"So, what do you do?" I confess, this one was a question that I used to sometimes struggle with. Not because I could't explain what I do. And not because we did a lot of different things (although, we kinda do) but because it typically meant I had to follow-up by clarifying a few common misunderstandings that I want to share with you. The truth is, clearing up this misinformation can be the difference between a couple getting what (or what they don't want) from the right wedding pro.
Let's start with this question, "are you a Florist?" Now, a short answer can be along the lines of, "Well, not exactly, I'm a Floral Designer and Event Designer." Which sometimes leads to them slowly nodding their heads as if to say, "OoooOOoooh". But there's still some confusion and the truth is it's not their fault at all. I mean, most people are told that a Florist and a Floral Designer are the same thing... right??
Well, if you thought they were you're not alone. In fact, a lot of people get these mixed up and I'm not just talking about couples who are new to wedding planning. Even wedding planning blogs, websites, magazines, and "online wedding planning tools" can get this completely wrong too.
So, what's the difference? Well, there's actually a considerable difference between a Florist and a Floral Designer and even an Event Designer (... and Event Designer is an entirely different subject, so we'll chat more about at another time). For now, here's the basic breakdown.
It may be easier to start with "Floral Designer"...
I like to describe a Floral Designer as an artist but instead of using paints and canvas or glass or metal or clay or other materials a Floral Designer uses plant materials and flowers to create aesthetically pleasing, balanced, and composed pieces. They understand these living artistic mediums and how to work with them to keep them healthy, beautiful, and functional.
So, "who" does a floral designer serve? Well, I like to say we're most typically commissioned or booked to design arrangements and floral elements for weddings, parties and other special events.
A Florist is a professional or business that focuses more on retail sells and arranges of plants and cut flowers. In other words, part of their business structure includes not only keeping a consistent supply of fresh flowers, plant materials, and even gift items for sale on-site for walk-in and everyday day sales. Sometimes they operate from pre-determined recipes and even work with wireservices that brokers national/online floral arrangement orders to local florists (for example: teleflora).
These are orders like mothers's day, birthday, funnel and other arrangements that are unusually ordered online to be fulfilled by a local florist copying their predetermined receipts and delivering them or having them available for pick-up or walk-in orders. And yes, some of these Florist will also offer wedding and special event arrangements too but it's often not their main day-to-day service.
For your Big Day:
Floral Designers tend to focus their work on a "project-to-project" basis and their bookings may include weddings, special events, specialty programs, and corporate projects. While, Florists are set-up more for individual retail and "every day" sales. Because of this, Floral Designers may have more freedom to commit and construct far more complex, elaborate, or custom-made floral structures like floral walls, engineer floral hanging installations, etc. They may more easily do this because they wouldn't have to worry about closing down the "Everyday flower shop" business and pull staff to dedicate to your event. Naturally, their ability may vary from florist to florist so you'll have to investigate their capability in detail.
The bottom line is, if you're looking to order a few standard arrangements or personal flowers (ie: bouquets and boutonnieres) then a Florist may work for you if they offers these service. But, for weddings and parties where you want to have a more unique and personalized look, custom-made decor, refined themes, polished style, or "statement room pieces" then a Floral Designer may give you more creative freedom, flexibility, customization, and capability to have a tailored design solution for events.
Of course, if you have any questions on the specifics or even where an Event Designer would come into place don't hesitate to let us know. Until then...