Floral 101

From sourcing, pricing, designing and caring for flowers, the topic remains a mystery to most people, so I thought it would be helpful to share a little “floral 101” today! The following information has been adapted from an information session I attended by local wholesaler Floral Supply and knowledge from my personal experience coordinating and handling blooms on a wedding day.

Floral Basics

What is a floral arrangement? How are flowers prepared and what kinds of flowers are available to me?

Couples can incorporate one or a combination of fresh blooms (both locally or internationally sourced), dried pieces and silk pieces as part of their floral décor.  If you use fresh pieces, they must be kept in a water source to ensure maximum freshness.  Depending on the style of the arrangement, sometimes a glass or ceramic vessel isn’t the right option (think about those beautiful arbour pieces you may have seen at a wedding this summer).  These larger pieces are often held in place by floral foam - large green sponge blocks that hold each stem carefully in place.  Florals are also commonly arranged in a bouquet, wrapped in a variety of materials like ribbon, twine, string and held by a member of the wedding party during ceremony and portraits.

An important note - Florals are extremely sensitive to heat and cold!!!!  Whenever possible, flowers must remain in a fridge or air conditioned space to reduce browning or deteriorating before the wedding. NEVER, leave flowers in the sunlight or in a car.  On the opposite end of the seasonal spectrum, flowers must always be protected and covered when transported during the winter and should NEVER be left outside!

Floral Options

How do I go about finding flowers for my wedding day?

·         The first and most obvious is to work with a florist (STRONGLY recommended in order to ensure top quality, beautiful blooms and a worry free experience).

·         Buy from wholesaler and Do it Yourself (for an example: purchase directly from Costco a few days before your wedding, grab your family and friends and assemble all bouquets and centers yourself). WARNING: unless you ARE a florist, this option is NOT recommended.  I have witnessed “DIY” floral bouquets fall apart minutes before the ceremony or die due to improper mechanics.

·         Hire your own designer (Some décor companies offer all in one décor planning including floral design and sourcing) so you have a one stop shop for everything! This is convenient for busy couples.

·         Use a wholesaler for bulk flowers or small events with tight budgets (I have done this a handful of times for clients with minimal floral needs or clients requiring only one type of flower, for example).  Again, while it is cheaper, the stress of handling it yourself and coordinating the order, assembly and care of the flowers has many downsides and should be considered before ordering.

Flower Care and Handling

What can I do to ensure my blooms are perfect on my wedding day?

·         Always keep flowers cool to reduce metabolic activity with access to a floral preservative if possible.

·         Store bouquets in cylinders with clean water when not in use.

·         Recut and trim stems to allow maximum water uptake

·         Flowers and fruit do NOT mix! Fruit contains a harmful gas called Ethylene and it is deadly to flowers.  NEVER have your wedding florals too close to fruit for long periods of time.

·         An important note if you tint the colour of your blooms, (I am very much against this), BUT if you insist, do NOT touch the petals as they will stain your hands, your linens, your gown - everything!

·         Be careful of heat and plan photos accordingly.  Indoor photo locations are a good idea to consider not just for rain, but extreme heat, especially with the hot and dry summer season we’ve experienced lately, (thanks global warming)!  If your bouquet is outside in the heat too long, it will wilt.  Best to discuss your timeline and photo location options with your wedding planner to avoid this issue.

Floral Budgeting

So, how much should I expect to spend?

On average my couples spend between 15 – 20% of their budget on décor (this includes flowers, linens, stationery etc.). When I meet with my clients I pay careful attention to the priority they place on their flowers and their overall wedding style in order to match the budget to the florist. 

Bridal Bouquets usually start at - $175, $100 for bridal bouquets and boutonnieres between $20 - $35 depending on the kind of flower(s) used.  Generally speaking, when hiring a florist you can expect on average to pay - $2000 - $6000 TOTAL for personal flowers, ceremony and reception florals but this price fluctuates depending on the size and design needs for each wedding. Important to remember in this price is the labour to make the flowers, the expertise in designing the “look” of the blooms and other factors like administration leading up to your wedding, set up on the wedding day and mileage. 

It may come as a surprise, but fresh flowers are often lower cost than permanent (silk flowers) since permanent can be repurposed or rented multiple times.  I for one LOVE silk flowers because there are loads of benefits. Silk removes ANY last minute organizing since the arrangements are ready to go, they are good for destination weddings and they won’t get damaged or die on your big day. 

How do I make the most of my floral budget?

Don’t be overwhelmed, there are LOADS of ways to save on flowers and maximize your floral budget and wedding planners are pros at helping you create a budget and STICK to it!

·         Avoid budget creep.  STICK TO THE PLAN and try to avoid too many add-on’s in the last 6 weeks of your wedding.  All floral orders MUST be confirmed 4 weeks before your wedding and once you commit to your blooms, there is no going back when the product has been ordered!

·         Choose a high impact arrangement.  A lot of my couples opt to focus on one larger floral piece in a high traffic area versus mini table centers that often go unnoticed.

·         Elevate and LIFT centerpieces.  Higher centerpieces look bigger and more dramatic!

·         Use less flowers and more greens to keep your floral budget in check.

·         Buy a ‘look’ and focus less on a specific flower.  Let your florist have creative direction in order to create something gorgeous AND budget friendly for you.

·         Repurpose Repurpose Repurpose.  My couples know I am ALL about moving ceremony pieces to the head table, bouquets to the sweets table, etc.  Your guests won’t know we are using the same pieces over and over and we can extend their use over the course of the whole wedding!

·         Avoid floral holidays.  Notably valentines and mothers day when floral costs are at their peak.  This means you will pay increased prices for florals around these holidays when demand is highest.

·         Be on time, decisive and focused when meeting with your florist. Consultation hours add up fast and you don’t want to blow your floral budget on multiple meetings.  Make your notes, revisions, and prepare a list of questions for your florist in advance of the planning meeting to keep things efficient and the consultation hours low.

Need help with your floral and décor planning?  Email alli@allimae.com today!