How much do wedding flowers actually cost?
I remember very clearly how nervous I was when it came to planning our wedding and trying to work out what our budget was going to be. I started off with the wrong idea when I decided to search for venues BEFORE deciding our budget. I had an idea of what I thought I wanted and this included a BIG, GRAND, manor house or stately home... and I viewed a few.
My fiancé (now husband) was working in Iraq at the time and he was on a rotation of 8 weeks away and 4 weeks home so all the planning fell to me, thankfully. I had been planning my wedding since before we met, so if he did have any ideas that he wanted to contribute, they probably wouldn't have made the 'cut' anyway, so thankfully he was happy to leave it all to me. We actually had 3 weddings planned in total, the first 2 had to be postponed, not due to a global pandemic but because of hubby's work commitments and at this point, it was about 3 years later, we decided to really reassess what was important to us.
It wasn't getting married in a big stately home.
It wasn't spending lots of money on ONE day.
It wasn't impressing friends and family.
It wasn't spending money that could have been used for our home or our family plans.
Ultimately, we wanted to create something beautiful, with a small budget and somewhere we could spend as much time as possible with our closest friends and family who have been there for us to support us since we were teeny tiny.
Our budget went from £20,000+ to £7000 and our one day in a stately home turned into a long weekend in a log cabin site with 60 of our guests and a wedding and reception on a rural working farm, in the cow shed to be precise. It was PERFECT!
So, this forced us into fine tuning our budget and making sure that we could get as much as possible for our money and with the way everything is increasing in price these days it is so important for all couples to stretch their budget as far as possible.
I have had more enquiries this month than any month before and my couples still don't really know what to expect to pay for their flowers. I want to try and 'do my bit' to explain this a little, understand where their money is going and how they can make their budget work hard for them by using their flowers for more than one purpose.
Typically, if you 'google' the price of wedding flowers you will find a figure of between 10-15% of your total wedding budget. Flowers are usually a big part of your wedding, they set the scene, add warmth, colour, interest and a 'talking point'. They provide a beautiful backdrop not only for your day but also for the photographs that you will treasure for many years and share with your family as it grows.
As a florist working from home my outlays are minimal. I don't have a premises to pay rent for and I don't have a van (for now) that adds an additional cost to my monthly expenses. The one thing I do spend a lot on is my time, as do all other florists in the faux and fresh field. This is a big contributing factor to my costs for my couples but let me explain what I spend all my time doing.
When I produce a quotation for my couples I consider 3 things,
Time, Travel/Expenses, Supplies/Products.
1) As soon as I receive that first exciting email or enquiry from a couple (and after I have done my little 'happy dance') I start the initial conversation. Getting to know them, asking what ideas they have and learning all about their plans for their wedding or event. Writing emails back and forth, collecting all the details and learning everything there is to know about my couples, can take between 1 and 3 hours of my time.
2) To save some time on this process I recommend a face to face consultation. This can be done in person or via zoom and if they are particularly busy it can even be done over the phone but this generally takes 1.5 hours where we discuss every element of your day from total number of guests, colour scheme, theme or feel for the day and everything in between. Its important for me to get to know my couples so I know what makes them 'tick'. Knowing their personalities is a great precursor for understanding how they want their wedding day to go, not only for themselves, but also for their guests.
3) Knowing what they want means I can start sourcing the flowers and foliage and putting together an inspiration board to show them my vision so they can let me know if I am on the right path and ticking their boxes. This usually takes about 2 hours for me as I want to make sure I get the best quality flowers and foliage for the best price for my couples.
4) As soon as I have the green light from the inspiration board I then have to do a stem count. This is where I calculate exactly how many stems I need for each flower arrangement, add them all up and make sure it is in-line with their budget. This takes me around 1hr.
5) I now have a list of exactly what I need to order and I can produce a quotation. This breaks down every element including names of the flowers and foliage and numbers of each stem. I do this to give my couples the opportunity to make adjustments to their quotation if they decide they would like more or less of something. Depending on the size of the wedding and the couples wish list this takes between 1 - 2 hours
Before I have even secured a 'wedding' and bagged myself a lovely new couple to work with I have already spent 6 - 8.5 hours of my time just getting things to a point where both my couples and I are in agreement with everything flower related. I do not charge for this stage in the process, the consultations are free and with no obligation.
Some time passes and the email reply hits my inbox...
My couple has decided that I am the florist for them!
I still get that excited feeling and can't wait to create amazing flowers for their big day.
