Every year in the fall, just as the current wedding season is winding down we see a real pickup in questions about how to plan a wedding…
Most of the brides and grooms coming to us are asking general questions and looking for info on where to start with ordering flowers as, for most, this is their first time planning such an event. As a florist who’s helped around 700 couples plan for their big day here’s where I suggest you start the process!
Here are some basic tips on how to begin.
How do I even start? Where do we begin?
Here’s a general guideline on what to do in what order…
1. Make your guest list. Your guest count determines everything, the location, your budget, pretty much everything so until you have a general idea of where that’s going to fall everything else is guessing.
2. Hire a wedding planner. If you can hire a wedding planner BEFORE you start the search for your venue and vendors that will be extremely helpful as they can be key in suggesting vendors, negotiating contracts and helping you with the big bad budget. How do you find a great wedding planner? Look online at reviews, call around to a few venues, dress shops, (email me!), etc, and ask for their recommendations. Then meet with several. Note- If you started booking vendors before hiring a planner that’s not the end of the world by any means! You can always book one mid-point to help with the final month of preparations and/or to organize the decisions you’ve already made.
3. Book your venue and choose your colors and/or theme. As a florist, the date, location and general vibe of the event are going to totally determine what flowers we use and what style. Without those pieces in place we’re just guessing.
4. Find images of flowers, colors, arrangements, designs, etc that you love. As you’ll soon discover the options for wedding flowers online are endless and helping your florist to narrow down those options is incredibly important. Just a few pictures of things that you love is great. Maybe it’s the shape of this bouquet or the colors in that arrangement. Pinterest can be a great tool but I always recommend that you find photos on websites other than pinterest and just use that as an organizing tool. That way your wedding will stay more unique. Please don’t spend hours on this part of the process… especially not before you meet with your florist. There are few things more frustrating and sad than having a bride come in with her heart set on something that’s either out of season, unavailable and/or completely outside of her budget. Giving the florist an idea of your style is important but so is allowing flexibility to let us show you options that may be better for your wedding than what is readily available online.
5. Meet with florists! Your planner will provide referrals, as will your venue, vendors, magazines and a whole slew of online posts and review sites. Shows can also be a good way to find a few that you’d like to talk with (see our last blog post about a couple of great ones coming up!)
When you meet with the florist expect to go through different ideas for the flowers and you can also expect to receive a detailed, itemized proposal afterwards with pricing and descriptions. Unless I can sense that the budget is incredibly important (or most likely WAY off from the photos I’m being shown) to the clients I don’t usually ask what it is at the first meeting. This may seem odd but the truth is I want the first proposal to be a true reflection of what the bride and groom REALLY want. Sometimes we’re right on the ball in terms of the budget and sometimes we’re over so we’ll taper down from there. But I really like starting out giving people what their ideal is so that they’re educated about the flowers and pricing.
You’re now on your way! Most florists require a non-refundable retainer to reserve the date (generally 20-40%) and the balance will be due before the wedding when we order flowers and hard goods.
How much will my flowers cost?
All of our wedding proposals are customized based on the types of flowers used, quantity of blooms and style of design (ie labor.) A lot of times people will email me just a few images of bouquets and centerpieces to get ballpark prices for planning purposes. When you do that though remember there are quite a few items that you probably haven’t thought of yet so take those ballpark figures and add a good 25-50% to your budget.
When do I need to book?
I generally recommend booking for peak season weekend dates (I consider this May through mid-October) 6-9 months before your wedding. For mid week and off season (October through April) 3- 6 months is generally enough time. With that said, every year we’ll have a couple of weekends that book up really far in advance and a few that remain open really late. In general, I just say once you’re ready and have completed the steps in the first section then come on in. Better to be prepared then to have to race against the clock. The absolute LATEST that I like to book full service weddings is about a month before hand. If we get too close to the date to finalize the details (which always takes a couple of weeks) it can be hard to guarantee certain types of flowers and hard goods.