This is a headline that I’d like to see splashed across the pages of a newspaper! It is a subject that I don’t believe is addressed enough in the wedding industry, and one that can and does lead to a huge amount of frustration and misunderstanding, both for florists and their clients. Apart from the cost of buying a home, the cost of a wedding is probably the biggest one-time expense that a couple will have in their lives. While social media is saturated with images of “luxury” flowers, flower walls and hanging installations; a serious lack of information for the client about what flowers actually cost, and the work involved for a wedding florist is not helped by the media constantly telling couples that they can have it all on a budget of £500.
When I first started as a florist 26 years ago there was no social media to inspire. Brides went to their local florist and chose arrangements from a catalogue of commercially produced styles. The designs and flowers available were limited, and I would often hear a bride say “I’ll have that one in peach”. Today everything has changed, and it is rare now for me to meet a bride who hasn’t found her inspiration on social media. Pinterest and Instagram seem to be taking over the world and brides take full advantage of the myriad of wedding blogs and bridal magazines available to them. Much of the inspiration however features incredibly flower heavy American weddings that have been photographed in Californian vineyards or New England gardens. It is hardly surprising therefore that this can lead to an enormous amount of confusion and disappointment when I tell couples that the flower-heavy look they want will cost thousands rather than hundreds.
It is a fact that American couples tend to spend more on wedding flowers than couples in this country, and photo shoots tend to focus on the lavish rather than the average.
Let me tell you something about the flower business. Firstly, flowers do cost money. Florists don’t pay pennies and charge pounds. The majority of the flowers we use are imported from Holland, where they are traded in euros. The exchange rate with sterling is not favourable, and fuel and transportation costs have rocketed in recent years, so this has seen an increase in wholesale costs which we have to pass on to our customers. The most important reason however, is like everyone else, we are in business to make money. All florists work to earn a decent living, pay our bills and provide employment for the myriad of people involved in keeping our industry going.
The irony is of course, that being British we’ve been brought up to believe that it’s bad form to talk about money. This really shouldn’t be the case, and my advice would always be honest with your florist about how much you are comfortable with spending on your flowers. From personal experience I know that this can save a lot of time and embarrassment later on.
I work with some amazing wedding planners who advise their clients on how much money to allow for each element of their wedding. A rule of thumb for flowers is 10% of the overall budget, depending on guest numbers, flowers used, the number of arrangements and the work involved. For some couples this might seem an exorbitant amount of money to spend on flowers, to others not. It is however, a useful figure to bear in mind.
To give you an idea of costings, here is a scenario for a Central London venue for the ceremony and reception with a total of 80 guests using seasonal flowers and low table arrangements.
Bridal Bouquet – hand tied bouquet £85.00
Bridesmaids x 3 – hand tied bouquets at £40.00 each – £120.00
Buttonholes x 6 at £6.50 each – £39.00
Corsages x 2 at £15.00 each – £30.00
Ceremony Flowers – 2 large vase arrangements – £150.00 each – £300.00
Registrar’s Table – 1 small arrangement – £60.00
Reception Flowers – 8 tables at £80.00 each – £640.00
Cake Flowers – £50.00
Total – £1324.00
VAT – £264.80
Delivery, installation and clearance £150.00
Grand Total – £1,738.80
Certain flowers, of course, are always more expensive, more elaborate designs are more labour-intensive, and additional costs such as hire items, transport, petrol and staff wages have to be factored in, and can increase the final cost dramatically.
I spend many months preparing for a wedding, sometimes more than a year. The run up to a wedding can involve months of site visits, design meetings, quotes, re-quotes, adjustments and mock ups of final designs. A wedding day for me can have a 4 a.m. start to prepare the bridal flowers, and a 1 a.m. clearance because the venue insists on everything being taken away at the end of the night. All this work has to be included into the final fee.
To the uninitiated, many people think that my work finishes when I deliver the bridal bouquet. If truth be told many people think that mine isn’t a proper job at all. Over the past 26 years I’ve come to realise that the people who do think that, don’t respect my work, attach no value to it and therefore think they have the right to negotiate my prices down. I have also come to realise that I have the right to say no!
Every year I take on a limited number of weddings. I don’t work every weekend because enquiries, like buses, tend to come along all at once. I often have to turn down work because I’m already booked, and when I’m not I don’t get anything! Such is the nature of the business.
Choosing the flowers for a wedding should be one of the most enjoyable parts of the planning process. To fully appreciate what goes into turning your ideas into reality, please bear in mind that professional florists are highly experienced, skilled and creative individuals who deserve respect for what they do. We work incredibly hard (often unsung and behind the scenes) to make a couple’s day look amazing, and what we do is reflected as the true cost of wedding flowers.
Article by Simon Nickell - Simon Nickell Design
Article Posted: 20/06/2016