One of my best friends, who is getting married in San Diego this fall, recently emailed me a copy of her wedding flower invoice to make sure everything was copacetic. I get this a lot -- not just from friends, but from friends of friends, from strangers, etc. People always think their florist is ripping them off, and want me to check. In most cases they're not. Flowers are expensive! There's the actual cost of the flowers, the time, the labor, the van and studio rentals... again, the time (yes, it takes a long time to get that bouquet just right).
The invoice is a line-by-line breakdown of each item and cost. Florists may call it a proposal, bid, or an invoice. Once the couple looks it over and makes any changes, they will sign a contract with the florist. Some event designers who do flowers themselves may do an all inclusive cost -- just make sure you get a breakdown of rental vases verus the vases you can keep.
In case you're not friends with a florist I'm going to decode the proposal for you and give you the inside scoop.
Bouquet - The bride's bouquet will always cost more. Why? Well, usually it's bigger. It may have more expensive flowers than the bridesmaids' bouquets. But sometimes, just sometimes, the bride wants a small bouquet, or one that's the same size as the bridesmaids'. In that case, it really should be the same price. The range should be from $100-$250.
Boutonnieres - We make up on other costs from these since generally they're only one or two main flowers. But someone does have to sit there, tying the ribbon just so. The range should be from $10-$15 each.
Flower Girl Baskets - Want to save money? Buy your own baskets and leave them with the coordinator. Again, it takes time for the florist to purchase these, and each little thing adds up.
Ceremony - Arches can be very expensive. The sheer amount of flowers needed to fill them can be astounding. Opt for flowers in the corners of your venue, or a larger middle arrangement to cut back on costs. I'm one of the only florists I know who tells my clients to rent their arch/chuppah from a rental company. Why you ask? Because I don't want to be bothered with the hassle of the setup. Been there, done that, and it's not fun. These pros that rent them can put them up quickly and break them down. That way, the bride pays the rental company directly, not me. I will adorn the arch with fabric and flowers. This can range from $250 to thousands. Reuse the flowers after the ceremony by placing them around the reception if there are empty areas (e.g. extra space on the gift table or sign-in table).
Aisle flowers - Opt for every other row. Reuse them on the chairs during the reception.
Rose petals - Range from $60-$150 depending on how lush you want them. I usually use 50 roses (2 bunches) for an aisle.
Centerpieces - This is really subjective because of how custom this is. For smaller arrangements, the couple usually chooses to give the centerpieces away to guests. If they are large, and you're not giving them away, ask your florist to bring the leftover flowers to a hospital. The volunteers will be very happy, I promise! While they can't always put them in hospital rooms because of allergies and germs, they can display them in areas where the patients will see them! Centerpieces can range from $75-thousands.
Cake flowers - If you just want some blooms on your cake, ask your florist to throw in the leftover flowers. Same goes with hair flowers. Be a nice client, and they should happily agree!
Setup, Delivery, and Breakdown - Anywhere from $200-$300 is normal. Remember, the florist is setting up hours before the ceremony, and then will stay after the ceremony to breakdown the chuppah/arch, move things around, and clean up. That's almost six hours right there! If you are keeping the flowers (and not using rentals), the florist won't have to come back, so it should be a lower price.
People tend to want to negotiate with flowers, but like I say, you wouldn't go into a restaurant saying you want a steak, but can only afford the hamburger. There are hard costs involved that can't be negotiated. Be reasonable too. I know that planners say that 10 percent of the budget should go to flowers, but if you really love them, and they're your main decor, then don't hold that rule steadfast. If the florist can't meet your budget, then instead of nickle and diming them, be willing to cut some items out. For sure you need centerpieces, but you don't really need aisle flowers (in my opinion).
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