Insider tips: 13 ways to avoid getting screwed by your florist

March 16 | Guest post by Tiffany

Wildflowers

I am a florist who strictly does wedding work (cake toppers, centerpieces, floral dog collars, and the usual) all for brides on limited budgets. I was visiting a friend of mine at her work (a big floral shop) and I overheard some things that I could not believe.

A bride was doing a consultation and the florist she was talking to kept trying to "up-sell" or downgrade every idea the bride had! There was nothing wrong with her ideas at all, except for the fact that they wouldn't put enough money in the florist pocket. It was sick. But the sickest part about it was that the bride agreed with every bad idea that the money hungry florist said. By the time my friend finished her lunch break, her coworker added at least a couple hundred more dollars to the unsuspecting bride's budget.

So I felt that I needed to share some tips with you. As a budget-friendly florist, these are my personal tips:

  1. Before you go "bouquet crazy," learn what flowers are going to be in season at the time of your wedding.
  2. Stroll around your local farmer's market. Talk with growers who sell cut flowers. Ask them questions, lots of questions. This tip is incredibly helpful if you are doing your own flowers.
  3. Pick three florists to interview. No more — no less. Too many florists and you're drowning in info, too few florists and you're very limited.
  4. When you first visit a potential florist, DO NOT show them any of your ideas. Don't even tell them your budget. Just ask them questions, MANY questions, like… What styles are your mainstays?, What is the typical budget you work with?, If a flower is damaged/unavailable for my event, will you substitute it without my consent?, Could I see your portfolio (of REAL weddings)?, and How many weddings do you book on a typical weekend?
  5. Have a fairly solid idea of the blooms and styles you want. DON'T be talked down unless a reason sounds completely legit. Insincere answers might mean you might need to find a different florist.
  6. When you ask to see a portfolio, a "Teleflora" book doesn't cut it. You need to see real photos of actual weddings and events that the florist has done themselves. If your florist cannot provide a "look-at-what-I-did" book, consider walking away.
  7. If your florist keeps reassuring you that he can get you that tropical bloom you want even though it's not in season, remember that the price could be anywhere between 3 and 5 times more expensive than when the flower is naturally in season!
  8. Look online at wholesalers and become familiar with how flowers are shipped. As an example, almost all garden roses must be ordered as an entire case. That's almost 100 blooms! If you only want garden roses in your bouquet and no where else your florist is going to be stuck with about 80 garden roses. In some floral shops, you will be charged for the full case, not just what you use.
  9. Many florists really don't want to play the price haggling game. There are "industry standards" that dictate pricing. Some florists work on a 3x mark-up, and many florists use a 5x mark-up on weddings.
  10. Learn about hidden charges, delivery fees, etc. If you want your florist to set up your arrangements, you might have to pay for their gas plus an hourly fee.
  11. Bring in your own ribbons and other floral accessories. Remember the price mark-up? A 2x mark-up is typically used on hard goods (ribbons, pins, etc.), so see if you can supply your own. That way you only pay for them once.
  12. DO NOT pay for petals! Have someone pick up a bouquet at a supermarket and have fun destroying the blooms yourself. It's an amazing stress reliever and you will be happy knowing that you didn't waste $10-$20 for someone else to rip them apart.
  13. DO NOT bug the heck out of your florist. Limit your phone calls and resist the urge to just "stop by." The last two floral shops I worked in would tack on extra charges for brides who took more time to deal with.

There are soooo many more tips and little hints, but these 13 are the biggest areas where brides lose money. I realize that there are some florists out there who will disagree with me on some of these points, but I wanted to share my perspectives.

Florists, have your own tips you'd like to share? We're always open to guestpost submissions!

