Just a few vital words on budgets, the cost of flowers, and choosing a supplier.....

Jessie Copper :: Thursday 19th May 2016 :: Latest Blog Posts

My work dream? What would my dream be....... hmmmmm ...... It would be that every bride-to-be that comes to me has a limitless budget. Not because I am in any way greedy or hard-headed, but because it would be lovely for everyone to have whatever they want on their wedding day, and for our creativity to know no bounds.

Sadly, this scenario is rare, and every bride of course has a budget to stick to, however large or small. But a good florist will be able to advise you about what you can achieve with it, within reason.

 

Image by Tim Churchill

Image by Tim Churchill 

Firstly, let me say a little bit about supplier's charges. I'll try not to ramble on ...  but I can almost guarantee you that there will always be someone cheaper. Shopping around is something that everyone is encouraged to do in this consumer-savvy world we live in nowadays, and who would I be to discourage it? So I don't and won't.

 

Image by Ian Hamilton

Image by Ian Hamilton 

But, 'cheapest' - particularly as a measure of skill or of a quality product - is rarely better. Combine that with the importance that any supplier reflects upon your wedding day (a day that can't be relived or revisited), and personally, I wouldn't recommend that you compromise. For example, I'm sure that we are not the cheapest wedding florist around. But then I also know that I - and any other good florist worth their pennies -  realistically price every single design that we quote for, counting up the number of stems that will be used, charged at the going rate for that bloom at that time of year, plus an accurate fee for skill & labour time, and the cost of any sundries required. Put it this way ... we don't just pull a price out of the air.

If another florist quotes you for the same item at a substantially lower price, I very much doubt that they are just feeling generous that day. Alarm bells should be ringing, and - unless they (or we!) have just got the wrong end of the stick about the kind of design that you have in mind - I would suspect that their finished article would include far less flowers than you'd hope, possibly look unfinished or unprofessional, and generally be considerably underwhelming.

There are some superb florist's in this industry. I see floral work weekly that makes me go 'WOW', from many many other local bridal florists all the time, and - if I am fully booked - I am always proud to pass brides on to these highly skilled professionals without a qualm. But there are also those suppliers - not just florists, but in all sections of the wedding industry - who are not careful with their reputation, and will undercut anyone without a thought for the below-par work that will inevitably result. That's fine if that is what you are expecting to get, but it really is about that ... knowing and managing expectations. In this life, we really do tend to get what we pay for.

So when you are shopping around for a florist, of course keep your budget in mind and compare prices, but don't ever go for the cheapest option, and always base your final choice on two main attributes; the florist's work, and the florist's personality. If you adore everything they do and you have a wonderful rapport together when you meet, then you are already a long way towards ensuring the most beautiful flowers for your day.

 

Image by Nicola Thompson Photography

Image by Nicola Thompson Photography 

Returning to the original topic of this blog post, the next quandry after you have chosen the best florist for your needs, is often a desperate need to know where to spend your money, what to prioritise and what to leave. My first tip would be to initially discuss and get a quote for ALL items that you would like. Assuming your florist creates for you a bespoke and responsibly-itemised quotation, this will not only give you the overall picture of what your ideal dream would cost, but also gives you the breakdown of where those costs are incurred, so that - if it is over budget - you have all the information you need to begin whitling it down. There will almost always be compromises to be made, but at least this way you will be able to choose them wisely.

 

Image by Nadia Attura

Image by Nadia Attura 

I have a personal list of priorities that I always share with my brides because I believe it works to ensure that the most important flowers for your day are the most memorable. And so I shall share this list with you now;

To begin with, there are two items that should never never be compromised on. These are your Bride's bouquet and your Groom's buttonhole. Whilst the buttonhole is a minimal cost, I must impress upon you that you should never ever cut corners with your bouquet. Have exactly what you dream of. The bouquet will be with you almost all day, and will feature in almost every picture of you at your wedding.

Bridesmaid's bouquets and other wedding party buttonholes/corsages would be next, but the former can often be used as table decorations, or reduced down to wristlets, smaller posies or wands if budget is tight.

 

Image by Nadia Attura

Image by Nadia Attura 

The next item that I would never recommend scrimping on would be your top table decoration. This is almost as important as the focal point at your ceremony (flowers on the registrar table or a floral arch), but it is more so in my opinion, as you will spend far longer at this table than at your ceremony, and it will feature in photos of the speeches too.

