Alright flower friends, here’s a question I think most of us would love the magical answer to, but for some reason it is not talked about as much as it should be. We know money can be a touchy subject to some, but we’re opening the door to start a conversation about pricing & how to educate our lovely brides about the reality of how much that beautiful Pinterest wedding actually costs.
Day after day we hear stories about brides-to-be pulling up their stunning inspiration images, and then stopping the florist dead in their tracks when the they tell them their budget. Oh, you want ten bouquets filled with peonies & garden roses, hanging installations, and garlands on every table, for $1500? Sorry sister, ain’t happening. We can’t really blame them – $1500 is a lot of money! But the lack of transparency when it comes to discussing pricing and the reality of what flowers cost is why these brides come to us with these expectations. Nobody truly knows the blood, sweat and tears that designers put into making these magical days come to life, and it’s our job to educate the consumers so they understand the “why”, and make that conversation a little easier and a little less awkward. Luckily, our Floral Forum designers were passionate about this topic and more than happy to share their thoughts and the ways they’ve found works best for them.
But before we get this show on the road, I want to make a quick little introduction to the newest contributor to The Floral Forum! We recently connected with Ryan O’Neil during our florist app comparison when we included his app, Stemcounter.com. Ryan and his wife have owned a flower shop for years, so his experience in the floral industry paired with his experience building this app will bring a fresh perspective to the table. Welcome, Ryan!
And now back to our regularly scheduled program…
I personally like to give brides a range of some of our most common items (i.e. bridal bouquets, boutonnieres, low centerpieces, etc.) which I have in an “Investment” tab within my website in hopes to help couples determine their budgets. Even though all of our weddings are custom tailored to each couple and each event, this guide helps me educate couples so that they have a realistic idea of how much flowers may cost based on their current guest count, the number of people in their wedding party, and the different details of their wedding. This way they can determine which aspects of their wedding they are willing to sacrifice or which they would like to focus on.
Before I worked with flowers, I wouldn’t have had a clue where to even start with thinking of a budget for flowers. It wasn’t very often that I would buy flowers so I completely understand when people don’t know where to start. Personally, I think all of us in the industry should be more transparent in our pricing. It may alleviate couples running out of money in one part of their wedding because they never imagined another part was going to cost so much. Even though there is a lot of competition out there (especially in this industry), there is also plenty of work for everybody out there and I truly do believe we attract our “tribe”. A bride interested in your services may not necessarily be attracted to me and vice versa. We all have our own creativity and our own personal touch which attracts a certain couple. This is why I don’t feel like we should be afraid to put our prices up, even if it is just a range 🙂
I only take inquiries through my website contact form (unless it’s a planner I regularly work with, in that case they contact me directly). I have an auto response letter to all inquiries that states how I define my design style as well as the type of products I use. I say that I carefully source specialty product, using only what is spectacular in that season. I have a higher minimum order for my area (this eliminates people who don’t have an appropriate budget for what they want) and I state what the minimum is as well as fees for delivery, set-up, pick-up and rentals. I also have a price list if requested that shows I have minimum for certain items, like a centerpiece, which I won’t make under a certain price. I then request that if they would like to proceed in checking my availability, getting a questionnaire and setting up a consultation to reply to the auto response email. Having the higher minimum has really made this situation better in not having to educate potential clients on the wholesale cost of flowers.
During every consultation I explain how I source specialty product, and don’t use standard stock flowers because it’s their wedding and the occasion calls for amazing flowers!
If I have a client who asks about the price difference between, say, standard roses and Davis Austin roses, I have two pictures of similar centerpieces: one with only standard roses (nothing over a $1 per stem wholesale) and another with 4 – 5 David Austin Garden roses, and explain that there is a $50 difference in the price of the two arrangements because of the wholesale cost of the garden roses. Having a visual comparison has helped me in that they can see the “wow” factor David Austin’s give to an arrangement, and I have found that the client usually goes for the more expensive arrangement.
OKAY – so I love this question so much because it’s definitely something I’ve run into often. Client’s LOVE all the garden roses and peonies, etc that they see on Pinterest, but have no understanding of how much they cost. So they have a 150 person wedding, want all the good stuff, and a $1500 budget.
The issue here is, I could easily spend $1500-2000 just on the cost of flowers for a wedding that size, depending on how involved the details//floral elements of the wedding are. SO, what do you do in this situation?
First of all, I’m always very up-front with clients. I think learning how to be straight-forward while still doing your best to be kind/gracious with clients always wins.