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  1. this artical is fantastic! i wish it had been up this time last year so we didnt get screwed over by or florists! they literally convinced me to go for something i didnt really want..and when the flowers arived on the day they were NOTHING like how i'd discribed. oh well..it really didnt matter in the grand scheame of things and they flowers were 'nice' just not what i wanted! booooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

    4 agree
    • Not cool at all! My brides are the most Importent people on earth and I treat them as such. My idea is this, listen to these young, excited, beautiful people as they know better than anyone what's popular and they set the trends. It's so fun to meet with a happy bride and or groom. I love it when they know what they want, we learn from each other what is best and what will work with the overall theme and budget. I always make a list of every flower and greenery that I include so the bride knows exactly what she is getting. If a certain flower comes in looking bad or damaged I know what my plan B is, better than that my brides know too. It's called communication and I have literally stopped production to call my bride and ask her before I include a different or another type of bloom. Being a grower I could very well have something blooming that matches and would be a fabulous addition. Loving my job more and more each year and you all just keep getting younger & younger. Lol. Happy Wedding, Happy Life

  2. So flattered you used one of our pics for this article… I can honestly say that I have nothing but praise for my florist. The first thing she asked..unlike all the others…. was how much was my budget? She then managed to come in under budget (she said that that would give me breathing space to cover unforseen floral needs, and she was right!) and gave me exactly what I had asked for. This was especially difficult as I knew exactly what I wanted and would not be swayed but she didn't really try to change my mind anyway. She was careful to meet all the "special needs" we had too, my mother is allergic to Lillies (Calla's are ok)chrysanthamums and any highly pollenated and scented blooms, so filler flowers were a difficult issue.
    As for what my flowers looked like… all I will say is I shed my first tears of the day when I saw my bouquet… it was stunning… and the rest were equally so. I think if you find a florist that works for you, shout their name from the rooftops… because mine was just an unassuming little local shop and she doesn't get the volume of work she deserves… and yet she produced the most amazing work for a tiny budget!

    36 agree
  3. Yay! You featured our flowers (pink, orange, yellow and green bouquets) 🙂 I can not speak highly enough about Nellie's Wildflowers (http://nellieswildflowers.com/) in Davis Square, Somerville. Joyce was an absolute light to work with and was so up front with me about what was in season and what could work and what wouldn't. I would recommend her to anyone!

    3 agree
  4. Amen! The first time I got married, I only needed bouquets, corsages and bouts. I had $300.00. I went to three florists that did exactly what Tiffany said–tried to convince me I needed centerpieces and arrangements for the church, etc. One of them reluctantly put together a bouquet/corsage/bout quote for me and it came in at $1200!!!. I finally found a floral designer who worked out of a studio instead of a shop and I said "Look, this is what I need, this is the style of my wedding, and this is my budget." I had GORGEOUS flowers, she delivered them personally and even pinned the corsages and bouts for me, and the bill was $275.00. Because I didn't care about what flowers she used (only colors), she was able to accomodate me.

    Don't ever let a vendor dictate to you. If they won't listen to you, it's time to spend your money elsewhere.

    8 agree
  5. Hurrah for honest vendors! Tiffany, if I were near you, I'd totally hire you (after dutifully interviewing two other florists, of course! 🙂

    Thank you for the info! Good luck with your schooling!

    2 agree
  6. So true! For our wedding I just wanted bridesmaids bouquets, a bouquet for me, three simple corsages and a crown of silk daisies for the flowergirl. I tried to go really local but the place quoted me $1,300 for 6 bouquets, 3 corsages consisting of daisies & hydrenga!! I went to another local shop but it was a chain of local shops, $450 for everything and she helped pick out flowers and even included hand-dyed orchids in my bouquet to set it apart & gave me extras for my hair. The other place didn't even sit with me to look at flowers, they just tossed me some books. I get the feeling the 1st place didn't want to really do it because it wasn't the whole big event with centerpieces & church.

    2 agree
    • I love my smaller weddings! I get really large weddings but I totally appreciate the smaller ones. It gives me more time to get creative. I've rocked out some beautiful work in this situation. http://Www.MyFlowerPros.com. I use a lot of my own blooms and botanicals as I'm a grower too so that always helps the bottom line. Happy Wedding and call me anytime if you need help. ?

  7. great article! no one wants to be taken advantage of.

    but you could be disappointed if you try out #13 at some places. i worked for a large floral wholesaler and they ALWAYS asked for a tax exempt number thus proving your business or organization is legit.

