Flowers Revisited: Budget Reality Check, Please!

I know, I know, it is not the first time that I’ve discussed the topic of flowers.  But as a florist, and former shop owner, I thought I might take a minute to revisit the subject.  So readers, indulge me for a moment!

The reason I wanted to discuss the topic of flowers a little more, is because when it comes down to it, it is the flowers that convey the emotion, style, taste, and tone of the wedding.  When the bride and her party walk down the aisle, the first thing people notice…other than the bride herself, is the flowers that everyone is carrying.  When guests walk into the reception area, it is often the flowers that bring out the ooooh’s and ahhhh’s.  So…if all of that is true, then why oh why are designers often left with the absolute tail end of the deflated budget to work with??? Brides……Please, please, please, rethink your budget strategy!!!

Ok, ok, I am sure that I have a number of brides that believe the decor is not as important as the venue and food.  And if you are one of those brides, then maybe this particular blog is not for you.  That’s ok!  I’ve said it before, you must prioritize your list of wants and needs for your wedding to ultimately be happy at the outcome.  However, in my experience, even brides that think the flower budget isn’t that important, often find themselves very frustrated at this point in the wedding planning process……….why?

More often than not, brides still at least carry a bouquet down the aisle.  If she has a bridal party, the girls too are carrying some type of flowers!  The average wedding party…on the bride’s side only….is anywhere from 3 to 7 and sometimes more, but rarely less.  So there is the potential for at least 9 bouquets, and that is without adding in the boutineers.  Average bride’s bouquets can run anywhere from $100.00 – $300.00…now I said average….there is certainly those that can cost more or less.  Bridesmaid’s bouquets are usually in the $75.00-$125.00 range, but again I’ve had them run more and less expensive.  I’m just quoting averages that I am most familiar with.  Ok…so if you do the math you can see the least amount for a bride and a party of 7 girls is around $625.00 and we haven’t added in the guy’s yet.  The average boutineer is about $8.00-$12.00 each, depending on how simple or fancy they are.  Remember small items can often be labor intensive!  So there is another $56.00 there.  So we’re nearly at $700.00 and oh yeah…what about the mothers, grandmothers, fathers, and grandfathers?  It is custom to adorn those folks with corsages and boutineers as well.  Will you have a flower girl and ring bearer?  Other special people you want to recognize?  You see where I’m going here….

Ok, granted I am averaging a wedding that has about 7 attendants on each side…BUT…you will also notice that I averaged out on the least expensive side.  By time you add in the other relatives on both sides, and the ring bearer and flower girl…should you have them….you are looking at, at least a $1,000 plus and you haven’t even talked about the reception yet.  In all the years that I have decorated weddings, there have been less than a handful… fact I’m trying to even recall any weddings that we did that did not include reception flowers…….maybe 1 in 11 years????  So odds are, you are planning to decorate your reception using at least some flowers….right?

Now the reason I’m writing this particular blog is this:  More often than not, a bride has been spending the year or two, or three, prior to the wedding, tearing out pictures in bridal magazines of the look she really wants to recreate for her wedding.  Who doesn’t do that?  For goodness sake, look at the number of bridal publications dedicated to just that very act!!!!  I even did that for my second wedding, so I understand completely!!  However, here’s the problem.  Undoubtedly, you have heard the phrase, “champagne taste on a beer budget?”  Well girls, unfortunately so have I.  Not only have I heard it, I’ve had to work with it many times!

Do not get me wrong!  There is nothing wrong with working within a small budget.  However, so many brides absolutely make appointments with their designer’s with a deflated budget and a Martha Stewart magazine.  Uh oh… now what?  If you plan carefully, and realistically………NOTHING!

Brides, the next time you buy a wedding magazine, pay close attention to the fact that every floral design is missing one essential thing……….PRICE!  Do, or should, florist expect that brides are going to automatically know the price of flowers?  Of course not!  And here’s where the problems often begin.  A bride has unknowingly chosen a look for her wedding from her favorite magazine, made up of the most expensive flowers, but her budget has been eaten up by the cost of her venue, and making sure the guests are eating a lovely dinner.  What is a girl to do?  REWIND!

I know I have said this before, but brides, a major part of the stress you feel in planning your wedding often happens at this very point in the process.  Without a doubt, the larger part of the overall wedding budget is eaten up at the moment you make up your guest list. Ha!  You thought I would say venue didn’t you?  Don’t forget……the best way to keep your budget in check is to CAREFULLY decide on how many people you want to invite to the wedding.  Remember like I said before, it’s a wedding, not a family reunion!  Hey if mom and dad have a “sky’s the limit” bank account and attitude…then by all means invite away! However, we know that in 2012, that is rarely the case.  SO……………….before you choose the venue, the food, the cake, the music, and definitely BEFORE you choose the decor style and flowers, think carefully about the guest list.  Why?  Because the number one thing that determines the choice of venue, is the size of the wedding.  I know, not always, but most of the time, that is true!

Also, another good place to start is actually with your florist!  If you’ve been saving up those wonderful photos of your vision for your wedding, stop a minute, and take them to you florist to find out how much it might cost you!  If that exact look is more than you intend to spend, then ask he or she how you might achieve the same “look” but within your budget parameters.

To sum things up…and I apologize for the length of this blog…..first determine what is most important to you.  No matter what…start with the guest list….do you need to invite EVERYONE?  Maybe not.  If your decor is most important, but you’re not sure how much of you budget you need to set aside………START with your designer!  All in all, working backwards can often save you time, money, and without a doubt…a whole lot of stress!  Good luck everyone!!

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