First, be realistic with your budget and expectations. It's ok to want your wedding to look like something out of Oprah's magazine or Martha Stewart's book, but that is only realistic if you have the bank balances that those two ladies have to work with. And even though there are "calculators" on web sites such as www.theknot.com that are supposed to tell you how much you should spend on flowers, cake, etc., these are only general calculations and are usually very minimal when compared to what young women often visualize for their weddings.
So how do you select the right floral source? Do you go with the well-established "wedding" flower shop or do you trust a friend or associate that likes to dabble in flowers and is willing to help you with yours as a favor?
Basically flowers can come from many sources. The source you select should be based on your expectations and needs.
Do you expect full service with several consultations, delivery, set up and rental items, or are you planning simple bouquets and flowers to wear that you or a friend can pick up the day of the event?
Are your tastes in reception flowers less complicated such as daisies in a simple vase or are you wanting raised and low centerpieces requiring a skilled and talented floral designer? Knowing the answer to these and many other questions requires you have a clear theme or "look" in mind and then selecting accordingly.
Here are a few questions that can help you in selecting the right florist/ floral source for you and your budget.
Is the wedding formal or casual? More formal weddings usually require more experience and training of the florist. Their knowledge in design, materials, event planning, venue requirements, and execution of the plans is priceless to insure a less stressful and more beautiful event.
Casual weddings for the most part are not as "detail" oriented (unless it is a casual affair in theme but highly detailed and orchestrated in actuality). They may not require as much floral presence and therefore may only require minimal arrangements of non-structured design.
Are the flowers desired readily available with very few restrictions? If you are getting married in September and you REALLY want tulips, then you need to be dealing with a professional florist that specializes in wedding and events. Yes, tulips are available in September if you are willing to accept the costs and their limitations.
However, there are certain things that you would need to be aware of when making those decisions that a professional floral designer would be able to assist you with.
If your flower requirements are very open to interpretation and you feel comfortable just going with what is available the week of the event, then you may not require the services of a traditional flower shop.
Whether your budget is generous or restrictive, a professional florist will be able to give you many suggestions on how to make that budget give you the most value for your dollar.
Never assume that you cannot afford a big name florist. Most are just as willing to work with a bride whose budget is slim as they are with a big ticket wedding. Simply ask if they have any minimum requirements and what your expectations are. Just remember, keep your expectations realistic.
After you have answered these questions, shop around. Do an on-line search of florists in your area and look at their web sites to get a feel for what they can do and have to offer. To what professional organizations and associations do they belong? What is their educational background and how many years experience do they have? Select the three that most fit what you are looking for and then contact them about setting up an appointment to meet with them.
As you meet the floral providers, treat the consultations like you would job interviews. Is this shop right for the job? Does their "look" reflect your style? Does the person you are speaking with understand your expectations? Do they have a good reputation in the area for excellent work, personal service and professionalism? Are they able to provide references and vendor information besides just floral? What other services do they provide that may make it easier for you, such as linens, invitations, cakes, etc.?
Finally, go with the florist that you feel understands your desires, that are willing to work with your budget and with whom you feel a personal connection. When it really get down to it, when comparing apples to apples, most floral shops of comparable abilities, products and levels of service, will have comparable
prices. It really does boil down to finding someone with whom you connect.
Once you find that floral shop, trust them and listen to their recommendations. They are the professionals and have a professional stake in your wedding. Yes, it is your day, but it is also their name on the flowers. Communication is crucial. Allow them to guide you in what flowers are in season, what designs are going to look best for a given situation, and how to make your wedding day as beautiful as possible.
Once you do that, relax and allow the professional to do what they do best. Enjoy the day and know that you have selected the right florist for the job.
Now go and be a beautiful bride.
Written by Robbin Yelverton AIFD, CFD, PFCI
Co-Owner of Blumz... by JRDesigns, Floral & Event Professionals