Often the same floral display can be used for the top table and the registrars table, which helps you to be able to lavish more of your valuable budget on making these two focal tables look wow, with a truly magnificent floral display.

If not, the focal point of your ceremony takes next priority; you won't be there for as long, but this display will be in every image of your actual wedding vows, which is - after all - the most important part of the day. To be clear, these are the floral designs that will be behind/next to/surrounding you as you make your marriage pledge. Go for the floral arch, or whatever you have your heart set on, if the setting requires it.

 

Verity and Romain's top table decoration:

 

Next would be your other tables at your reception. They can create a totally breathtaking effect as guests enter your country marquee or elegant dining room, and really can be the making of a wedding meal, but they should - in my opinion - never take priority over the items listed above. If your budget will allow, go for height (always above diner's eye-lines ... you don't want to block conversation...) as this will give the most impact, but low chunky designs can also be very striking and will be lighter on your budget than tall cascading designs which involve a lot of flower and a lot of time to make, which will be reflected in the price.

It is also worth considering taking your colour scheme further at your venue, even if the palette for your bridal flowers has been neutral or pastel. Most rooms can take a little more colour to help create further dramatic effect. 

 

Verity and Romain's table centres:

 

And finally, the last place to spend budget is on 'other' items at your ceremony. Pew ends, church window sills, fonts, etc are all lovely, but will be the least appreciated due to the amount of time spent there, so should be last in your list of priorities, in my opinion. Again, try to order items that you can use again somewhere at your reception, and have an usher on hand to move them across as necessary. Or often you will find that local church flower ladies can add some decoration to the church within your colour scheme for a small donation, although bear in mind that these items cannot then be taken on with you to your reception.

 

Image by Anna Morgan Photography

Image by Anna Morgan Photography 

I guess what I am saying is - if your budget won't stretch to 'the full works' - make sure the priorities are covered by a really good florist. If this means creating jamjar displays yourself for the tables, then so be it. But it's always worth having someone highly skilled to do the truly technical work. In the long run it will be worth it.

On that note, don't forget that - as well as the flower content - you are paying for both time and skill. So if money is tight and you are asking your florist to do something that you have the skills to do yourself, then your budget would be better spent on things that you can't do. Just give yourself sufficient time.... floristry often takes longer than people imagine, particularly if you are not hugely experienced.

 Image by Ben Pipe Photography

 Image by Ben Pipe Photography  

To round off, a little word of advice. Flowers are not a cheap commodity, particularly not in the quantities required at a wedding (remember, this isn't a budget bunch from your local supermarket...).  But my goodness, they are worth it! Because you're not just paying for the best blooms from growers in the UK, Holland, South America, and Africa. You're paying for skill and time. The consultation, the quotations, the revised quotations, the pep-talks, the expert advice, the time spent planning and ordering exactly what is required, transporting flowers in from wherever they have been grown, the caring and conditioning of those flowers, the time and fuel to get them all to the right place at the right time, and finally the skill & experience to put it all together and make it look awesome! When it comes to the flowers I create, the quality is spectacular, and the end results truly memorable but there's a lot more behind the scenes to get to that point. 

 

As a guide, I would advise the following budgets:

£400 will get you a bridal hand-tied bouquet, a couple of bridesmaid's bouquets, plus buttonholes for the Groom's party.

At £750 you can add an extra bridesmaid, corsages for the mothers and no doubt something lavish for your top table.

At £1400 you can add simple table decorations for up to a dozen tables. £1600-1700 would get you something more substantial for the tables.

£2000 is a nice budget which will give you more options, if you can stretch to it. Here you can achieve either more exciting table centres, or add some striking detail to your ceremony such as pedestals, pew ends, etc.

£2500-£5000+. This kind of investment allows us to really create scrumptious loveliness. Arches, elaborate table decorations, windowsills .... opportunities like this are when we can really 'go for it'! 

 

Lastly, I would just like to point out how much I love doing what I do. I truly want to be able to create as many beautiful things for your big day as your budget will allow. A large part of my job is finding a balance between everything that goes with running a business (paying the bills, covering costs, etc.) and ensuring that I offer value for money to all my clients.  Transparency is key. 

I hope you've found this post useful. Good luck with all your plans!

Jess