The Cost Of Wedding Flowers
Updated: Jan 15, 2020
We often get inquiries from clients who have really stunning designs in mind for their wedding day but have no idea what it will end up costing them- and I mean, why would they? You rarely see a price tag on a picture of the gorgeous bouquet you find from Pinterest or see on Instagram. And most of the time it is the clients first (and hopefully the last) time getting married, so how could they know how much wedding florals cost? Not to forget when major wedding magazines and blogs mention something to be “budget-friendly”, what exactly do they mean by this? Who’s budget? If their target market is someone who’s total wedding budget is $1M, of course that $175 centerpiece is budget-friendly for them. One of the first things brides learn is that figuring out a floral décor budget is hard and sometimes it comes with a sticker shock.
I wanted to write this blog to educate couples about why wedding flowers cost what they do when purchased from a professional florist and to help create realistic expectations when starting to look to hire a wedding florist. So, let’s jump right in!
We see flowers every time we go to the grocery store and sometimes even buy them - this gives us a great idea how much flowers actually cost, right? Unfortunately, grocery stores aren’t a realistic indicator of what flowers actually cost. Chain grocery stores are able to sell flowers for a lower price compared to florists for a few reasons. One of the main reasons is that they have so much buying power that they are able to purchase flowers in bulk at very low prices, and sometimes they even own the farms the flowers come from! Another reason why they can sell flowers at such low prices, sometimes even at a loss, and still be profitable is that they are able to significantly markup other items they sell to make up for it.
Us wedding florists, our primary income comes from the flowers we sell and we cannot afford to take a loss on the only product we sell. And if you really think about it, we are not even really selling just flowers - we are selling artwork made from flowers. Flowers are just the ingredient needed to create the artwork, just as a painter needs paint to create their masterpieces. So, let’s talk about our main ingredient - flowers.
Life of a Flower
There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes at the flower farm that goes into growing the flowers I use in my designs that I don’t know about. What I do know is that it is hard work as it all starts from a seed. A flower farmer’s job depends on a lot of unpredictable variables they can’t control, especially weather, and here in Colorado we all know how fickle the weather can be. There are also a lot of variables that can affect the price of flowers – just think of all the steps and labor it takes to grow and harvest flowers; the soil needs to be prepared, the seeds need to be planted, the seedlings need to be watered and cared for, they need to be protected from hail storms and midsummer frosts, the mature flowers need to be cut and harvested, etc. We don’t really think about all the work that goes into the flowers we are holding because most of us don’t see or experience it - just think about how hard it is to keep flowers alive in your garden sometimes!
iPhone photo from CityGal Farms
We often hear that in-season flowers are less expensive, which may or may not be true. You’re probably familiar with the term “supply and demand” and you also likely experienced the effects of it if you’ve attempted to book travel during Spring Break – airline tickets are much more expensive than normal because the demand is so high; there are only so many seats available on a plane, so they raise the price to level the supply-demand ratio. What it means in the flower world, is when the farmers have only a limited supply of peonies but the demand is THIS BIG, they need to price the product accordingly. The price will vary and settle once the quantity demanded will match the quantity supplied. This happens pretty often in the flower world, usually because a flower farmer lost their crops due to unexpected circumstances or because a celebrity got married and used Quicksand roses and now everyone wants to use them in their wedding florals.
As you can see, many aspects affect the price of the flower. If a particular flower is too expensive for a client’s budget or is otherwise unavailable, we floral design professionals are intimately familiar with a wide variety of flowers and are normally able to find suitable substitutes if our clients remain open minded and trust us. What we can’t do is compete with chain store prices, but really, we shouldn’t even have to -we are artists who are ready to create something unique, beautiful, and meaningful from those flowers to make your wedding unique.
While the farmer is planning what flowers to grow for the next season and getting ready to tackle all of the obstacles along the way, my job as your wedding florist has also already started.
The Worth Of Flowers
My job actually starts many months before your wedding date. We typically spend much more time writing emails/having phone calls, giving consultations, designing mood boards, writing/revising proposals, and writing contracts than we do on the actual hands-on design. Depending on the client, sometimes even when the contract is signed and in place, we might still modify the designs. We spend hours (and I mean a lot of hours) researching the perfect flowers your vision and determining the ideal ratio of filler flowers, focal flowers, line flowers, textures and greenery. Not to forget that we need to source the vases, wires, tapes and other hard-goods, do venue walkthroughs, etc. A lot of administrative work happens behind the scenes and it can take up a lot of time, but it is essential in exceeding the client’s expectations and executing a successful event.
