Expert Advice: A Guide to Hiring a Wedding Florist in Tampa Bay


Tampa Bridal Show TheXpos | October 20, 2019 at Hotel Alba

Wedding flowers are one of the prettiest parts of planning a Tampa Bay wedding, but with so many options and price points, it can also be one of the most confusing.

How do you know how much to spend? How do you know how to achieve your vision, while also staying on budget? When should you hire a wedding florist, and what do you look for in one?

We’ve asked Tampa Bay’s best wedding florist to share their insight for “A Guide to Hiring a Wedding Florist in Tampa Bay.”

Wedding Planning Expert Advice: A Guide to Hiring the Best Tampa Bay Wedding Florist


Tampa Bay's Best Wedding Florists

What do couples need to know before they start contacting florists?

Jean King, owner of Monarch Events and Designs shares:
You need to have some important details in place. Couples need to have a wedding date and their venue booked as well as the approximate number of guests who will be attending. This is very important because it is difficult to start planning and designing flowers if there is not a specific date picked and wedding venue booked. The number of guests is also important, so the appropriate number of tables and centerpieces can be planned.

Dorelle Raphael-Fishkin, owner of Brides and Blooms Designs says you need to have these five items in place:

In order for a florist to work up a reasonable quote, we need to know the date of your event. Some flowers will be more cost-effective at different times of the year. If you are planning a wedding around Valentine’s day, red roses are going to cost way more than they will in July.

If you know where you are holding your event, a florist will be able to recommend different styles and or heights to achieve the best look.

The florist will want to know how many floral designs we will be making for the wedding party who you want to have flowers so that we can create an accurate quote.

Know color story and style so that we can showcase your personality through your flowers.

The budget is not only about how much you want to spend, but, rather, what kind of flowers and greenery we should be showing you, and what kind of designs will fit within that budget.

John Elice, of Bruce Wayne Florals adds:

Know the selected venue spaces for each part of your wedding day: ceremony, cocktail, and reception. Understand the environment within each location. Will you be outside or inside? Is there shade or will you be exposed to direct sun, wind, etc.? The florist will need to make sure the design and selection of floral varieties will accommodate these elements.

Know the style of your event. Will it be formal, casual, beach, modern, garden, bohemian? This is important in selecting the floral varieties used to best achieve the overall look of the wedding theme.

Determine your floral needs by creating a list of items you expect your florist to provide. Will you need an arch for your ceremony? What is the size of your bridal party? The more information you have available, the easier it will be to make sure the florist can provide you with your expectations.

Most importantly have a general idea of your budget. Think about how much money you can reasonably allocate to the floral decor. This is critical in determining if a florist will align with your overall vision. Once a florist understands the budget, it empowers them to present you with visuals that fit within your budget, rather than presenting you with ideas that are not realistic. You will be surprised at how much easier the process can be for everyone once a realistic budget is set. It is the first step in creating a level of trust between you and the florist you eventually select.

Elaina Forbes Scronce, owner of Cotton & Magnolia shares:
Set a budget, and get your inspiration pictures together. Depending on how well you know a vendor, and how important it is for you to use one specific vendor, you may end up getting proposals from multiple people. Stick to around the solid proposals. Unless there is something very specific you are looking for that those three do not offer, much more than that and things will start to run together, and you’ll drive yourself crazy and end up creating more work for yourself in the end.

Tampa Bay, St. Pete Wedding Florist Bruce Wayne Florals

  K&K Photography| Bruce Wayne Florals | Luxurious White and Pink Rooftop St. Pete Beach Wedding | Don CeSar

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What’s the best way to set a floral budget?

Jean King, owner of Monarch Events and Designs explains:
Flowers are one of the most memorable, colorful parts of the wedding. They bring in a sense of romance and luxury to the special day. Flowers elevate the wedding photography as well. The first step in creating a floral budget is to browse pictures to find inspiration of what you like. By looking at pictures, you will get a better sense of what you want for your wedding day. Typically floral budgets are 10% of the total wedding budget, but this number can vary depending on a number of factors. The types of flowers used can drive the budget up.

For example, peonies and dahlias are more expensive than roses. An experienced florist can help guide you in where to put the “splurge” flowers to help with the budget. The bride’s bouquet is a great place to go all out with flower selection and use less expensive flowers in bridesmaids bouquets and centerpieces. Also, certain types of arrangements cost more than others. For example, a tall, large centerpiece and floral arches cost more than smaller, modest arrangements. The number of bridesmaids and groomsmen you have affect the floral budget as well. The higher the number, the more bridesmaids bouquets and boutonniere’s needed which has an impact on the budget.

