FILED IN:Business

8/15/2015

Wedding & Event Flowers: What EXACTLY are you paying for?

I woke up in the middle of the night, as usual; to get a drink of water and for some reason my brain would not shut off. I essentially wrote this entire blog in my head in the middle of the night last night, and only once I came into our design studio today did I actually sit down to write this. When I say “I” in this blog, I’m referring in the 1st person for myself and on behalf of any of my other event & floral designers. Continuing to write “we” felt impersonal, and we are anything but impersonal.

I don’t want this blog to come off bitter or defensive, but I feel as if I need to speak on behalf of floral designers everywhere, or at least on behalf of myself and my staff, about the cost of flowers. For every client that comes through and cannot imagine what they would have done without you, and think you are some sort of floral magician that will happily pay for your services, there’s another client saying….”well all my flowers have are babies breath, roses, and some greens, I could get that at the grocery store for less than $50, why are you charging me so much?!?”

It’s frustrating to me when clients argue about my pricing. I’m happy to create a redesign of a new concept that is less expensive to work within your budget, but I am not going to simply discount my pricing and give you the same top of the line product for less money.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s your money you are choosing to spend at my small business and without you I couldn’t exist. But after breaking down why everything costs what it does, it’s not really negotiable without a redesign of concept. My pricing has been extremely carefully planned out so you can have the best product possible, while I can make a little money as well (not a TON of money, but some, because this is my livelihood). I wanted to take a moment to walk you through the journey our florals go through, and what my wallet goes through, from the moment the ideas leave your brain until the moment they are in your possession.

  1. You walk in the door (or email me) and show me your design/floral ideas, most of which are from Pinterest, which we love so we have a starting point for creating our design.  While Pinterest is great, we also need our clients to understand that Pinterest has a tendency to set unrealistic expectations of what we can provide (or even exists!) and at what price. I happily go through what each flower is, if they are in season, what substitutions we can make for certain unavailable flowers, and substitutions we can make for too expensive of flowers. Essentially you are coming to me for my expertise and floral design abilities. Sometimes this can take hours to go through and design and I’m either paying myself or another employee to take care of this during your first consultation, which is completely free of charge! Of course!
  2. You walk out the door, and I immediately spend another hour or two creating your estimate specifically based on the flowers we talked about. Again at this point, we have accepted no compensation. I am still paying myself and my employees to do a job we have no guarantee of booking, and I’m OK with that!! Truly I am, but I really want you to know the breakdown of how much work we are doing behind the scenes for you.
  3. You get the estimate and changes need to be made, so we do some reconfiguring of the estimate, types of flowers, sizes of arrangements, etc. until you have reached the point where you feel comfortable enough to place a deposit to book your date with us.
  4. 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years pass as we near the event date, all the while we’ve been getting emails with photos of different arrangements, making small changes here and there to the order. This is 100% part of the job, we love it, but just as a matter of detailing costs here in this list, the time and cost of updating these changes adds up little by little.
  5. It’s now 3 weeks before your event, we’ve adjusted your invoice to represent your final guest/table count and you’ve taken care of your final payment. We start prepping your vases, your trays, your candlesticks, etc. (not to mention linens-which is an entirely different, but not dissimilar blog for another day!) And now the real fun begins…
  6. We pull out your file with all of our notes, your photos, emails, etc. and start to remind ourselves of all the intricate details you carefully chose throughout the planning process. I then write down each flower item individually and list out exactly how many of each flower, green, berry, etc. is going into every single different arrangement. Literally, EVERY. SINGLE. ARRANGEMENT. I need to make sure I have all the stems I need to make sure every bouquet, centerpiece, bout, etc is absolutely perfect.
  7. Along with #6, I also need to consider what supplies I’ll need. I always have lots of packs of bouquet tape, bout tape, pan glue, floral glue, a variety of satin ribbon for wraps, vases, rocks, corsage wristlets and the list goes on and on. But at some point my supplies run low or a client wants something unusual and I have to make sure I have everything you need. Between #6 and #7, this takes no less than 1-2 hours to compile and email to our wholesaler.
  8. Most of the time we get emails back from our wholesaler with substitution questions, availability questions, delivery issues, and what have you. We fix the issues, you do not know about this, the sun is still shining!
  9. Once the week of the big day finally arrives, we wait for the flowers to arrive. They come in and it takes no less than 3 people, sometimes up to 8 hours (24 labor hours!), just to unpack, unwrap, un-rubberband, fresh cut, place in buckets to not cause damage and arrange to fit in our coolers.
  10. Oh the coolers….did I mention this adds a LOT to overall energy costs and our Consumers Energy bill goes up. BORING yes, fact of life for a floral designer…you bet!
  11. After the flowers get hydrated and cooled, we then de-thorn, de-leaf, fresh cut every flower again, and begin to separate them into buckets by what is going into each arrangement. No joke, this takes a lot longer than making the actual arrangement, and again 3 people about 10 hours to complete. So at this point we have 2 full days of doing nothing but unpacking and prepping flowers before a single stem has been placed into an arrangement.

