Booked your wedding venue? Congrats! The next major step is to select all of the pros who will help make your dream wedding-day vision a reality: your photographer, your florist, and more.By: Stefania Sainato
What to Ask a Potential Florist
The experts: Carissa Jones, the owner of JL Designs, a full-service floral and event design firm, and Christina Whittle and Zaid Arriola, the co-owners of Dolce Design Studios.
1. Is working within my budget feasible?
Before you schedule appointments with potential florists (search Photo of the Day and Pinterest for ideas), get a feel for their prices first.
"You don’t want to fall in love with the perfect floral arrangements for your wedding just to find out they won’t be able to work within your budget. After that, nothing will live up to what you’ve seen, and you will end up overspending on flowers for your big day," said Christina Whittle, co-owner of Dolce Designs Studio.
Open the lines of communication and tell the florist what your plans are (how many bridal party attendants you’ll have, the number of guests and/or tables, and what you have in mind for the décor), which should help them give you a solid "yes" or "no." Book with caution if you get a "maybe" — find someone with a similar style whose stellar services you can afford.
Created by JL DESIGNS; photographed by Ashley Rose
2. Are my favorite flowers currently in season?
If you’re enamored with the full, lush look of peonies (but are planning November nuptials), then be prepared to pay top dollar for choosing blooms that are out of season. If you don't ask about availability, florists will still use your favorite flowers, but it could cost you, cautions Whittle and Arriola. That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your vision completely: She suggests finding in-season flora with a similar look or using pricier flowers sparingly.
"It’s always more cost-effective to be flexible with your flower selections," said Carissa Jones, owner of JL DESIGNS. Follow this chart by David Tutera to determine Which Flowers Are in Season!
Created by Dolce Designs Studio; photographed by Leo Patrone
3. How long have you been doing weddings?
Although someone might be a top-tier florist, it doesn't necessarily mean they are skilled at creating wedding bouquets and centerpieces (which require different techniques than other types of floral arrangements).
Experience is also a huge factor: "Someone who has been cranking out the same designs for 20 years may not be the best fit for the unique wedding style that you want, while a visionary up-and-comer may share your design sense, but they might not have the notches on their belt to be able to execute their designs in a professional and timely manner," said Jones.
The key is to select a vendor who strikes a balance and can satisfy your particular needs.
4. What is your style (modern, classic, natural or glam)?
Close your eyes and imagine the décor of your fantasy reception (all costs aside). What do you see? An enchanted forest with trees covered in twinkly lights? Tall, all-white centerpieces with a classic look and feel? Or perhaps romantic blooms spilling out of rhinestone-encrusted containers?
"While florists don’t have to stick to their own personal style, their work will shine if it’s closer to what they’re used to creating," said Zaid Arriola, co-owner of Dolce Designs Studio.
Created by JL DESIGNS; photographed by Jasmine Star
5. Can we see a portfolio of photographs from previous weddings you have worked on?
Floral arrangements from past clients will give you a sense of how the florist's style has evolved over time (if at all), and show what their specialities are. Pay close attention to the florist’s feedback when you show them photos or collages you’ve brought with you—this input can be equally important.
"Is the style familiar to them? Is this something they have created before? Do they seem to be comfortable with what you are asking for?" said Arriola.
Photo at left by: Dave Richards Photography / Design by Dolce Designs Studio
Photo at right by Meg Perotti / Design by JL DESIGNS
6. Do you take on more than one wedding per day? How many weddings or events do you have the same week as our wedding?
If a florist says they book four to six events per weekend and have their staff install for them, ask how many lead designers they have on staff. You don’t want a florist who spreads themselves too thin, which can lead to errors.
"If you want something unique and if you need a little more hand-holding during the design process, don’t book someone who already has their hands full and won’t give you the attention you are seeking," said Jones.
7. Will you make samples for me to see, and work with me to adjust them as needed?
No matter how impressive a florist’s photos are, you must see a mock-up to determine if they can truly bring your vision to life. "Most floral designers will include a mock-up if you meet a certain minimum, while others will only do one at an additional cost…if you’re the type of bride who needs to see it beforehand so you know you love it, then be sure your florist includes a prototype as part of their package," said Jones.
This gives you both the chance to make any necessary adjustments long before the big day and find out how they will impact your budget.
8. Do you advise on linens, upgraded chairs and table settings?
We recommend hiring someone who takes an interest in the overall look of your décor (linens, chairs, tableware and lighting) — not just your flowers.
"Some designers will handle upgraded linens and rentals as part of their bid (which usually means they are marking them up), others will choose extras but have the coordinator handle the bids, and some won’t even take part in this process at all. You need to know what their role will be," said Jones.
9. How do you charge: flat fee or per item? Is there a delivery charge?
Clarify how their pricing works before you sign on the dotted line. Find out exactly what the package includes and what costs extra (e.g. is that gorgeous vase yours to keep, or will you be slapped with a hefty bill if a guest takes it home).
"Make sure to find out if there is a delivery fee, an on-site transaction fee or any other places additional charges may occur. Your estimate should reflect all costs associated with the entire completion of your wedding," said Whittle.
Created by JL DESIGNS; photographed by Jose Villa
10. Do you have liability insurance? What is the refund/cancellation process? When is payment due?
These days, venues aren't taking any risks: Many require liability insurance policies by all vendors, including your florist. According to Whittle and Arriola, these venues won't even allow them onsite without proper proof of insurance.
There are other factors that could affect payment, such as changing your wedding date or canceling the florist for another one. Also look into their payment plan, which includes a deposit and subsequent payments.