The Expense of your Wedding Flowers

So you’ve all heard it before- “Prices always increase as soon as someone mentions the word wedding!”. I want to start off this post by telling you that, yes, that is true- but not in the way you’re probably thinking.

I don’t want to get too preachy in this post- I’m certainly not trying to make anyone feel bad for having a budget they need to stick to or anything like that (I’ll definitely be having one if I ever get married) but I do want this post to help you be a little more realistic with that budget of yours. I think a lot of us florists- any creative professional in general really, often feel very undervalued and not respected by our clients. That’s something I want to try and change simply by educating those of you that may know nothing about what we do.

For some reason most of the general public seem to think that all we florists do is prance around our endlessly beautiful studios or shops with all the time in the world “just playing with flowers”. Now, as much as I love the thought of spending my days gently making arrangements with a cup of tea and Florence + The Machine softly singing in the background- this sadly isn’t the case. Sure- I often spend my days off doing this and will probably continue this everyday when I eventually retire- I do love flowers after all- but it’s not something the vast majority of us participate in on the daily.

Photographed by  Zac Monty Media

Photographed by Zac Monty Media

In regards to weddings and events, the whole process of course starts with the email enquiry and quote. It may sound so simple, but the hours and hours we end up spending on emailing or quoting for just one client can be a bit ridiculous. There’s the initial contact, the follow up, the price list or quote, the organising of a consultation, actually going to the consultation (or calling for it), the changes made to the quote afterwards… the list goes on. Quoting itself usually takes a few hours and most florists provide custom quotes for their clients, as no event or wedding is exactly the same. This can be quite a tedious process; Finding out the wholesale costs for every variety included in the bouquets or arrangements, figuring out how many stems of each we will need to get everything looking just right, calculating how much we should be charging (and sadly often charging less because we know people don’t often see the value in our designs or time) , estimating how many hours it will take to make this vision come to life, calculating exactly how many staff we need to roster or freelancers we need to book for said event, calculating those hourly rates, calculating our own hourly rates (we need to get paid a living wage too!) getting our own quotes for professional rigging or hire of arbors, stands and backdrops and even looking over vessels, vases and ribbons to suit the clients needs. It’s something that’s very necessary of course, but also something I think a lot people don’t realise takes up a hell of a lot of time- all before we even book a client!

With a client finally booked comes the many prep hours that go into a wedding or event for any vendor! For us that often includes contacting venues for site visits, organising bump in and bump out times, booking vans, staff and freelancers, liaising with rigging companies, hiring of arbors and stands, contacting growers, suppliers and wholesalers to order our flowers and foliage (all that must be of the best quality.. more on that below), ordering vessels, vases and ribbon and working on specific designs to perfectly suit our clients needs and desires. Again, this all takes a larger number of hours to complete and is something that seems to be forgotten by a lot of people.

I often get asked why a client can’t have the same prices as “a regular bouquet from a regular shop” and it’s as simple as this; your wedding (or event) flowers are of the highest quality, they have been specifically ordered for you and you alone and they have been designed to specifically suit a wedding or event setting and style. Sure, I’ve always worked (and still do work) in shops with flowers and foliage of the highest quality, but a lot of those flowers for sale in a commercial setting often haven’t been prepped right for weddings or events and certainly haven’t been designed for them either. Your florist is probably a qualified and highly trained professional, and even if they’re not qualified- they’ve no doubt put countless hours into honing their skills to become a florist. We all know that a commercially sold bouquet is made differently to a wedding bouquet- no matter the style. The arrangements and bouquets need to last all day and often all night long. Only the best in quality will last these long hours, sometimes even out of a water source. Skimping on quality for wedding blooms is something most florists will simply not do, our reputation is on the line after all, so the best really is required. There’s more flowers, more foliage and more specific techniques involved in creating wedding and event flowers and the quote your florist provides you should reflect this. Bouquets to purchase in shops most likely don’t have anything specifically ordered for them, no one has to make sure that all the flowers and foliage included are here and in perfect condition. This is why buying a $60.00 bouquet off the floor of shop is a perfectly fine idea, but don’t expect the bouquet to look the way you want or even last the way it needs to for your wedding or event.

