One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “How much do wedding flowers cost?” I wish there was an easy answer. Truth is the cost of wedding flowers vary dramatically from event to event, depending on a long list of factors. In class we learned that couples should plan to spend on average between 10-15% of the entire wedding budget on flowers. To some this sounds reasonable, to others outrageous. Although this is a fairly safe rule of thumb it does not work in every instance. Every wedding is different, each couple has different priorities. Some weddings are small and intimate, some have huge bridal parties and hundreds of guests. Some brides must have calla lilies, garden roses, cafe au lait dahlias, peonies or tropicals – all extremely expensive per stem, some want only baby’s breath. Some want simple delivery, some want a large scale on-site installation. You cannot determine how much your wedding flowers will cost until you decide what you want. Use the 10-15% rule as a place holder or starting point in the budgeting process. Work through the questions below, then schedule a consult with a florist. Knowing the big picture will help you communicate your vision with the florist.
- What is your vision? – Are you picturing an elegant, upscale, formal affair? Do you prefer a casual and natural feel? Do you want something bold and unique? Do you have a theme in your mind? Have your selected your venue? Your bridal party? Your colors? Do you have favorite flowers you want to incorporate in the plan? All of these questions will help you define and communicate your vision to your florist. Start to look at photos on-line. Make boards, collect images of what you like, and even things you seriously don’t like.
- Where do you want flowers? Will there be flowers for the ceremony? Altar, pews, garlands, wreathes, chuppah, arbor? What flowers do you want for the reception? Centerpieces? How many? Do you want flowers for the entrance? For the guest book, place card, gift, sweetheart or buffet tables? For any chairs? For the cake? For the lobby? For the restrooms? Do you want flowers for the rehearsal dinner? Flowers at the brides home? So many choices. Give your florist the name and website of your venues. Take pictures if you can. Once you’ve selected a florist it’s a great idea to schedule a visit to see the venue together (although, I will warn you that having a new set of eyes seeing the potential, the synergy of new ideas, and the growing excitement that “this is really happening” can add to the budget fairly quickly).
- Who gets flowers? Make a detailed list of each member of the bridal party and family members for the personal flowers. Bouquets are traditional for the bride and bridesmaids. Flower girls might get mini bouquet, floral crown, basket for petals, even a flower wand. Groom and groomsmen, ring bearer, father of bride and groom traditionally get boutonnieres. Mothers of the bride and groom usually get corsages, wrist corsages being most popular. Often, personal flowers are provided for the officiant, readers or vocalists and other individuals who are special to the bride and groom like grandparents, aunts or uncles. Once you compile your list, go back and spend some time thinking about what style you’d like for the bouquets. Everything else falls into place from there. One more thing, these are personal flowers, so go ahead and add a personal touch. A favorite flower, a blossom straight from grandma’s garden can be a meaningful addition for a memorable occasion.
- What are your colors? Seems like this should be a pretty straightforward question, but there is more to it than you’d think. The bridesmaids dresses usually determine the primary color in your color scheme, but not always. Do you have or want a secondary color? Do you like analogous colors? Complementary? Don’t know what to select? Sit down with your florist and her color wheel. Work through some options together. Things to remember… your flowers should enhance and coordinate with your dresses, but not necessarily match them. If you have burgundy dresses and choose all burgundy flowers, the bouquets will blend into the dresses and become somewhat invisible. If your dresses are teal, a color that you don’t find naturally in flowers, your secondary color may become the primary color in the bouquets. Because the range of colors in floral material is so vast, I find it helpful to use color phrases to describe what you want. “Butter Yellow” gives a much better picture of what you want than just yellow. If you can, bring a swatch of the fabric for your florist to keep. Go to the paint store and grab some paint chips in the colors you like. Trust your florist to take all this input to come up with an exquisite floral design.
- What is your flower IQ? Are you flower savvy? Do you know exactly what flowers you want? Do have particular favorites? Your florist will advise you on which flowers will hold up well without a water source, which are more budget friendly, and most importantly which flowers are seasonally available. There is nothing worse than wanting all peonies on a tight budget for a December wedding. It’s just not plausible, but the expertise of a good florist will help you come up with a similar style that is. Are you clueless when it comes to flowers? Can’t tell a daffodil from a dandelion? Your florist will hold your hand and guide you through the process step by step, give you options and using lots of photos to help you know what you are getting.
- What are your priorities? – Some brides might say, “As long as we have a great DJ and everyone gets up to dance, I’ll be happy”. For others it might be a gorgeous dress or great food they care about. But for some people (myself included), all that matters is that everything looks beautiful! I want stunning flowers everywhere. If this is you, you need to recognize and acknowledge it right now. Make it a priority and budget accordingly. Spend more. If you settle for average or ordinary flowers, you will be disappointed – and that is not what you want for such an important day. There will still be opportunities to make some fiscally sound choices, there may be other areas of the wedding plan that can take some cuts. Don’t deprive yourself of something that really matters. If you decide that flowers are not one of your top priorities, set a reasonable budget, and stick to it.
This collection of random ideas and thoughts will help your florist build a plan specific for you. After meeting for the consultation, give your florist time to work up your pricing. It should include detailed descriptions. Read it carefully to look for anything that might have been omitted or misstated. Remember that this is the document that the florist will work from when it comes time for your wedding. Ask for itemized pricing. I like to include standard and deluxe pricing for every item. This makes it easy for the couple to select the items they want, upgrade items that are most important to them and eliminate items to get the budget to the desired amount. For instance, your might decide because the church is already beautiful, let’s eliminate the altar flowers and pew decorations, and focus more on the reception flowers. It gives you the ability to make more informed choices. Most couples don’t give much thought to this question, but what do you plan on doing with the flowers after the wedding? There are charitable organizations that re-purpose event flowers, and distribute small fresh flower arrangements to hospital, hospice and nursing home patients. Ask your florist if they know of any such organizations in your area. Finally, congratulations on your upcoming wedding – I wish you a lifetime of joy together.