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How To Pick The Right Florist (and not get ripped off!)

So, you’ve started the event planning process. You know the date of the event. You’re sure of the location and placed a deposit (remember, the date and venue are not yours until the venue confirms in writing the date and the deposit receipt!). And, since you already read the previous blog post, you have your guest count too. Most people head next to the caterer or the florist. Let’s focus on the florist for this month’s blog post.

Going to florist after florist is going to get frustrating. It can seem like florists have basically arbitrary numbers that are simply made up. First and foremost: when you go see a florist or any vendor, you don’t want to dress your best. Look presentable, but there is no need to show up in the flashiest car or your finest jewelry or best shoes. You are going to go talk to someone about flowers and décor. Wear a normal day to day outfit. I have even suggested to some clients to wear lifestyle wear (think leggings and a top and some kicks).

Before the meeting you have some homework. Get on Pinterest or any social media platform and start picking your inspo picks. Screenshot every single thing that you like and even things you HATE. Knowing what you hate is useful because it is going to help someone make sure they don’t stick in moss as a filler for your display if they know you hate moss. Maybe they’ll try clovers or the like.

Once you have about 20+ pictures screenshotted, start going through them and evaluating your own pattern. Finding this pattern is KEY to what your vision is for the event. Maybe you thought you wanted black and white but then realized everything you picked had white and blush with some deep red tones. Or you imagined that everything would be white but then the pictures showed all these green accents. The pattern you find is going to help develop what is actually going to show up on the day of your event, and more than that, its going to guide the journey to get there, décor wise at least.

Pick 2-3 pictures that will be your “inspo” pictures for specific things at your event and write the location for that inspo pic group at the top of the first page, and staple the group together. Consider things like entry table, buffet table (if you will be having one), dessert table, gift table, etc. Also consider if you will be having some type of display wall or entry wall and if you’d like to have florals for that. Remember, florals include greens and installations!

Now you’re there and you are going to hear all kinds of numbers. Costs for vases, setup, pick up, delivery, candles, rentals, in season, out of season, themes, and the list can go on and on. Remember the purpose of the entire meeting is to learn if you can do the floral décor that you’re thinking about in your head and who is going to bring the vision to life that will stay within your budget.

If you recall in the last post, we discussed budget and how the wisest way to attempt your budget is to basically know you will overspend. We went over how to account for this as well. Please visit that blog post if you have not yet. Florals are another thing in the event planning process you will overspend on. Count on it. Whatever budget you have for florals, add 25%. If you don’t spend it, great. If you do, well, you already figured as much.

When you are past the polite hellos and introductions with the florist (and anyone who has come with you as support), proceed directly to bringing out your paper groups so you can begin brainstorming. Heads up: EXPECT to change your mind during the process, even all the way up to two weeks before yourevent. Pictures are plenty and events are plenty. Feeling inspired by something different as you move along is OKAY and is expected not just by the vendor, but by everyone involved in your planning process (at least those that have done this before!). Once you have out your papers, explain kindly to the florist that you would like to make sure to stay on track and there are some things you want to show them. Almost every vendor we know appreciates this type of preparedness. It gets a vendor closer to being able to make their client happy and honestly, that is what this entire planning process is about!

By the end of the meeting you will have gained knowledge about what is and is not in season, what is and is not expensive, what is and is not possible, and if you meshed with this vendor. It is important and valuable to be on the same page and really get along with this vendor because they are going to be responsible for helping bring most of the aesthetic to your event. It is absolutely OKAY to have gone through the meeting and come out at the end thinking it is not the right fit. GOOD. Remember, you want to know what you DON’T LIKE as much as you want to know what you do like; its significant to making sure your vision actually comes to life.

Be sure to get a time estimate of when you can expect to receive follow up information, including a proposal/quote, from the vendor, exchange contact information, and thank the vendor for their time. If the vendor wants to keep your print outs, let them know you’d like to email them a copy instead—its important to have the pages the same for all of the meetings you will attend so you can compare apples to apples for the pricing proposals. Write down in your phone or a notebook what you liked and didn’t like about the vendor and what you still may have concerns about, and then decide for yourself if this will or won’t be someone you’d consider working with if the price is right!

We always say, visit at least 3 vendors (in person) before making your pick, and make sure they aren’t all so-called instafamous. When considering vendors, think about who might have worked with someone before that they talked about with you. Real feedback is key. Social media is hardly real life and the experience of working with a vendor cannot be shared by posting 3 sentences and a picture. Seamless communication, suggestions in line with your vision and ideas, and kind attention to detail are important to notice here when picking your floral vendor. It’s a vendor that you need to feel good about, just like everyone else!

Once the floral vendor is picked, next you need to secure the date. Keep in mind that the same goes here as for your venue—a deposit has to be made and confirmed to confirm your date with this vendor. A simple text or email will not do. Proper deposits need to be made, trust us on this one! Review the agreement to pinpoint the amounts charged for any service fee (should be minimal for florists and calculated into their costs already), delivery fee, and setup/pick up fees. Notice the amounts for setup and pick up. If you can talk to your venue and see if the florist can pick anything up the next day, this could save you a lot of money so that your florist does not have to pay drivers and employees overtime, a charge which will end up on your shoulders and not theirs to comply.

*We will have another blog post soon on how to read contracts to reveal some helpful tips!

If you’d signed, sealed, and delivered *a deposit* then consider yourself done with picking your floral vendor! Hurrah! This is a huge step in the planning process for your event and you need to be super proud of yourself for this accomplishment. Again, expect to change your mind along the way and be kind to yourself when it happens. It will all turn out more beautiful than you could have imagined!

How To Pick The Right Florist (and not get ripped off!)