(5 minute read)
BEFORE YOU SAY "WE DO"
For many couples flowers are the nucleus of their wedding's design as they can influence major components like attire, theme, colour scheme, decor... and even season! So an element this critical (and expensive) should warrant a fair initial scrutiny of the professional set to the task.
Now for those folks who have never planned a wedding or ordered flowers before, this search and selection phase can seem daunting. So to take the stress out of it, below I've shared 5 key questions to consider before selecting the perfect vendor for the job!
HOW TO DO YOUR RESEARCH
Question #1: Where are they at?
This first question is a two-pronged query: firstly, it considers geography and secondly, level of experience.
The location of your wedding (both ceremony and reception) and the location of your dream florist's shop is important to consider, especially if you're cost-conscious. Yes, many florists offer fluid service areas for large events, and are happy to accommodate longer than normal journeys (myself included), but distance does dictate the value on the "setup and delivery" line item of your estimate.
Now there are many websites (ex. The Knot or Wedding Wire) and services (ex. preferred vendor lists) that can help connect you to local vendors, however a FREE, easy and unbiased tool to use is Instagram! Search hashtags and tags of your wedding venue's name and its city along with vendor category and see what pops up! Try combinations like: #MississaugaFlorist #HamiltonWeddingFlorist #MuskokaWeddings #WedLuxToronto #CasaLoma etc...
It is also important to consider where on the spectrum of experience your florist lands and sometimes that is indicative of their studio address. Now I won't instigate a battle of credibility between home-based businesses (which I have always run and first started from my parent's basement) and traditional brick and mortar studios, but suffice it to say that if you're in search of a luxury wedding professional for your 350 person $250/plate soiree, don't expect them to solo run their biz out of their home kitchen.
I should also emphasize that "inexperienced" does not mean disaster designer. YouTube and experimentation got me by for a long time before I pursued formal accredited training. We all have to start somewhere and if your budget demands it reach out to that side-hustler and ask yourself the next question...
Question #2: Does their past work reflect your future vision?
You don't go to a seafood restaurant if you're allergic to shellfish, so why waste time browsing the menu at a high-end luxury floral design studio when you're hosting a casual backyard wedding? Establishing your general flower style is easy (btw, you don't need 400 pins on your Pinterest board to hone in on this, you just need a general vibe: classic, rustic, garden, boho, modern) and should be loosely evident in the past work of the designer you are considering.
Important: don't expect to see an exact mock-up or what you want for your dream day in their gallery. Many designers, myself included, pride ourselves on not repeating the same recipes for our clients, so instead measure vision compatibility by whether or not you love-lock on to a few samples of their work. After a few minutes of cruising their Instagram page or website you should be able to do this and assess if a meeting is worth yours and their time.
Question #3: Are they authentically interested?
If you're not invited to have a initial meeting with a florist of interest, I'd question why not. If your order is tiny or it's very last minute, it might not be necessary, but for full-service shin-digs it's important to have either a virtual, in-person or telephone meeting to discuss your floral vision, needs and budget.
Why is this meeting important? Within that initial meeting you should be able to pick up on whether or not they are authentically interested in your event. Are they taking notes and asking questions? Did they inquire about elements like: colours, styles, varieties, venue, and decor? Have they talked about seasonal flowers, varieties to avoid and current trends? Did they ask you about your budget, setup/delivery logistics and next steps? The conversation has the potential to go very in-depth with mutual questioning, brainstorming and insight, but if it doesn't, and therefore doesn't meet the needs of you as a client, it might be time to meet with another vendor.
Question #4: Can they work within your budget?
So the budget is often a touchy subject for couples on the hunt for vendors. Weddings can be very costly and the fear of being pressured into spending too much can be very real. My suggestion for navigating this has two steps:
9 times out of 10 a couple new to the wedding planning world will underestimate the cost of wedding flowers, so it's the job of the designer to first educate couples on the realities of floral expenses (especially in a post-pandemic world), and second explore options to help bring that $$$$$ number to a place of compromise. If the designer is not willing or unable to do so, they might still be a fabulous designer, and a compassionate person, but they're just not the right one for you.
#5 Have they put it in writing?
After all the work of sifting through profiles, confirming availabilities, participating in consultations, establishing a budget, settling on a design, and waiting for an estimate...At this stage you should be reviewing and signing a service agreement and leaving your retainer/deposit.
If they do not have a formal event service agreement, ask for one! Along with client and business profile details, this written agreement should state all the pertinent elements and logistics you have agreed to. These will likely include:
A service agreement is meant to protect both you, and the vendor; it ensures that there is complete transparency, and only good surprises on the big day!
The experience of searching for, and hiring your floral vendor should mimic the big day; it should be exciting, memorable and fun! If it's not, take a step back and ask yourself these 5 questions again. They should steer you back on track and on your way!
Any questions? Leave them in the comments or shoot me a private message!
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