Five Things To Know Before Contacting Your Florist
You are beginning the process of finding the perfect vendors for your wedding. It's starting to get real and it's also starting to get fun! Hiring your florist is the next one on your list, and you're not quite sure where to start. Before you fill out an inquiry form, I'd like to offer five things that are important to know that will make the process of finding your florist quick and easy.
1. Your Wedding Date
Knowing your wedding date is probably the single most important thing to determine before reaching out to your florist. Often times florists are able to take on more than one wedding a weekend, depending on the size of their team and what all is involved with each project. For four years, I took on multiple weddings in a weekend, sometimes as many as five to six. Although it worked, and actually allowed me to get really good at being efficient and managing logistics, I realized it prohibited me from being able to see each one of my clients the way I wanted to. At the start of 2018, I decided to change my policy to just one wedding per weekend. Now, when a client books with La Rue, they are my client for the entire week. When I receive inquiries, the first thing I do is confirm my availability based on the new client's wedding date before agreeing to speak with them. Also, September and October are crazy crazy crazy wedding months nowadays. If you want to secure your florist for your fall wedding, reach out to them at least 6 to 9 months in advance. Those weekends fill quickly, so save the date and don't wait!
2. Your Reception Location
Despite what people may think, your florist is more interested in knowing where your reception will be held than knowing where the ceremony will be. The ceremony location is great to know, but the reception location tells us many things. First, it gives us clues about your general style. Is your wedding a mountain wedding or at a private estate venue? Do you prefer a hotel ballroom or will you be creating your own space with a tent? Second, it determines which direction to take a design if the client is unsure and looking for guidance. And third, it often dictates the size of the wedding. The reception is where you and your guests will be spending the majority of the wedding day. You'll dine and celebrate there, and if there is any place to fully bring on the floral so that it will be most enjoyed that day, it's at the reception. Changing a venue after booking with us always makes me nervous, because I'll likely have to rethink the floral to fit the new space.
3. Overall Wedding Budget and Floral Budget
This can be a hard one, but I'm going to take it there because I think a lot of people have questions. To start, it's important to understand that not all florists' price points are going to be the same. Some florists have minimums of $10,000 for weddings while some have minimums of $2,000 for weddings. Some don't have minimums at all, which is also fine if that works for them. These price ranges are a combination of things, that, when taken into consideration, are determined by each individual florist. Are the flowers being sourced locally or are novelty flowers being shipped from around the world? Does the florist have years of experience with hundreds of weddings on her resume or are they in their first or second year of business? Will they strike at the end of the night quickly and efficiently or will your planner have to clean up the flowers? Do they have the proper equipment to care for the flowers and do the have the knowledge to design what you are envisioning? Are they confident in their ability to create any floral installation onsite? Do they make the process easy for you to communicate or do they seem generally disorganized? I have decided to only take on one wedding per weekend, have intentionally accumulated an entire inventory of beautiful decor items, and have taken years to learn my style, craft, and business. All these things have compelled me to raise my pricing each year to a minimum that feels correct and fair for what my clients will be receiving from me.
So how do you know what to spend? First, let me remind you that one of the most valuable things about hiring a wedding planner is that they will help you manage your budget. I'm currently planning a wedding with my fiance, and the first vendor we hired was our planner because I knew we needed immediate help understanding our budget and how it will be allocated. It's really as simple as knowing where flowers fall on your list of priorities. I only work with clients who value floral enough to list it as a top five priority on their list of things to budget for. You have to look at your overall wedding budget and determine what is going to work best for you. If flowers are super important to you, put aside 20% of your overall budget so that you can have that stunning backdrop or a gorgeous hanging installation or enough to spend on centerpieces for 20 to 30 tables. If you don't really care about floral, budget about 10%. To provide a sense of perspective, the majority of La Rue Floral's clients spend about anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000 on full service floral with about 4 to 8 bridesmaids, and a guest count of roughly 125. This includes all personals, usually some beautiful ceremony floral, roughly 15 tables at the reception, and delivery, set up, installation, and strike.
4. Clear Understanding of Guest Count
The hard truth...this is where the majority of your floral budget is going to go. If you have 20 tables, you can anticipate this taking up anywhere from 60% to 75% of your floral budget. There are two things I always confirm with the client when we are in the early stages of consulting; how many guests are you inviting to the wedding? And how many guests do you think will actually attend? You could invite 300 people to your wedding, but if only 100 are likely going to be there, that's the number I care about. I divide that number by 10 for an easy determination of how many table centerpieces the client will need and away we go. Of course, final seating adjustments can't be determined until about a month before the wedding, and yes, many tables seat 8 instead of 10, and sometimes they are long tables, square tables, or round tables, and sometimes its a combination of everything. But without knowing those final details yet, I can only begin with a general starting point.
5. Your Wedding Style or General Vision
When I speak to brides for the first time, this is either really fun and exciting for them, or terrifying. I'm able to offer any initial guidance about determining a style direction, but it's always great when they have a relatively clear idea of their vision. Again, I cannot stress enough the value of a good wedding planner, as this is another service they provide and LOVE to do. Whether you have determined your wedding style on your own or with your planner, by the time you speak to your florist, you'll have to make some decisions about which direction to go. I like to use a few key words that I know are popular among the wedding industry such as whimsical and romantic, natural and organic, modern and chic, rustic and nature-inspired, etc. If you read my post last month about floral colors and creating a good palette, you'll know it's one of my favorite parts of the process! I LOVE when brides have a general idea on what color scheme they want but are looking for a little guidance on making it a little more sophisticated. For brides that are unsure or have several color concepts in mind, this is something we'll discuss at our first consultation. I've gotten really good over the years at determining the best option with the client and being able to justify my reasoning for that option. In order to provide an accurate quote, there needs to be a clear understanding of color and aesthetic for the flowers.
Overall, investing in a professional to handle your wedding flowers is one of the best decisions you can make on your wedding day. Keep these things in mind when you go to speak with your florist, and remember to have fun! We are here to help you and want to see that your vision is brought to life. More importantly, we don't want you to worry about a thing. You've hired us to take the floral piece off your plate, and that in itself is worth the investment.