    2 agree
  8. Oh, the farmer's market idea is great. I was planning to get my fruit from the farmer's market so it's as fresh as possible. I didn't even think about flowers!

  9. Wow, such great advice!

    I actually wasn't considering a florist, but now I may actually at least have a few pretties, and feel better that they didn't stick it to me.

    Thank you so much!

  10. Great article! I was lucky that i ended up with a great florist for my big day (Kendra at Loves Me Flowers in Seattle) however did meet with a few others that I ran far far away from– and they were some of the top in the city! It's so hard to make these hires– as you only do it once and have such little expirience to fall back on. Posts like these are so helpful!

  11. Dang, will you do a podunk little town like 45 minutes-hour away from Richmond? You sound awesome!

    1 agrees
  12. We met with two florists. The first, who came highly recommended, sat us down, stared at us and asked what we wanted. When I said I was unsure, she pulled out a book- not pics of her works- and told me to flip thru and find what I like. Completely unhelpful. Guess she was used to brides storming in with everything already planned. The second one had a ton of ideas, showed us examples from flowers in the store and gave us a good price. But then she stopped returning my calls and disappeared, and another woman has replaced her. We'll see….

    Actually, wait, we almost met with a third- but they wanted $50 for A CONSULTATION. If you booked them it was taken off the bill, but if not it was gone. We left pretty quickly after hearing that tidbit.

    1 agrees
    • As a florist, I think a $50 consultation fee is more than fair. We put a lot of work into our consultations, spending time with the clients, preparing a mood board and an estimate and I think we should be paid for our efforts. A fee helps weed out the serious clients from those that are "just shopping around".

      21 agree
  13. Yup great article, my friend did somethin fun about the church flowers. So she found out that there will be a couple that will be married in the same church before them, and there's another one after. So she contacted the other couples and the three couples pay for one floral decoration for the whole day ! Smart ..

    15 agree
  14. Due to my flower allergy we aren't having fresh flowers at our wedding, but these tips are helpful for other things as well! Thanks for this post, I'll have to pass it on to my fellow brides/grooms that are going to hell and back with their flowers.

    1 agrees
  15. You can get your wedding flowers for wholesale prices by saying you're doing it for a church event. You just have to coordinate with your church to have them order your flowers for you so the tax exempt and wholesale stuff is really legit. This is what I did.

    As this article mentioned, make sure you understand how flowers are standardly sold in the wholesale realm, ie. 8 bunches per box or whatever, since you will most likely have to order per box.

    Whatever donation you give to your church for their assistance with ordering your flowers will be well worth it to get their wholesale pricing.

  16. As a business owner and florist I am actually affronted by this note. Yes there are some florists who are in it for the money and will try to talk brides into more expensive flowers but most of us are not that way. (and they are easily felt out if they do practice poor business pratices)
    I do charge 45.00 for a consultation. The reason? 45.00 is a minimal amount when you actually receive a full consult with me. I offer websites and information to help you save money on your whole wedding. I show how certain days of the week can be cheaper for you to get married on. I offer 3 hours of my undivided attention to you and your needs to get exactly what you want for the budget you are working with. Each estimate my customers receive has at least 4 different options that the bride can mix and match that will allow her to make her own choices and go up or down in price for each piece. It usually takes 7 – 8 hours of my time and efforts to give my brides all the information I feel she deserves and needs to make a good decision that works within her budget. 3 of of those hours are with the bride at the shop and taking a tour at the local wholesalers to see the whole color and flower pallete available. That works out to about $6.00, under minimum wage I might add for my hourly time.
    I encourage my brides to contact me at any time and offer my cell for contact on weekends. I do not charge extra for brides that are picky or that call often. I am creating the flowers for the most important day of their lives. I want as much information as she can offer so I can make her day perfect.
    Every wholesaler I know would ask for a Tax ID slip listing the church and or organization for which you are trying to buy flowers. Lying is never good business practice!

