Expert Advice: A Guide to Hiring a Wedding Florist Part 1

Expert Advice: A Guide to Hiring a Wedding Florist Part 1

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What makes your wedding different from all the other events that happen at your venue?

Your flowers and decor.

Think of flowers as the “icing on the cake” or the jewelry and accessories to a great outfit.

With endless options on Pinterest and Instagram, 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 florists to share their insight for “A Guide to Hiring a Wedding Florist in Tampa Bay.”

Bride and Groom During Elegant Outdoor Clearwater Lawn Wedding Ceremony Belleview Inn, Garden Inspired Decor with Large Floral Circle Arch Under Pergola, with Pink Cherry Blossoms, Ivory Roses, Blush Peonies, and White Hydrangeas | Florida Luxury Wedding Planner Parties A'La Carte | Tampa Bay Wedding Florist Bruce Wayne Florals

What Do Couples Need to Know Before They Start Contacting Florists?

“Before contacting a florist, couples need to have their wedding date set and their venue booked. They also need to know such things as color palette, approximate guest count, and the number of people in their bridal party. 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 that the appropriate number of tables and centerpieces can be planned,” Jean King, owner Monarch Events and Designs

“Before contacting florists, couples should ideally have a venue booked, the colors picked out, and have an idea of how many people will be in the wedding party. These don’t have to be set in stone but, a general idea is important so that your florist can understand the vision and help make it a reality. Not knowing these details can prolong the process and potentially mean more money in the long run. The most important thing to know beforehand is the budget though. Knowing your budget will help the florist know what they can realistically design and you won’t have to go back and forth with them trying to adjust your invoice.” -Melanie Eubanks, Lead Floral Designer, Lemon Drops

“Our advice in searching for and hiring your wedding florist is to first look through several portfolios and galleries of the florists you desire to speak with.  Make sure their signature look meets the designs you’ve envisioned for your big day.  Great designers and florists should be able to emulate the florals you want and will suggest ideas and alternative ways of making your budget and ideas come together.” -Shawna Carpenter, 2 Sisters Events & Design

John Elice, of Bruce Wayne Florals adds:

“Knowing your wedding date and booking a venue is essential before approaching a potential florist. It is also critical to have a floral decor budget in mind. We highly recommend that couples hire an experienced wedding planner to help them plan their wedding. Their expertise is invaluable in setting budgets with vendors. Once you finalize the event details, start gathering inspirational images and color palettes to clearly understand the atmosphere you want to create for your guests. Make a list of items you would like your florist to provide. Consider your floral preferences, as well as any allergies that need to be taken into account when selecting flowers. Knowing the date of your event is also crucial in determining the availability of floral varieties, as some flowers are not available year-round. When choosing flowers for your wedding, be flexible with your bloom selection. Your florist will maintain the overall aesthetic, regardless of the flower choices.”

“Before reaching out to florists, couples should have a clear idea of their wedding date, venue, and an estimated guest count. Additionally, having a rough idea of their budget and preferred floral style can be helpful for the florist to provide appropriate suggestions and quotes.” -Catherine Marrinan, Bloom Shakalaka

Bride and Bridesmaids Portraits | Blush Pink Dusty Rose Mismatched Chiffon Bridesmaid Dresses | Stella York Lace Sheath Spaghetti Strap Empire Waist Wedding Dress Bridal Gown | Bride Wedding Bouquet and Halo Crown with Blush Pink Dusty and Burgundy Rose Garden Roses, Snapdragons, Stock, and Eucalyptus Greenery | St. Pete Wedding Florist Leaf it to Us

What’s the Best Way to Set a Floral Budget?

“I think it’s fair to say 10% of your total budget should go towards flowers. This is a good baseline. If you have an eye for specialty flowers or dramatic statement pieces it could go up from there. Keep in mind dates where flowers might have an increase  like Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day or really any holiday.” -Danielle Zechmann, Save the Date Florida Wedding and Event Floral Design

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 wedding photography as well. The first step in creating a floral budget is to browse pictures to find inspiration for 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 as 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 affects the floral budget as well. The higher the number, the more bridesmaids bouquets and boutonniere’s needed which has an impact on the budget.

“It really depends on what is important to the couple. Would they rather have the photographer of their dreams or a particular theme that requires specific decor? Most couples don’t know that wedding florals are a bit more expensive than an arrangement because of the labor and logistics that go into creating the pieces. Floral prices have also dramatically increased because of the pandemic. It has caused an increase in all imports, especially flowers, which usually always have to be flown in from a different location. The farmers took a big hit and many lost their entire crops during the shutdown. Typically, for the average-sized bridal party (six Bridesmaids and six Groomsmen) flowers run $1,500 to $2,500. This doesn’t include floral decor for the ceremony, cocktail hour, or reception.” -Melanie Eubanks, Lead Floral Designer, Lemon Drops

John Elice, of Bruce Wayne Florals shares:

“Having a budget when consulting with a florist for your event is essential. During your initial consultation, be willing to share your budget range with the florist. Your florist will respect your limits and work tirelessly to help you stay within your budget. In addition to the cost of flowers, there are other fees and charges to consider, such as delivery, setup, flip, and strike charges. These fees can add up to 20-30% of the total product cost. Being flexible when identifying and discussing your floral decor items is also crucial. Be transparent about your “must-have” and “nice-to-have” items so the florist knows where to focus on design and where to scale back if needed. Remember that product costs may vary significantly during calendar holidays when setting your budget. To avoid higher prices, it’s best to avoid scheduling your event on holidays like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, or New Year’s Eve.”

