Wedding and event floral design is costly.
I know several online sources say the average bride spends under $2,000 for floral design for her special day. And, I know several online sources suggest the budget for flowers need not exceed 10%. So, you are thinking if your total wedding budget is $20,000, then you should be good with $2,000 and that should be plenty for your dream wedding floral design. Right? Unfortunately, in my experience, this has proven to be inaccurate. 10% may work if you have a $40,000 or $100,000 wedding and can spend $4,000-$10,000+. But, far too often, I see distraught faces as brides come to me and reveal their floral requests only to be told that $2,000 should be at least $4,000+ depending upon the request.
Next, you’ll find tips and tricks on how you can drastically reduce the cost by cutting out flowers and working solely with greenery. Yes, depending on the flowers you chose (if you cut out the $5.00 per stem peony) you might see a decent cost reduction, but it may still not have you under $2,000. Allow me to give you a peek behind the scenes of floral design as to why.
Flowers are fresh goods.
Flowers, like fruits or vegetables are fresh goods. Once cut from the stem, they ripen, reach full bloom and then fade. It’s nature.
I like to compare flowers to strawberries. When you plan to make any recipe involving strawberries, you meticulously check the bottom of the strawberries’ container for mold or bruising, find the two or three best batches you can (to make sure you have more than enough) and purchase them. Once home, you separate out any imperfect strawberries from perfect ones. You then set aside the prettiest for any garnishing and proceed to remove the green collar from the strawberries. You wash them, slice them or do whatever the next steps are to complete your recipe. Then, you revisit the “cream of the crop” strawberries and use them to decorate your masterpiece. They will be the center of attention.
So, when floral designers orders flowers they have a “loose recipe” in mind. They work diligently with their floral reps to select the flowers that will result in the best arrangement. Then, they must order two or three bunches (to meet the minimum order count AND to have enough perfect stems). Once they’ve sorted out the flowers that are beyond return, they set aside the prettiest for the showstopper. The center of attention piece – the bouquet. Next, they process the blooms by removing access greenery, thorns, prepping their water and trimming them only to then, arrange them into beautiful pieces for your special day.
See the comparison? Oh, and to answer the question of, “Why would I pay so much for flowers that will only last one day anyway? I mean, wedding flowers never last a week!”, well, that strawberry dish likely will not last a week. Just like wedding flowers. Why? Well, the goal is to have the flowers in full bloom for your day. We do not want them blooming well after the event. It has been timed so that they bloom for your event (except for a few buds here and there).
It’s also important to note the floral designers often will not promise a particular flower for your floral design. Why? Well, like strawberries, they may not be in season. If you want them out of season, prepare to pay premium cost for the forced growth of the flower. And, even when in season, it may have been a bad year, or the flower sold out. So rather than offering false hope, a floral designer would much rather prefer to surprise you with the flower if it was possible to obtain.
Flower arrangements require tools and supplies.
Flower arrangements do not just consist of the flowers. They consist of the vessel in which the flowers are placed which may need to be purchased or rented, the chicken wire or floral foam used by the designer, the water treatment to help prolong the life of the flowers as best they can, water tubes, the mechanics needed for large scale arrangements (cables, ladders, copper pipes, grids, arches, etc.), floral tape, floral wire, floral glue, cuffs for corsages, pins and ribbon. And that ribbon that we all love so much – the slightly torn, velvet, chiffon or silk ribbon – it’s often hand-dyed and cost more than $8.00 (on the low end) per yard. Your bouquet will need at least 5 yards for the long flowing look of just one ribbon.
Floral designers also need their shears, loppers, scissors for ribbon, wire cutters, thorn strippers and more to process the flowers and that’s just some of the tools. I know some floral designers bring along drills, hammers, nails, screws, you name it, just to make sure they get the job done. And, I, for one, must rent a cargo van to have items delivered the day of an event. Mary Poppins? More like Mary Poppies.
Floral design requires labor.
Flowers require work. Once the flowers arrive, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to drive down to airport cargo to pick up my flowers. And that has been at 7pm and 2am. Then, I prep and process (wash, trim, strip thorns, remove extra leaves, sort, etc.) the flowers. For a large-scale event, help is needed because the time isn’t based on me, the flowers call the shots.
Wednesdays: When flowers typically arrive so that by Saturday’s event, they look amazing and are in full bloom.
Thursdays: Flowers are processed (if not Wednesday night) and finally the floral designing process begins and centerpieces are made. If you need to make 20+ centerpieces, you are going to need help and note I didn’t even reference the help that would be needed for preparation of a beautiful ceremony backdrop or statement piece for the reception. Help means paid labor.