    136 agree
  17. Awesome article!!! I'm printing to use as a resource! Money hungry vendors may make more per sale, but honesty like this is what gets referrals and call backs time and time again! thank you thank you thank you

  18. As someone working part time in a flowershop, I must say most of this is true. But I would like to add couple points, from our side of the cash stand:

    When you order a wedding bouquet and hear the price, don't be suprised it's more than your average rose bouquet for your grandmother's birthday. There's a lot more time put into your wedding bouquet. Also the ribbons and pearls and such aren't free, as said. We are not (or I think atleast most aren't) trying to rip you off, we're asking compensation for the time used to perfect -your- bouquet. It's not like it's going to magically appear out of thin air. 🙂

    Another thing I'd like to note is this: When your florist asks if you want bouquets for your mother, mother-in-law and so on, PLEASE, do tell us if you don't want. We only ask because some brides might not have thought of these things, or forgot in the hassle of explaining what kind of bouquet they want. Since we're in the business, it's our job to ask – we are NOT trying to force you to buy more than you want (if your florist is trying to force you to buy what you don't want, escape!). It's time saving for you and us, when you don't have to storm back and forth and add people on the flower list.

    If you did forget to add someone or something, don't be ashamed to come back and add, though – the earlier you do so, the better it is for us (and you). We wouldn't want to end up in a situation where we have to tell you we can't do a bouquet for your mother-in-law, because we can't get more flowers in time. We don't grow the flowers on our backyard, we order them, and that's probably the case with most florist shops.

    And a hint for getting the exact bouquet you wish: Bring pictures. It's easier to see what you mean by "simple and modern" when you have a picture. Your modern might be completely different from the other bride's opinion of modern. Also, if you want certain color, bring example, be it small piece of your dress' fabric or a serviette. It's sometimes difficult to hunt down the exact shade of pink you wish to use, and it's especially difficult if we have nothing to compare to. If you don't have any ideas what you want, that's alright too, the person doing the wedding flowers has done plenty and seen many ideas, and skips through wedding albums regularly to see the new trends. But you can hardly blame her if you say nothing, don't know what colors or flowers you like when asked and shown and she can't come up with anything that pleases you. This might be the reason Ariel had to start moderating the messages. It can be difficult to fish out what the bride wants if she brings no pictures herself, and everything you show to her only makes her shrug, and it ofcourse causes frustration both ways.

    Thanks for understanding! We always do our best – a shop that didn't would soon be out of business, but sometimes collapses happen. Most of them could have been avoided and that saddens us. A happy customer is the best advertisement for us and it also gives self confidence to the maker when the bride is happy with the flowers!

    97 agree
  19. This is an unfair article for the florist who are trained and professional I spend a lot of time and money on my training and learning all the new and latest trend for my business. Flowers along with everything else have increased in prices. Labor is a factor too. " getting screwed by your florist" is a harsh way to start out your article. Flowers do not grow in our back yards.
    I never understand why a bride will pay 800.00 1,200 for a dress and want a 35.00 bouquet to carry?
    I set a price on my website blog. FB so brides know when they come in to see me what my expectations are of them ans of me. Please don't set brides up like this that all of us are hungry grubbing people. Most are small MOM and pop shops and struggle. Please remeber this the next time you write getting screwed by your venue, photographer, ETC.

    32 agree
    • Believe it or not, many brides are not spending that much money on a dress. As a bride who only spent $150, and am doing my entire 50 person wedding for $3,000, finding flowers that are affordable no matter what is chosen is important. Not all brides are made of money, and $35 bouquets can look beautiful and be the perfect accent to a small and intimate affair. Please don't categorize all brides as being made of money or cheap.

  20. yes. This post saddens me. I am very aware of "upsell" methods, but as a strictly event floral designer, I know we donot sell flowers, bouquets or even petals. We listen to dreams. And then we look into our training, our knowledge, our creativity and our business sense to see if we can make that particular dream come true. That is what we really do. We know when roses are cut in Ecuador, when the rains didn't get to Northern California (for the dahlia crop) and we make adjustments. Please don't reduce us to 13 ways not to get "ripped off" We commit our knowledge, our passion and our creativity to you. I know how special that day was for me – and I want it to be the best it can be – for you. Really. Really.

