Expert Advice: A Guide to Hiring a Wedding Florist Part 2

In Part 1 of A Guide to Hiring a Wedding Florist, we addressed how to set a floral budget, what couples should know about using Pinterest to select their florals, and what couples should look for in a wedding florist.

Part 2 dives deeper into learning the long journey these beautiful stems take from the other side of the world to your reception table, when you should book your florist, and some of our best money-saving tips from Tampa Bay's top floral designers!

When Should Couples Book their Wedding Florist?

“The Venue, Photographer, Caterer, Music, Rentals, and Flowers are considered ‘The Big Six”. They are not only the most important things to book first but tend to be the things that book up quickly. Booking these sooner rather than later is even more important if you have a specific one in mind. Determine which of these vendors are ‘needs’ vs. ‘wants’ and book those that would greatly impact your day if you weren’t able to have them there.”Melanie Eubanks, Lead Floral Designer, Lemon Drops

“Florists tend to get booked up quickly during the peak wedding season, so contacting them early is always best. When you feel comfortable with the contract, book your florist to reserve your wedding date. ” –John Elice, Creative Director and Floral Designer, Bruce Wayne Florals.

“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 and 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. Keep in mind experienced wedding florists book up quickly so the earlier the better!” -Jean King, owner, Monarch Events and Designs

“Couples should think the earlier the better. Approximately six months before the event should be the latest one should be researching their desired florist.”Jaime Zuikou, Beneva Weddings

Tampa Bay Bride and Bridal Party, Bridesmaids in Long Slate Blue Mismatched Dresses Holding White Floral Bouquets, Bride Wearing Off The Shoulder Stella York Gown, With Cascading Orchid Bridal Bouquet | Florida Wedding Florist Bruce Wayne Florals

Classic Slate Blue and Silver Clearwater Wedding | Bruce Wayne Florals | Green Pearl Photography

What Would Couples Be Surprised to Know about Wedding Flowers? 

John Elice, Creative Director and Floral Designer, Bruce Wayne Florals shares this detailed insight into the journey of your wedding flowers:

“Getting flowers from a farm to your wedding is extensive and involves a lot of care and attention. People often forget that most commercial flowers come from countries like Central and South America, Holland, Australia, Thailand, and Israel. 

When someone orders flowers for their wedding, the florist contacts their local wholesaler, who then reaches out to farms across the globe to find the best quality and value for the flowers. Once the flowers are ordered from the farm, they are packed into long, shallow boxes and transported to the airport, where they are inspected and sprayed to prevent pests or diseases from entering the country.

After the flowers arrive in the U.S., they are sent to the main distribution center and the wholesaler, who then delivers them to the local florist. Each box is opened at the florist's shop, and each bloom's health and beauty are inspected. Every stem is cleaned by removing damaged leaves or petals, giving a fresh cut, and placing it in water to rehydrate. The flowers are left at room temperature until they have opened to their prime beauty. 

Finally, when the flowers have reached the perfect open stage, the florist can start making all the beautiful pieces for your wedding. It's incredible to think that thousands of flowers are used to create the perfect atmosphere for your special day, and each stem is given the utmost care and attention before it's presented to you.”

“Flowers are more expensive and require more work to create than one might think. These flowers have to survive travel, being hung up, moved, and sometimes even have to defy gravity itself. Additionally, most flowers used in wedding decor don't grow in our backyard or, even in the same state! They have to be specially ordered ahead of time and come from all over the world. That's why the price of certain flowers in one location can be completely different in another. We source flowers from all over the world to ensure the best quality.”Melanie Eubanks, Lead Floral Designer, Lemon Drops

Tampa Bride and Groom Kissing Outside Courtyard by Water Fountain with Floral Peacock Statue with Pink, Red and Purple Floral Tail, Bride Holding Lush Red and Pink Roses with Greenery Floral Bouquet | St. Pete Wedding Venue The Vinoy Renaissance

Vibrant Floral Filled Luxurious St. Pete Wedding | Lemon Drops | The Ganeys

What Should Couples Know about DIY'ing Wedding Flowers?

“When it comes to DIY, it is harder than it looks. It seems like a great idea when trying to save money but it can be an additional stressor on top of everything else when planning a wedding. Whether you try to DIY with real or fake flowers, it can easily become overwhelming and can often cost as much as hiring a florist. Florists spend years learning the trade to make sure their arrangements not only look amazing but are constructed to last through the events of the day. If florals and appearance are important to you, let the professionals handle it.”Melanie Eubanks, Lead Floral Designer, Lemon Drops

“If you are considering doing your wedding flowers, it is essential to realize that it can be time-consuming. Depending on the complexity of your wedding, you may require basic or advanced design skills. Creating a beautiful bridal bouquet is more complex than it may appear. A professional florist can invest a lot of time in perfecting the appearance of a bridal bouquet. Additionally, many things go on behind the scenes in the floral business that many DIY brides need to be aware of when beginning the process. Flowers are perishable and, therefore, must be handled with care. They must be processed, cleaned, conditioned, and refrigerated correctly to maintain their freshness. Another vital factor to consider is the cost. We have had many instances where clients believed they could save money by doing their flowers, only to discover the opposite is true. Remember that your florist will have access to quality blooms that are not typically available to the general public. If you are determined to do your flowers yourself, give yourself enough time to complete the task and still have time to relax and enjoy your wedding day.”John Elice, Bruce Wayne Florals

“I think it's a misnomer that brides think they will save money by DIY their flowers? The amount of time it will take you to source the flowers, then to design them yourself, in my opinion, is much more stressful on a bride than hiring a professional to take care of that for you. I think it's better to enjoy your time getting your hair and makeup done with your bridesmaid's without having to rush around decorating in the limited amount of time that the venue allows you to set up. We've got you covered, you enjoy your day!” -Danielle Zechmann, Save the Date Florida

Romantic Bride Wearing Lace Fitted Wedding Dress Holding White Anemone and Roses, Eucalyptus, Greenery Floral Bouquet | Tampa Bay Wedding Photographer Limelight Photography | Wedding Dress Truly Forever Bridal Sarasota | Wedding Florist Beneva Florals | Styled Shoot

Organic Inspired Sage Green Sarasota Wedding Shoot | Beneva Weddings | Limelight Photography

What's Your Best Money-Saving Tip about Selecting Wedding Flowers?

“The best thing a couple can do is look up what flowers are native to their area and pick flowers in season. The less a flower has to travel and the easier it is to find, the cheaper it will be.”Melanie Eubanks, Lead Floral Designer, Lemon Drops

“We are a big fan of repurposing ceremony florals to reception! There's no sense in letting those florals go to waste. We often times will move arch decor to go in front of the sweetheart table or repurpose aisle pieces to go on welcome tables, bar, or other spots where they will look beautiful. It's also a good idea to try to avoid booking your wedding around busy floral holidays such as Valentine's Day and Mother's Day.” -Danielle Zechmann, Save the Date Florida

“Being open to different flower options for your wedding is a good idea. Consult with your florist to determine which flowers are in season for your wedding date. For instance, if you're set on having pink peonies, your florist might suggest substituting them with pink garden roses that are similar in color and size but more affordable. Hiring a professional wedding planner can also help you save money overall, and it's a decision you won't regret.” -John Elice, Creative Director, and Floral Designer, Bruce Wayne Florals  

“Repurposing florals from your ceremony to your reception. This can often include repurposing your bouquets and ceremony decor to ensure they're still being showcased during the reception and allows you to allocate more of your budget to another floral decor such as centerpieces!” -Nicole Hackel, Weddings & Event Coordinator, Beneva Weddings

Quotes have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.