Last December, I wrote a 3 part blog series about wedding flower budgets (links to those three posts are at the bottom of this one!) and it was incredibly popular, with both florists and wedding couples alike. I was thinking about that the other day, and with us entering planning season, I thought this would be the perfect time to dust it off - but I wanted to add a little more.
I'll be the first to admit that Stone House Creative is not a "budget" florist. I run a profitable business and I'm both proud and happy about that - I think all businesses deserve to be run profitably. If a business isn't profitable, it has no business being a business! But regardless of how much I charge for wedding flowers, something I hate seeing is when couples are over-promised and under-delivered. So, here are some of my top tips for getting the most of your wedding flower budget.
1) First, HAVE a wedding flower budget!
To start, you must understand that flowers are a luxury item. They are a perishable item, just like the food that you're serving to your guests, often having been flown from halfway around the world and perfectly timed in order to make it here in pristine condition (it's amazing how frequently people don't think about this fact of nature). With that comes a price tag. But simply walking into a florist shop and saying "I don't know how much wedding flowers cost" isn't always helpful - often because that comes along with an enormous gasp that makes a florist feel as though she's done something to personally insult you.
Come prepared with a number that you are both comfortable spending on this luxury item, and one that makes sense for what you're asking for. Most likely, you'll have no idea what wedding flowers cost SO here you'll find a very helpful BUDGET BREAKDOWN of different price ranges associated with pictures to help you get a visual for the size of arrangements that you're interested in. There is absolutely no shame in not having a clue what things cost, and there aren't a lot of helpful resources out there that actually show you want flowers cost, particularly in Manitoba. That link will do so!
2) Discuss with your florist what your primary concerns are.
Is the overall budget your biggest thought? If so, then we (the florists) will make very specific suggestions for lower cost, readily available flower types for you in the colour palette that you want. Maybe your primary focus is your bridal bouquet, and everything else is just background. That's awesome - we'll use the premium flowers in your bouquet, and scale back on the rest of the arrangements. Maybe you couldn't care less what your bouquets look like but you REALLY want flowers on every guest table. Cool! Again, we'll make specific suggestions for the best way we can accomplish this! I might suggest going with a single-ingredient bouquet to keep the bouquet costs at a minimum and then have more fun with different varieties and textures in the reception flowers. The point is, tell us what your top priorities are and then see what we can come up with. It's a large part of our job to be able to create awesome designs that fit your wish list, and we LOVE whenever we get the chance to actually do this!
3) Plan in advance how your arrangements can be re-purposed, and don't forget to let your florist in on this conversation.
I'm a big believer that anything you use at the ceremony should be something that can be re-purposed at the reception. Whether it's two large arrangements set on pedestals at your altar being moved to either side of your head table, or those gorgeous arrangements on your arch being re-purposed into your head table decor or as a backdrop for your cake table, it's great when you can get double-duty out of your ceremony flowers. This is why I'll almost never recommend that a couple opt for aisle bouquets: they're tricky to re-purpose and you'll get a bigger bang for your buck if you keep the focus up on the front. 16 small arrangements on the pews can cost just as much as 2 statement making pieces at the front!
But, please don't make this plan without your florist's input. The reason for this is because we might need to build an arrangement in one way for your ceremony, but if we had known that it would be re-purposed on your sweetheart table, then we would have built it in a different way. It's our job to think about the mechanics behind the flowers, and it's also our expertise - so let us help and make it go as smoothly as possible!
4) Skip the boutonnieres and corsages altogether.
This isn't always a popular opinion, but if you're on a tight flower budget, just don't order any boutonnieres or corsages. It's a similar argument to the aisle bouquets at your ceremony: they may be relatively inexpensive little things on their own, but anything multiplied by 3 moms and 2 grandmas, 6 groomsmen and 2 dads plus the ushers, emcee, special aunties, sponsors, etc. is going to add up really quickly! In fact, I'd go so far as to say that this is the biggest waste of money that is a part of wedding flower budgets and is often a trap that lower budget couples get stuck in. And think about it: if you're spending serious coin on a beautiful groom's suit, why would you want to stick pin-holes in it? Why would your mother want to shove a silly flower on her wrist when she's spent hours trying to find the perfect mother of the bride gown, when a piece of jewellery would look so much better? And truthfully, no matter how cute we florists make these little pieces, they're still fussy / uncomfortable / irritating / challenging to put on and make sure they stay put.
5) Don't just go for the lowest quote that you receive.
I've seen this SO many times in my line of work. Couples shop around a few florists and choose the lowest budget one, without much comparison as to what is going into that quote. If there is a large price difference between quotes, then chances are REALLY good that you are not looking at comparable proposals in the slightest bit. A personal story:
Several years ago, I quoted a couple on the wedding of their dreams. We were slightly over their budget, but we had EVERYTHING included that they could have wanted, all of the little "extras" that they were hoping for. They were so happy with the quote, and I was astonished a few days later to find out that they decided to go with another shop. This shop wasn't known for doing weddings at all, let alone doing a nice job of weddings. They also weren't charging tax, which is a major red flag in my opinion (if a business isn't charging you tax, it means that they're not running their business legally. Is that really who you want to be dealing with? What other areas of their business are they running in a shady way?). That being said, I wasn't surprised to get a call 5 weeks before their wedding begging us to take their wedding again. Why? They had realized that the quote from this other shop, which was marginally less than what we had quoted, was not at ALL comparable to what we were proposing to them. A mock up of a $100 centrepiece that was a measly single white hydrangea and feather in a tall glass made them quickly realize that they hadn't done their proper research, and they'd just looked at the lower price tag. This is the perfect example of over-promising and under-delivering, which is totally unacceptable (and yes, we took their wedding on and did an awesome job of it - and there are lots of great, reputable shops in Winnipeg who would do their absolute best to help you if this is the situation you find yourself in).
When you're comparing different florists, it's much more important that you chose someone who you feel really understands the vision you have for your wedding, and will complement it with great floral designs. Choose the company who got you excited about the flower planning and whose work you love. That florist will be able to make the best suggestions to you on how to get the most of your wedding flower budget.
5) Be flexible.
This probably should have been tip 1, because it's really the most important of them all. If you're concerned about your flower budget, whether it's $500 or $5000, the best thing that you can do to help yourself is to be flexible. Presenting a list of demands to your florist and requiring that he or she fits it into your budget will rarely work in your favour. Instead, I'd suggest that you tell your florist what you're drawn to and what you'd ideally love to see as a general style overview, and then allow her to create an overall plan for you. You might not see flowers filling every table, but you could end up with some of the tables having lush, gorgeous arrangements that make an enormous spotlight with scaled back designs on the other tables - and still within your budget.