I was reading the other day about the average cost Australian's spend on their weddings and I was a bit taken aback – it's more than $65,000. (You can read more about that here.) Yes, that's a lot of money indeed. But it's also just the average – it accounts for those who choose to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on their weddings as well as those who opt for a simpler solution and spend significantly less.
Within that average, they estimate couples spend around $3,000 on flowers and decor. I reckon that's about right. We have many brides who spend significantly more but we also work with couples who handpick a few select items, spend money in specific ways and make the most of a limited budget.
It got me thinking though, it's probably worth outlining a little bit about what actually contributes to the price wedding flowers. I know there are some couples who feel like the wedding industry hears you say the word 'wedding' and those vendors automatically think to themselves, 'Oh, let's just add an arbitrary 50% to our standard retail prices.' I can guarantee you that's not the way we operate.
And now, you are asking yourself, why are wedding flowers so expensive? I think it comes down to two main factors (1) the time we spend in planning, managing and executing your event and (2) the shear abundance of flowers we use on the day.
I would say there are two pieces to the flower puzzle. Part of what makes up our specific aesthetic is the sheer abundance of blooms we use. We don't shy away from filling an archway with more flowers than ever before and our all-rose bridal bouquets typically include 25-30 stems of premium roses. It's abundant but I know it's absolutely beautiful that way. And it's the way I would want it if it were my wedding.
Second to that is that we steer more towards premium flowers – garden roses, dahlias, peonies, phalaenopsis orchids, hydrangea, king proteas. In Australia, these are some of the most expensive wholesale product we can get our hands on. And that inevitably leads to a higher price point for our designs. We also tend to limit the amount of foliage we use and focus more on flowers to fill in the space. Again, this also adds to the overall cost and drives up the price point. But it's also the choice we make in the designs we create.
This a bit of a nebulous one to account for. We approach every wedding as a new project and work through a similar process with our couples: we pull together bespoke mood boards based on their vision for the day; develop incredibly detailed, itemised quotes; sit down for face-to-face consultations; more than likely go through a handful of revisions to the quote in the months (and sometimes years) leading up to the wedding day; plan detailed recipes for each item we're going to design for the wedding; book in freelancers and support staff to ensure we are able execute the designs in a limited time frame; meet with the venue to sort through bump in, bump out logistics and installation requirements; order all the flowers; get up at 3am to drive to Sydney to pickup all the flowers; drive back the Highlands; unload the van; prep all the flowers; sort the product; create the bouquets, arrangements, installations; pack the van for transport to and from the venues; deliver bouquets and pin on buttonholes; set-up table arrangements; install archways and ceiling chandeliers; light the candles; place the name cards; come back in the middle of the night to remove all the installations; clean the studio; clean the candles; pay the invoices; pay the freelancers; pay the government; and, hopefully, pay ourselves.
On top of all this, I also know we spend a little more time than we have to on the design side of things. This is for a wedding after all. It's the definition of a 'momentous occasion'. These flowers are going to be photographed and something you will keep FOREVER. We want to make sure you are over the moon about everything we do on the day and want to know, when you look back at your wedding photos in 5 or 10 years, you smile, and you remember that feeling of pure joy you felt holding your wedding bouquet, standing under that archway or sitting at that banquet table clinking glasses with your closest friends of family.
Yes, the list of things we spend our time on is long. And it's all part of the fun of running your own business. But somewhere in the mix we need to be able to account for and capture payment for some of the time we invest in weddings and events. Believe me, we don't get paid for every minute we spend on an event.
I would hazard to guess with every wedding we do, we spend an average of 50 hrs in planning and preparation for an average sized wedding – and that is coming from an incredibly experienced team of people. We know our local venues better than anyone and our 'divide and conquer' mentality of our team means we are incredibly efficient and effective with our time.
If we took the required Award rate for a qualified florist (Level 4, General Retail Award Casual Staff as of September 2018) the hourly rate $27.55. So our average of 50 hrs equates to $1377.50. And then we need to account for Superannuation...and then there's the fact most weddings happen on Saturdays so the General Retail Award rate goes up by $2.20 an hour for time worked on a Saturday...and then when we bump out we are required to pay staff an additional premium for after hours work...anyway you get the point. Those 50 hrs equates to real money.
A few ideas to help you save on flower costs
Be picky. Don't feel you need to cover off a long list of flower needs – opt for wrist corsages for your bridesmaids, forego buttonholes for the whole family, decide on an abundance of candles to decorate the reception tables. Just because you've seen it on Pinterest doesn't mean it's a good idea for your wedding day.
Set a budget and stick to it. How much should you budget for wedding flowers – as a place to start we recommend 5-10% of your total wedding budget. Perhaps more if you want your flowers to be a true highlight of the day. Be honest about your budget with your suppliers. Sometimes it is the best idea to allow the budget to make the decision for you. And if the supplier scrunches their nose at your budget or you feel pushed to spend more. Walk away. They are not the right partner for you two.
Be open minded. Ask your florist for advice on where to save, how to allocate your budget to get the most impact on the day. I know we're more than happy to provide advice and guidance to anyone who walks in the door – whether we're doing their flowers or not. We've also created a streamlined wedding flower program called Wedding Essentials – if you don't have your heart set on a specific design and are wanting to save a little money, this could be the perfect solution for you. Read more about that here.
At the end of the day I think it's vitally important to find a florist who 'gets you' and understands your priorities. Find someone you trust, someone you can be 100% honest with, someone who will provide an opinion or a point of view if you want it.