Choosing the flowers for your wedding should be one of the most enjoyable parts of the planning process, but deciding how much to spend on them definitely isn't! It's a subject very close to my heart and which, after 28 years in the business still frustrates and confuses florists and couples alike! For florists it seems that we’re always being asked to slash our prices or do things for free; and for couples there doesn't seem to be any real information about how much they should expect to pay for their wedding flowers.
A few years ago I wrote a blog about the cost of wedding flowers, and it proved so popular that it's drawn more traffic to my website than anything else! So with this in mind, I've decided to revisit this very important subject, which I hope will help you understand what flowers do and can cost.
Here are 3 very important things to consider about wedding flowers.
Let's face facts, getting married is expensive. Unless you intend to sneak into a register office on a Monday morning with a couple of witnesses and then go to work, this milestone event is going to cost you money. Apart from buying a home, the cost of a wedding is probably the biggest expense that a couple (or their parents) will have in their lives.
Very often the cost of wedding flowers is like the elephant in the room. Couples don’t like talking about it, and much of the wedding industry seems to be ignoring it. A lack of discussion about what wedding flowers actually do and can cost leads to a huge amount of frustration, misunderstanding and embarrassment for florists and clients alike. A serious lack of information about the work involved for a wedding florist isn’t helped by the media and bridal press telling couples to ask for discounts or how to save money, or that they can have it all on a budget of £500.
There are many reasons why florists charge what they charge for providing wedding flowers; however the perception is that we pay pennies and charge pounds. The trouble is that we’ve all become so accustomed to seeing flowers in supermarkets at discount prices, that we expect flowers to be cheap. Supermarket flowers are a completely different ball game however, and are sold as loss leaders with the marketing strategy of "pile it high, sell it cheap". I would highly recommend a visit to New Covent Garden Flower Market (open to the general public) to find out exactly what flowers cost. I think you will be surprised!
Florists can sometimes be their own worst enemies when asking a prospective client about their floral budget because they're afraid to put people off. I've certainly been guilty of this myself, but I now know that there really is no shame asking a direct question. It saves a lot of time and embarrassment later on, and sorts those people who genuinely are interested in my services from those who are just shopping around for the cheapest quote.
I’m in a fairly unique position, in that I’m married to a wedding planner, so I know how much of their budget my husband advises his clients to allow for each element of their wedding. A rule of thumb for flowers it’s 10% of the overall budget, depending on guest numbers, flowers used, the number of arrangements, location and work involved. This isn't set in stone, as flowers will inevitably be more important to some couples than others, but it is a very useful figure to bear in mind.
Remember too that certain flowers can be very expensive (particularly out of season), more elaborate designs are more labour intensive and additional costs such as hire items, transport, petrol, VAT and staff wages have to be factored in. These can increase the final cost dramatically.
Love it or loathe it, social media plays a very big part in the modern wedding, especially when it come to a couples expectations.
When I first started as a florist there was no such thing as Pinterest or Instagram, and there weren’t any wedding blogs to inspire or advise. Back then brides went to their local florist and chose arrangements from a commercially produced catalogue. The styles and flowers available were very limited, and I’d often hear brides say “I’ll have that one, in peach”. What’s changed since then? - EVERYTHING!
Today the bridal press and internet are saturated with beautiful images of flower walls, enormous hanging installations, arches and flower heavy photoshoots; all of which make great copy. What isn’t made clear though, is that these flowers cost a lot of money, and to create these jaw dropping creations takes a small army of florists and support staff, working flat out from early hours. Venues will often insist that the everything has to cleared (midnight to later), but this distinctly unsexy side of our business doesn’t make it into the glossies!
It’s rare now for me to meet a bride who hasn’t found her inspiration on social media. As Pinterest and Instagram take over the world, brides now bring THEIR Pinterest boards to ME!
To be perfectly honest I have a love, hate relationship with Pinterest! On the one hand it’s an incredibly useful tool which helps me inspire and inform potential clients, but it can also be very misleading. Much of its imagery features incredibly flower heavy weddings which look spectacular, but none of them come with a price tag. This then can lead to much confusion and disappointment when I tell couples that the £3000 archway dripping with flowers which they’ve fallen in love with will swallow up their entire wedding flower budget, and then some.
I spend many months preparing for a wedding, sometimes more than a year. The run up to a wedding can involve months of site visits, design meetings, quotes, re quotes, adjustments and mock ups of final designs. A wedding day for me can have a 4 a.m. start to prepare the bridal flowers, and a 1 a.m. clearance, and this all has to be costed into the final fee.
To the uninitiated many people think that my job finishes when I deliver the bridal bouquet. In fact many people think that mine isn’t a proper job at all. Over many years I’ve come to realise that the people who do think this don’t respect my work, attach no value to it and therefore think they have the right to negotiate my prices down. I have also come to realise that I have the right to say no.
Every year I take on a limited number of weddings. I don’t work every weekend because enquiries, like buses tend to come along all at once. Sometimes I have to turn down work because I’m already booked, and when I do want a booking I don’t get any enquiries at all! it's either feast or famine but that's the nature of the business.
Professional florists are highly experienced, skilled and creative individuals who deserve respect for what they do. We work incredibly hard (often behind the scenes) to make a couple’s day look amazing, and what we do is reflected as the true cost of wedding flowers.