The dreaded budget.

After 10+ years of working with brides, without a doubt the number one question they have is in regards to their budget. How much money should they set aside, how to figure out what things cost, how to save money...and the number one question; is their budget reasonable. After spending some time poking around the interwebs this morning I can tell you without a doubt that any article a bride reads about floral budget is a bold face lie. I'm not sure where these people get their facts and figures from, but let me try and break it down as simply as possible for you.

Flowers cost money.

To say a floral budget should be 8-10% of your total wedding cost doesn't really tell you much. I mean...what if you have a budget of $15,000 for your whole wedding. You really love flowers and think they're your most important design element. Please, I beg of you...budget more than $1,200 for your flowers or you will be very sad with the outcome. Believe me when I tell you, it'll be a giant bummer. Now lets say you don't understand the need for flowers...you want candles instead of centerpiece, and you only have 3 bridesmaids. You may not need to even budget $1,200. It all depends on your design aesthetic and your needs.

Now lets talk trends. Little cluster centerpieces are still as popular as ever. Lots of little bottle clustered together looks quirky and relaxed and elegant all at the same time. There is a common misconception that this:


...is far more costly than a centerpiece that resembles something like this:



EHHHHH (this was my feeble attempt at a game show buzzer, which I'm positive I failed miserably at)...you're mistaken. So, you spend the time (remember, time is money!) to travel to numerous junk stores/antique malls to collect the perfect bottles and little containers. Each bottle costs you on average $4 bucks...some are less and some really fancy ones that you can't live without might get up to $8-$10. Lets say you have 5 bottles per table, with an average cost of $25.00 on just the bottles alone. Now you have to fill them. Did you take into consideration how big the openings were in your bottles? Will they need more than one flower to make them look visually "correct"? Larger flowers such as peonies, dahlias, roses, orchids and other "showy" beauties tend to fill these little bottles best as they visually fill your table quickly. Now, lets say each bottle you've collected can fit 2-3 flowers, some only needing one...and that super fancy bottle over there needing 4. At an average of $4-$7 per flower your "cheap" centerpiece has easily crept over the $70 price tag. Not to mention you're now the proud owner of 100+ bottles.

The more traditional centerpiece above, requires no work from you...and can easily be done depending on your flower selections for $60+ Obviously the one above is a slightly more $$$ version, but really...with a few florist tricks a little imagination and a wave of our magic wand it can be done.

Obvious budget buster: lots of guests=lots of tables=lots of centerpieces=lots of $

Some simple ideas to cuts cost which don't look like you've forgotten about the centerpiece until the day before. Plants, pictures, fruits/veggies, sticks, stylish balloons. If any of these sound remotely interesting and you want some ideas...done hesitate to ask me!

The bouquet.

Screen shot 2011-11-09 at 9.04.22 PM

I often get reactions of shock and awe when brides see the cost of their bouquet (and I know for a fact that I hover on the lower end of the spectrum as far as pricing goes). On average expect to pay $140+ for your bouquet...and about $55+ for your bridesmaids. This of course depends on what you want, so make sure to ask questions! Why are bouquet so expensive you might ask. Well...there are a couple contributing factors. Your flower choices, the amount of different types of flowers you have in your bouquet and the amount of work it takes to put together the bouquet. Some flowers such as orchids, gardenia, lily of the valley, gerbera daisies, and hyacinth require individual wiring, which adds to the time the bouquet takes to put together (again...time is money!)  If you've read online that your bridal bouquet will cost $75-$100, ignore that silly statistic and add some more money to that and forego the ladies room arrangement. The bridal bouquet is almost as important as your dress. It appears in almost 75% of pictures, its what sets your dress off and its like a really big fancy piece of jewelry. It's important so please...I beg of you. Don't skimp out on it. If you love a generally expensive flower like calla lilies but you've talked yourself out of using them for fear that your budget will be blown....by all means, put them in your bouquet and skip them in your centerpieces. There is no rule telling you that you cant do that! Like I always say...if you love something...carry it.