    30 agree
  21. As a professional florist who works exclusively on weddings and events I feel this article gives brides the wrong impression of florists…….most that I have ever known strive to be the best, and in return give you the day you dreamed about and more….we want to see you glow when you see your bouquets, ceremony, and reception setting for the first time. No florist I know is trying to rip you off, we are just trying to make an honest living, and make your special day even more memorable, and we all work very hard.

    With that in mind it is definitely important to have your ideas together if you know what you want so your florist has a clear picture of what you desire for your special day, on the day you meet with them, and if you have a budget it is important to let your florist know immediately.

    It is the florist who is trained and knowledgeable in flowers and seasons and how they are processed and packaged, this is why you hire us, for our expertise. We are not trying to up sell you or rip you off we are full of floral knowledge to help you find alternatives for a smaller budget, or suggest options we think would compliment your ideas beautifully that you may have never thought of or not even knew existed…….we want you to love every detail!!

    Every florist I know is very clear and up front about any fees for delivery, set up, tear down, rentals, etc.

    You surely can bring your own ribbons, decor etc. But remember this, in general your not really saving money. A flower shop or florist purchases products wholesale. When they mark it up 2 times it becomes retail. So you are actually paying the same if you buy it yourself. BUT a florist can also purchase in bulk meaning ribbons, candles, etc. Cost less then buying at say, Michaels Crafts, where these items are only available in smaller quantities.

    Same goes for petals…..we purchase flowers in bulk and at wholesale prices so markups are to retail meaning they cost the same or less to purchase through your florist…..

    The last and final comment I would like to make is in regards to the statement in the article "The last two floral shops I worked in would tack on extra charges for brides who took more time to deal with." That is horrible way to conduct business and I surely hope no one I know in this industry behaves that way. I gladly give my personal cell phone number to my clients so they can email, text or call me anytime, with any questions, off the clock, without question, because that's good customer service!! I know a lot of (most) florists hold themselves and their businesses to these standards and above!!

    26 agree
  22. My florist was ok. She talked me out of the flowers I actually wanted because they were slightly out of season, which I understand I guess. So I settled on gerbera daisies and hydrangeas. However, when I got the bouquets, no hydrangeas were seen! They took the liberty of taking them out without asking because they didn't like the look of the two flowers together. I was so mad but they wouldn't give me any sort of compensation because "the amount of extra daisies they used made up for the cost of hydrangeas." I'm still upset by it.

  23. I'm not sure where this florist is from but I own a florist shop in New Zealand and we would never treat any of our brides as per this article. Don't put all florists in one box as that is unfair on the ones of us that do the best by our brides. We always ask our brides their budget so we can make sure we can offer them the best flowers for the money they have to spend. We do wedding bouquets from as little as $40.00 up to $300.00 depending on what the bride wants and can afford.
    We spend the time to listen to our brides and even if we don't personally like their design we will do everything we can to make it happen for them as it is about them at the end of the day. To tell people not to show their ideas to their florist seems odd as how else are we suppose to get a feel for what the bride likes??
    We also wouldn't dream of putting a mark up as above on our flowers, we charge them out as we wold any flower in our shop whether it be for a standard bouquet or a wedding bouquet, we do however charge our time out to make the bouquet which is standard practice as at the end of the day we still have bills to pay.
    We always have our own work on display and have a very active Facebook page where we upload our weddings on a regular bases.
    I think it is unfair to put up this article and class all florists as people that are just looking to rip you off, you went into one shop and overheard one conversation and you base everything above on this. I welcome you to come into my store at anytime and listen to our wedding consults. We book at least 80% of our clients we consult for as we have an open mind and listen to what they want.

    15 agree
  24. As a florist working exclusively on weddings and events I find this article offensive. I have (unfortunately and briefly) worked for one slime-ball boss that did try to take advantage of clients but for the most part florists aren't out to "screw over" brides. We are skilled tradespersons who earns a living designing flowers. We should not be villianized for trying to make a living from our craft.
    I would say that this article makes one or two good points. It is wise to know what flowers will be in season for your wedding so you won't be disappointed down the road when it isn't peony season. However, you should never waste a florist's time by withholding information about what you'd like or your budget. Those are the best jumping off places to begin a design concept. It's pointless to have a florist come up with a design idea if you already know what you'd like and what if they propose ideas way out of budget? Its ridiculous to suggest someone to go to a professional and not tell them what you want or can afford!
    I think better advice would be to tell would-be brides to be informed consumers. Most people in the world aren't out to get you and the more you know your stuff the less likely that it'll happen to you.

