The last part of this series (even though this is hardly the end all, be all of floral design) is experience. And experience can be approached in two different ways. There’s the client experience and then there’s the experience level of your wedding professional.
First off, let’s talk client experience. I have found that florist approach the initial client consult in several different ways. If they have a storefront, then a meeting at the shop might be in order. But as it’s becoming increasingly common for boutique designers and independent florist to set up home studios, sometimes it’s a cup of coffee with your local barista that fits the bill or perhaps even a phone consult to make that initial connection. Others may even keep communications strictly through email and other virtual means. There’s not a right or wrong answer to this, it’s really what’s best for you, as the client. Which way to do you like to communicate? Would you rather just email a link to your Pinterest board and then have a florist provide a quote? Do you want to see, feel and touch objects in the flower shop? Or does a lengthy chat over a cuppa joe sound more like your cup of tea (hehe, pun intended!)
Personally, I like to meet all of my clients in person, whenever possible. This goes for both planning and floral design clients because I want to feel your passion. I want to know what the next few months working alongside you are going to be like. I want to see which flowers make your eyes light up and see the glow that spreads across your face as you giddily chat about your fiancé. I want to get a feel for your likes and dislikes and sometimes there are nonverbal communications and clues that I can’t perceive via virtual communications.
Beyond that, I work closely with my clients. I want to know as much as possible about the events surrounding your day and what your wedding hopes and dreams are. Some floral designers (myself included) offer additional services such as delivery, set up, full event design, event management (or day-of coordination) or even full wedding planning services. Other’s stick strictly to the floral basics. So consider your floral needs and whether it would better suit you to have one person providing all these services for you. Or perhaps that’s all a bit too fancy and all you need is a quick quote, some blooms in a vase and you’ll return the rentals and tear down yourself. That’s perfect too, if that’s the experience that you choose.
Then there’s the floral designer’s experience. Some basic questions to ask – how long have they been in the wedding or floral industry? Where else have they worked? What trends have they seen and are they up to date on the types of flowers and style you’re seeking? Who have they studied under or did they go to “flower school”?
When it comes to flowers, for the most part I’m self-taught. That might have scared me when I was a bride talking to a floral designer. But I’ve been in hospitality for over 12 years now with the past 7 being focused specifically on weddings. That means I bring a fair amount of wedding knowledge to the table. I’ve been in business since 2011 and have watched it flourish and grow while definitely making a few mistakes along the way. I soak up knowledge from whatever sources I can and have committed to attending at least one workshop or class-type experience a year because I refuse to give up on education. I’m a lifetime learner, for sure and have been enchanted by beautiful blooms ever since I was a little girl. With each flower order I receive, I make sure there’s at least one new flower variety for me to play with and learn from. For me, learning in this non-traditional way works and I hardly feel inexperienced.
Other designers have a wealth of floral knowledge, but they might not know as much about planning or customer service. Perhaps they have a specialty – be it large scale arrangements, foraged and textural design or the most beautiful bridal bouquets you’ve ever seen. Is their work well rounded? Where are your priorities with their experience? The fact that they can make the most fabulous arbors isn’t going to benefit you if you’re not having one at your ceremony site. Have they been published on every major wedding blog and magazine and hopefully your wedding will be too?
This can also circle back around to pricing. Expect to pay a bit more for someone with oodles of formal training at 20+ years in the floral industry. I’ll call them floral powerhouses or brand name florists. You might save a couple dollars by hiring a newbie or someone lesser known. You may or may not be making a sacrifice, just depending upon who you hire. Sometimes designers are lesser known simply because they do a smaller volume of weddings each year, they choose to keep their businesses small and are very selective about the clients they take on. This may actually improve your client experience, even if it means they don’t have as much floral experience. But on the other side of that coin, a florist who does lot in volume a year might not give you the same amount of personal attention, but they make up for it in pricing. From a business standpoint, they don’t need to charge as much because they take on 5 weddings a weekend whereas someone such as myself will only do one. But that’s why I am able to provide a more personalized experience.
Have you figured out what’s important to you about your floral designer? I really think it all comes down to a gut feeling and finding someone who you feel comfortable and can connect with. Do you have other questions about what to consider? I’d love to hear them and can absolutely expand upon this.0