5 Tips for Choosing the Best Wedding Florist

You want more than an expert florist for your wedding -- you want an absolute pro who can help you realize your vision for the perfect floral décor!
You want more than an expert florist for your wedding -- you want an absolute pro who can help you realize your vision for the perfect floral décor!
©iStockphoto.com/monkeybusinessimages

Nothing about planning a wedding is easy, but some parts are harder than others. For instance, choosing a cake gives only minimal trouble (hint: pick the delicious one), as does finding a partner (hint: use whatever criteria you used for cake). But while two- thirds of the job seems done, there is one all-important stumbling block: flowers. How on Earth to choose? It's intimidating -- designing and organizing floral arrangements on the scale that weddings require is simply not in the average person's skill set. When confronted with the prospect, most of us look at our feet and mumble, "Well, I've heard good things about orchids."

Fortunately, we are not alone. The gentle florist is here to hold our hands and guide us through. Coming up are five tips for choosing the florist who will get you what you need when you need it, florally speaking.

1

Do You Want a Florist or Floral Designer?

While any competent florist is going to produce expert flower arrangements for weddings, keep in mind that there are other options than going straight to the source. Though they often use third-party suppliers, hiring an independent floral designer is an excellent option for couples who want a truly special floral motif for their big day.

Floral designers are more expensive, of course, but they're also artists. Moreover, their services don't always stop with flowers -- "floral designer" is only one of many hats worn by professional wedding decorators who can help tie flowers into an overarching theme and make your wedding an affair to remember.

This isn't to say that flower arrangements crafted by a florist won't be gorgeous -- they're pros, and it shows. But while a florist often juggles dozens of orders simultaneously, floral designers can focus on one client at a time to turn her wedding into a singular work of art.

2

Ask Around

Ask married friends who had jaw-droppingly impressive flowers for their florist recommendation.
Ask married friends who had jaw-droppingly impressive flowers for their florist recommendation.
©iStockphoto.com/Goldenberg

When it comes to planning weddings, we're all dewy-eyed amateurs the first time around. How can we be expected to choose a respectable florist right out of the gate? Closing your eyes and picking a name from the Yellow Pages is ridiculous, reading anonymous Internet reviews is unreliable, and standing by the highway with a cardboard sign that says, "Flowers, please!" is just inefficient.

This is why word of mouth is so important when it comes to finding a florist. Any friends who have gone through the terrors of planning their own wedding will be delighted to dish about whether their florist blossomed or wilted under pressure. Don't let that expertise go to waste.

If you don't have any married friends, or if their taste was atrocious (friends don't let friends decorate with wax fruit), talk to your venue managers. They've seen hundreds of weddings, and will unquestionably know a few of the secret ingredients for what makes the perfect wedding florist.

3

Collect Pictures

You can probably envision what you want your wedding to look like. The hard part is getting that image across to the florist. Even the most conservative list of standard wedding flowers runs into the hundreds of varieties, so what are you going to do when you need to find that special orchid hybrid you vaguely remember liking 15 years ago?

Start keeping notes early. Clip magazine photographs, collect files from online wedding Web sites, and plunder Facebook profiles and Flickr accounts of friends and strangers alike for wedding pictures. The more information you can give your florist, the better. The research will refine your choices, making it easier for your florist to provide a perfect realization of your vision.

4

Consider the Budget Your Friend

Your flower budget will dictate how simple or elaborate you can go with centerpieces.
Your flower budget will dictate how simple or elaborate you can go with centerpieces.
©iStockphoto.com/AnthonyRosenberg

Knowing exactly how much you want to spend is key, both for your own sanity and for your florist's. Whether or not you have a sky's-the-limit wedding budget (which, let's face it, almost no one does), setting a cap on what you're willing to shell out will save you both some headaches. If your florist knows how much you can spend, he or she can be more realistic about what's in his or her power to accomplish.

So, what's reasonable for a flower budget? Plan to spend about 8 to 10 percent of your total wedding budget on flowers. To put that in perspective, the average cost of a wedding in the United States in 2009 was $19,580 (in 2007, it was $28,730). That's a little less than $2,000 for flowers; a good benchmark to lowball for the thrifty, or to blow past for those with the means and inkling to gild the lilies.

5

What Kind of Extras Do You Need?

Being aware of what kind of extras you'll need can be a lifesaver when choosing a florist. The more ground your florist can cover for you by getting everything done in one place, the better! Besides the regular trappings of centerpieces and the bride's bouquet, there are tons of other ways to get more mileage out of your florist -- petals for the send-off, corsages for honored guests like readers and grandmothers, and small floral arrangements to make the venue's restrooms look elegant.

But a good florist doesn't have to stop with flowers. The right candles, furniture, ornaments and tableware all have to make a smashing singular impression. One-stop shopping with a single versatile floral designer means a coherent aesthetic and less wedding-planning headaches!

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Sources

  • Bridal Association of America. "The Wedding Report." 2010. (May 12, 2010). http://www.bridalassociationofamerica.com/Wedding_Statistics/
  • The Wedding Report. "US Wedding Cost." 2010. (May 12, 2010). http://www.theweddingreport.com/