Wedding flowers are one of the essential elements of your big day. Not only do they provide colour and decoration, but they symbolise life, growth, and rebirth.
Good wedding flowers are also a conversation starter, and after the food and dress, one of the things guests will remember most.
While every aspect of your wedding is essential, few pack as much of an immediate visual punch as the florals; not only do they instil a space with a sense of romance, they also convey that your wedding day is one of excitement and celebration.
Florals change environments. And the investment you put towards your flowers will dictate how your guests experience the day.
Flowers are the heart of your celebration and can create the vibe you’re going for: romantic, modern, whimsical, rustic—the list goes on and on.
The right wedding florist can help make wedding planning a breeze, while a problematic florist can make designing your wedding a total nightmare. Looking for the ultimate Wedding Reception Venue in Melbourne? Look no further, Boutique Events Group is here.
Here’s how to pick the right florist for your event.
Finding a Florist
Many wedding websites have vendor listings that include photos, reviews, and general pricing information. Or browse pictures from real weddings held in the same town as your event—typically, the florist information will be listed alongside the images. Make appointments to visit at least three different florists. When you visit the shop, look around: Do you like the arrangements in the store’s windows? Are the flowers in the cooler fresh and bright? Is the shop clean and organised?
Ideally, your florist will have vast previous experience as a wedding florist and will have many photographs of prior wedding flower arrangements and bridal bouquets. Ensure that the pictures are recent and comprehensive—not just one scent, but that they show all the bridal bouquets and centrepieces from a particular wedding.
Some people start sourcing wedding inspiration years before they get engaged, while others come into the planning process with a ring on their finger, and well, not much else. There’s absolutely no shame in either approach, but it’s best first to consult your on-the-ground resources if you start with a blank slate. Got friends or colleagues that married in the same area? Ask them for recommendations. Even better: If you’ve selected your venue, request their list of recommended vendors.
The floral designers on that list will be familiar with space and will know how to maximise its beauty and make the most of your budget.
Know the Difference Between a Floral Designer and a Florist.
A floral designer will be curating a design and knows how to work with a vendor team.
On the other hand, a florist is more likely working out of a brick and mortar shop selling arrangements a la carte.
If all you need is a few small elements that can be picked up ahead of time (think: bouquets, boutonnieres, a small number of table arrangements), a florist can work just fine.
But if you’re looking for someone to provide expertise on how to activate a space or bring a theme to life and hope to include more significant elements that need to be built on-site, such as floral arches or floral chandeliers, the services you’re after will more likely align with those of a floral designer.
Establish Your Flower Style
Some florists specialise in tall, lush, ornate centrepieces, while others are better at modern, minimalist arrangements.
Find photos of bouquets and centrepieces you like to figure out your style.
And familiarise yourself with some of the most common floral terms, so you’ll be able to talk shop with your florist.
Determine Your Floral Needs
Do you want someone who’ll not only make your arrangements but also help design the look of your reception tables and ceremony aisle?
A florist designer is probably more your speed. Already have a planner or an eye for design? Then a regular florist will likely do the trick.
Figure out which is the best fit—this will allow you to narrow your search and help determine your budget.
Match Your Aesthetics.
Floral designers are creatives at heart.
They got into the business because they love making beautiful things, but beautiful means something different to everyone.
So, for the best results, don’t try to fit a round peg into a square hole when selecting your vendor. If you love ethereal, loosely composed designs, don’t hire someone with a portfolio filled with tight, traditional styles.
The “compromise” you’ll arrive at while working to meet halfway will likely only disappoint both parties—and that’s the last thing anyone wants on occasion as meaningful as a wedding day.
Create Your Floral Budget
Décor and flowers should amount to about 10 per cent of your overall budget.
If you love flowers and want a grand installation, or are dead-set on peonies in November, plan to bump up this number.
And account for extras like setup and breakdown charges, taxes and tips. You must have a number in mind when you start meeting with florists.
Talk About Budget.
Speaking of budget: pricing compatibility is a huge part of picking your floral vendor.
Floral service costs vary widely and can increase dramatically based on several factors, including guest count, flower preferences and seasonality, and design choices.
