• Rebecca Walker

Choosing your wedding florist

This is truly a tricky one. How do I explain how you are to choose your wedding florist, without it sounding like a sales pitch for, actually, choosing ME as your wedding florist? I guess you will have to trust that all of the following is truthful and trying to be "general" and "non-biased"!!

Narrowing down your options and booking an appointment -

So, you know the drill, you have asked around your friends and put a post out on Facebook asking who people recommend for your wedding flowers. You now have a full A4 sheet of paper, filled with a myriad of different florists, all in different locations, all offering a totally different style and quality. How on earth do you go from this list, to booking your perfect florist?

I would start by crossing off some of the "never gonna happen" ones. You know the ones, the ones who have been recommended by that cousin who has absolutely zero sense of style - ask yourself, if you wouldn't trust them to choose you a nice jumper, would you trust them to choose you a wedding florist?

Also on the "never gonna happen" list, would be any that you look at their Facebook page and think "god that's awful"...not a great start really, though taste is subjective so do at least give it a fair few pictures in case it was just one wedding example you aren't a fan of!

After this ruthless process, you should be left with a shorter and more promising list. I would then do some research! Don't waste yours, or their time by just sending a generic copied and pasted message to a bunch of florists (or other suppliers) - you will be inundated with replies and will soon lose track of who you like and what they all offer.

Before sending those first messages, do some Facebook and website stalking! Have a look through their photos, make sure the photos they advertise are their own work and not something from Google (do not get me started on Florist's who try to pass off other's work as their own - it is SO much more common than I thought it would be, and really is super misleading and unfair!!) you need to ensure that they can actually produce the work they advertise. Make notes on what you like about each one. Do you like their style, their variety of flowers, the quality, the public reviews? Get rid of any that you just don't like.

Shamelessly showing off our fantastic review count, this makes us so happy and proud!

Which florists offer the style you want to achieve for your day as a whole? This is where I am going to sound very sales pitchy haha, but it is only the truth! I offer all styles of floristry. I am known for my use of a huge variety of flowers in bouquets, and for my signature all rounded hand-tied posy bridal bouquets, which are full of flowers, but not a perfect dome shape. I would say these are "natural" bouquets. That said, I am also fully trained and qualified in creating rounded, perfect rose bouquets with diamantes and sparkle. Finally, after the surge in requests for wild and free moving bouquets, I decided to undertake more training, so that I could also offer this style. I am so glad I did, as it has fast become a firm favourite of both couples and myself! Though I can provide most styles, I will be honest, I am not a "yes" florist, so if you show me pictures of what you have your heart set on and I just know they won't work, I will always tell you, as otherwise we are all getting set up for disappointment.

A whole variety of styles can be catered for at The Countryside Florist

Now, armed with a shorter list, I would then choose my favourite, find out how to enquire with them about their availability and how they do the whole quotation process.

For us, we start with an online enquiry form which helps us to check our availability. We then organise an appointment with you where we go through everything you would like, and you get a full price there and then!

Once you have enquired, if they have availability and invite you for an appointment, this is great - first step, complete!

The Appointment -

You may be nervous for this appointment. Some brides/grooms are! In most cases, this is an area where you have little to no experience, and you can get worked up about having to put across your ideas to a stranger, and can panic that they will think those ideas are lame or tasteless. You also may only know that you want a relaxed wedding and flowers to complement this, or you may know your bridesmaids will be wearing purple - you lack details and are scared that this will be met with annoyance.

Well, if within the first couple of minutes you don't feel at ease with us, I would be worrying! We try our best to make sure everyone feels welcome, and I for one never tell someone off for not knowing their lisianthus from their gerbera - though we may all have a giggle about it together! That is why you are coming to a professional after all, and anyone who makes you feel stupid or uneasy about not knowing a full stem count for what you want in your bouquet, isn't the one for you! I know how it feels going into a situation that you feel unprepared for - so I will always try to make sure you are enjoying yourself and getting the most out of your consultation with me! I urge all of my couples to not get nervous about that first meeting, flowers aren't scary, and neither am I, so look forward to it, look forward to all of the ideas coming together!

