Recently, I saw an article on The Knot about the 10 questions you should ask your florist. I thought I would take a bit to make a blog post with those questions and the answers to them! You can find the original article here, but I'll go through the questions, why they want you to ask and then the answers!
1. Have you done many weddings?
Why you want to know: This is really code for: Do you know what you're doing? Experience is usually a good indicator of expertise, and that's important since it will mean they'll be able to guide you through the process easily—even if you throw in some curveballs, like asking how to create less expensive alternatives or which flowers are in season or grow in the region.
Answer - On my own, I have done 47 (with 28 more scheduled this year). Prior to owning my own business, I worked in a local flower shop for about 4 years.
2. Can I see photographs or live examples of your work?
Why you want to know: Be wary if the answer is no. Pictures of past bouquets and centerpieces will give you a sense of whether you and the florist have the same taste. Seeing photos of their work will let you know exactly what they're capable of and how it compares with your inspiration bouquets. The trick here, though, is having them tell you if the photo was something they consider their style or if it was the couple's vision. Neither answer is bad—if you love the look, you know they're capable of making it again; if you hate it, ask to see something they think is reflective of their own style
Answer - Absolutely! My website is full of professional images of my work. I do have other photos as well that I haven't gotten around to blogging yet or in books at my house when we meet. I don't typically have fresh flowers around because I only do special event work. If you happen to be meeting around a time when I have something you are considering in stock, I would be happy to pull it out for you!
3. Have you done weddings at our ceremony or reception site before?
Why you want to know: If they have, they'll be knowledgeable about what sizes, shapes and colors work in the venue. It's also a great way to see how other couples transformed the space. If they haven't, ask if they'd be willing to do a site visit to scope it out and note any limitations. This isn't as essential as general experience and style, but it's super-helpful and could save you time and money.
Answer - I have worked at almost every ceremony and reception site in the QC. Chances are you have a color scheme before you meet with me as far as colors to work in your venue. If there is something extensive we are planning or I haven't been there in awhile, I do drop by for a site visit to check things out. If there aren't pictures of their pews on their websites and we are planning pew ends, I definitely drop by to make sure I know the proper way to make them beforehand.
4. How many weddings are you handling on the same day or weekend as mine? Will you simply be dropping off flowers, or will you be helping set up too?
Why you want to know: If your florist is handling multiple clients, you'll want to ensure they have enough staff and time to go around. Make sure to discuss your vision with the person who will actually be working on your wedding flowers. You'll pay more for a full-service florist who makes sure everything is in order the day of, but it's often worth the peace of mind.
Answer - I typically limit myself to 2 weddings per weekend. I do have one weekend this summer where I have more than that, but only because some of them are very small. I'm bringing in a designer from another home based shop in Peoria to help out. I handle all important details of your wedding. I am bringing on helpers this year for corsage and boutonniere work.
5. How do you like to work with clients?
Why you want to know: Maybe you can picture your bridal bouquet, right down to the number of stems—or maybe you have no idea and would like some serious hand-holding. Find your floral match. Some florists love input from their clients, while others work better with more freedom to handpick the freshest stems or stretch the palette a little. Hire someone whose creative process matches your needs. It will make this planning step better for everyone involved.
Answer - I like somewhere in the middle. If you have pictures of what you want things to look like, that's great! It makes my job easy! Unless it is of specific significance, I prefer not to have my stem counts dictated. You may think you want specifically 22 roses in your bridal bouquet, but that may be an awkward shape. I like a little freedom to suggest flowers that fit your style and budget if you aren't set on exactly what you want.
6. Are you willing to work within my budget?
Why you want to know: This seems obvious, but it's not just about making sure the florist will take the job. If your budget is low, talk openly and honestly about how much you can spend at your initial meeting. Sometimes hearing "no" is a good thing, because then you can figure out how to compromise early on. Maybe it's impossible for anyone to accomplish what you want within that price range (read: you want a lush flower wall on a shoestring budget). Most florists can work with you no matter how much you have to spend, but it's important to start the conversation early—and to be open to new ideas and alternatives.
