Most of a florist’s work is behind the scenes. Of course what we really want you to see are the good bits, the pretty flowers - the end game.
I reckon a little insight might be helpful. I have created a timeline describing the work that goes on in the background (my end).
Hopefully this post will help you understand the process from a floral point of view. I'm going to explain it all: enquiries, quotes, saving a date, sourcing material and last but not least creating beautiful bespoke floral arrangements for my client’s big day.
The early days and behind the scenes
Getting in touch
Most enquiries reach me via Instagram, Google or by recommendation. I do my best to respond within 48 hours. The next step is arranging a consultation. I like to talk to my potential clients prior to creating a quote, preferably over the phone or via video call.
This helps me fully understand my client's vision and build a full picture of what their dream wedding flowers look like. It is a great way for them to get to know me and the way I work too.
I carefully prepare my quotes, products are researched, and all of details that we discussed during our call are considered before I send anything out.
Sealing the deal
To secure a date in my calendar I take a booking fee as a deposit. This allows me to focus all of my creative energy on that specific wedding.
Client’s tend to book my service between 6 – 18 months in advance, this is common among other vendors too, if you discover a supplier you would really like to work with I recommend securing them to avoid disappointment (especially if you are marrying during peak season which is June-September by the way).
Next step. A bit of two and fro-ing!
I like to fully understand my client's desires before starting work on their wedding flower proposal, this often means we chat a bit more after the date has been saved.
My jobs are bespoke, and are completely tailored to each couple, whatever they want, I’ll find a way to create it.
I enjoy working with unique colour palettes in a natural yet slightly unruly style. I encourage 'outside of the box' ideas. I would willingly build a fort out of flowers, fill a room with floral clouds, or construct the wildest of wild walls… the options are endless, but I am equally as willing to work with a more typical approach.
I have always loved making things and been very practical. Problem solving is fun. With lots of research, regular practice and learning new techniques anything is possible. Proposals
I prepare proposals with a few visual slides: combining images that capture the look & feel, referencing my couple’s venue/s and including any design specific elements. I incorporate images that have been sent to me by my clients, and knit together their ideas with mine.
An important element here is the colour palette. I have a degree and background in Interior Design, so it is no surprise that I adore working with colour & form. I particularly love exploring beautiful tonal variations and textures provided by nature.
I set off work researching my client's preferred flower choices and their availability. Many brides are happy to go with the flow. Waiting to see what flowers are thriving at the time of their wedding that work well with their colour palette. Others like to be more specific having their heart set on something in particular. I do my best to meet their desires, however, I encourage everyone to be mindful that flowers are of course a natural product and therefor may vary.
Working with seasonal flowers
I always incorporate seasonal options, and endeavor to support local flower farmers where possible throughout the year. British produce is especially wonderful throughout the summer and provides us with a stunning array of flowers and foliage. This is also a great way to work towards a more sustainable business by reducing air miles and additional packaging.
If I am unable to get hold of desired flowers, I will always suggest other amazing options.
Table styling and sourcing of additional props such as candle sticks can be discussed at this stage and woven into your proposal.
A little further along - Getting technical!
With no flowers in sight, this stage is surprisingly technical.
I build a fancy spreadsheet, where I create a “recipe” for each item.
I figure out quantities, working with a stem count, and listing what material is required (such as vases, wires, tools and other equipment). Imagine a food recipe, I guess this bit is similar to a chef planning their produce in advance.
This stage can be time consuming but provides me with my final shopping list which helps me with organisation, consistency and speed when arranging the flowers.
One big benefit is the reduction of flower waste. Result. We don't like waste.
1 week before the wedding!
The buying (1-5 days in advance)
I source my flowers from various places, and will often buy them in from a few different companies for each job, such as:
- Local flower farmers (where seasonally possible)
- Local wholesalers & via online florist web shops.
- The New Covent Garden Flower Market in London (although this requires extremely early morning wake-up calls. It’s definitely the best place to go. At the market I can choose the flowers on the spot and be a spontaneous with what I buy. (Not forgetting a sneaky 6am bagel from the market cafe after shopping, the little things eh).
Flowers have different life spans and must be gathered on different days so that they are looking mighty fine by the time they reach you.
For example, Peonies can take days to open once picked, whereas Dahlias need to be picked quite last minute.
I had not realised in my pre-florist life that so many flowers in the UK (around 80%) are imported from Europe, mostly Holland. The flowers go to auction daily, yep, that’s right.
As the prices change daily us florists need to be on the ball and make financial predictions in advance when quoting for jobs. I offer my best price when delivering my client‘s vision.
Thanks to my super-duper spreadsheet the buying itself gets simplified at this point as I will already have my quantities figured out and will have checked the product availability & daily rates.
I should mention I am by no means a natural in Excel and it can be a long process but I am learning to utilise its many benefits that are helping to ensure I have everything I need for my client’s big day.
Collecting & conditioning (2-3 days in advance)
Some flowers will be delivered to me & some I will collect. Regardless, by this stage I will be waking up super early.
To condition the flowers, I remove their bands & packaging and carefully separate the stems. Next I strip away untidy leaves (this prevents any bacteria growing and neatens their aesthetic). It’s important to ensure they all have plenty of fresh water and are stored correctly. Some flowers need warmth to help them open, while others prefer a cool dark room to prolong freshness.
Prepping tools & vases (2 days in advance)
All vases need to be washed so that they are squeaky clean and ready for use. I clean them with hot soapy water or a mild bleach to kill off any bacteria, often bacteria develops in unclean vases and this attacks the flowers making them go bad & smell a bit funky.
I prepare any equipment that I might need on site such as: ladders, bins, ground sheets, a broom and my tool kit filled with an array of tapes, wires and scissors.
Arranging - The fun bit (1 day in advance) I start super early, depending on the quantity and type of arrangements I need to prepare, this can be a busy day. If it’s a larger job then I might reach out to fellow florists to help me prepare and set up on site. I have a great community of like minded florists nearby, as a florist lots of time is spent working alone so it is great to bounce ideas and share tips with one another.
This is the bit I love, its finally time to have some fun!
I start with the larger pieces that can sit in water such as ceremony arrangements and table centerpieces. Then I work on the bouquets. I arrange them and loosely bind them with string, leaving them in water overnight before finishing and hand tying with beautiful ribbon in the morning, then I trim the stems and fiddle around a little more to perfect them.
Items such as buttonholes and flower crowns are the last things I will make before bed as they are fiddly and require patience. Often I wire the flowers individually to help keep them strong and so that the flowers can be easily manipulated.
When I am finished I mist them with water and keep them refrigerated overnight.
Anything that will be built on site needs to be put aside ready for the morning such as: suspended arrangements, vertical or wall installations, archways, and anything else that is fixed.