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Why wedding flowers cost what they do and tips to help minimise this cost

Getting married? Not sure what to budget for flowers?

It’s not surprising when supermarkets bulk buying power and ability to mark up other products to ensure they make a profit, creates the illusion that flowers are cheap. It's also hard to quantify when floristry is such an art that skilled, qualified florists can make a bouquet look effortlessly easy to create.

In this article I will be sharing some of the behind the scenes details of the work that goes into making wedding flowers to help couples planning a wedding understand why they cost what they do and also sharing some tips that can help to minimise this cost where possible.

Firstly, I’d like to dispel the myth that wedding suppliers put a ‘wedding tax’ on the price of their services, by which I mean hiking their prices up when you tell them its for a wedding. This is simply not the case; having been through the process of paying for a wedding myself I know what it's like and would feel so bad that I could never do that to anyone. Wedding floristry requires a lot of time, care and attention to ensure that your flowers look their best and last the whole day.

Secondly, it is important to understand how florists purchase their flowers, as this affects the price. The flowers that we use are grown in many parts of the world, but the majority are sold through two main auction houses in Holland. This means that supply and demand has an effect on prices, for example you may think that choosing just gypsophila for your flowers will be cheap, but if on the day your florist comes to buying your flowers 100 other brides have had the same idea, then gypsophila is going to be in high demand, which means the price is going to be higher than usual.

So, how much should you be looking to spend on flowers for you special day?

Reports around the web suggest that you should be looking to spend around 10% of the total cost of your wedding; and according to the average amount couples spend on their flowers is £858.

The truth is it’s really subjective and depends on a number of factors including the size of your wedding (10 table centres at £70 each versus 5 at £70 is a significant difference) how many people in the wedding party (bridesmaids, groomsmen etc) and what kind of arrangements you would like - floral archways, moongates etc expect to pay anything from £250 upwards for these alone!

From a florist’s point of view there are three main elements that contribute to the price; these are quality, experience and time.

Quality relates to the quality of the flowers, this is not just a case of purchasing them in a fresher state from the auctions than those you get at the supermarket, but also the treatment of the flowers once they arrive at the workshop. There is a lot of preparation that goes into ensuring your flowers are at their best on your wedding day. The first stage is called conditioning; when the flowers arrive your florist will inspect the flowers to ensure they are in good condition and as expected, then foliage is stripped from the stems and thorns removed from roses, stems are then cut at an angle and the flowers are placed in water containing flower food overnight. A trained florist will know the different temperatures that each flower variety need to be stored at and what conditions to keep them in, so they are looking their best on the day.

Qualifying as a florist takes both time and money, firstly in the form of paying for courses, but also in working for low pay to gain experience. You may think that creating wedding flowers is relatively easy, just gather some flowers together and tie a ribbon around them – done!  With flowers being naturally beautiful it is very tempting to have a go yourself, and I would never knock anyone for doing so – that is how I got started, as a DIY bride; however, knowing what I know now I can think of many reasons why it is best to leave it to the professionals. Even on my wedding day I still enlisted the services of a professional florist for the more technical arrangements.

You see there are techniques such as spiralling stems on a bouquet, wiring and taping flowers and leaves to make up a buttonhole and various ways of creating table displays so they stay in place, but there is also a lot of theory; understanding principles like working on a two thirds to one third basis, ensuring an arrangement is in scale with its surroundings and that the materials used are in proportion, making sure there is enough variation and depth within an arrangement are all techniques that florists employ to make arrangements that are pleasing to the eye.

And lastly, probably the most influential factor in the cost of wedding flowers; time. It takes approximately 5 days work to construct a full package of wedding flowers, starting with 2-3 days preparation, the day itself and the day after for collection of any hired items or flowers to be repurposed. Not to mention the time spent meeting with couples, creating designs, writing and revising quotes, venue visits and being contactable from the moment we agree to work together right up until the big day. There is a lot of love, care and attention that goes into each element. Floristry can be back-breaking work, often involving late nights and early starts, mostly at weekends – consider how much you would wish to be compensated for this kind of work?

Hopefully now you have an idea of how much you should be looking to spend and a better understanding of what you are getting for your money; here’s a few tips on ways to minimise the cost and still have beautiful looking flowers on your special day.

Repurpose your flower arrangements

One of the best ways to save some money on your flowers is to repurpose your arrangements, so if you are having an arrangement for your ceremony move this to your top table for your reception, this saves having to pay for two. If you are having jars down the aisle or hanging off chair backs, place these on the bar, cake table and present table. You can also supply the jars yourself and save on hire charges.

If you are planning on having a lot of bridesmaids, you could use their bouquets on the guest tables, just ask your florist or venue to supply some vases filled with water.

Need a gift to say thank you to someone? Why not give them an arrangement from the table? I once worked on an Alice in Wonderland themed wedding where the Bride and Grooms mum’s were travelling back to Ireland after the wedding, so would not have been able to take a bunch of flowers home, so we chose some nice vintage teacups and made a small arrangement in them and incorporated them into the table decorations. The mum’s not only got some flowers to enjoy but also a keepsake teacup too.

Use a few expensive items

If you have your heart set on a show stopping peony-filled wedding but don’t have a large budget, use these in your bouquet but use cheaper complimentary flowers for your bridesmaids to balance out the cost. I always like the Bride to have something different in her bouquet and the groom a slightly different buttonhole so that they stand out; after all, the day is all about you guys!

Hydrangeas are quite expensive per stem, but their large heads mean that you only need a few of them to get a show stopping effect.

Choose flowers that are in season

It’s not always guaranteed, but if you choose flowers that are in season when you are getting married this is when their supply is greatest and therefore, they are more likely to be available at a good price. Being in season means their quality will be at its best too.

Don't be afraid to experiment with bright colour paletts!

Go for a few stand out details

If you would like to incorporate a large floral installation such as an archway, flower chandelier or flower backdrop; why not opt for having one or a few of these and place something else on the tables, candlelight is really beautiful and could be accompanied with some decorative foliage to tie in with the flowers. Just be sure to check with your venue if they allow candles.

Remember that your flowers are going to appear in the majority of your photographs so although they have a short life-span, they do provide lasting memories of the day so it is an important area to invest in.

I hope this has provided you with an insight into the wonderful world of wedding flowers and also some inspiration for your special day!

If you would like to find out more about how I can ensure you get wedding flowers that you love and meet your budget, I would love to speak with you :)

Gemma Guilfoyle

One Fine Dahlia


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