I have a minimum now – I have to in order to spend what I want on the most magical flowers and still make a living. So upon receiving the initial inquiry, I’ll write them back and ask them about their budget, inspiration photos, etc. then, depending on their response, I’ll explain the minimum and ask if they have room for that in their budget. If they ask why we have it, or why it’s so much, I’ll do my best to clarify//explain to them. I’ll go into how much the flowers cost, and all the labor that goes in to creating arrangements like that. All the water costs we incur, oasis//chicken wire//hours on our feet, pulling flowers the week of, foraging if needed, etc.
Being a creative is hard, and I think people often have no understanding of how much time//energy and thought goes into the work we do. HOWEVER, that’s not their fault- how else would they know if we don’t explain it to them? The flowers are ALL over pinterest, and they ARE so unreal beautiful, so they must think that it’s just the norm. But it’s not, I think sometimes they just think all flowers are created equal-like the arrangements you can buy at the grocery store are comparable. But the reality is, it’s not like that, and i think it’s up to us to educate our clients and set expectations//boundaries regarding these things to help them and others understand. And just be nice about it, give them the benefit of the doubt-we can’t expect them to know better, because if we didn’t do this for work, we would probably assume the same thing 🙂
AND, last tidbit-know your own worth//value your own work as an artist, and stand firm in it. That helps too 🙂
In many ways Pinterest has done the floral industry a great service by showcasing to brides what a dream wedding can look like. I emphasize “dream” because it is not what the average bride can afford. Gigantic centerpieces dripping with Phaleonopsis are certainly not for every bride, although the pictures we see on Pinterest really make many think that they too can have centerpieces like this within their budget. I have sat in many a consultation where the bride actually ended up in tears when she realized that her vision was not in line with her budget. Sometimes it is a hard pill to swallow, but in my opinion it is up to us as professionals to educate our clients right at that moment when we realize that her $3000 budget with 20 tables and 13 bridesmaids won’t allow for much of the vision she has fallen in love with online. Of course breaking the news in a sensitive manner is important. It is also important that you do it in a way that exudes confidence, professionalism and grace. You want your client to leave feeling like you are the best person to carry out their vision realistically and beautifully, no matter what budget they fall within. It takes a true pro to break the bad news and capture them as a client all in the same breath. I attribute the ever growing luxury weddings and events to online sources like Pinterest that showcase and highlight what can be done with flowers when your budget provides for the scale and opulence. There is truly an art to finessing your words and still capturing the bride’s trust.
When doing most consultations, I always price the wedding out right in front of the customer. I believe in transparency and am quite confident in the average cost per arrangement based on the typical wedding and event flowers since I have been doing it for almost 20 years. When pricing a wedding I always estimate the cost per arrangement in a way that gives me the optimal price to create that arrangement successfully and to meet the clients’ expectation. This means pricing it out with a look in mind not necessarily a flower recipe. Many times I leave myself a little extra room for cost variances in flowers and to be able to add more to the arrangement should I need to make it more impressive than the recipe alone will afford for. I always want my brides to blown away and more than happy with all their flowers. This is a great way to price things out in order to achieve that goal. If something falls outside of my realm and I need time to do more research, I would explain to them that I would need to get back to them on some of the prices. My goal is that every bride leaves with an estimate the same day we meet.
One super important bit of info that I think helps when selling weddings is to sell a look….not a flower. I say it over and over again because it is sooo important. It is up to the you to lead the conversation and always be steering the client into a look, feel and color palette, not individual flower choices. After being on the wholesale end of things I know now more than ever that promising certain flowers should never be done. A smart designer will always leave plenty of room for subbing and educate the bride during the consult as to what flowers may be in question once her wedding rolls around. Wholesalers procure product but they don’t grow it, nor are they Mother Nature. Availability issues are a very real thing and they do happen whether we are ready for them or not. Handling this delicately keeps you from putting yourself into a corner of promises that you might not be able to keep. It also leads you down an avenue to create successfully for your bride.
Happy wedding selling everyone!
At Twisted Willow, we have a budget calculator on our website. While we have a certain niche we cater to, all brides can put in some specifics of what they want and it gives them a range of what their dream wedding will cost. This has been a tremendous way to educate St. Louis brides on what they need to plan on spending before we get into flower types. We’ve also found that having a software to calculate exact costs during the consultation has allowed clients to immediately know what the price of their desired items are. You can handle the “shock” factor when you’re in the consultation and can adjust their wants. It’s much more customer-service friendly than to send the numbers via email a few days later.
Thanks to our Floral Forum for your helpful input and giving us a peek into the way you run your businesses. And for the rest of you out there, if you have any other ideas or tips, or can think of any ways in which Mayesh could help bridge the gap, we’d love to hear your thoughts! We’re here to support all of our fabulous customers and ensure that you are able to run your businesses in the most efficient and seamless ways as possible!