If you think that wedding flowers are a minor detail that can be put off until the last minute, well, you’re wrong. Between the bride’s bouquet (which averages about $150), her bridesmaids’ flowers (about $75 apiece), the ceremony and reception décor, and all the additional boutonnieres and corsages you’ll need for your groomsmen and close family members, the average couple coughs up about 8 to 10 percent of their big day’s total budget to a florist. Typically, it works out to about $1,400—though spending two or even three times that amount is not unusual (or exorbitant, so don’t panic). That’s why it pays to understand all the factors that affect your bill so that you can choose your blooms wisely. A little flower power goes a long way.
General Cost: The Most Expensive and Cheapest Wedding Flowers
Anyone who has ever step foot inside a flower shop (or even peeked at the prices at the local grocery store) knows that flower costs vary dramatically from bloom to bloom. And if price is no object, you may not care. So if you’re determined to have an orchid-themed wedding, don’t be shocked when you see the final tally (you could pay as much as $40 per stem for them). Gardenias, hydrangeas, peonies, and lilies of the valley are among some of the other priciest options. For low-cost floral bouquets, consider daisies, carnations, freesia, baby’s breath, and greenery like shrubs, vines, and leaves that double as filler to make a big, bold statement.
Seasonality: Choose Flowers That Are in Season Locally
Just as flower prices fluctuate by varietal, they can also vary depending on the season. Many types of flowers only bloom at certain times of year and/or in specific places. If you’re not getting married in a place where your most desired flowers thrive at the exact right time of the season, you may have to import them. And yes, that will cost you extra.
Peonies are a great example of this: In the spring, when they’re in bloom, you might spend $3.50 per stem; for a fall or winter wedding they’re going to need to be imported, which could end up costing you nearly $9 per flower. (Again, that’s for one flower. And you’re going to need a lot of ‘em, though the exact number depends on where you want flowers exactly). This is one of those cases where it pays to be flexible and enlist the services of a top-notch floral designer, who can offer suggestions on how to best achieve the look you want at a price that fits your budget.
“We always take the season into account, but more importantly, we take the couples’ styles and visions into account,” says Allison L. Spreng, sales manager at Philadelphia’s Beautiful Blooms Events. “No matter the season, there’s always an option to achieve the look they’d love. We will offer to order the flowers from Brazil or Holland, etc., if they truly have their hearts set on a specific flower that might be out of season, but more often, we’ll suggest a few other flowers that will give them the look and style they love, that won’t break the bank. The couple usually ends up much happier, even if price weren’t a factor.”
Complexity: How Unique Is The Wedding Flower Arrangement?
Working with your designer to come up with a stunning flower plan is one thing. Getting the designer and his or her team to execute it on time is another. And the more complex you want to go—a circular arch made of roses and anemones—the more time it will take and the higher the labor costs will be.
Even if you plan to keep it simple, there’s no harm in reaching out to a few floral designers once you’ve set a date. Chat with a couple of different people to get a sense of who you’re vibing with best, as they’ll be a key part of your wedding day, and make sure that it’s a two-way conversation. To get a feel for the designer and whether he or she will be a good match for your vision, ask about their experience—how many weddings they’ve worked on—and solicit some ideas based on your initial vision. Be very upfront about your budget to make sure it’s a number they feel comfortable with, and ask about any extra fees that might be incurred so that there are no surprises.
If you’ll need the designer to provide vases and other accessories, make sure that that’s possible. If the designer will be setting up the flowers, find out how the flowers will be stored and transported to your venue. You’ll want to see a portfolio, too, of course. And know whether you’ll get to see samples ahead of the event in case you need to make any tweaks.
Spreng’s collaborations start with a complimentary phone consultation once the couple has booked a venue so that she can talk about the couple’s vision (if you have photos of styles you love, send them along) and she sends along a Floral Design Workbook, which gives details styles, prices, and timelines.
“We wait until about four to six months from the wedding date to do an in-person consultation to go over the options,” Spreng says, noting that she likes to wait until the key details—like colors, wedding party size, and approximate number of guests—have been firmed up so that they can send the couple a detailed proposal. “Then we do a 45-day-out call to get any changes (guest counts!), and a two-week-out finalization call so we can send everything to production,” Spreng says.
Location: How Far Will A Florist Travel To Decorate The Wedding?
