I ‘ve had more people over the past couple of months ask me about how the floral design process works before and after we book a couple for a wedding. I know that florists all operate in a different way, but I am more than happy to share what has worked for us so far. The key is that I like to keep the entire process stress-free and enjoyable (for both myself and the clients), and to always stay consistent and organized. So here’s the rundown of how it all works with 1209:
1.) EMAIL INQUIRY
1209 receives all inquiries by email only, typically through our website. This is really important and helps to better keep track of all the initial requests for information. I reply to all inquiries within 48 hours or less (unless we’re in the middle of working on a wedding, which I do set up an auto response so potential clients are aware). I never want anyone to feel ignored because I know they are super excited about planning their wedding! Usually, the inquiry shares very little information about the wedding, yet asks for an overall quote. I kindly explain that I am unable to provide an exact number right away because every wedding we work on is completely different from the next due to several factors: guest count, bridal party size, flower choices, season, date of wedding (if it falls on or very close to a major holiday), intricacy of designs, etc. I ask the potential client for some basic information, along with a few inspiration images to go along.
2.) DETERMINE IF WE’RE A GOOD FIT
When the potential client sends the information I’ve asked for, I carefully review it to determine whether or not we would be a good fit. We do not take on every wedding that comes our way. Why? Maybe what they are asking for is not our style of work. Or maybe what they want us to provide is not reasonable to make happen based on their budget. Or sometimes I have to determine whether or not a wedding is worth doing if the date falls on or close to a major holiday because it will take away from quality time with family. So I will respond with an email either sharing that we are interested in hearing more, or that we am unavailable and recommend a few florists who I know would be of better service.
3.) 30-MINUTE TELEPHONE CONSULT
If we are interested in hearing more, I’ll ask to set up a quick phone call consultation. This helps me get to know more of the potential client, hear about what they do for a living, what they like doing in their day-to-day lives, understand their style, as well as allows me to share a little bit about myself and 1209. This is a critical part to the beginning steps of my process because if we are to work together, I want to make sure we like each other before moving on. I’ve learned from past experiences that this makes for a much better working relationship. I have a list of additional questions I ask so I can get even more details about the wedding so I’m able to determine cost. I don’t let these phone conversations go for more than 20 or 30 minutes, and can normally tell from the conversation if it’s going to be a good fit for us or not.
4.) DRAFT FIRST PROPOSAL
After the call, I will draft the first proposal. I itemize everything instead of just sending back one big number. This is a personal business choice that seems to work best for us. It is my duty as a florist to share and educate a potential client about what goes into our work and where their money is going. A wedding is a big investment and such a significant day in a person’s life, so I don’t hide a thing. Couples are choosing to spend their hard earned money with 1209, and therefore I choose to show them exactly what it’s going toward. I also show all service fees, travel expenses, additional labor, and taxes. I include a document that explains why we have services fees in place since that is often questioned. It is most likely that this couple has never planned a wedding before, nor knows the cost and time that goes into floral design and event décor. This itemized proposal really helps most couples (or whoever is paying for the wedding) understand, and they often share that they find it comforting to see the breakdown.
5.) ONE REVISION + CONTRACT
It is very normal that the first quote sent is higher than what the couple’s budget might actually be. I explain this to them during our phone call to avoid any crazy surprises. This is because I am pricing them out for every single thing they want so that they can see what it would cost should they move forward with all items. If the couple wants to cut costs, I have them tell me what is the most important part of the wedding so that the bulk of the budget is spent on that area verse an area that might not matter as much. From there, we can determine where to scale back, make cuts, or swap out flower choices so that we can get to a more comfortable place to move forward. I do ask a contract to be signed after I send the second proposal before I spend any more of my time making revisions. I do offer one complimentary in-person consultation before they sign our contract (or a 1-hour phone consult if they are out-of-state). I also ask for the 50% deposit to be made within two weeks of receiving the signed contract in order to officially reserve their wedding date. After that, I will make any additional changes to the proposal.
6.) CUSTOMIZED MOOD BOARD + FINAL PROPOSAL
When the potential client sends back the contract with deposit and becomes an actual client, I will then create their customized mood board. For this, I use InDesign and will email a PDF version when it’s finished. If the couple has a Pinterest board, I have them narrow down their favorite images, and I will include some images and ideas that we might gravitate toward after seeing their inspiration. I will make revisions to the board per the client’s request and will send back the finalized mood board and proposal. Revisions at our discretion can be made up to 1 month before the wedding date.
7.) FLOWER + MATERIAL ORDER
A client’s flower order always goes in 2 weeks before their wedding date. We don’t allow any changes to be made at this time, what so ever. Any additional specialty items that are needed will be ordered 1 month before the wedding date. We are very strict about our ordering timeline to ensure that all products arrive on time.
8.) CHECKLISTS + PLANNING
Our client’s wedding date literally becomes 1209’s life the entire week that leads up to their wedding date. Every day for the next 6 or 7 days is dedicated to a task that has to do with their wedding. And this all starts with the checklists and planning. I have several lists in place to make sure we have everything needed… from floral tape to décor items. It all gets prepped. I also make sure that we are appropriately staffed and that everyone has their assigned tasks. If we are traveling, I make sure that we have the correct vehicles needed for transportation, and that any travel arrangements have all been made.
9.) GROOMING + DESIGNING
We typically pick up the full flower order 3 days before the wedding date. I carefully scan all of the flowers and foliage ordered to make sure that it’s quality product and the correct colors. If they are not up to our standard, I make the executive decision to swap it out for something of equal value. We load it all up, drive it to our workspace, and unload. That entire day is spent grooming everything we just picked up. It’s not magic when all the stems are clean from thorns and leaves, or getting certain flowers to bloom quicker so they are perfect for the day of the wedding. The next two days after grooming are spent designing the bridal party items, centerpieces, and prepping for any installations that we might be doing the day-of. This literally takes two full days with sometimes several additional team members, depending on the size of the wedding.
10.) WEDDING DAY SET UP
This is the day all of the hard work has been leading up to. I tend to reflect on the very first email and get excited to finally put it all together. The day normally starts early to make sure we are 100% prepared, and we safely pack it all up for transport. Bridal party personals get delivered, centerpieces put in place, installations built. It all happens pretty fast and can get a little hectic, but it’s an amazing feeling to see it all completed. But it’s not over yet. The wedding day is completely dedicated to our couple, so we can’t go far since we have to be back to the venue after to clean it all up when the party is over. We have a late night ahead of us cleaning and packing and driving all the way home.
11. CLEAN UP + ORGANIZE
The following day we are exhausted, but vases need to be cleaned, and sometimes we even remake flower arrangements to donate so they do not go to waste if the client opts to not take the flowers with them (which is 9 times out of 10). Everything used gets packed away after being cleaned until the next time!
Photos by Kym Ventola