So, what should you be expecting from your initial flower appointment? Of course, I can only speak of what I offer, and I won't go into the details of it as that spoils the process haha! But by the end of the appointment with myself, 99% of the time, we have come up with a full idea for the flowers for the day, and you are provided with an exact price for what you would like. Now, some florists don't give this price on the day, they may email it our afterwards etc. I do this sometimes, when it is an overly large wedding and it would take hours to price up, but the rest of the time I price it there and then so that you have all the info you need to make your decisions over the coming days.

I also fix my price, once you have paid a deposit with me, I will not put the price up, which means you have certainty of what you are paying. Again, this is something you need to check with the florist you are seeing - is the price they quote you an estimate (meaning it could go up or down, if so, when will the actual cost be calculated and agreed on) or a quotation (this is what mine is, a price that we agree on upon payment of the deposit, and that will only alter if you were to add items to the order).

Perfect example of an Estimate vs a Quotation! (Found on Google)

I then run through the different policies which we have regarding any bookings, and invite any questions from you. The next step is up to you! Some couples choose to go away and have a think about what has been offered to them, have a think about the pricing and how they felt in the appointment. Did I instil excitement and trust, are they comfortable with the price, can they picture me creating their flowers? We don't reserve or save a date until a deposit has been paid, and so some couples know that they don't want to risk losing the date and so want to secure it right away. I totally respect both of these outcomes!

This is how you should feel when you see your bouquet! Photography by Emma Marie Photography. Flowers by The Countryside Florist

The "Other" Appointments -

So you liked the first florist appointment, but you like to shop around. Shopping around is totally fine, but there are some pointers for doing so that are really important....

- ALWAYS make sure you are getting a like for like quote.

Does the second florist you go to use as many varieties of flowers as the first? Does their quality match the other one? If so, then great! You can compare the two on the flowers. If not, and you think that this one isn't offering as much as the first, then the price cannot be compared as the product isn't the same.

- You have a couple of quotes, one is hugely cheaper than the other, you would book that one...wouldn't you?

Yes of course, if you were sure that what you had been quoted by the cheaper one was the same as the first one. If you can trust that they will provide you with your dream on the day! If however, you know that the cheaper quote comes with it's compromises, then you need to decide if you are happy to go ahead with the compromises, and that you trust the florist to make your vision come to life.

For example, if the first florist quotes you for 10 table centres of tall tapered vases overflowing with flowers, full of roses and expensive blooms, and the second also quotes you for 10 table centres of tall tapered vases, but theirs will be predominantly greenery and a few chrysanthemums - then this isn't like for like. If the second is offering you something that you don't dislike, then that is great! But it isn't for the same product, and if you know in your heart of hearts that actually you don't like chrysanthemums, then you really shouldn't just go with the cheapest one.

- If you change your mind on what you want halfway through the shopping around process, remember that the first florist was quoting you for your initial dream.

I always use the example of cars: you walk into a car garage and asking for their top spec Bentley Saloon, I'll pluck a random figure out of thin are, they say that the car will be say £50k. "Wow, you think, "I didn't want to spend that much". You then realise that your list of requirements for your dream car aren't realistic on your budget, so when you go to the next garage, it may even be another highly recommended garage, but when you go in there, you ask the salesman for a Saloon yes, but this time you say you would like a Peugeot, or a Ford, or a Renault, you aren't fussy. They give you a WAY better price! This time it is £9k. You sign on the dotted line and think you have just got an absolute bargain, you've got a car for £41k less than the other garage was quoting you! But, what you need to remember at this stage is that the first garage, your chosen garage with the salesman who was so much nicer to deal with, who got back to you when he said he would and didn't leave you waiting on a phonecall - he could have quoted you for any car you wanted, he may even have ended up cheaper than the £9k...but you asked him for a Bentley and that's what he quoted you for.

The same goes for flowers. If you walk out of your first flower appointment and just know that you cannot afford that first quotation, it is absolutely a good idea to go back to the drawing board! I always quote for the "crème de la crème" of your absolute dream. If this work