Wedding 101

10 Questions You NEED to Ask Before Booking a Florist

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Sure, you want to make your wedding day look breathtaking with the help of some fabulous flowers. But chances are your experience with florals is limited to buying a bouquet of roses for a special occasion. And committing to your big day blooms is a much more complex process, after all; the floral orders are typically large and include bouquets, corsages, flower arches, centerpieces, and blossoms for the cake table. "You need to be confident that the person you select has the past experience and the creative energy to work with your style, location, and budget," says Laurel Winzler of Laurel Designs. "It’s a collaboration, and the florist is the person you need to trust to guide you, based on their expertise in a field of which you have very limited personal knowledge." So how do you find a florist that's right for you and what do you need to know before hiring them? We spoke to some professional florists to get the inside scoop on the 10 questions you need to get answered before booking a florist.

1Why are you a florist? 

This question helps you figure out what motivates your florist to be in the industry. Is it just a business to them or do they truly love flowers, design, and creativity? “Listen to see if they have a love for what they do, if they have passion,” says Leann Moore, owner of Whimsical Floral Design, noting a passionate florist will care deeply about you and your wedding. Ask how they got started too, including where they learned to be a florist such as at a floral school or working in a specific flower shop. Knowing how they approach the floral design process will help you know how they’ll help bring your vision to life.

2How can we collaborate?

Let your florist know your vision and be open to sharing ideas. “It’s really important to look at images together, to get a mutual understanding of what your likes and dislikes are, and to start a discussion about what is possible in terms of specific flowers and decor items that will fit in your budget,” says Winzler. Creativity is everywhere. Send your florist a link to your Pinterest boards, show him your dress and your décor style, and review her blog for photos of recent weddings she’s designed. “Open communication is key,” says Winzler, stressing both the couple and the florist need to be honest about “desires and costs, and be open to making necessary adjustments along the way.”

3How many weddings will you be creating flowers for on our wedding day? 

While florists typically don’t book more events than they can handle, you want to know the florist you hire can design your wedding flowers without being overwhelmed by other clients’ needs. Couples should ask “if they will have one or more contacts at the flower shop,” says Colleen Oncay, owner of Mendon Greenhouse & Florist, stressing that “personal, one on one contact makes sure expectations are met and everyone ends up happy.” Make sure you have names and cell phone numbers of your florists’ contacts.

4Can you work with our budget? 

Be honest with the florists you’re considering about what you can afford. If you’re not truthful now, you won’t be able to pay the floral bill later. Besides, the florists want to work with you, not against you. “Be upfront about your budget,” says Moore, noting the industry standard for wedding flowers is between eight to 10 percent of your overall budget. “We don’t expect you to know what flowers cost, and you may be afraid you’ll be taken advantage of, but an honest, open relationship with your wedding vendors is best for everyone,” she says.

5How realistic is our floral plan? 

Before booking, you need to figure out what’s doable and what’s not, both style-wise and financially. Your would-be florist should be able to look at your floral ideas and know whether or not it’s affordable, feasible, and if it’s the right look for your party. For example, they may suggest using different accent colors, substituting in-season flower to cut costs or adding more texture to your arrangements.

6Can we speak with your previous wedding clients? 

A florist who’s serious about getting your business will be willing to connect you to a few of their previous brides and grooms. You don’t need to interrogate the past couples, but you should be able to call or email them to ask a few questions about their experience with the florist, the flowers, and the overall service.

7Have you worked with our venue before?

It’s not a requirement, but it is nice when your florist knows your venue’s layout and some of the staff. “Ask about the florists’ experience with the ceremony or reception venue or their willingness to visit ahead of time,” says Oncay. “If your florist notices a mantle that needs decorating or knows that your church has pedestals available for arrangements, you will alleviate your stress over the details and get the most out of your budget.”

8What do you want us to know about our order? 

Florists deal with flowers and weddings every day so they know lots of things about bridal blooms that you don’t. “Fresh flowers are not perfect. Mother nature is not perfect,” says Moore. “There may be tiny imperfections in your flowers and that’s completely normal. Real flowers do not look like their perfect silk knockoffs.” She says signs of poor floral quality include “slimy stems, wilted flowers, bent necks on the flowers, and big brown mushy spots.”

9What suggestions do you have for our wedding beyond the flowers? 

Experienced florists have played a big role in creating successful weddings for other couples. Tap into their experience to see what special suggestions they have for your event. They may recommend certain vendors, encourage you to try a particular theme, or help you fine-tune some of the party details.

10How do you prefer to communicate with couples?

Often email is the preferred method of communicating with your florist because they (and you) can track the design plans. But it’s not a good idea to inundate your florist with a bunch of different emails; it’s better to send occasional updates with lots of detail. Be sure to ask the florist how quickly he or she typically takes to respond to emails. “If you don’t receive a reply right away, don’t panic. Be patient,” says Moore, explaining florists are particularly busy “in the three days before a wedding.” You just want to understand what’s a normal amount of time to wait and what length of radio silence completely out of the ordinary.