setting a realistic wedding floral budget
Congrats! You're planning a wedding and although it might seem a little stressful at first with all the things you didn’t know you needed to do (pick out napkin colors? who lights our candles? dj vs mc??) we just wanted to pop in and tell you that it doesn’t have to be! After the budget setting, our first advice to our couples is to find a rad team of vendors and trust them with the process. You shouldn’t have to take on everything all on your own, so if you have a planner utilize all of their advice and resources- but if you don’t there is so much help out there, within your own vendor team and online.
Once you know your budget you will be able to determine who you can hire off your dream list of vendors and go from there. Although I don’t encourage price shopping (because you get what you pay for) I do recommend thinking of ways to keep the costs at a number you are comfortable paying. There are some really great ways to have a beautiful and impactful day without breaking the bank. When you start developing your budget think about your guest list first- this will totally help you in searching for your venue and your caterer. That number determines how big of a space you need and how many mouths to feed. If you want a huge party, I get it, but dont forget a few important things- this is a very special day make sure that the invite list reflects the people you want to share it with. Don’t feel bad about not inviting all of your co-workers that you don’t even socialize outside of work with, or old friends that you haven’t talked to in years and take it from me your parents don’t need to invite every person they have ever met in their life- its your wedding day! Once you take the time to really be thoughtful about your list you’ll have a great draft and can start working on numbers- you might be surprised how much money and space you can save just by eliminating even 20 people that you honestly didn’t want to invite in the first place.
Once you have some solid numbers in place its time to do your research- if there are a few vendors you love a couple google/pinterest searches can help you find even more in your area just so you have a few options. If you are local to portland you might try ‘Portland Oregon wedding florist’ or ‘pdx wedding venues’ just to help you get started. Browse the list you came up with and check out their websites- since i’m a florist/stylist I’m just going to give advice on this part- but I know it applies to other vendors! When you get to a florists website check out their branding, about page and portfolio- this gives you the best idea if they are a good style match for you. Make your way to their wedding information and if they have pricing info great, if not and they have an inquiry fill that out so you can provide as much detail as possible. I can’t tell you how often we receive generic emails with just a date and asking for a price without much info. First- hi, hello, how are you? Next tell me your style, share your budget and give me more info so I can dream up something special along side of you. I’d say about 99% of the florists I know personally don’t have packages for weddings, and some even have minimums- so sending a message with a simple ‘what’s your price’ makes things a lot more complicated for both of us!
Weddings are completely customized, so that inquiry you send over is helpful! If they ask your ideal budget, hand it over as a jumping point and they can let you know if first they can work with it and second if they are available that date- if they come back and can’t help you out (either booked or have a minimum) most are willing to help you out by referring you to another florist they know. A super quick note asking for recommendations is a great way to find someone that might have a similar style to theirs that you are desiring who might have open availability and flexibility with your budget.
Once you starting talking to a florist, giving as much info as possible is best- where is your venue, is it outdoors/indoors, how many in your bridal party, is your ceremony and reception in the same place, if so is there a flip of that space, how many guest tables for dinner, etc. All of this info will help us determine what you need, how much you want to spend on it and how realistic those two things are when paired together. I’ve seen a lot of couples pinning away hundred thousand dollar weddings with 1-5% of that budget, and its not their fault- there is so much imagery out there that it can be a bit overwhelming. Once my couple shows me their inspiration I try to work up a mood board for them to give them a realistic expectation of the look they want, at a price they can afford. After that I try to avoid looking for more inspo and instead work with the space they are using, the florals in season and the couple themselves- what feeling do they want to evoke for their guests, what’s their personal style- there is so much more to a wedding than a carbon copy of a pin.
I’m not sure if there is a ‘wedding planning for beginners’ book going around, but when I have meetings with my couples and tell them its okay to not follow the rules and skip some of the traditional planning lists, sometimes they seem surprised that its even an option. I’ll be honest- although the look of wedding party florals is gorgeous, I also think it can be a huge waste for anyone with a tighter budget- especially for something that is highlighted for about 20min. When my couples want to have large installations and impactful floral & styling elements in their space, but their budget isn’t as flexible- I almost always suggest cutting wedding party personals- think corsages, boutonnieres, bouquets, crowns and aisle petals. I think giving only the couple getting married floral elements can feel extremely personal and special and allow so much flexibility to make statements in other places! Most couples will see a savings of around $700-$1k+ for this alone, allowing you to allocate those funds to something more important.
Another suggestion we always give is to use the florals in as many places as possible- if you need aisle markers or ceremony entrance florals can they be moved somewhere else? In front of the head or sweet heart table, on the bar, lining the dance floor etc. Can that ceremony backdrop serve as a statement piece behind or above a reception area after the flip? Can the bridal bouquet be used as a centerpiece? Can the centerpieces be taken to a send off brunch the next morning? Ways to get the most out of all those beautiful flowers not only gets the most bang for your buck- but its also more sustainable, nothing breaks my heart more than seeing florals used for a 15-20min moment and then tossed at the end of the night.
Now that you got through all that this might be the hard part, and might sound brutally honest- but lets just get it over it. Whatever your vision is just remember there is a cost for it and the cost isn’t just the flowers. Wedding florals aren’t cheap, and there is a very good reason for that. Along with working with couples over the course of usually a year with meetings, emails, calls, site visits and so on (add up all those hours!), ordering, processing and designing flowers there is also the cost of running that floral business- supplies, insurance, taxes, independent contractors, marketing, etc., and this is like 10% of the list of work we do. The amount of care, passion and hard work that goes into creating something beautiful for another persons day is pretty hard to put a price tag on, but we can if the vision is realistic from the get go. I love to compare the business of price shopping and haggling on wedding costs to the food/grocery industry- have you ever told a restaurant that you would pay a different amount for the meal you are about to eat? Or the checker at the grocery store that you have a different amount in mind for the cart you just unloaded? On average floral and styling is about 12-15% of your entire wedding budget, but that’s just a ballpark.
Decide what you want, what you need and what you can afford. Do your research, set an appropriate budget, follow your gut (don’t forget your mom, best friend, co-worker with loads of advice aren’t getting married, you are- this is your day!!) respect the experienced vendor team you created and have open communication- once you have those things handled I promise you will have so much fun and we will be right there cheering you on! Because let’s be real- after working together this long and having talks (& possibly meltdowns) about logistics, plans, money, and all the things- we might as well be married to you too! =)