Obvious budget buster: lots of bridesmaids=lots of bouquets=lots of $
I could just keep going and going and going...but instead I'll leave you with this. Your wedding if you choose can either be totally gorgeous and over the top, or equally as gorgeous and understated. As for your floral budget. Do a little research...research is key. Before sitting down to talk to a florist, ask your friends how much they spent on flowers, go into a flower shop and ask the basics. "I need to buy a centerpiece....what do they start at?" You don't even need to go into the full blown description of what you're trying to do. Honestly, be sneaky about it....a good florist will give you a wide range of options and ask YOU the appropriate questions. If you don't like their answer, assume that you wont want to receive a quote from them for your wedding. BUDGET HIGH...put more aside than you think you would like to spend on your flowers. It will allow for a little wiggle room, it will ease your mind, and it will also allow for you to not have to beg your great Aunt Gert for a couple hundred bucks. All in all, flowers will cost you money, but they really are the beautiful perfect buttercream frosting on the giant cake that is your wedding.

If you have any questions about your budget that you would like answered, please dont hesitate to leave them in the comment section. I will answer as honestly and to the point as humanly possible. No question is off limits. Let me have it!


amy thornburg said...

Ugh. My biggest distress in the floral business.....the lack of education with budgets. The misconception that using all of my containers with candles, or stems could somehow be FREE. Do people know what goes into handling and cleaning 120 glass containers? AAHHHH!!!! Thanks for the article. :)

Valley Flower Company said...

You have to wash vases!? Nobody knows our pain lol :)

Lotte and Bloom said...

thanks for breaking all of this budget biz down - have just nodded in agreement with every point made. stellar advice morgan x

megan said...

Great post, lady. It's so hard to make people understand. Although what I don't understand is how people expect them to be cheap when they involve land and labor - two of the most expensive commodities.

Melissa said...

It's the same misconception about realistic quality permanent flowers. The better the quality, the higher the cost. A bride will say, "I want them to look the most realistic, but I don't want to pay more than $X". Typically the $X is about half of what the materials can be purchased for wholesale. So the budget doesn't even cover the quality level of materials the bride wants, let alone the labor time, taxes, time spent consulting and working with the bride in person/by phone/by eMail, the delivery, or a measely profit for the shop.

We once had a bride try to lowball us by saying she received a quote for $X from "Florist A" down the street (who we know) for her shower centerpieces. My boss stopped dead in her tracks and told her that she didn't know how that florist was giving her that price because the flowers alone (not even including the containers or the labor or the delivery) would cost twice that at the wholesaler. The bride looked at her mother sheepishly with an "uh oh, I went too low" look. My boss told her that was an amazingly unbelievable price and if "Florist A" could do it for that, she better get down to that shop as quickly as possible and book them ASAP. She then folded her notebook closed, stood up, and thanked her for considering us.

Funniest part of that story is that my boss and I saw "Florist A" a few weeks later at the local wholesale and mentioned it to her. She laughed and said the gal came in to her shop and tried to pull the same routine by saying "Florist B" (another person we know) quoted her that low rate and that we quoted something similar. We all chuckled at the audacity and absurdity of it and wondered if she ever found a florist willing to take a loss to design her shower decor.

These gals forget that even though their shops may be competitors, florists are in the same associations and organizations together, know each other well, talk to one another frequently, and swap stories (and warnings about scammers, lowballers, etc). It's not good to try and bluff your way to a better quote because florists typically buy their products in the same locations and from the same growers and wholesalers so they know when a price or a quote from another florist in their area is extraordinarily low.

erin said...

Thank you for this. Talking to brides about budgets and trying to be realistic with them ... has been the hardest part for me so far. Most people have no idea how much flowers cost. I'm getting better at being upfront with people but it's a tough thing to shatter someone's dreams of a $1200 budget filled with lush centerpieces and the finest of flowers.

And the eclectic bottle vignette vs a single centerpiece! You are so right about that.