Last week I wrote the first part of this post. I explained the process of growing and how much time and effort goes into bringing a blossom to your bouquet. When you are staring at your final flower proposal from your florist, it is important to keep all of these processes in mind. I often hear that people think wedding flowers are expensive. I guess as a mother of 7 kids, I would have to agree that the final bottom line number seems costly. What you need to understand is that in actuality flowers are incredibly under priced. You need to consider all of the time, labor and cost it takes to grow the flowers. Next you will work with your florist for hours trying to get educated on what will be best for your wedding. You will need to be taught what will look the best and preform the best on your wedding day. In a way your florist will have to extract from your mind exactly what you are looking for. Most brides do not know the names of flowers or speak the language of flowers. In fact, you will often think your florist is speaking another language, and quite often we are, as botanical names are in Latin and the common names, which you may be familiar with, are different. So, first your florist will be your teacher. Then, more often than not, we will be asked to help you tie all of your themes, looks, and colors together; this is really a separate career that so many wedding florists take on without an addition in cost to you. I have helped brides countless times to pick out linens, favors or develop concepts. Quite often I even act as a mini wedding coordinator. I offer my knowledge willingly, asking: do you have a photographer? a cake baker? do you need help with hair and make up? All of this fabulous information is often given at no charge and is given to you under the same invoice as the cost of your flowers.
Once we have determined the types of flowers you will need, a proposal is written–that proposal takes hours to write. The florist needs to write recipes and verify the pricing of each design. Unlike other wedding vendors, like the photographer, cake baker, wedding co0rdinator, or even the caterer, florist invoices are never the same. We do not have packages; each invoice must be created uniquely for each bride. There is no cut and paste option with our invoices. This means each invoice is original and requires a good bit of time and care to create.
After the proposal is accepted and approved by the bride, the floral designer spends hours verifying the recipes and calculating the stem count. The order is then sent to the wholesaler. The wholesaler is another level of work and labor that goes into your wedding flowers. The wholesaler then takes the order and literally through the internet and phone goes to flower auctions across the world in search of your flowers. Once the buyer or the florist’s sales rep. buys the blossoms at auction, they are sent to the airports and brought back to the wholesaler. When the flowers arrive at the wholesale house, they are sorted, processed and then sorted into individual wedding orders. Think about how much this is costing to have all of these people growing, searching and then delivering the flowers to your floral designer. Think actually what a miracle the whole process really is; to think that a flower can get on a plane in Holland, come to your community, get checked in at the wholesaler, be sorted and packed up again, be sent to your floral designer and then be perfect on your wedding day. Miraculous!!
When the flowers arrive, we have to spend hours getting all of the flowers out of the boxes and getting them in water. This is very hard work, and it takes hours to get the flowers conditioned. Conditioned is the term we use for giving the flowers a fresh cut of water and giving them a floral preservative.
Next major issue is breaking down all of the boxes and getting them recycled. That alone requires hours of work.
Once all of the flowers have had a good drink or draw of water, we can start the process of designing. We begin by getting all of our containers ready, and then we sort the stems. We take each recipe and put aside the agreed upon amount of stems. This is another security measure that helps us to verify that our calculations were correct. If we are missing any blossoms, the wholesalers will bring us additions later that day or the following morning. It takes several designers working to bring a nice sized wedding to life. We normally work all day Wednesday , Thursday, and Friday designing, and we spend all day Saturday going over the designs in the morning and then delivering all day Saturday. It is common for us to get our 40 hours plus in, in just 3 or 4 days. Some days we will stand from early morning until way into the night to get the designs finished.
When I consider this process from beginning to end, I realize that flower designs are probably one of the least expensive products around. What other good requires this amount of time and care and is sold at the price at which it is sold. Most floral designers are true artists practicing a trade that is not generally valued. This is an imported good, involving so many laborers. Suddenly the flowers at your wedding really seem like an incredible deal.