When I meet with couples, I sometimes chuckle at the questions they ask me. For some they have read the "What to ask your florist" section in their wedding planners and although some are good questions, others are not really telling you what you need to know about the ability of the florist to do a great job on your wedding flowers.
Of course, nothing replaces recommendations from venues and friends and with all the places to view online reviews, this is the first place to start. If the florist is a "busy wedding florist", you should be able to see many reviews that will often stress similar things such as "they got my vision", "they worked within my budget" and the ever popular "they exceeded my expectations". Finding out from others about their experience is easier than ever. Sometimes depending on the review site, you can even email the past bride and ask questions. I know my brides have done it!
If a dear friend was looking for a Wedding Florist and wanted my advise (assuming I could not help them, of course), this is what I would tell them to ask.
- What is their process for delivering and setting up a wedding? Does their staff work in teams or is the shop a small operation relying on 1 or 2 key personnel?
- Is the person I'm meeting with a lead designer or owner of the floral shop? I ask this because often they might be a "sales" person but not know design. You need someone to advise you here, not yes you to death. It's also nice to know the person won't change on you a million times before your wedding. This often happens with other vendors so it's nice if you know that won't be an issue at your floral shop.
- Does the floral shop have back up personnel that can run out in case of emergency such as a delivery truck breaking down or other major issue?
- Does the floral shop have pictures of their own work for you to view? This means actual designs they have created, not just inspiration or stock photos. Do they have a wedding specific website? If so, they most likely take their wedding business very seriously.
- Are they insured? Many venues are requesting 2 and even 3 million dollars in liability coverage. Choosing a vendor that is not insured will have you needing to buy insurance for them. Any professional business should have insurance. If they don't, I'd go elsewhere.
So you are probably wondering what questions I get asked that I don't think have a bearing on my ability to do a wonderful job on a wedding. Here they are and why I think they are a bit silly.
- Will you personally be arranging and delivering my wedding flowers? I think if the answer is yes, there is reason for concern. What if that one person gets sick? At our shop we work as a team with me as the "orchestra leader" and I think we are able to provide much better service. For one thing, rarely is a floral designer a master at everything. What I love about having multiple designers on staff is that although Design Manager Holly may be a master at Cascading Bouquets, Designer Alanna does a wonderful job on corsages while Designer Norman makes the most amazing floral centerpieces. Having a team of talented designers who can divide the duties with each doing what they are best at, is always going to result in better designs. My talent lies in understanding the brides vision, taking the time to explore and define it so that it can be relayed to the design team. If something happens to me before the wedding, my team can pick up my very detailed notes and know exactly what to do. I was a one "girl" business for many years, trust me, I'd rather not go back to that. I also love having another set of eyes (or 2) that can pick up on something I might have missed. No one is perfect, least of all me!
- Do you do more than 1 wedding per day? This question is always an interesting one for me because for years we had done 2, 3 or even 4 weddings in one day, with each bride getting exactly what they expected at the correct time. A small shop might be able to only do one wedding but a larger one not only can, but must do more than one in order to survive. For us, we do weddings of all different sizes with no minimum order being set. I remember one year doing 4 weddings in one day ranging from $300 to $3,800. All got delivered, set up and I received a thank you note for each one. If I was only going to take one wedding on any given day, I'd have to set a minimum and I've never wanted to do that. I think everyone, no matter what their budget, should have beautiful flowers on their wedding day and it is my pleasure to provide them.
- When do the flowers arrive for the wedding and when do you arrange them? If you choose a professional florist, who knows their business, then you need to trust them to know when to have the flowers arrive, to know how long it will take for them to hydrate and blooms appropriately. I've had brides tell me their wedding bouquets last 2 weeks. That's wonderful and I always love hearing it. Flowers take time to process and time to design. I like to order my flowers in so that they have time to drink fully but also early enough to allow me to replace any that are not up to my standard. If all the flowers for a Saturday wedding arrived on a Friday and were not of good quality, I would not have time to find replacements. Rushing the processing of flowers is a very dangerous thing. Flowers that fail during a wedding are often not handled correctly. This means the florist not having proper refrigeration during processing, storage and delivery. Often this is where designers working out of their home might be an issue. If they try to get the flowers in at the last minute and rush the process while never cooling the flowers properly, they might not hold up to a very long wedding day. The truth is, this is a good question to ask when all is said and done, you have to trust the professional to know each flower being used and the best time for it to arrive. Remember, happy past brides means the florist knows what to do, when to do and how to do it. It's as simple as that.
There you have, my two cents on what to ask a potential wedding florist and why certain questions might not get you the answer you think it correct. Happy wedding planning and feel free to view our wedding website at www.perfectweddingflowers.com