What Should Couples Know about Pinterest and Wedding Flowers?

“Pinterest is a great resource for inspiration, especially at the early stages of planning when you’re dreaming up possibilities for your special day. As you continue to work with your team of vendors, your vision becomes tailored to your story, which will always be unique to each couple. Pinterest is only for inspiration for that reason. A couple’s wedding venue and photographer provide our team with a more realistic idea of their aesthetic as those are our earliest visual cues for designing floral scapes custom to you.

A lot of variables come up in real-life planning that aren’t discussed on Pinterest such as climate, budget, and filters. Pinterest photos can be heavily filtered, from a different season, or designed by celebrity florists affecting our clients’ expectations of what natural florals for their needs look like. And yes, we do see a handful of the same photos time and time again from couples for a year or more at a time as trends and moods change.  A professional floral designer’s recommendation will always be to use in-season flowers in a color story that brings your vision to bloom. As a Bride or groom, enjoy your engagement and planning process with an understanding that trusting your design team allows us to create our most beautiful and unique work with a flourishing touch of love.” – Corona Sabine, Beneva Weddings

“Florists heavily rely on visual cues when understanding a couple’s vision for their event. To ensure effective communication, it is crucial to present pictures that depict the desired look, feel, and mood. This way, the florist can stay on track right from the beginning. It is also worth noting that couples may not be familiar with flower varieties, so photos can be instrumental in conveying ideas. 

Pinterest is an excellent source of inspiration, but it’s not recommended to try and replicate an image for your wedding decor. Instead, let the image inspire you and your florist to create something unique. A professional florist will suggest various options to help you achieve the desired aesthetic.  It’s essential to keep in mind that the images we love can often be very pricey. Therefore, trusting your florist to help you achieve your vision while staying within your budget is critical.

John Elice, Creative Director and Floral Designer from  Bruce Wayne Florals, emphasizes the importance of clear communication with your florist. You can avoid misunderstandings by providing visual cues and creating a beautiful and unique event.”

“Pinterest is a great place to gather ideas for your inspiration board but couples should be aware that the large price tag is kept a secret. The photos posted tend to mislead couples, especially if they don’t know the pricing on florals. We tell couples to send Pinterest boards to better understand their vision and it is a useful tool for the planning process. Couples just need to understand that this is inspiration and not the final product unless there is a budget to match the complexity of the work.” -Melanie Eubanks, Lead Floral Designer, Lemon Drops

“There are so many beautiful inspirations to find on Pinterest. Sharing the inspiration really gives the floral designer a look into what style and look you really want. Unfortunately, the beautiful inspirations don’t include a price. Most couples really have no idea what florals cost. When taking the inspiration pictures to the floral designer be open-minded to allowing the designer to make it their own or do something similar to stay within your budget.” -Stephanie Prenatt, Owner-Lead Designer, FH Weddings & Events

“Pinterest is a great resource for finding ideas and looking at different design styles and colors. I love when couples have a wedding floral Pinterest board to share; it gives me a sense of their style before we meet.  It is important for couples to keep in mind that we use their Pinterest board as inspiration for their wedding flowers.” -Jean King, owner, Monarch Events and Design

“I love Pinterest! It really helps me as a designer to get an idea of what you love. I actually have multiple Pinterest boards of themes that I send to my brides who are unsure of what they like. I think it’s a great tool.” -Danielle Zechmann, Save the Date Florida Wedding and Event Floral Design

“Pinterest can be GREAT to gather overall inspiration in terms of colors and floral style/feel. However it is NOT GREAT when it comes to reality. Pinterest doesn’t take weather into account. For example, if it’s 95 degrees and sunny, those hydrangeas will be wilting by ceremony time. Or an arch might look really great in a photo but what Pinterest doesn’t tell you is that if you’re getting married on the beach or in an open field or outside and it’s just a windy day, that arch is going to be a sail. Or maybe that photo of tall glass cylinders down the aisle with tons of candles just captures you but so much so that you’re not thinking about all your little nieces and nephews in the wedding who might knock them over when they walk down the aisle all together.” -Jaclyn Montesano, Marigold Flower Co.