Photographed by  Zac Monty Media

Photographed by Zac Monty Media

Next comes the actual wedding or event itself. Here come the 3, 4 or 5am starts depending upon how far away your florist lives from their flower market- I have a huge appreciation for regional florists and just how early they have to rise to make it to the flower market bright and early like the rest of us. Before this we’ve no doubt already bleached and scrubbed an incredible amount of buckets, pulled stickers and their lovely sticky residue off of vases, prepped boxes, baskets and ribbons and unpacked our cars or vans ready for a huge haul! The market may be mayhem if your wedding or event is on a Friday or Saturday (meaning a pick up on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday for us, depending on how large your order is and how much prep we need to do) and I personally find it relatively stressful. Making sure you have everything you’ve ordered, choosing the best replacement if anything didn’t come in, is the wrong colour or simply isn’t very nice and then contacting the client if any significant changes need to be made or discussed. Packing it all into the car and making it back to the shop or studio before the real work begins.

Prepping and conditioning flowers and foliage appropriately actually takes a significant amount of time. Stripping foliage, removing thorns, pulling off less than desirable petals, wiring stems and cutting them all before getting them into really fresh, clean water is all necessary for the longevity of the blooms. I’m sure you’ve all seen the reflexed rose trend that we literally can not escape (not that I particularly mind- I certainly see the appeal)- but here’s a seemingly little known fact- reflexing roses takes hours! All the previous prep needs to be done before they can be reflexed and the reflexing itself is not a fast process. I’ve stood around with fellow florists (all speedy, experienced florists) prepping for events or weddings for more than five or six hours reflexing hundreds, often thousands of roses depending upon the size of the event. The effect is phenomenal but think of how many hours we just spent prepping the flowers.. we haven’t even got to making anything yet! These are all hours we need to be compensated for and I urge my fellow florists to be honest with their clients about how long the prep for these weddings and events can potentially take.

Then we make your designs for your special day! From bridal and bridesmaid bouquets to boutonnières and headpieces for the wedding party, to the ten, twelve, twenty or more centrepieces required for the reception or event and the arbor, stand and various ceremony arrangements- we really have our work cut out for us! We’re always working with time limits as there’s things that must be completed, packed and delivered before hand, and items (usually ceremony designs such as arbors) that can’t be made until we are on site. Creating on site can be tricky as we are often dealing with other vendors (rigging, lighting etc) and have tight time limits we need to meet. It takes time, especially for larger orders, but I think most florists will agree when I say it’s my favourite part of any booking! Actually creating and making the vision come to life is something that never gets old and all the previous stress and work comes together to create something beautiful.

Finally, the event or wedding is over, but before then- often just after midnight- we return to bump out and pack up. An exhausting task after a long few days and nights of prepping and creating. With literally bleeding fingers, bruised limbs and tight muscles we pull everything down, making sure the event space is left as it was when we arrived. When we finally return to our shops or studios in the wee hours of the morning we unpack, sort and clean everything- ready for our next event.

Photographed by  Zac Monty Media

Photographed by Zac Monty Media

I hope this gives a little insight as to why florists (and other creative vendors) charge the way we do for weddings and events. There’s so much more work than meets the eye and we often don’t get paid for it. I didn’t even get to mention just how much wholesale flowers and foliage actually cost but here’s a hint; they are expensive! We’re not increasing prices just because you’ve dared to utter the word ‘wedding’. We’re charging accordingly for our time, effort and the product we produce specifically for you or your event.

If you’re looking for some more insight into what we do and how we price things I urge you to read If you know a florist, give them a hug by The Roaming Eagle and The Breakdown- Why Wedding Florals are ‘So Expensive’ by The Naked Florist.

Thank you for reading, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, concerns or comments!

Love always , Maddie xx

Maddison Walsh