There’s nothing more symbolic of our profession than a gorgeous, unforgettable bridal bouquet – one that will dazzle down the aisle and add a wow factor to the photographs a couple will look at for years to come. And while I’ve taught hundreds of floral design workshops over the years, I’m still amazed that the No. 1 question I continue to receive is, “How do I price my bridal bouquets?”
Sadly, there are so many beginner designers who only double the wholesale price of the flowers. This strategy is unsustainable and will be a big financial drain over time, having lasting impact on business longevity.
I can see the fear on students’ faces when I talk about markup, charging for labor, how much gas they purchased to get to the wholesaler and other suppliers, and how much that smartphone costs them every month. The list goes on: How much rent do you pay monthly? (Even if you work from home, do you pay rent/mortgage there?) How about the electricity for your cooler? How many new buckets do you need to purchase to keep in inventory? How much did the five new shelves in your design space cost you? How many items do you have in stock (flower food, tape, pins, etc.) and how are those costs being covered? Plus, when you buy a bunch of Ranunculus, for example, can you really use all 10 stems? Usually not – because not every stem in a grower’s bunch is “wedding-worthy” due to damage, bruising and imperfect blooms, so this factors into the perish rate as well. Yes, these things are all costs of doing business, but somebody has to pay those costs.
For a pricing exercise let’s take a look at the bouquet on the opposite page and calculate out its price. We’ll start with the floral industry standard markup of 3.5x for freshcut flowers, 2.5x markup for foliages and 2.5x markup for hard goods. Plus, a 30 percent labor charge. It’s critical to keep in mind that industry standard is the bare minimum that should be charged. These are great starting markups for those who are newer to the floral industry or people living in less expensive regions. As one gets closer to larger metropolitan areas and has a more developed reputation, the minimum markup can easily be raised to 4x to 5x.
I designed the bridal bouquet using flowers that should be available nationwide – ‘Polo’ roses, green-and-white parrot tulips, Ranunculus, spray roses, seeded Eucalyptus, mint and scented geranium. I calculated the total price for this bouquet at $250. I used what I consider normal filler foliages: mint, scented geranium and seeded Eucalyptus. For these foliages, I implemented a 2.5x markup. However, there are plenty of foliages that could be considered specialty, for example, maidenhair fern, Begonia, Heuchera or Leucothe. Because these are all specialty greens and take more time to procure, they could be marked up at a higher rate, perhaps the same as the flowers used in the designs.
Keep in mind how many stems of each flower and foliage you need to purchase to design one bridal bouquet. The ‘Polo’ roses come in a bunch of 25; I used 10 stems for this bouquet, leaving 15 stems that need to be sold elsewhere. Ranunculus come 10 to a bunch although experience will show that rarely can all 10 stems from one bunch be used as they tend to get weak necks and break easily. If a particular project calls for 10 stems of Ranunculus, it’s almost always necessary to buy two bunches to be on the safe side. For this particular bouquet, I used 11 stems, leaving up to nine stems available for other designs.
Let’s touch on the accessories to the bouquet, such as the vase and box that you deliver it in. Hard goods are normally charged at the industry standard of 2.5x markup. As for ribbon, tape and pins, I rarely charge these out separately and plan on them being covered in the 30 percent labor charge. Other people charge a small flat fee for what they term x-factor, which are these small costs inherent in every project that you may not calculate exactly. When it comes to specialty ribbon – velvets or hand-dyed silks, for example – I mark them up 2.5x.It’s easy to talk yourself out of charging appropriately because of fear: a fear of losing clients, of appearing too expensive, etc. But the long-term losses you’ll rack up are far more problematic and pose a much greater risk to the health and longevity of your business in the long run. I’ve been working full time in the floral industry as a wedding specialist for 18 years, and to this day, after each wedding, I add all my expenses and calculate the percentage of profit. It’s eye opening every time. The numbers you want to see are your profits, not your losses.