Now is as good a time as any to talk about the process of planning flowers for a wedding. It might be helpful to know a little about what to expect from a florist and what is expected of a bride.
It starts with a phone call. Brides usually find Colony Florist or any other florist from a recommendation. It might come from a friend, the venue, or someone who has already used our services. Most often prior to calling the bride will head straight to the internet and do a little homework. That’s where they can check out The Knot, view our wedding picture gallery or read our reviews – in other words get to know a little about us.
During the initial phone call I try and get as much information as I can about the wedding plans and where the bride is in the planning process. I can get a good sense of how much work needs to be done and how serious a bride is about having Colony Florist provide the flowers. The more information I can gather before they arrive at the store, the better prepared I am to help her and not waste time. I think the timing is important and I prefer to have her come for a visit after she has chosen the colors or theme of the wedding. I ask her to bring everything she has collected including pictures, save the date cards, swatches or pictures of her dress and the bridesmaids’ dresses, table linens - anything to help fill in the blanks.
I offer a free consultation to see if there is a good rapport. I think this is extremely important because working together will help insure a positive experience for both of us. If I get the feeling that the bride is “shopping” and not serious about using our services I do my best to find out what her intention is. It is always easy to detect if that is the case. It is better to find out early in fact, I am more likely to share my ideas and information if I know the truth.
During the first meeting we discuss her ideas, themes, and dream using pictures to show exactly what she is thinking about. I love to hear what colors and flowers they like and dislike. I try my best to get a good sense of what the bride wants and how I can help her achieve it. I ask about the details - the number of guests, the members in the bridal party, what is required for the ceremony (in or out of a church) and where flowers might be needed for the reception - centerpieces, bar, place card table and other ancillary pieces. It is fun sharing ideas and the brides are enthusiastic. I make sure based on our preliminary conversation to have flowers in the shop to show her and confirm that I understand what she is thinking. The physical presence of the flowers is a key to making sure we are on the right tract from the beginning.
After I collect information I put together a list of floral opportunities and organize them on paper. I send a preliminary proposal outlining the detail. I make sure that I have covered all the possibilities. Once we have identified what is needed we can begin to have a more in depth conversation. I invite the bride and her mom, fiancé or friend to come in and work on a sample. Since brides have limited time, at this point most brides will commit to having Colony Florist provide the flowers. I ask the bride give me a price range or a specific budget if she has one, so that I can work to that end. I am amazed and relieved by how many brides come actually come in with an excel spreadsheet
I like to start with the bride’s bouquet or centerpiece. They are the two most important floral pieces. I can present an arrangement that I think she might like and be relatively close to budget. There is nothing worse than showing a bride something that is out of their price range and have them disappointed by what they can actually afford. If I know what they want to spend, I can show them arrangements that fit their budget and their needs. It is easier to make small corrections or eliminate a less important item that they can live without.
Hopefully during the initial process we have identified the basics such as the container, flowers and style so that when the bride arrives I have something to show her. We work with real flowers, not a collection of pictures, because the flowers and colors bring everything to life. The brides decisions are easier when she sees the flowers, making it real.
It’s usually not difficult to make a lot of progress during the first meeting. As long as the bride remains flexible and sees her ideas as a concept or style instead of falling in love with a specific flower there are usually a number of alternatives to give the bride what she wants. Throughout the process, we can continue to work on the details and figure out the details as we continue to make progress.
The sample becomes a work in progress. When the bride (or any customer for that matter) can see, pick and choose what elements they like and how it looks together they are more certain that they are getting what they want. I love the sense of accomplishment when they smile and say – that’s it.
Then it is my time to put pencil to paper and start to hammer out the final cost of the wedding flowers. I have to find and price every item that is required for all the wedding arrangements. Sometimes it takes a little longer and it isn’t always as easy as it seems. Once I have accounted for everything I can come up with an initial price for the bride.
I am usually able to make suggestions for ways to save money and it is something that always amazes my customers. There are lots of tricks and my experience helps me see realize opportunities and situations that brides just can’t imagine. I offer to work with wedding planners, the church, the club or venue and the cake makers. If they want me to speak to them to go over details I can do that too.
Before we’re done, I review the timeline of events and plan the delivery according to schedule. I need to know where the bride is dressing, having her hair and makeup done and when the photographer is arriving so that I can deliver the flowers on time. I recommend not leaving anything to chance when it comes to the men’s flowers and so I usually have them delivered to the ceremony site.
I try and make it enjoyable for both of us while tying up the loose ends that make the plans come together. I know that the best thing I can do is let her move on to all the other details of the wedding plan. I don’t want her to worry that my job won’t be done perfectly and so every detail is written out and gets her stamp of approval.
I have a few favorite parts of the process. One is getting to know the bride. Some florists would say that I spend too much time on this but I would argue that it helps me do a better job and makes it more fun for both of us. I also enjoy seeing the brides face when we initially put together the flowers that will make her bouquet. Another is the satisfaction of having the table centerpieces designed and approved. My favorite job is the delivery of the bride’s bouquet – something I always do myself.
Even though, from start to finish, the process often takes months it is satisfying when the wedding day arrives. In my opinion, the flowers are one of the highlights and they put the finishing touch on the events of a very special day.