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The True Cost of Wedding Flowers - Revisited

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.

 

Money

 

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. 

 

Social Media

 

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.

 

What’s Involved

 

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.

Coordinating Flowers And Outfits For The Bridal Party

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Coordinating the flowers that complement your bridal party may seem like a daunting process, but there is plenty of advice around to help you make the perfect choice for your wedding. Keep reading to find out some great advice for the stylish boys (and girls) who'll be starring at your celebration.

As the big day gets closer, future brides and grooms face the challenge of dressing their wedding party. We know that choosing the perfect wedding dress can cause a lot of stress, but there are many behind the scene details that go into picking out the perfect bridal party attire as well. It’s important that everyone standing by your side coordinates flawlessly, so your wedding vision can come to life. Since we know this can be a big feat, let’s discuss a few simple ways to make sure your wedding party looks their best on your big day.

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While it used to be common to have all your entire wedding party wear the same color and style attire, times are changing. Now is the time to get creative with prints and colours, so there's no need to shy away from mixing and matching. For the bridesmaids, find a dress site that allows you to browse through not just different shades of dresses, but different styles too. Choose a colour and have them pick a style, or choose a look and play with different colours. You’ll find that some colours and styles don’t flatter everyone in your wedding party or photograph very well, so it’s great to have options available for you and your bridesmaids to choose from. If you choose to have different hues, look into having your bridesmaids carry the same style bridal bouquets. This is an excellent way to create a blended look. Even if the bouquets have a mixture of different flowers and greenery, having your bridesmaids carry the same style bouquets will tie everything together beautifully as they stand by your side as you say “I do.”

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The same thing goes for the groomsmen in your wedding party. While wearing the same style of suit or matching ties offers a classic look, don’t be afraid to mix and match, especially when it comes to colours and patterns. There are plenty of other ways to stick to a theme rather than wearing all the same shade. For example, different patterned dress shirts  add great style and extra flare to your wedding attire. While it may seem that multiple shirt patterns could clash, there are different ways to bring everything together. One way to unite the patterns and tones is to have all your groomsmen wear the same flowered buttonholes. The colours from the flowers and greenery will balance the patterns for a cohesive look. Another option is to have your groomsmen wear the same style and colour suit. Patterned shirts will then look more harmonious when your groomsmen are standing next to each other for the all important photographs.

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These are just a few options to choose from. There are a variety of other ways out there to bring the looks of your wedding party together. Whether it’s incorporating different flower colours, textures or patterns, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when looking for alternative ways to dress up your wedding party.
What are some creative wedding attire options that you want to try with your bridesmaids and groomsmen? If you’re struggling to find the right flowers and colours to dress your wedding, look to the experts for inspiration and advice! After all, they have a special eye that is sure to help your big day bloom beautifully.

 

St Bart's Brewery Wedding Flowers - Megan & Sarah

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Megan and Sarah's London wedding was a wonderful celebration of love, family and friends. On a bitterly cold day between Christmas and New Year, their celebration was captured stunningly by photographer Laura Babb, whose emotive and atmospheric images perfectly captured the warmth of this special day.

I was introduced to Megan and Sarah, who live in the US by wedding planner Andri Benson, who coordinated all the practical and design details of the day. The ceremony venue was the very evocative Asylum Chapel in Peckham, a deconsecrated event space which is full of faded charm.

For their flowers Megan and Sarah chose a colour palette of rich burgundy, plum and blue. They exchanged their vows in front of dramatic urns filled with flowers and rich seasonal greenery, while dozens of candles added warmth and atmosphere to their ceremony space. 

Instead of carrying bouquets, Megan and Sarah wore blousy corsages, while their wedding party all had buttonholes. These proved very useful for the post ceremony trip on the London Eye, and stopped guests getting lost!

As darkness descended guests arrived at St Bart's Brewery in Smithfield for the evening celebration. Long banquet tables were set for guests to enjoy warming sharing platters, and dressed with floral arrangements of roses, tulips, hyacinths, thistles and winter berries in copper bowls and vases. 

December can be a drab time for weddings, but Megan and Sarah's post Christmas celebration was the perfect combination of love and happiness in our iconic Capital.

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Photographer: Laura Babb

Wedding planner: Always Andri 

Ceremony Venue: The Asylum Chapel

Reception Venue: St Bart's Brewery

A Romantic Cornish Wedding at Boconnoc

A Romantic Cornish Wedding at Boconnoc Estate

One of the questions I'm most frequently asked as florist is "do you have a favourite wedding"? The diplomatic answer would be, "they're all so beautiful, I couldn't possibly tell you"! There are some weddings though that seem so special that you say to yourself, "did I just do that"?

Lucy and Michael's wedding was one of those, and will leave its mark as a highlight in my career. For many reasons I was thrilled when they chose me as their florist. Firstly it was in Cornwall, so as a cornishman I loved the idea of going home to do a wedding. Secondly the venue was the ridiculously beautiful Boconnoc estate near Lostwithiel which I have family connections to, and thirdly my husband Lester Gethings was the wedding planner!  

