Since opening The Flower Studio in 2009 I have quoted for over 350 weddings and the majority of Brides that those quotes have gone to have come back and booked us as their wedding florists – we have been so privileged to work on some amazing weddings, from small intimate secret days to full-blown, unlimited budget, flowers everywhere, extravaganzas!
But I often hear Brides and Grooms (and Mothers!) complain about the expense of wedding flowers – “but you can buy them in Tesco/Shoprite/Marksy’s for a fiver – how can a bouquet be THAT expensive?”
Now I know everyone has a price limit, whether it is £50, £500 or £5000, and wedding flowers are a difficult area of your big day to budget for as it is a very variable item. A wedding dress has a price tag, a suit has a price tag, wedding rings have a price tag, but pretty much everything can change in costing wedding flowers when you take in to account changing seasons and availability.
So hopefully this article will explain a little about what goes into preparing, designing and delivering your wedding flowers.
Knowledge and Expertise
With everyone tightening their purse strings and trying to make their hard-earned cash stretch a little further, the DIY bride is more common than ever and I have no problem with that, but please, please, please think about whether you (or your bridesmaids, or your Mum’s best friend) have the skill and time to DIY your wedding flowers. Would you attempt to make your own wedding dress without any experience? Or make your own wedding cake having never baked before? I have had at least 5 Brides in the last 2 years that have contacted me the week, the day or even night before their wedding in a panic because what they were planning has gone horribly wrong and they needed us to help try to fix it before their big day. Do you really need that stress on your wedding day?
I studied at college for a degree (yes a proper BSc Hons degree!) in Professional Floristry and Horticulture for 4 years and I still attend various workshops and seminars now to improve my skill and techniques and my florists are the same. We have prepared, constructed and installed flowers for hundreds of weddings on the Isle of Man and know how long lilies take to open to look their best on your big day (and how long they will stay like that!). We know how to get peonies to bloom to perfection and how many stems of roses it will take to make the perfect tablecentre. We have also made mistakes and have learnt from them!
When I first meet you for your consultation I can advise you which flowers are at their best at certain times of year and what designs will complement your dress perfectly. I can also calculate just by looking at you what size bouquet will suit your height and build. This all comes from experience and practise.
Elly Lucas Photography
Time and Preparation –
The initial Wedding consultation can take anything up to an hour, and then there is the time taken to put your quote together, source the sundry items (vases, ribbons, jewels) and work out the best combination of flowers to fit your budget, unless you haven’t specified a budget and then I can provide you with different price options for bouquets and centrepieces.
Shan Fisher Fine Art Photography
If you then decide to book us, you might change your mind several times and ask for sample flowers to check the colours against the fabric swatches for your Bridesmaid dresses. I then compile a spreadsheet to calculate every single stem of flower and foliage and every pearl and metre of ribbon needed – plus add a couple extra just in case.
Your flowers will usually be ordered through our Dutch wholesaler where I will have various options for each flower with prices depending on stem length, head size and quality. What will fit in best with your budget to give me the perfect design?
Design and Artistry
I keep using the word design and that is exactly what your wedding flowers are – designed specifically for you. Every single wedding I have worked on has been unique to any other. So there is no cookie cutter pattern that I can refer to when ordering your flowers. Every single design that leaves out shop, whether it is a wedding design, a funeral design, or a bouquet for a birthday or other special occasion has been designed individually and is looked at by us as a work of art.
Shan Fisher Fine Art Photography
Construction and Installation
The preparation of your wedding flowers can begin up to 2 weeks prior to your big day, but most of it happens in the day or 2 prior and leading right up to the hours before you say your vows. When the flowers arrive in our shop they have usually been transported dry and in boxes, so we have to carefully unpack, strip the stems of unwanted leaves and thorns, re-cut every single stem and place in clean buckets with water containing flower food to hydrate them for at least 24 hours. Each flower is checked for damage and imperfections and carefully stored ready for the next stage.
Some work will take place on location at your venue, involving additional staff, time and transportation and often working late hours to set up a reception venue after they have finished their normal daily trading.
If you are planning on doing DIY wedding flowers please for your own sake and sanity do a test run and see how long it takes you to make your centrepieces or bouquets. I still find myself on most Friday nights, sat up late, making buttonholes and I know I wouldn’t want to be walking down the aisle looking like I do after only a few hours sleep!
I have my team of trained florists, but I also rely on delivery drivers and ‘gophers’ to help with a lot of running around on the day before and the day of a wedding. We might deliver buttonholes to one address for 10am, bouquets to another for 10.15, the church has to be ready for 12.00 and we are also busy at the reception venue installing tablecentres, cake flowers, scattering petals and ensuring every detail is photo ready.
Taking the heat
There is a lot that goes on with wedding flower preparation that our Brides never get to hear about, especially when you take in to account our Island location – there are no flower markets that we can dash to in an emergency! For instance: there was a crash on the motorway so our transport lorry missed the boat; the boat didn’t sail so the flowers are still in Heysham in a container; those urns that you fell in love with got sent to Leeds instead of Liverpool and are now in an unknown location in the middle of England; my wholesaler sent me the wrong colour roses/not enough roses/poor quality roses.
Not everything always goes to plan, but we always manage to get something sorted in time, but the stress and sleepless nights we have worrying about whether it will turn out OK is not something you want to have the week before your wedding, believe me!
Shan Fisher Fine Art Photography
I love my job and I love working on weddings – the sparkle, the romance, the excitement – you can’t bottle that and sell it! So don’t get me wrong, I didn’t write this article to have a moan, but I do want you to understand that I don’t triple my prices just because it has ‘wedding’ in front of it – for example, a standard size posy of roses for a wedding bouquet would contain perhaps 20-25 large-headed roses and I would quote around £80, depending on the variety of rose, and that is without including extras such as pearl or diamante accents or lace ribbon. The same amount of roses as a hand tied bouquet is on my website for £85. A rose is a rose, whether it is for a wedding, a new baby or a birthday.
I genuinely want to provide every Bride I meet with her perfect wedding flowers, but if you come to me and ask for a Bouquet, 3 Bridesmaids bouquets, 10 buttonholes, 2 corsages, church flowers, pew ends, 10 tablecentres, and cake flowers for a budget of £500 then you are going to be disappointed!
My best advice to you is decide how important your flowers are to you – at the end of the day, people may forget those tasty hors d’oeuvres, the cute favour bags, or your Save the Date cards, but your flowers, along with your dress and your new spouse will be immortalised in film for you to look back on for many years to come!