For the past two years I have played “flower rescuer” to far too many couples! I have had couples call me in tears, near hysterics, and feeling completely infuriated by so-called florists, event stylists, and planners. People, I cannot stress this enough: you get what you pay for. If all your vendor has to show are some Pinterest boards of what they can do for you, this is NOT the same thing as what they can actually offer you in reality. All of our photos are photos of work and rental items that we actually have in the here and now, not items that we can find for you or make for you.
Please do your research. If the only experience your vendor has is working for other professionals creating and designing; this again, is not the same thing as them working on their own, getting the job done on time and on budget.
Here is my updated 2014 list of what to look for in your florist or event stylist:
1. How long have they been in business on their own, not in the industry, but flying solo? I am not discounting the idea of hiring a newbie. I’m just hoping that they will be forthcoming and not overestimate what they can and cannot deliver. More experienced designers and planners will likely charge more for having more experience. Newcomers will likely charge less, with your understanding that things may not go 100% as planned.
2. Can they show you actual work they have done on their own, not while working under the instruction of another business? Keep in mind if they show you a wedding that they helped with while working for another company, they were being instructed on how to put everything together, had their timeline already prepared for them, staff to go to with questions, etc.
3. Ask for professional references if they are just starting out on their own. If this person claims to have 50 years of experience in design or planning, they need to be able to prove this.
4. Do they have a cooler? I know, I know, many go without them, but come on! These are flowers for a wedding, you don’t get a do over. If flowers wilt, there is no magic way to breathe life back into them!
5. Are they insured? This one should go without saying, but still be sure to ask.
6. Do they have experienced back up? This is a must!!!
7. Do they have props or rental items? Again, this goes back to Pinterest, why would a company only use stock photos of what they can do? If they do offer these items, ask to physically see them. If they claim they can get you the same upholstered chair that you saw on Style Me Pretty ask them if it is guaranteed by your wedding date. The market is really tight on certain items right now. Even antique repros may have lead times, which in many cases can be a year or more. The same goes for custom glassware and lanterns. Get all pricing quotes in writing.
8. How does their pricing work? If you suddenly come across the deal of the century, you may be in for a big surprise with the actual results. This is one of the most common reasons why we have to play “rescue florist”. Many beginners do not understand how to price wedding designs, and drop their clients rather than eat the cost of their mistakes.
9. How available are they? I notice many professional wedding businesses drop off with their social media posts a lot during the months of June- October. There is a reason for this, they are working, a lot. When you see millions of Pins, and nonstop Tweets this may be a tip that this business has some time on its hands.
Special considerations for Couples Hiring Planners:
I strongly recommend hiring a full service planner, especially for outdoor events and settings where weddings do not always take place. In my opinion, if you are contracting a planner for wedding planning (not day of coordination), they should be able to provide their couples with the following:
1. Budgeting for the entire wedding.
2. Basic pricing of floral designs in the Hudson Valley.
3. Basic costs of non-floral decorative elements such as candles, twigs, twinkle lights, tablecloths, and runners.
4. They should also be able to handle things like what types of tables you will have, sizes and dimensions of bars,chairs, table tops, aisles, and other areas needing decor.
***Another thing to consider is how well does your planner know your other vendors? You want to be sure things will run as smoothly as possible. The more frequently they work together, the better the outcome will be.
I realize everyone needs to start somewhere. It wasn’t too long ago that I was the new kid on the block, however I was fortunate enough to have had many years of professional experience working for retail flower shops before I embarked on my adventure in small business ownership. Pinterest wasn’t around back then, and I had to work extra hard to show clients my value. Weddings are a lot of work. They are very special events in our lives, and they should not be treated as an add on business or a hobby. For those of you considering styling or floral design as careers, there are plenty of other options other than events where you can get your feet wet without worrying about ruining someone’s wedding day or the legal ramifications that may follow.
Please forgive me if this sounds harsh, I am just overwhelmed by last minute orders this year because of these types of “businesses,” and it needs to be brought to everyone’s attention before couples sign on the dotted line. I am happy to help where I can and I am always grateful for the work. However I fear that these are the types of incidents which make all wedding professionals look bad during a time where we are always striving to show society our worth. Thanks for listening.