From the outset Lucy and Michael were dream clients. They trusted me to bring their vision to life and create a setting that reflected not only the grandeur of the house, but also their natural informality and love for life. They trusted Lester to coordinate a full blown 3 day celebration, which culminated in a wedding breakfast with banquet tables 100 feet long. With the house sitting in 7500 acres, the brief was to bring the outside in and create a romantic English garden. Working with a palette of blush pinks and green, my incredible team and I filled the estate church and house with peonies, roses, hydrangeas, dahlias and herbaceous favourites,  together with mountains of greenery, blurring the boundaries between the house and park.

Lucy's choice of soft blush pinks flowed perfectly from her bouquet to the church and reception. The look was romantic and abundant, which suited Boconnoc perfectly. The beautiful and evocative photography of Amy Shawe sums up why I love this wedding so much. I hope you do too.

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If you're going to have heels, they might as well be a killer pair from Louboutin!

Lucy and Michael's dog Alfie was part of the day too, as he trotted up the aisle with their wedding rings attached to his collar.

A fabulous large scale urn overflowing with flowers dressed the escort card table, in front of the portrait of General Pitt, who bought Boconnoc with the proceeds from the sale of the Pitt diamond in 1717.

Something that Lester always does for his clients is a reveal. Before the guests go into dinner, he gives his couples a private view of the reception room. This is a chance for them to share a private moment and take everything in. I loved the look on Lucy and Michael's faces as Lester opened the door and showed them this beautiful setting. For me this really was a dream wedding, but I am only as good as the team I have around me. My team of fabulous florists, Amanda Randell, Amanda Winsor and Karen Egan pulled out out all the stops and helped me create a wedding I will never forget.

Venue: Boconnoc Estate

Wedding Planner: Lester Gethings

Photography: Amy Shawe

  

 

Wiring For Florists Workshop

A Workshop for Professional Florists

Running your own business can be all consuming. We love what we do, so we live and breathe our chosen careers, but we all need to recharge our batteries from time to time. So when Lindsey Kitchen of The Whitehorse Flower Company suggested via Instagram, the idea of a workshop day just for professional florists, I couldn't wait to sign up. 

The idea behind the workshop was Lindsey's use of traditional wiring techniques for making bridal bouquets. These are something that I learned at college more than 25 years ago, but which many florists who are used to making ever popular hand tied bouquets, are unfamiliar with.   

Before hand tied bouquets became the norm that we see today, most florists used (and still use) floral foam bouquet holders, into which flowers are glued with a hot glue gun. This saves a lot of time, but the end result is, in my opinion rather stiff and unnatural. Before this though, for more than a hundred years bouquets were wired, which was a great skill and took time to master. Time is money, and so this labour intensive method gradually fell out of fashion to be replaced by the very popular hand tied bouquets we're so familiar with today.

Lindsey however still incorporates wiring into her wedding work, and came up with the inspired idea of a workshop where professional florists could meet, practice their wiring skills, share knowledge and experiences, and take a day out their busy schedules just to focus on themselves. 

The venue for the day was Little Park House near Newbury in Berkshire, where we were hosted earlier this month by owner Jill Houston of  Little Park Flowers. After a lovely welcome from Lindsey (with coffee and lemon polenta cake!) my fellow florists, Nicola Eve and Lesley Johnston and Lindsey's amazing team members, Megan and Saranna began the day with a tour of Jill's cutting garden. Here we were able to pick a beautiful selection of flowers including tulips, ranunculus, aquilegia, lily of the valley, foliages and herbs. This was in addition to the wonderful selection that Lindsey had ready and waiting for us in the house.  

What struck me most about the day was just how wonderful it was to be in a room, doing what I love to do, with my peers. We weren't newbies or wannabes playing at being florists, we ARE florists and experienced ones at that. We were there to reinforce our skills, share our expertise and aid one another in a mutually supportive environment.

When it came to making our bouquets, Lindsey's natural warmth and enthusiasm encouraged us to be as creative as we liked. I chose to go wild and woolly with a rich palette of deep purple and plum, with accents of white against a backdrop of chocolatey hazel foliage. Lesley's cascading bouquet was a sensational confection of multi coloured blooms including parrot tulips, ranunculus, roses, jasmine and aquilegia; while Nicola's exquisitely structured bouquet in delicate pastel tones was reminiscent of the 1930's.

Throughout the day we we enjoyed Jill's wonderful hospitality with a gorgeous lunch and sweet treats in abundance. We were joined in the afternoon by photographer Caroline Palmer who captured us as we worked (weird working facial expressions by me) and our finished creations

To say that I was on a high when I left at the end of the day would be an understatement. I was on Cloud 9! Lindsey's and Jill's workshop was an absolute joy to attend, and reinforced my confidence in my own ability. We all need to occasionally make time for ourselves; to think things through and learn from one another.

The day I stop learning is the day I give up!