Answer - I make an effort to work within any budget. However, if you're set on a bouquet that would cost $400 and the budget for all your bridal party flowers is $500, I can suggest changes to give a similar look but on a lower budget. It's ultimately dependent on the client to determine if they like those options or if they want to try to find someone else. On my contact form, I ask for your floral budget. This helps me be prepared for cost saving ideas in our meeting, if necessary. If you need insight on floral pricing before planning our meeting, you can check out this blog post I wrote about the cost of commonly requested Pinterest items.
7. Will you be responsible for working with my venue to find out about any restrictions they may have in terms of décor and installation?
Why you want to know: You don't want to be the middleman—florists have a better idea what's needed to carry out your vision, be it indoor topiaries or a 10-foot-tall floral chuppah. Ideally, your florist will communicate with your venue directly to be sure your plans don't interfere with their policies. You also want to make sure they're comfortable handling setup and breakdown without having to involve you, since you'll be pretty busy on your wedding day.
Answer - If there are installations you want done (like things hanging from a chandelier) I will definitely contact them separately to plan that out. However, if your venue has rules about things they told you about, please bring them up in our meeting. Some don't allow real candles, some requires candles to be pre-lit and blown out ahead of time, some churches don't allow fresh petals on the aisle. With hundreds of venues in the area and ever-changing rules, I can't keep up with them all. Likely when you signed your contract, they went over those items with you to share with whomever is in charge of your decor.
8. What other services do you offer?
Why you want to know: Most florists are actually more like event designers. You may be able to get extras, like fabric draping, lanterns, chairs, candelabras and lounge furniture, from them. Why is this a good thing? Dealing with one wedding pro rather than four or five can simplify the process and alleviate stress (sometimes you can save on delivery charges too). If they don't offer these services and you're interested in them, see if they regularly partner with a rental company. Oftentimes florists have a friend in the industry, and you can be assured the two work well together.
Answer - I have a plethora of lanterns and a few backdrops. I have a few favorite companies I like to work with for items I don't have. I have an ever growing inventory of centerpiece items but I'm not looking into expanding into furniture type items due to space restrictions. The companies I recommend are all great at what they do and easy to work with! For a complete list of who I recommend for different areas, click here.
9. Who will handle setup and delivery? What about breakdown? How long will you need for both, and what are the fees?
Why you want to know: These are the sneaky line items on a proposal that can add up. A florist usually assesses your budget for flowers and labor only, so ask about these "extras" you can't really avoid. Also, make sure arrangements for pickup have been made for any rented items, like vases and arches.
Answer - Unless it's something wild and crazy, I include delivery and setup in my prices. If it's not something that delivery would included (example - flower wall), we will discuss it in your meeting. I do offer a discount if you choose to pick everything up and do your own setup. For delivery outside 20 miles, I do charge a delivery fee.
Tear down is your responsibility, but I do offer it for an additional charge. Tear down fees would be dependent on how difficult it will be. When I send you your final questionnaire, I will ask if you want to include tear down for XX amount. Sometimes, it sounds like a good idea to do your own tear down when you're planning months ahead of time, but as it gets closer, you may rethink that. Some receptions sites allow you to leave your items there overnight for me to pick up on Sunday or Monday. If they don't, you're responsible for returning them to me by the Monday after your wedding.
10. What happens to the flowers after the wedding?
Why you want to know: When you hire a florist, you're typically quoted a price that includes not only the flowers but also the vases or other containers you'll be renting to display the stems. This means that while those pretty blooms are yours to keep, the urns or candelabras go home with the florist. If you're interested in repurposing the arrangements for a day-after brunch, you'll want to discuss the details with your florist. They can often work the additional cost of vases into your initial proposal.
Answer - Just like this states, the flowers are yours to keep, I need the containers back. Depending on what your centerpieces are, you could have family and friends pull the bouquets out of the vases and take them home, or you could bring random vases from home to keep everything. If you want to use things at the morning after brunch - go for it! Just return everything to me afterwards. If you want to keep one of each item as-is, I can definitely charge the extra for the containers for you to keep those items. You are also welcome to supply any containers you would like to use for centerpieces, as long as you get them to me ahead of time. There are also options for donating your remaining flowers to funeral homes, nursing homes and hospitals for tax deductions. Those are options you can look into if that's something you may be interested in.
I am always happy to answer any questions you may have, but I thought this would be a good way to get a lot of questions answered before we ever meet! My FAQ page also has answers to a lot of questions not covered in this post.