All that to say: It’s pretty much impossible for a designer to put blanket prices on their services—hence why you rarely see them publicly listed.
To get an initial feel for where you might land, start with 10 per cent of your overall budget.
(If you’re after an incredibly lush look or know you want to incorporate off-season blooms or introductory statement displays, up that amount to 15 or 20 per cent.)
Share that number with the floral designer, along with your guest count and any must-haves. From there, they can give you an honest take on what they’ll be able to deliver with the funds available.
Don’t Rely Solely on Instagram.
Once you’ve found a floral designer whose style resonates with yours, it’s time to dig a little deeper.
An Instagram grid is a great starting point, but it’s often dominated by self-selected moments of a designer’s best work and outtakes from styled shoots, which don’t always reflect what can be created while working on a budget.
To get a more multi-dimensional sense of a vendor, switch over to their “tagged” photos for a quick look into a less curated version of their work.
The next step is to peruse the total galleries of weddings they’ve worked on.
If you fell in love with a vendor’s bouquet, this will help you understand what their style looks like when carried through other elements of a wedding.
It will also help you understand what they’re able to create with different budget levels.
Ask More Questions.
Beyond the budget, there are also a few logistical matters to clear up. How many weddings does the vendor work on per weekend?
Will, they are present to oversee your event installation, or will they send someone else from their team? Who will be handling the clean-up?
An experienced designer will give you those answers ahead of time. These initial conversations are also the time to inquire about communication preferences and the amount of control you’re able to have over the final vision.
For most couples, working with a floral designer will not require as much regular collaboration as working with a wedding planner, so you don’t have to be ideally in sync.
However, having clear, agreed-upon expectations will go a long way in ensuring both sides are satisfied with the final product.
Read Their Reviews.
But treat them as a barometer and not the deciding factor.
Reviews are another tool but not necessarily the only go-to. They’re not always a fair or even truthful assessment of someone’s work.
If a vendor’s reviews are mostly negative, that’s a reason to shy away, but what do you do with one or two unsatisfied clients in a sea of happy appraisals?
Our advice: Ask the vendor directly about what happened in those situations. If they were in the right, they wouldn’t have a problem explaining. If they’re apprehensive about it, though, that might be a red flag.
Keep Sustainability in Mind.
Along with catering, florals present one of the most significant opportunities for waste on a wedding day. If minimising your environmental impact is a top priority, there are a few additional components to consider when picking your floral designer.
Opting for someone who works predominantly with locally-grown blooms is your best bet, but if that’s not possible, there are ways to mitigate additional energy consumption.
Ask how they dispose of their blooms—composting is best— and what materials they use when designing.
Chicken wire and floral frogs can be reused, but the floral foam is more of a one-time thing. You can also inquire about the possibility of donating the blooms after the event.
Share Your Ideas
Bring swatches of the bridesmaid dress fabric, pages from magazines with bouquets and floral arrangements that you like, the type of container you’d like to use, and any ideas you may have.
Create a Pinterest board of your favourite wedding flower ideas and share the URL with the vendor before your meeting. Make sure that the florist is receptive to your ideas and that they are willing to listen to your vision.
If you find the florist is pushing you in another direction or criticises your choices, you’ll want to go with another vendor.
You should feel very comfortable with this person. You’ll also want to make sure that they think your budget is realistic for your ideas.
As with all wedding pros, you want a florist whose reliable, capable and within your price range.
You also should find someone open to your ideas and whose taste you respect. One of the best ways to find your florist is by word of mouth—ask for recommendations from newlyweds, you know, look online and browse local wedding magazines.
If you’re working with a wedding planner or a vendor coordinator, they should have some suggestions of area pros. Looking for a Wedding Event Planner? Look no further, Boutique Events Group have you covered.
Schedule an Interview
You should hire someone you trust to make the right floral decisions—someone who instinctively knows what will look good together.
Set up appointments with your “shortlist” of florists about 9 to 11 months out, so you can connect in person and view a portfolio of their work.
The show, Don’t Tell.
Are you a true minimalist? Or are you looking to do an über-romantic, glamorous wedding? Your florist isn’t a mind reader, and images are more telling than words.
