It's one of the most commonly asked questions. You walk into a local Florist's or Event Designer's shop. You glace around and find yourself surrounded by selves and tables adorned with dozens of lovely vases, props and charming decorative accents. Along one of the walls or perhaps nestled in the back of the room you may see a large display case... a cooler filled with an assortment of beautifully designed floral arrangements; sweet little round arrangements, classic red roses in 10" vase, happy little daisies in a fun, bright container, and so on. And you wonder, "So why do 'wedding' (or special event) flowers cost so much?" Unfortunately the common thought among consumers is that a business hears the word "wedding" and just automatically charge more... well, not exactly. While it's true that arrangements for weddings are more than "Everyday flowers" (more on that later) I'd like to share just a little insight as to what makes flowers for weddings and special events more expensive.
It's the same reason why you can go to one of your favorite restaurants, order a meal of Chicken Marsala with salad and drinks and pay anywhere from $20 to $30 per person (give or take) however, such a meal being catered for a reception could cost $60, $90 or more per person.
So, what ARE you really paying with Wedding and Event Flowers?
Let's consider that "dinner" we just talked about, better yet, think about that last time YOU cooked a big dinner for your family. How many people did you cook for? 3, 4 or maybe 5 people? Think about when you planned out the meal, looked up the recipes, and created ingredients and shopping lists. Think of the preparation time (peeling, chopping, etc), and actual cooking and baking time. Then, let's just assume you "go all out" and serve your family, you know, actually plate each meal and bring them to the table (no self-service). Now think about the clean-up after, not just the dinner dishes but all the prep dishes, pots, pans, and work areas including counter tops and the floors.
Ok, now, image cooking for 14 people instead of 4 or 5. How about 40, 140 or even 440 people...whew! What would you need to pull that off? How much extra help would you need to cook all those perfect meals as well as serve them impeccably and clean up afterwards? What type of equipment would you need? What if you were at a strange kitchen or a place that didn't have a kitchen? What would you have to prepare before heading to the location? How would you transport everything? Think of the cost of not just the actual food but the materials (including warming trays, plates, glasses, linens, etc.), special equipment, extra staff, transportation, and, of course, your own precious hard work and time... what would be the cost? The truth is things tend to become more complicated when done in large quantity and the more complicated things get, the more costly they become - especially if its to be done exceptionally well.
So, back to that Florist shop you walked into earlier. Those flowers you saw in the cooler? Those were more than likely "Everyday Flowers", the type of flowers you walk in off the street and pick-up on a whim. Most standard florist shops will always have some kind of Everyday, Seasonal or Occasion Flowers... you know, Mother's Day, Thanksgiving, etc on display. Seeing those flowers can be a little misleading. You only saw one maybe two of a single "Everyday" Floral Design sitting in those cases. Just keep in mind those arrangements may have been...
Made and sold in the shop "one at a time"
Made in the shop with whatever flowers and staff are available
Made to order available staff and any special ordered blooms they can get in at a special cost
Made days and days (and sometimes weeks) ago and kept in a cooler for walk-in customers to "grab and go"
These "Everyday Flowers" tend to be pretty modest and unsophisticated designs that are different than the custom, specialty floral designs typically seen in weddings or special events. Wedding & event flower are which often uses different structural materials and event rental items. When you are ordering custom-made Bridal Flowers, Ceremony Flowers (Alter Arrangements, Aisle or Pew Markers, etc), Cocktail/Reception Flowers, and more you are actually ordering and paying for more than just a standard product - you are hiring some very specialized services for your event.
Here are just a few (5) reasons why a floral or event design business may charge what they do for Wedding or Event Flowers:
1. Product and Materials:
Yes, this refers to the actual flowers but it also includes professional floral chemicals, tools, rented pieces, and production equipment (not including operations equipment like Flower Coolers). Many of these materials are used in the flower care and processing stages (things I discussed in an earlier blog post "It's Alive"). I personally like to think of flowers as a "living Art medium" and the beauty can quickly fade if they become sick or mistreated. And what happens if a supplier can't provide the right flowers, Customs damages them during import at the airport, they pick-up a fungus or they are delayed in transit to the Florist and die? Your Floral Designer finds solutions, fixes the problem and fulfills service... plain and simple.
2. Mass Production and Labor:
Prepping flowers and making dozens of custom floral design such as bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, arrangements, etc. for a designated production schedule is very different from completing a single design order. Many Floral Designers have professional training and/or years of experience so they can handle event production however, there may be situation where they have other projects, events, or operate a store front with daily walk-in customers and in such cases bringing in the proper staffing may be essential for producing designs for your event.
3. Storage and Transportation:
After those exquisite flowers arrive, have been processed or have been placed into lovely floral designs they will need to be properly stored (typically in cool, control temperature environments) and then transported. And in the case of weddings that may mean scheduling and delivery to multiple locations; bouquets brought to the Bride's and Bridesmaids' location, boutonnieres to the Groom's and Groomsmen's location, arrangements and aisle decor at the ceremony site and, of course, centerpieces and other decor to the reception site.
Once delivered (depending on how elaborate) rentals and floral design items may need to be assembled on-site or set-up on alters, pews, hallways, guest tables, cake tables, etc. Later the Floral Designer or their staff will work with the venue(s) to schedule their breakdown and removal.
5. Hobby vs. Job:
It's not lost on me that I (and others like me) are extremely blessed to love what we do and do what we love. But I'll also be the first to tell you we are not here by accident. Sure, I may have started off my career in Fine Art, Museums, Entertainment, Tourism, Communications, and Marketing but I fell in love with and have committed myself to this work. We (Event & Floral Designers) have dedicated ourselves to hundreds of hours of study, training, and experience all to craft our skills, abilities and knowledge into an Art (no pun intended). I value each and every one of our Clients. Their events are immensely important me and I fully understand what this (a moment they may never relive again) is to them. It's that "scene of importance" that is why they have hired a Professional. And yes, we are Professionals. This is my job, a job I love but it is still my job. This is how we have chosen to make a living - how we pay our mortgages, feed our children, pay our bills, and so on. We work hard and, just like any job and anyone who works, we expect to be paid for our time, skills, and hard work.
So, how much will YOUR flowers cost?
Now there are more reasons why Wedding Flowers may cost what they do and every floral designer vendor is different. For example I know for us at Vivid Expressions our event floral designs are customized to the needs of each client and clients are charged for; (1) Hard costs of the flowers , (2) Rental items (3) Admin & floral processing and (4) flat design production team rates. The bottom line is as Professionals we do indeed take your event (and what we do) very seriously and provide all the necessary elements required to create your designs with amazing "living materials". I know the Clients who hire us value us - they value me, my staff, and the quality of the work we do. Are you worried about your wedding flowers and decorations costs? Be sure to ask your Wedding Planner, Event Designer, Florist or combination of event professionals (who may or not be the same people) about options to get the most out of your investment. They understand your budget is important to you and will work with you... that what we're here for... we're here to help you.
If you have questions or need a little more personal assistance maximizing your wedding and event design investment feel free to reach out to us. Happy planning... Cheers!!
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