    15 agree
  25. I make silk and real touch floral arrangements for weddings, I have arrangements that are set designs that I will do for certain prices, I also state up front that certain flowers will be more expensive as well as changes that requires buying different flowers, That way my brides can make a decision up front within her budget, My problem has been brides who expect me to upgrade their orders and start adding things in without increasing the cost to them, I do not get a lot of brides like this but every year there are at least six to eight brides who want to change the design after I have already ordered their flowers and want me to add crystals and orchids at no extra charge to them, Not going to happen although I do try to put it nicer than that to a customer, My suggestion to brides using any kind of florals is to research the cost of what you want for your wedding. make a decision on the design within your budget and then stop looking at bridal magazines and expect the florist to make changes because it will drive up the price of your wedding really fast as we do not get the extras for free.

    1 agrees
  26. As a recently married woman, I have some advice for the brides, with regard to flowers but also to everything else… Research research research!! Pictures and research, research and pictures. Before you even attempt to get a vendor for flowers, find out first what flowers cost generally. Some websites state more or less per bouquet, or you could find out from smaller shops what a specific flower costs per bundle or per bloom. Just, have an idea in mind, and have a clue before you start getting quotations. If have an idea what they cost more or less, you'll have no problem being pursauded into buying something you don't want, or vendors trying to upsell you, and you'll be able to distinguish the genuinely cool, nice vendors from the ones who just want to milk you. Just, don't be completely clueless when you start looking for quotations. I have absolutely no knowledge of flowers and types and stuff, and this helped me immensely when I planned my wedding.

    2 agree
  27. Not wanting to seem rude here, but if you are a florist why are you bringing down our industry with your harsh words.
    You are placing all of us in a box implying that we are ripping off our valued clients.
    Maybe you could mention how brides and grooms come in and try and rip us off as well by screwing down our prices. May I ask if these same people would be happy to work for $5 hour.
    I actually value my ethics and work and take great pleasure creating wonderful wedding flowers for my valued clients. As a matter of fact, my many florist friends are all much the same. This is our career, our love and our passion. We savour the moment when our brides burst into happy tears when we hand them their bouquets and wedding centrepieces that we have worked on often through the wee hours of the night to create.
    Maybe you could write an article on what process it takes to build up relationships with farmers and suppliers to guarantee wedding blooms to deliver for that special wedding day or event. Maybe mention how we spend hours on end worrying if mother nature will be kind and not flood our Gyp supply for the coming Summer when we have at least 20 weddings booked in who need it. Please remember that florists have families who need feeding and we need to live under a roof. We are all not the 'baddie' who are here to take your hard earned dollars away from you. In actual fact we are highly skilled artists who studied for our chosen career and we adore what we do.

    5 agree
  28. I work for a floral wholesaler. I try to advertise to brides about my costs because I do offer a really good bargain. I have many advantages over the florist because of my position. However, there are also cons to my services because like the florist I do have to order everything in "bulk" BUT the florist has a wider opportunity to 'share' the leftover product with other potential sales. I don't have the extra storage for extra products so I would have to have an exact recipe for all of the pieces. BUT I am absolutely cheaper than the local florist because I don't need to make those huge mark-ups. It all depends on what you want for flowers!!! And I won't up sell you anything you don't want. If you have a budget for 300$ I will absolutely work with you!!!! Honey if you are absolutely stuck and can't do anything over 50$ I'll work with that too. I will literally cut out my profit so you can have your special day.

    1 agrees
  29. Any suggestions for the hill country area of TX such as Austin or San Antonio, there are so many florist I am overwhelmed, and can't visit them all, but I am always searching for the best price/quality!

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