Bring your inspiration boards, a bridesmaid dress fabric swatch and a photograph of your wedding gown to your interviews. Share your vision and discuss your budget.
Consider the Proposal
Determine your top picks and have a second interview or follow-up discussion to hash out details like exact flowers, cost of materials, and setup and breakdown costs.
Has each florist put together a detailed proposal for your wedding based on what you’ve told them about your vision and budget?
If you’ve spoken about many different ideas, ask them to prepare a “high” best-case scenario and “low” bare-minimum proposal.
You can always mix and create a mid-range package—perhaps you spend more on the centrepieces and pare down the bridesmaid bouquets.
Pick a Winner
Review your proposals and determine the best match. If you have concerns about any costs or elements of the proposal, talk about them with your chosen florist now. When you’re delighted with the proposal, your florist will turn it into a formal contract. Ideally, you’ll want to secure a florist five to six months before your wedding.
When to Book Your Wedding Florist
This depends on how long you have to plan your wedding, but a general guideline is to start talking to your florist about 6 to 8 months before your wedding and sign a contract with them about 4 to 6 months before the big day.
Here are some details you’ll need to have finalised before your florist can draw up a complete contract:
- Ceremony Site: You’ll need to have booked this and know how many arrangements you’ll need to decorate it. Do you need a chuppah or garland? Are you planning on aisle decorations?
- Reception Site: This should be booked, and you should be aware of the prominent colours of the venue (so the flowers don’t clash) and what spaces you intend on decorating in addition to the guest tables (coat check, restrooms, entryway, etc.).
- Guest List: You’ll need to know approximately how many wedding guests you are having, which dictates how many centrepieces you’ll need. (Most round catering tables seat 8, 10 or 12 guests; rectangular tables generally place eight people).
- The Wedding Party: How many bridesmaids you are having, and the colour of their dresses; the number of corsages (for mothers, grandmothers, and sometimes readers or other special guests) and boutonnieres (for the groom, groomsmen, ushers, and sometimes readers or other special guests).
- Other Parties: Do you require flowers for the rehearsal dinner, post-wedding brunch, or any other events?
Questions to Ask Your Wedding Florist
After you’ve met your florist and flipped through some of their recent work, you’ll want to ask a few questions to ensure your styles mesh. Here are some popular options:
- What is your design philosophy? Do you prefer modern arrangements or more traditional ones?
- Will you be the person arranging my flowers?
- How many other weddings and events will you do the same weekend as my event?
- What flowers will be in season and less expensive for my wedding? How can I maximise my budget?
- What ideas do you have for my wedding? What are the most successful ideas you’ve had for past weddings?
- Is it possible to see a sample of my centrepiece and bouquet?
- Will you deliver and set up my flowers? How long do you generally spend at a site set up? Is there an extra delivery or set up charge?
- Is it possible to reuse the ceremony flowers as reception decorations? Will you transport them, or will we need to? Is there a transport fee?
- Are there any other additional or hidden costs I should know about?
- Do you have rental supplies (such as vases, urns, candelabras and potted plants), or do I need to use a separate rental company?
- If I need to add, subtract, or change arrangements or bridal bouquets, how long do I have to do so?
- Will you write up an itemised quote of what we’ve discussed?
- How soon do I need to put down a deposit to reserve your services? What is the minimum deposit?
What Kind of Extras Do You Need?
Being aware of what kind of extras you’ll need can be a lifesaver when choosing a florist.
The more ground your florist can cover for you by getting everything done in one place, the better!
Besides the regular trappings of centrepieces and the bride’s bouquet, there are tons of other ways to get more mileage out of your florist–petals for the send-off, corsages for honoured guests like readers and grandmothers, and small floral arrangements to make the venue’s restrooms look elegant.
But a good florist doesn’t have to stop with flowers.
The suitable candles, furniture, ornaments and tableware all have to make a smashing singular impression. Check out our list of Wedding Florists to help you select the perfect blooms.
One-stop shopping with a single versatile floral designer means a coherent aesthetic and fewer wedding-planning headaches!