Fridays: Usually the day most personal items such as bridesmaid bouquets, maybe even boutonnieres or corsages are made if not held to be completed in the wee hours of the morning the day of the wedding. Why wait so late? Floral designers usually want the bridal bouquet, boutonnieres, etc. to be in pristine condition for the wedding. This means the flowers have been in water and drinking as long as possible in the cooler before arranged.
All of this occurs before the floral designer even arrives on site. The day of the event, the floral designer will often need assistance to bring the entire look together from the alter to the cake flowers. Lastly, someone will need to break-down the décor and if you are having your floral designer do this, there is a cost.
Floral design is someone’s business.
Yes, floral designers mark-up flowers to make a profit just like any business owner. Contrary to popular belief, the margin isn’t as high as you think nor is it to take advantage of an impressionable bride willing to spend ANYTHING to have the perfect day. It has taken many seasoned floral designers years to feel comfortable charging enough to yield a profit (post tax) after covering the cost for flowers, ribbon, foam, scissors, mechanics and labor in addition to the expenses needed to operate their business.
Seasoned floral designers, just like any other business owner, increase prices for their labor the more experienced or well-known they become. Think about it. You can go to Walmart or you can go to Chanel. It is all in the reputation and style. The better constructed, the higher the price and you pay it feeling confident you walked away with a quality item. The more experienced and renowned the doctor, the harder they are to schedule an appointment with and, when you do, you know you’ll need to be prepared for the increased cost for their expertise.
So, in the end…
While designing flowers for a wedding or event is fun, it is still someone’s occupation. We all want to do what we love and never work a day in our lives, right? So do floral designers but that does not mean they should not get paid for doing what they love. Simply choosing to design flowers does not mean that a profit should not be earned, nor does it mean that what you earn should be capped. It is a career like any other. The more educated and experienced you become, the better skilled you are, the more you earn. The more you are in demand, the more you can charge.
Do not get me wrong, every floral designer wishes to make dreams come true, but they cannot risk their own cost of living to do so.
I’ve been there, paying out of pocket to make someone else’s wedding dream happen. You wouldn’t go to Starbucks and expect them to say, “I know you love coffee! I want to give you the best coffee experience! Don’t worry, I’ll pay for it.” Maybe you would like for them to, but they won’t. They can’t. You must pay for that coffee. It’s a business. If Starbucks gave away coffee in the same manner floral designers are expected to meet budgets, Starbucks would cease to exist. So yes, a floral designer has a mark-up but it’s to cover the cost for your flowers, the cost for the goods to make the arrangements you seek, the cost for labor to create the arrangements, the cost to cover their overhead and last but not least, their cup of Starbucks coffee. And maybe the muffin.
The Average Cost to Have a Floral Designer Create Your Wedding Flowers
Below I’ve listed the average price range you can anticipate for floral design according to Brides.com article, “Average Cost of Wedding Flowers: Making the Most of a Floral Budget”. Keep in mind, even the high end of these numbers may be low depending on the size and intricacy of the arrangement and requested flowers. Sarah C. Campbell of Intrigue Designs mentions in another article with Martha Stewart Weddings that “some tall centerpieces may cost an upwards of $1,800 per table for a luxury look that provides a huge impact.”
The average cost of wedding flowers can vary widely, depending on how many flowers you need, the types of flowers you choose, and whether they’re in season. Though no wedding flower cost is set in stone, floral designer Caytlyn McCloskey, owner of Sea Lily in Malibu, California, provided a range brides can expect certain floral items to cost.
- Bridal bouquet: $150–$350
- Bridesmaid bouquet: $65–$125
- Boutonniere: $24–$45
- Pin-on corsage: $32–$48
- Wrist corsage: $48–$65
- Reception flowers: $75–$250
- Flower girl petals: $65 per bag
- Altar flowers: $75–$500
- Arrangement next to sign-in book: $150–$250
- Arrangement next to place cards: $65–$125
- Head table centerpiece: $65–$150
- Sweetheart table garland: $12–$45 per foot
- Guest table centerpiece: $75–$400
- Cake flowers: $25–$150
- Flower crown: $45–$125
It is important to note that the estimated price for alter flowers is not synonymous with a ceremony floral backdrop, arch, etc. Those items would fall into another category entirely.
I encourage you to check out all the details of these amazing articles to gain a better understanding of floral design costs to avoid sticker shock when it comes to wedding planning!
Why Are Wedding Bouquets So Expensive? There are a number of factors that impact the total cost., Martha Stewart Weddings