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:

“When searching for a wedding florist, prioritize finding someone passionate about their work and with the necessary experience to deliver the perfect flowers for your big day. Conduct a background check on potential florists and utilize online platforms such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, Wedding Wire, The Knot, and local resources like Marry Me Tampa Bay to gather information. Ask for recommendations from your venue or wedding planner, view photos of the florist’s past work, look at their websites, and read previous client reviews. Make an unannounced visit to a potential florist’s studio to ensure a good first impression and to see if they fit your needs and wedding date.”

“First and foremost, find a florist that represents your style. When you’re looking at their photos on social media, do you resonate with the majority of them? Then look to make sure they provide the services you are in need of (i.e. setup, teardown etc.)” -Jaclyn Montesano, Marigold Flower Co.

“Your wedding is one of the biggest, busiest days of your life. That being said, it is important to find a reliable florist. You don’t want to worry about having to hound somebody down or making sure the flowers look perfect. Someone who is attentive and communicates well and frequently is the person you want to set up for you on your big day. This person should want to make your dreams come true!” -Jaime Zuikou, Beneva Weddings

“Ultimately couples should look for a florist that has a style they are interested in! We recommend looking for a solid portfolio; examples of past work will give them a good idea of the florists’ style and the scope of the projects they can execute. Clear communication and a good rapport are equally important!” -Catherine Marrinan, Bloom Shakalaka

“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. Couples should look for a wedding florist that they trust and connect with and is passionate about flowers. Designing your wedding flowers is a personal, exciting experience. Find a florist whose work you love as well as who understands your style and vision,” -Jean King, owner of Monarch Events and Designs

“Couples should definitely do their research on potential florists to make sure they are up to their standards and can execute the look they’re going for. Follow them on Instagram, look at portfolios, and read reviews. Make sure they are prompt with communication and understand your vision fully. You can think of it as florists being artists and you’re commissioning them to create a one of a kind piece. You wouldn’t ask an abstract painter to create a portrait unless you had seen their portfolio and liked their style.” -Melanie Eubanks, Lead Floral Designer, Lemon Drops

What Services Are Typically Included from a Wedding Florist?

“Services you can expect from professional wedding florists can include more than just florals. At Beneva, we have one of the largest warehouses in the area for rentals which includes all kinds of decor such as candles, arches, pedestals, lanterns, the list goes on! We believe the best results come from collaboration and transparency so we are a part of the design process from conception to execution. Our team will walk you through each stage of consultation to continue developing a floral palette that reflects you. No two weddings are alike which is why we customize each event to fit your needs. We see courthouse weddings, elopements, intimate beach ceremonies, destination weddings, and luxury receptions at landmark venues like the Powel Crosley, Ringling Museum of Art, and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.” – Grace Flowers, Beneva Weddings

“Florists nowadays offer more than just floral based services! Many have decor and rental items to help elevate the overall appearance of your ceremony or reception. Some even offer planning and coordination services like we do! This is a fantastic way to limit the number of vendors you have to communicate with and it also means that your wedding planners are working closely with the team who will design your florals.” -Melanie Eubanks, Lead Floral Designer, Lemon Drops

“We really try to go above and beyond to help our brides. It’s stressful to have to communicate with so many vendors. Save the Date Florida offers many options for rentals and decor, we also deliver, set-up, and return at the end of the night to retrieve the rentals and clean up the flowers. We also collaborate with local charities to donate any unwanted flowers to hospitals and nursing homes. We want to help make sure we are taking as much of the load off your back as we can when it comes to flowers and decor, so you can enjoy your day.” -Danielle Zechmann, Save the Date Florida Wedding and Event Floral Design

“At our studio, we begin our conversation with clients by asking them to fill out a brief wedding form where we can gather basic information. Based on the response, we provide a preliminary estimate with starting price points to help clients get an idea of costs based on the answers provided in the questionnaire. Then, we schedule a consultation, either in our studio or over the phone, for out-of-town clients. During the consultation, we work to clarify the floral needs and establish the overall décor concept, look, and feel. 

After the consultation, we present a professional and formal proposal, including a contract. If the client is comfortable and agrees to sign with us, we schedule a floral mockup in-house. This allows clients to view centerpieces and ensure that every detail is perfect. This is an optional service we offer, but it is not required. If the client does not live in the area, we can accommodate a floral mockup via video. We make ourselves available to our clients for phone calls and promptly follow up on their emails. On the big day, our team is appropriately staffed, ready for delivery, set up, flip, and strike (tear down)” -John Elice, Creative Director, and Floral Designer, Bruce Wayne Florals

“Most florists provide setup the day of the wedding along with delivery. Some also provide services to flip the space (if flowers need to be moved from ceremony to reception) and teardown at the end of the night, but not all do so make sure to check that out!” -Jaclyn Montesano, Marigold Flower Co.

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Feature Credits

Vendors and venues marked with

are Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Wedding Pros and have been personally vetted by our editor.

Florists/DecorBruce Wayne Florals
Florists/DecorFH Weddings & Events

About the Author

Anna Coats

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 talk show Daytime, Fox13, ABC Action News, Great Day Tampa Bay, and Bay News 9 (now Spectrum).

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