Quick break with a question: After reading all of this so far, could you ever have imagined this much goes into making your beautiful arrangements?

  1. It’s usually at this point when we notice any issues, if there are any. It may be quality issues, color matching issues, missing bunches, or maybe the rest of our flowers aren’t going to be in until later in the week, thus stalling being able to start our work.  It’s this instance where my love for making money for my family is undermined by my love to make my clients happy! If there are issues that are not the fault of the client, this requires us to dole out additional would-be profits to fix the problem so you don’t know it ever existed.
  2. We then get to start making the magic happen. This is literally my favorite thing about my job…creating something out of nothing. And it’s not a job everyone can do. Making a bouquet or flower arrangement is an absolute art, and while some people can sculpt and paint (Lawd-I cannot!), I can create art with flowers. Mind-blowing, take your breath away, art with flowers.
  3. While I make your arrangements or bouquets, etc. there will always be a gap, a hole, or the entire thing will simply look better if I add more stems than I planned for in your order. I’m happy to do this. In fact, I can’t bring myself not to do this! It is worth it to me to dip into my profit to make sure everything is absolute perfection about your flowers. Some may call it a flaw, but it’s why clients pay for us! And my pricing reflects my guarantee to do this. Floral design is an art form, and as I make a bouquet if I’m so limited by budget that I have no room for creative additions, we are probably not the best fit to be your designer.
  4. Once everything is in the process of being made, or is completely made, we then have the knowledge to keep your flowers not only alive, but in perfect condition. We re-water each arrangement everyday, we may spray hydrator on them, fresh cut them, feed them, and the list goes on and on. In addition, at this point a lot of arrangements take up more space than they did when in buckets, so it’s basically a full week of musical flower arrangements to get everything to fit comfortably and not cause any damage in the coolers.
  5. Once everything is all together, we are not done….for bouquets we still have to wrap your handles, add your gems (if applicable), and for arrangements, we may have to replace some stems-which by the way I made sure to pay for extra of so you didn’t get even a single lackluster flower!
  6. I am the type of person that likes to have everything done ahead of time. Unfortunately items like bouts and corsages cannot be started until 1-2 days prior to the event, due to the fact that they can be spray hydrated but are no longer in water. A lot of times this is a full day task for 3-4 people…still counting the hours….and now are you wondering if there are even that many hours in a week? Sometimes it feels like there’s not, and that’s where the glory of the Hot ‘N Ready comes into play!! mmmmm….pizza….ahh distracted, and moving on…
  7. Day of… now we have to take the time and expertise to package, transport, cool our vehicles, know when we should set up to maximize the flower’s beauty (and best work with the venue), and adding greens when we get there that would have otherwise been damaged during travel. Sometimes we even have to work with the venue to turn up that air conditioner to keep those flowers perfect….an additional behind the scenes thing you will thank us for once you are a sweaty mess on the dance floor!

I’ve done this process no less than 500 times and I’m still positive I’m forgetting something to include in this list. And I want to be VERY crystal clear…I LOVE what I do. If I won the lottery, I would still design events, with a focus on florals, because my heart is in it 100%. Not one of the bullet points above is a complaint (except maybe having damaged flowers come in and having to get them replaced), but rather another step in the process I thoroughly enjoy more than almost anything else.

BUT, and this is a big BUT, please do not question why my flowers cost so much. Does the actual bunch of flowers at cost, really cost that much….eh, not really by almost all standards, but you are paying a professional to do everything I’ve listed above for you, and you are getting a deal. Can you go somewhere else and get “the same thing” for less. Probably. But it will not be the same thing. There is bound to be an issue that you may never notice, but with a side by side comparison, there are many differences. Even if the differences aren’t in the actual work (though I strongly believe our work speaks for itself), but in just working with us, where we respond almost immediately to any issues throughout the entire time you are booked with us, constant availability and consistent attention to detail to name a few…isn’t that worth something monetarily?

I recently came across a hashtag that basically summed up this entire blog….yes this freaking extensive blog in one hashtag. It was #chargewhatyoureworth. It’s that simple…my knowledge, my expertise, my personality, my willingness to help, my responsiveness, and my eye for all things pretty has proven to be worth more than any single stem of flower you can get.

On behalf of custom floral designers everywhere, we are never intending to blow your budget out of the water, we simply put our heart and soul into our work and it’s reflected in our prices.

Cheers to our amazing followers, fans, and flower lovers!

XOXO,

Gossip Girl….I mean Emily (did I just age myself?)

  1. Megan Dimond

    August 26th, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    Amen! I wish I could auto send this blog to all brides and private parties ahead of meeting them. I will be reposting. Thank you for spelling it out for all of us!

  2. Emily Dawson

    August 26th, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Thank you Megan!! I, too, wish everyone would read this! We are so appreciate of you reposting wherever you can to get the word out about custom event design floral cost!

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7080 E Saginaw St, East Lansing, MI 48823

All Grand Events + Floral is a floral and event design studio based in East Lansing, Michigan serving Mid-Michigan from Grand Rapids to Metro Detroit.