Monday, February 6, 2012

A Thought on Floral Samples

I LOVE Sarah at Saipua. Her flowers are always just perfect and her blog posts are fun to read. This is usually because she comes across as grounded, sweet and funny. Last week, she wrote something a bit inspirational. I kept thinking about it last night and today, so I thought I would share it with you.

Her post was on florists providing samples of wedding arrangements. These can be bouquets or centerpieces. They can include the works- linens, glassware, lit candles- or can just be a loose arrangement to show color and style. Sarah says that her samples can cost her up to $300, and afterward there isn't much she can do with them to make up for this cost. Commenters from other parts of the country (Saipua is in Brooklyn) confirmed that estimated cost. While she has no trouble offering "the works" to clients with a budget of $10k or more, she must charge if the budget is less. I thought this post, and the comments, gave some great background. Although you are hiring your vendors to help you, they can't do everything to please you. It isn't economical for them.

When I tag along with my clients to floral appointments, this conversation almost always comes up. Often the florist offers before we have a chance to ask. Sometimes the offers are free, sometimes it is just a heads up so that we know the cost. I never ask for samples before booking because 1) it is rarely the same season as the wedding, and so the flower options will be totally different and 2) florists almost always provide a wealth of photos (digital or printed) of their work, and the client and I can get a good sense of her or his style. It is usually too early for even the client to know exactly what she or he wants.

I am always surprised when they are offered in advance of booking or shortly after. I know it is a big expense, both in money and time. After booking and close to the wedding, a sample with linens and glassware is so helpful so that we can see everything together and add or remove small touches. This isn't always in budget, however. It pays to do your research and hire good help if a sample isn't an option for you. Of all the things I love about my job, pulling it all together has to be the best- even if it is just photos on an inspiration board.

I think this demand for samples comes from bad advice. After being a bit of an addict as a bride, I am now totally out of the loop on message boards. I do, however, remember floral samples were brought up time and again. "Just ask for a sample!" This could apply to make-up artists, cake bakers, custom dress designers...  Trust the relationship you have developed with your vendor rather than the advice you get from message boards. Being considerate will do more for you than being demanding. As Sarah said-
Trust is pretty important to me. If you trust me, and I love you than I'm going to go above and beyond for you... There is NOTHING more exhilarating in my work than making incredible flowers for clients who love what we do. Nothing. And no budgets, whether big or small will ever stop us from finding those people we can make happy with flowers.


  1. This is a hard topic to talk about out loud. I have to admit that reading this and Sarah's post was empowering and at times during the read I felt as if she had a crystal ball and could see us (floral peeps) during the madness that our jobs can be at times. I say madness because there is a lot more to our work then the wonderment people tell me over and over again that flowers are associated with: our work is demanding, time consuming, physical, dirty and expensive.
    I have been in business for ten years now and have encountered many different experiences, lots of great ones and some not so good. Although no one has ever asked me what would happen to her flowers if I died before the flowers got delivered (yikes for Sarah!) there has been so many stories that take up time, so much time and hand holding through the proses. I've never been to any other type of business or profession which didn't charge for their time or allowed me to just walk in with out an appointment and expect undivided attention. These are all things we do because we love our work; but in a time where people have so many choices, their belts are tightened, and so many sites and blogs are giving wrong information about cost and quality of flowers and how you can now "do it all yourself", we are having to work harder to prove ourselves to the client.
    For me gone are the days where I tortured myself over not booking a wedding after countless hours and meetings over tea and crumpets. I now know that when I get that feeling in the pit of my stomach, it's not a good match and God is on my side when it doesn't work out. I came to this realization during the planning of a wedding for an award winning producer, you know the ones that get that little gold statute when they make a really really good movie? Well I got really really carried away by the glamour of it all and contorted my body for them in ways that I could have joined Cirque du Soleil, and it was never enough; I could not wait for the day to be over.
    It is so true what Sarah said, trust is so important, if you are kind and trust us there is nothing more invigorating for me, above and beyond is what I love to do the most, because you inspire me, not because you demand it.
    Having said all of this I do make one sample for my clients (centerpiece) and only after the date has been booked and a deposit made, I do have a decent every day business, so I order weekly flowers for the shop that also works for our consults that week, I find that this helps my brides visualize and it saves me a lot of time in concerned phone calls and extra consults.
    Lastly, the only thing I like more then flowers is building relationship, getting to know your vendor is huge, trusting them and letting them do their job will only allow you to enjoy the process and an awesome wedding day!


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