and worked with this particular vendor many times before, and knew their quality and reputation was stellar. I wanted, however, to explore my options before committing. So at the countless bridal shows I went to, I had a chance to speak to several other florists. I kid you not, this is what I saw and was told…
One vendor had displays of centerpieces with roses spray-painted in glitter and others dyed in shades of colors never before seen in nature, like neon blue and green. Another vendor told me I couldn’t book an appointment with her because Mercury and Venus were doing something funky – what exactly, I don’t remember because I just tuned her out after that – and it was creating chaos for her both personally and professionally. I also spoke to a few that wanted to charge me for a consultation. After that, I knew right away to go with my first choice.
Thankfully, it all worked out, but for those of you starting to look at florists or debating on what type of flowers to choose, here are my top ten tips I learned that might help you with this process:
1) Walk away from consultation fees.
In my opinion, if a florist charges a consultation fee, walk away. You shouldn’t have to pay to speak with someone. Granted, your appointment can take a while, by the time you discuss color, budget, etc., but I feel like florists (or any vendor really) who charges you for a visit, may be trying to take advantage of your “bride-to-be” status. That should be a red flag to just walk away.
2) Experience is key.
Take the example I gave earlier of the spray painted and dyed flowers. Flowers are beautiful in their own right, so why are you adding glitter and color to something that is naturally perfect? In speaking with that vendor a little more, they were only in business a short amount of time compared to some of the other vendors I spoke to. Experienced vendors would know not to mess with Mother Nature. Additionally, experienced vendors ask you questions. I know it sounds strange to hear since you are usually the one asking most of the questions, but they need to ask you questions such as wedding budget, theme or feel, how many people are going to need flowers, what does your timeline look like, where are you having your wedding. That’s a key question. Experienced vendors will most likely be familiar with your venue and can give you tips on where to put flowers and where not to put them. My florist knew that my church always asks if the altar flowers can be donated and used at masses that weekend. Isn’t it nice to know these things ahead of time so as to not be surprised the day of?
Whenever you meet with your florist, bring photos of what you like, so that they can get a feel for what you are going for, and also, ask to see photos of work they have done. Think of it like a job interview. You are looking to hire them for your special day, and they need to be as prepared as you are. Your vendor should have a portfolio of past work to show you. Additionally, bringing photos of bridal bouquets that you like will also educate you. I know I like the look of flowers, but have no idea what half of them are called. Your florist will be able to tell you what they are, teach you about them, and tell you whether or not they will fit in your budget or even last a whole day out of water.
4) Colors...and the look and feel.
Know what color flowers you want and what colors are going to be in your wedding. Some flowers only come in certain colors. For example, hydrangea do not come in orange or red, so if you want orange or red flowers, you may need to go with a different kind of flower.
What is the look and feel you are going for? Sunflowers have a different feel than roses, which have a different feel than orchids, which have a different feel than calla lilies. Knowing the look and feel you are going for will help your florist determine the best type of flowers you should have. However, if there is a certain type of flower you must have because it’s your favorite, they will be able to help you craft a bouquet that’s perfect for you.
5) Additions to your bouquets.
A bouquet is one of the items that you can truly personalize. Some put charms of deceased family members on their bouquet, others' jewelry, or maybe you want to tie a piece of your grandmother's lace around the stems, or you want to tuck in your something blue. Whatever it is, let your florist know your plan. They can incorporate whatever you want into the bouquets for you.
6) Where will flowers be at the ceremony and reception?
Are you having a flower arch? Altar flowers? Flowers petals down the aisle? Flowers at the end of the pews or rows of chairs? Are you doing a rose ceremony with your parents? Are you wearing a flower crown or flowers in your hair? Are you having rose petals thrown as you exit? What type of centerpieces do you want and how many will you need? Knowing all this will help you map out how much your final costs will be. Ask to see photo examples of everything from your florist and ask them for suggestions.
7) Flowers on the cake.
Don’t forget to tell your florist if you want flowers on your cake. Fresh flowers on your cake are cheaper that sugar flowers, but there is a catch. Your florist does not provide the cake, and if your reception is at a different venue than your ceremony, your florist may not be there to put the flowers on your cake. Often times, the venue will charge you a small fee to place the flowers on the cake. Make sure your florist, as well as your venue, have a photo of what the cake is supposed to look like with flowers on it.
8) Who gets flowers?
Just because someone isn’t in your wedding party, does not mean they do not get flowers. Bridal party aside, boutonnieres or corsages are a great way to make family members, like Grandma and Grandpa … even your dog, feel like they are an important part of your day, while at the same time, being a visual cue to guests as to who is with the bride and groom.
We all know that certain types of flowers bloom at certain times of the year. Order flowers out of season, and you may be paying more. Not that there is anything wrong with that at all. In fact, if you know that going in, and you tweak your budget to allow for that, then, by all means, go for it. Go in with a number, but know that you and your budget may need to be flexible. There are always going to be things that you may not have thought of that the florist will remind you of. Also, if you really want a flower arch, but your budget does not allow for it, you either have to stretch your budget or be open minded to a different design.
10) What to do with the flowers afterwards.
This was the one area I wish I had paid extra attention to. At the end of the day, you are left with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers, but then what? While we were on our honeymoon, my mom was drying my bouquet, my husband’s boutonniere and one of our centerpieces in her garage. On our first anniversary, she put all the flowers in a glass jar and presented it to me wrapped in the lace that my bouquet was wrapped in. I love it and is it’s one of my most cherished possessions! I kind of wonder, though, what it would have been like to have my bouquet actually preserved. There are companies out there that will take the bouquet, in its entirety, and freeze-dry it and frame it. They are pricey, but worth it, if that’s what you want. Also, remember your centerpieces. Talk with your DJ as they often have games they can play with your guests to make sure all the centerpieces go home with someone. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a ton of centerpieces.
What are some of the tips you learned or wish you had known? Any tips you would add in?