Elaina Forbes Scronce, owner of Cotton & Magnolia shares:
When it comes to budget, the sky really is the limit! Some online resources advise you to set aside 10% of your total wedding budget for flowers, and that’s honestly a great place to start. Budget can be a difficult conversation to have, but it is something that I urge you to be upfront and honest about, with yourself and with all of your wedding vendors. It doesn’t do anyone any good if you’re looking at a proposal for $5,000 when your true budget is $500.

John Elice, of Bruce Wayne Florals shares:
Have a budget range and be willing to share the range at your initial consultation. Trust your florist to respect your limits and know that they want your business within reason and that they will work tirelessly to help you stay on point with your budget.

Understand that there are fees and charges in addition to the flowers. These include: delivery, setup, the flip (moving ceremony flowers to your reception, striking (returning at the end of the night to break down and clean up). These charges and fees can average around 25-35% of the product total.

Have flexibility by identifying and discussing your “Must-Have” vs. “Nice-to-Have” floral decor items. Identifying and discussing these items with the florist will help the florist know where to focus on the design/money and where to scale back. Also, if cuts need to be made, the florist knows where to cut first. This also allows the florist to do their best to make the numbers work for your budget.

Another important thing to consider when setting your budget is calendar holidays. In picking the event date, avoid a holiday like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or New Year’s Eve. Product costs go up considerably across the board, usually a few weeks before and especially the week of holidays, which will translate to a larger price tag on your proposal.

Dorelle Raphael-Fishkin, owner of Brides and Blooms Designs adds:
A floral budget should be set by how important your decor look is to you. Flowers act like jewelry at any event and “top off” your overall look. If your location is sparse, you will need flowers to help it come alive, conversely, if the venue is busy, flowers can help to give your guests’ eyes a resting place. There is no “real” calculation for a floral budget, some people say 20% of your total budget works for them.

Bride and Groom Wedding Portrait, Bride in A-Line Illusion Lace Floral Applique, Plunging V-neck Neckline and Tank Top Straps, Groom in Grey Tuxedo and White Rose Boutonniere Tampa Bay Photographer Lifelong Photography Studios | Men's Wear Sacino's Formalwear | Wedding Dress Shop The Bride Tampa | Florist Cotton and Magnolia

Lifelong Photography Studios | Cotton & Magnolia | Modern, Bohemian Downtown St. Pete Styled Wedding | The Birchwood

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What should couples look for in a wedding florist?

John Elice, of Bruce Wayne Florals explains that finding a passionate florist should be a top priority:
Before contacting a potential florist, couples should do their homework. Do a background check on your candidates. With so many platforms available today it is easy to gather the basics. Utilize resources such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, Wedding Wire, The Knot, and local resources like Marry Me Tampa Bay to gather information about potential choices. Ask for recommendations from your venue or wedding planner, view photos of florist’s past work, view their websites, and pay attention to previous client reviews.

Couples should look for a florist who is passionate about what they do and has the experience needed to fulfill the scope of work your event will require. There needs to be a genuine connection with your florist. Your wedding florist needs to be open to and most of all excited about your ideas and concepts. They should have a willingness to work toward your overall vision and help maintain your budget. They should be reliable, and above everything else, you should trust them to create an unforgettable day you will always cherish. Remember most wedding florists are dedicated to their craft and passionate about what they do. Finding the right fit is a critical part of having your vision realized.

Elaina Forbes Scronce, owner of Cotton & Magnolia provides her insight:
People will choose wedding vendors for different reasons – maybe cost was a factor or maybe you just felt like you really “clicked” with someone’s personality. No matter what the reason, make sure you are choosing a vendor whom you trust. Pick vendors who you can have those uncomfortable budget conversations with. Vendors whom you trust to take your vision and run with it and to make suggestions and substitutions as needed but to still keep the integrity of your overall event intact. Things will come up at the last minute, it always happens, and you want vendors whom you know will have your back when they do!

Dorelle Raphael-Fishkin, owner of Brides and Blooms Designs adds:
Most wedding florists love the opportunity to stretch their wings. We love to create beautiful designs. As you discuss your dream wedding florals, listen closely to what the florist is offering. We want your wedding to be fabulously beautiful, we would never want you to pay for something that your 3-year-old niece could create. Let us give you our perspective, this is not your job, it is our job.

