Find a florist is one of the huge bullet points on anybody's wedding to-do list. In the hierarchy of wedding lists, finding a florist is usually ranked somewhere around #6, just below setting a date, setting a budget, creating a guest list, finding a venue, and finding a dress. (And just above finding a caterer, mailing invitations, and finding a baker for the cake.) But one thing at a time, right? Well, here's what you need to know to find, choose, and hire a florist for your wedding.
How to Find a Florist for Your Wedding Flowers
In spite of ever increasing avenues of marketing, reviews, and consumer resources, word-of-mouth remains the most reliable source of information. But even word-of-mouth has its limitations. Some florists may specialize in a particular type of flower, floral arrangement, or bouquet that worked to tremendous effect for your friend's or neighbor's wedding, but it may not be what you have in mind. When you're soliciting word-of-mouth feedback, be sure to ask what sort of floral arrangements were used and what the florist specifically did that was memorable or noteworthy.
Most areas have access to a couple, if not numerous, floral shops and professional florists. Nationwide florist delivery services are also growing in popularity with ever passing year, and many of these online companies offer unrivaled value in terms of flower-for-the-buck. To find a florist is to plant more than one seedling: You must talk to and solicit estimates from a minimum of three florists to feel confident in your final choice. If this sounds time-consuming, especially with all the planning that weddings entail, delegate preliminary screening to a friend or family member. Then, include the bride and other decision-makers for the final decision. It also helps to conduct your own research and bring photos (flowers, wedding dress, and venue), magazine clippings, web resources, swatches of the gown material, and a preliminary list of flower needs to each prospective florist.
Timeline for Finding, Choosing, and Hiring a Florist
6+ Months: Conduct preliminary research and begin to compile photo clippings to bring to prospective florists. Formulate and list flower preferences. Begin to consider how your choice of wedding gown will affect your choice of bouquet.
6 Months Out: Conduct a serious hunt for florist options and begin to contact prospective florists. (Note: If your wedding date falls on or near Mother's Day or Valentine's Day, you should contact florists earlier/ASAP.)
4-6 Months Out: Ideally, you'll have your florist booked by 4 months before the wedding, but that isn't always practical. Although you may be able to make a decision about your preferred florist, you usually need to have your venue reserved before booking your florist.
Hiring a Florist
You can't consider a florist hired until you've made your deposit and received a receipt/bill/contract. You may have gone over all the flower options for your wedding, discussed all the finer details, and promised your florist that you will hire him or her. Yet, if the next day, a bride walks into the shop, says she's needs X,Y, and Z, and writes the deposit check, you may experience your first wedding calamity. It may feel like betrayal, but even the most personable and knowledgeable florists must also be businesspeople. Undoubtedly, they've seen dozens of potential customers "promise" to come back with a check only to never see or hear from them again.