Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Respecting the Big, Bad Budget!

In looking back at my posts over the past season, I realize I've said little more than a brief synopsis of each wedding (if that!). Its been a busy summer and one that has not allowed for much time to chat. I'm going to try to change that, starting with today. If you have any questions or ideas that you want me to address in this forum, by all means feel free to send me an email at mail@whimsyfloral.com. Believe me, I'm never short on opinions!

Okay, so let's talk about budget.

It would be silly to think the downturn of the economy hasn't hit the wedding industry, because it has. A lot of brides are being asked to make tough decisions when it comes to planning their wedding and appropriately allocating their budget. While they seem like the easiest thing to either DIY or nix completely, don't underestimate the importance of your wedding flowers. You may think "Oh, I'm renting an attractive venue or my wedding is outdoors so it doesn't really need flowers," but in all reality, it is your flowers that pull together the ambiance of your event and complete your decor, and a wedding lacking flowers tends to look...well, lacking. That being said, I would never advocate overextending one's budget, though I would encourage brides to stop and consider their options when it comes to providing those finishing touches.

Most of the reputable local designers maintain a minimum order of $650-850. That may seem like a lot of money to someone who is just beginning their planning, but really, its just a drop in the bucket. When you add up bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, centerpieces, buffet pieces, the cake, etc., you can see how quickly things can get out of hand. That's why we always encourage brides on a budget to prioritize. If the bouquets are the most important item in your book, allocate more money in that direction and less toward your centerpieces. Do you really need the buffet piece or can you ask your caterer to dress the table without it? Is it worth the $60 to provide your flower girl with a halo or is she just going to rip it off her head within the first five minutes? Can you do without an arrangement for the ladies' room -- yes! Don't be fooled by inexperienced florists that say they can give you everything you want on a limited budget. Flowers are expensive, and in this industry you get what you pay for. If you have three vendors giving you one price and one vendor coming in drastically below the average, beware. There is a reason for the discrepancy. Does that mean floating daisies and carnations have to make up your designs? Of course not!

Case in point: The above photos are from Sadie's wedding in August. Sadie was stretching just to meet our minimum at the time (usually a budget for a small wedding party only with no decor pieces). While we don't do a lot of weddings in that situation, she and her fiance were such a pleasure to meet with and they were so open minded when it came to their designs that I was happy to take the leap and work with them. She cut out the wedding party flowers that were not absolutely necessary (meaning no corsages for Aunt Jane or Cousin Sally, etc.) and set her sights on very simple centerpieces. For the 10 tables, we used two designs: 1. 6" cylinders with river rock, cream football mums, curly willow, and accents of pink bouvardia and green kermits; 2. Trumpet vases containing river rock, curly willow, and two white agapanthus stems. Both very inexpensive arrangements, but they offered a lot more pizazz than a bud vase, floating daisy, or a handful of votive candles. Now it would be easy to say, "Well, that looks so easy, I could just have my sisters put them together the day before the wedding!" You probably could, but consider the cost of purchasing the vases and river rock -- not cheap at all. Once that cost is incurred, you'll quickly realize you could have ordered a much nicer and larger arrangement from a florist for less than the price of the vases. (And I won't even get into the time, construction, storage, and transport issues that follow DIY projects...that's a different post altogether!) Sadie rented her glassware for almost nothing and since she returned them in pristine condition, she got 100% of her deposit refund back.

A good florist is going to help you see what you can do on your budget. That's why its important to both provide your budget upfront and be willing to listen to what they have to say. And if it comes down to deciding you really do want more than you can afford, be willing to reevaluate the rest of your wedding budget to determine what you can cut in order to allocate more money to your flowers. Its also a good idea to see if your florist provides any other rentals or decor items that may be more cost effective than purchasing you own items (yes, even from Ikea!).

Bottom line: just because you're on a budget doesn't mean you can't have a stunning wedding. Being realistic about what you can afford and hiring a good designer are key. Have fun with it, allow for a little imagination, and most of all, Happy Designing!


Chelsea said...

seriously, every time i read your blog, i wish you could do the flowers at my wedding. ty & i have talked about a vow renewal of sorts for our 20th or 25th anniversary, so if you can wait 10 or 15 more years...we decided to do that since we got married in january and did a casual-like reception. i always tell ty that the next time we get married, we're getting married in the spring and throwing a major party. hence the vow renewal.

and lol on the abundance of opinions comment. i just don't see that at all. ;-) i mean, i'm not like that, either.

Alisha E. said...


studio stems said...

GREAT post!

Jessie Evans said...

I agree with Audrey, great post! I only wish as a bride I would have had the wisdom to put more money into the flowers and less elsewhere. Flowers really do lend so much to the feel of the wedding.