Location matters. Make sure you are very clear about where your ceremony and reception will take place because your chosen floral designer may need to travel an inordinate distance to your venue — which not all of them will do. Find out if they can prepare your arrangements and have you pick them up so that you can do the decorating yourself.
Labor: How Many Man-Hours Will Your Big Day’s Florals Take To Create?
Keep in mind that floral designers do more than just arrange your chosen flowers into pretty patterns. They are integral resources for making sure that your wedding day looks exactly how you envisioned it, right down to the height of your table centerpieces. (Which reminds us: Resist the urge to go too tall or wide with those things; your guests might actually want to see each other while they’re talking.) Their sole purpose is to create your dream wedding and within the allotted budget. They’re also the people who will log hours de-thorning your flowers, making sure no wilting stems make their way into a display, setting everything up so that all you need to do it walk in and ooh and ahh at all the pretty flowers, then clean up afterward to make it seem like they were never there.
Though you don’t need to tip your florist, you should ask about how many people will be onsite to deliver, set up, and take away all the greenery, as tipping each one of them $5 to $20 apiece (depending on the total bill and how many people there are) is a kind gesture that will be appreciated.
DIY Options: Wedding Bouquets And Buying Online
Just like the price of rent, coffee, and groceries, the cost of flowers can be higher in a large city like New York than it would be in a smaller town or suburb where the cost of living isn’t as high. (The floral designer has to pay rent, too—and also has coffee and groceries to buy.)
If your budget is tight—who wants to shell out thousands on flowers that you’ll admire for a couple of hours when there’s booze to be purchased?—one of the best ways to save some green is to go the DIY route and purchase flowers from an online vendor like FiftyFlowers or Pick a Bloom (which specializes in dried flowers). Be forewarned that this might mean you’ll have to spend a few hours wrapping raffia around bundles of flowers—not to mention knowing what raffia is in the first place (a cheap, straw-like material used in craft projects). But since when has working up a light sweat scared you?
In addition to offering discount prices on bulk flowers and ready-to-go pieces, FiftyFlowers features a range of “Make This Look” scenarios, in which they’ll tell you how to re-create the look from a range of different wedding styles, from beachy to boho. The site’s “Simply Elegant” all-white mix of roses, hydrangeas, lisianthuses, and calla lilies with pops of yellow billy balls and lavender, for example, can be used to create a bridal bouquet plus bouquets and boutonnieres for five bridesmaids and groomsmen as well as 10 table centerpieces for around $900. If you’re not averse to dried flowers—which work particularly well for rustic affairs—Pick a Bloom can create a gorgeous bridal bouquet for $75, bridesmaids bouquet for under $50, and boutonnieres for as little as $10 to $15. You do the math on that one.
Varieties Of Varietals: Weighing Consistency vs. Cost
You’d like to have roses everywhere at your reception, but you’d also like to see a few tulips… and you’re kind of married to the idea of having orchids and hydrangeas onsite as well. While you can (almost) never have too many flowers, there is such a thing as too wide a variety of flowers. The more types you choose, the more costly it will likely be—but there’s also the aesthetic factor to consider.
“If you wanted completely different flowers for your personals, ceremony, and reception, it could raise the price a bit,” Spreng says. “It might not tie well together for one event, as well. We don’t want everything to be the same, but we work with the clients to make sure they have a coordinated arrangement of florals throughout the day. We work to identify what style they are, and find good floral options to coordinate the day.”
Ridiculous Price Story: Royal Florals For $800,000
If you’re going to throw a royal wedding, you’d better be prepared to shell out a royal fortune. That was certainly the case in 2011, when Prince William married Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey with the entire world looking on. While it was Kate’s $400,000 Alexander McQueen dress that turned heads, the couple’s flower bill totaled twice that amount. (Lucky for them, it’s the Royal Family who foots the bill.) No tip needed.
Worst Mistake People Make: Overpowering Scents
The most memorable weddings are the kind that reflect the couple hosting the big day… just so long as everyone can enjoy it. While the smell of lilacs may hold a special place in your heart, not everyone’s schnozzle is equally equipped to deal with their pungent scent. When choosing flowers, be sure to lean toward the less-fragrant side—especially when it comes to your table centerpieces. It’s not unusual to see a teary-eyed guest at a wedding… but you want to make sure those are tears of joy, not allergic pain.