6) Time to order the flowers. I try to order my flowers as early as possible to make sure that any price increases that may occur between the booking and the wedding are not passed on to my couples. Yes, that means I have A LOT of boxes of flowers, carefully packaged and waiting for their moment but I would rather that than have to tell my couples that their flower budget has increased. Ordering the flowers, receiving them, unpacking them and checking them for 'quality control', taking a stock count, re-boxing them safely for storage takes me around 2-3 hours.
7) The fun starts when I start creating the flower arrangements but before this I need to prepare all the stems. Real flower florists have to do this also, it requires conditioning, stripping the leaves and thorns, opening the petals and making sure that each stem is in its best condition and ready for arranging. I don't need to condition my flowers but everything else still applies. 1-2 hours later the stems are ready!
8) Bouquets, Buttonholes, Corsages, Flower crowns and Wands take anywhere from 20 mins to 1 hour to create so for the purpose of this blog lets say we have 1 bride and 3 bridesmaids, 1 groom and 3 groomsmen, 2 fathers, 2 mothers, 2 page boys and 2 bridesmaids. The personal flowers alone take approximately 8-9 hours.
9) Venue decoration - this can include table centrepieces, top table flowers or garlands, aisle flowers, floral arches or columns, hanging installations... the list is endless. As an average I would put aside a couple of days to make sure all of the wedding venue decor is complete. That's another 10-15 hours (depending on the size of the wedding) to add to the list.
10) The last piece to the puzzle (for the couple at least) is the set-up. I set up all of the wedding flowers for my couples to make sure that everything is absolutely perfect for them. Whilst they are getting ready and sipping prosecco or champagne I am adding the final touches to their wedding venue. I have to pack up the car, travel to the venue, unload the car and place and perfect all arrangements. If you include my travel time we are looking at approximately 5-7 hours.
11) CONGRATULATIONS!!! They are married!!! It has all gone seamlessly, they are on cloud 9, their friends and family are in awe of their wedding day and they are having that well deserved lie in or eating breakfast discussing everything with their guests from the day and night before... I am on my way back to the venue to dismantle all of the flowers, take them home and break them back down into their individual parts, all of my flowers are made bespoke to every couples exact requirements, no off-the-shelf options here. I then box them up safely for the next wedding hire. Dependant on travel time this can take 2-3 hours.
Flowers, Foliage, Chicken Wire, Binding Wire, Glue, Tape, Ribbon, Structures and all other hire items.
I have two packages available to my couples and both have dedicated pages on my website with 'Guide Prices' but to give you an average cost I have made a list for you based on the products that I personally supply with 'Mayflower and Lily' and remember the Time (34.5 - 48.5 hours, if you add up everything listed above), Travel/Expenses and Supplies/Products that go into these prices...
Bridal Bouquet £100 - £140
Bridesmaid Bouquets £75 - £90
Buttonholes £12 -£16
Corsages £20 - £30
Flower crowns, wands or pet collars £20 - £30
Table centerpiece £30 - £60
Flower garlands £90 - £200 (depending on length)
Milk Churns filled with flowers £200 - £300 (per pair)
Floral Urn and column £150
Wooden Hexagon Arch with 2 sections of flowers £300 - 350
Copper Frame Table Plan stand with floral arrangement £130 - £150
Floral Columns £400 - £500 (per pair)
So, with all of this in mind it is really important to make sure that anyone who does get in touch with me knows me, my work and likes what they see. As a bride-to-be myself I contacted a lot of suppliers 'price shopping' to see how far I could make my budget stretch and I would get frustrated when they wouldn't give me an exact cost without asking lots of questions that I couldn't necessarily answer at the time.
As a supplier myself now, I understand why they didn't. It takes a lot of time to produce a quotation and to get it right. If I am going to put that time in to make it right for a couple it has to be right for both of us.
I am not the right florist for everyone.
My prices are not the cheapest nor are they the most expensive but they wont suit everyone's budget and I have to be honest with the enquiries that come to me and if it doesn't align with my business or the things that excite me (and if it doesn't give me that fire in my belly) then I make sure I am always honest with those people and respectfully explain that another florist may be better suited for them and where possible I will provide recommendations for other florists.
You have to be happy with your suppliers, build relationships with them, trust them and feel comfortable being honest with your thoughts to them.
I really hope this blog has helped to clarify what goes into your flowers and why they can sometimes seem 'expensive'. If not helpful, I hope it was at least an interesting insight into my small business.
I would love to hear your comments below if you have any to share.