About 4-6 weeks before your wedding day I place your flower order. I like to be in touch with the local flower farmers well ahead of time to see what flowers they will have available in the colors and style of the wedding we are working on. Based on what I can get from the local farms, I place an additional order to my wholesaler. When it’s time to get your wedding flowers, I drive over 45 minutes to the wholesaler. I could get them delivered but I’m very picky when it comes to my client’s flowers, so I prefer to see them to ensure they’re in good shape and within the right color palette. We know how many different pinks there are, and flowers are living things so they have shade variations which may or may not work with your colors. Anyway, it is a very time-consuming process but that way I know what I’m getting and there are no unpleasant surprises.
Once I’m back at my studio, which is full of sanitized buckets filled with fresh water and flower food, each flower receives a fresh cut, their stems will be cleaned of leaves and thorns. After each flower has been seen to, they will be placed into the buckets to hydrate so that they open and look beautiful when it’s time to start designing. At this point, I will get a second chance to check the flowers for color and freshness to make sure they are up to my standards. If they don’t pass the test, they will be sent back to the wholesaler and replaced with flowers that meet my standards.
As you can see, a lot of time and effort goes into the preparation before we even get to the designing part.
The Art Of The Design
About 48 hours before a wedding, we start designing the arrangements for your event. Some of the designs are very tedious and time-consuming, like flowers crowns, where we need to wire each bloom to make sure the design holds. Each centerpiece and bouquet are designed by hand and modified until they look perfect. We hand-select the most beautiful blooms for the personal flowers, as they are the most photographed items after the bride and groom and will forever remain in your memory and photos. Once the designs are done, they are stored in industrial coolers to ensure their freshness.
On the morning of your wedding, we arrive to the studio while the sun is still making its way up to put all finishing touches on the flowers. Well before this point we have received the wedding day timeline from your planner, so we have all logistics taken care of. Now we just have to pack up the van, make sure the flowers are secured, confirm extra supplies are packed into the tool kit, and go over the checklist 15+1 times to ensure nothing is missing. Depending on the size of your event and the setup time window, we will bring enough team members to setup the flowers and do any on-site design in the time given. Depending on the logistics, we may stay through your ceremony to move some of the floral pieces to your reception. and most of the time we will come back at the end of the wedding to clean up the floral décor. Needless to say, these are intense and long 2-3 days, which is followed by the cleaning of the vases, candleholders, composting flowers, returning rentals etc.
We work endless hours to make ourselves and our clients happy. We put a lot of time and effort to producing an event, so if we don’t charge according to the industry standards, and markup the flowers correctly, we end up working at a lower rate which will eventually lead us to no longer be able to run a business.
Value Of The Art
When you start planning for your wedding flowers, consider it as buying art, not just flowers as a commodity. Our job is to flawlessly pull together thousands of pieces that go into creating a memorable, once in a lifetime, event. The value of flowers and the art to create floral décor is real. Holly Chapple said it well, “Artistically created designs which are properly constructed with quality blooms are a precious commodity and the pricing should reflect the value”.
Each event we create is unique and we try to be as transparent as we can when it comes to pricing, but unlike a photographer or a venue, we cannot give a set price before we discuss more about your ideas as it all depends on the flowers used, design styles, size of the design, time needed and freelance help hired etc.
Each florist has their own design style and pricing methods. There are so many florists with varying levels of experience and talent, so do your research – find out who’s style is the closest to yours. Have an idea of how you want your guests to feel at your wedding. Make a list what truly is important to you. Be honest about your approximate budget and keep an open mind, as we are really good at coming up with alternative design ideas to make sure your wedding still looks stunning but stays within your budget. If you are not honest about your budget, not only did we waste time coming up with a proposal exceeding your budget (as we do love to use garden roses, and peonies), but it will also waste your time reviewing a proposal for wedding décor you can’t afford.
We will price out all desired items, then together we can decide what can be removed or scaled back if need be without changing the design too much. However, we are running a business and we have our signature style that promotes our brand so we will do our best not to sacrifice that when modifying the proposal. We will tell you when we have reached the point when the design cannot be reduced without compromising it.
Hopefully, this gives you an idea why wedding flowers cost what they do. It’s not that we are trying to rip you off - we actually have gone through a lot of training to gain the expertise we bring to the table and a lot of work goes into creating those hand designed floral arrangements. And remember, when you see the price tag of your dream wedding flowers, you are not only paying for the floral artist, you are also paying for the farmer who planted the seeds, grew and babied the flowers until it was time to harvest them.
Trust me, investing in the custom artwork is worth it. Floral décor has one of the largest impacts on a wedding’s atmosphere and the stunning designs we will create for you will live in your photos for you to cherish for the rest of your life.
Below you can find some additional posts to help you when planning your wedding florals. These posts are well worth the read!
The Truth About Wedding Flower Pricing : by Flowers By Janie