10 tips for maximizing your floral budget
1. Set appropriate expectations. Sadly there is a huge disconnect between Pinterest and reality (for most of us anyhow). Many of the photos on Pinterest are from inspirational photo shoots where vendors come together to create a fake wedding. These are not actual weddings with actual budgets, the labor from all vendors is free and we tend to design things that are more over-the-top than the average wedding in hopes of getting the shoot published. The other thing about Pinterest is that many images reflect weddings where the floral budgets are well over $20k. My advice is instead of searching Pinterest for inspiration, look a florist’s portfolio or online gallery. This should give you an idea of what type of work they are capable of creating for a real wedding.
2. Choose pieces that make the most impact and prioritize. Think about what is important to you – are you dreaming of a lush floral arbor? If so, prioritize that in your budget. Think about what will be photographed the most (usually the couple themselves and the ceremony site), where your guests spend the most time (standing at cocktail tables and sitting at the dining tables), and what photos you are likely to have framed after the wedding. When budgeting and prioritizing the first things that I always recommend my couples cut from the plan are aisle markers, aisle petals and extra arrangements for the bar or in the restrooms. These pieces add up quickly and do not make enough of an impact to justify the extra cost. Reuse bridesmaid bouquets for the bar and restrooms.
3. Have a small wedding party. Large wedding parties are quickest way to rack up expenses, and not just when it comes to florals. Bridesmaid bouquets typically cost $85-120 and when you multiply that times 10 maids, it can quickly blow up the budget. Many couples ask about repurposing bridesmaid bouquets as centerpieces for dining tables, which is a great idea, but my advice is to go with larger bridesmaid bouquets so that they make more of an impact when repurposed onto the tables. An $85 bridesmaid bouquet will get lost on a 60” round table.
4. Don’t skimp on the bridal bouquet. The bridal bouquet is one of the most photographed aspects of the entire day and has more “face time” than any other piece. Seeing a bride carry a poorly constructed bouquet or one filled with cheap filler flowers and only a handful of unique blooms makes me want to cry. Bridal bouquets can be dried, certain flowers can be snipped out and pressed and there are all sorts of other special ways to preserve it (check out how the Altarnative hand dyes garments like silk robes with a bride’s bouquet – its incredible!).
5. Have a variety of styles and sizes for dining table centerpieces. I encourage my clients to choose 2-3 styles of dining table centerpieces because it not only adds interest and depth to the space, it also allows us to design centerpieces within a range of price points. I suggest 1/3 tall elevated arrangements (which are typically the most expensive), 1/3 of a lush arrangement in a vase (about half the cost of the elevated) and the final 1/3 as a gathering of candles (about 2/3 the cost of the arrangement in a vase).
6. Steer clear of garlands. Lush garlands have gained popularity in the past few years, but are one of the least economical design styles. Garlands require a huge amount of product (flowers and greenery) and are also extremely labor intensive. A full greenery garland with flowers for a 15’ long table can cost the same as 3-4 lush arrangements in vases.
7. Large installations add up quickly. Greenery hanging from chandeliers and lush ceremony arbors can create a huge visual impact on your wedding day; be ready to dedicate a large portion of your budget to accommodate them. Installations require lots of labor, hours of designing on-site and take a large amount of product to create. Because we cannot design these pieces ahead of the wedding day, we need to hire extra people to help us on-site and we must account for the additional risk of working on tall ladders and lifts. Large installations also take lots of extra planning and preparation to be sure our team is ready to execute the design efficiently and beautifully on the wedding day. All of this work it totally worth is, but ends up adding more to the budget.
8. Greenery is not cheaper than flowers. Unfortunately its a misconception that greenery is not as expensive as flowers, when in fact bunches of nice greenery cost almost the same amount as bunches of flowers. It is true that there is some very inexpensive greenery to be had, but a centerpiece with loads greenery and just a few blooms will not give you the look that you’re hoping for. Trust me. There are loads of creative ideas for non-floral centerpieces if lush floral centerpieces are a budget-buster.
9. Choose in-season flowers. If you have your heart set on peonies, plan your wedding for late May or June. If you love dahlias, get married in the summer or fall. Buying flowers out of their normal season is often possible, but it comes with a cost; plan to spend at least twice as much. For example, a bunch of ranunculus costs about $15 wholesale in April, but the same bunch is $25-30 in October. The floral industry standard for marking up flowers is 3x (to account for all the labor, time and planning that I mentioned above) so the cost of out of season ranunculus is astronomical.
10. Give your designer creative freedom. If you allow your florist some creative freedom with the exact varieties of flowers, the end result will be more beautiful and cost-effective. We know that ranunculus are difficult, if not impossible, to find in September, but certain varieties of cosmos can give the same romantic, fluttery look. My absolute best work as a designer occurs when a client gives me a broad preference for a color palette and allows me the freedom to choose the exact shades and tones of the flowers.