Jean King, owner of Monarch Events and Designs shares:
Looking for a wedding florist might become overwhelming because the internet is full of florist options. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when searching for a wedding florist. The type of florist is one factor to consider. A retail flower shop that you can stop in and pick up a bouquet of roses might not be equipped in servicing full wedding events. A better choice would be a florist who specializes in wedding flowers specifically. A wedding florist designer can also provide other decor needed such as table numbers, candleholders, and other decor pieces. It is also important to find a wedding florist whom you connect with. Designing your wedding flowers is a personal, exciting experience. Find a florist whose work you love as well as understand your style and vision.

Florida Garden Bride and Bridesmaids Wedding Portrait, Bride in White Fit and Flare Wedding Dress, Bridesmaids in Mix and Match Long Mauve Dresses, Carrying White Floral Bouquet with Baby's Breath and Greenery | Tampa Bay Florist Monarch Events and Design

Ashley Izquierdo | Monarch Events and DesignMauve, Gold, and Navy Greenery Inspired Tampa Wedding

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What services are typically included from a wedding florist?

John Elice, of Bruce Wayne Florals provides insight on their process:
Every florist will offer different services to potential clients. We typically start our conversations by having clients fill out a brief wedding form where we gather basic information. Based on the response, we then issue a preliminary estimate (with starting price points) to help give clients an idea of costs based on the answers provided on the questionnaire. At that time, we schedule a consultation in our studio or over the phone for out-of town clients. The consultation allows for time together where we can work through specifics, allowing for clarification of floral needs and establish the overall décor concept, look and feel. After the initial consultation, we then present a professional, formal proposal, including a contract. Once a client is comfortable and has decided to sign with us, we would then schedule a floral mockup in-house so clients can view centerpieces to make sure that every detail is perfect. This is an optional service we offer but it is not required. We can also accommodate a floral mockup via video if the client does not live in the area. We make ourselves available to our clients for phone calls and follow up on their emails in a timely manner. When the big day finally arrives, we are properly staffed, ready for delivery, setup, flip and strike.

Elaina Forbes Scronce, owner of Cotton & Magnolia shares:
We offer boutique floral designs for weddings and events. This includes personal flowers (bridal bouquet, bridesmaids, flower girls, boutonnieres, corsages), ceremony (altar arrangements, petals, aisle markers), and reception (centerpieces, cake flowers, sweetheart table, cocktail tables, signs). In addition to this, our proposals also include pricing for delivery/set-up and breakdown. Different florists include different services, so at the end of the day, it’s best to check with any potential florist to see what all is included in their proposal.

Tampa Bay Wedding Florist and Wholesale Florist Brides N Blooms

Brides and Blooms Designs

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When should couples book their wedding florist?

Jean King, owner of Monarch Events and Designs shares:
The time frame in booking a florist can vary, depending on when you book your venue. If your wedding venue is booked 12 months prior to your wedding day, it would be ideal to book your florist 10 months out from the big day. This is a great amount of time to coordinate schedules to meet with the florist to design everything needed for the wedding. Although, this time frame is flexible depending on circumstances. An experienced wedding florist can help you design the wedding flowers of your dreams in less time than 10 months out. Keep in mind experienced wedding florists book up quickly so the earlier the better!

John Elice, of Bruce Wayne Florals concurs:
A good time frame is about 10 months before the event date. This allows ample time to go through the booking process. Florists book up quickly during their peak seasons. It is ideal to reach out sooner than later to see if they do have availability on your event date and get the process started. There are many other things that should be taken into consideration prior to booking your wedding florist. Examples include having a date and venue secured, having a clear understanding of your floral budget, understanding the scale of the wedding, and recognizing whether a wedding planner or coordinator is needed. If so, it is critical that the planner is booked and works together with you and your florist to achieve a cohesive and seamless day.

Elaina Forbes Scronce, owner of Cotton & Magnolia shares:
Average lead time for us is anywhere from six months to a year before the wedding. Having said that, my honest advice, with any wedding vendor, is that if you have someone in mind that you love and know you want to work with, don’t hesitate to reach out to them. While I know there are some vendors who will not take events that are more than 12-18 months away, there is no harm in asking and at least getting your name on someone’s radar.

Dorelle Raphael-Fishkin, owner of Brides and Blooms Designs adds:
We always recommend at least a 6-month window. Of course, there are exceptions, if you are getting married on a holiday weekend, or a “special” date wedding, ex. 02/20/20, as soon as you have chosen your venue, you should contact your florist.


Marry Me Tampa Bay editor, Anna Coats, created Marry Me Tampa Bay in 2012 to showcase the area's best local weddings and vendors. She has been featured as a wedding expert on the national talkshow Daytime, Fox13, ABC Action News, Great Day Tampa Bay, and Bay News 9 (now Spectrum).

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