Christopher Norwood, AIFD, and a design team from Tipton & Hurst cover a tablecloth with permanent Hydrangeas and fresh roses to create a grand statement for a rhinestone-embellished wedding cake.

A bride and groom dance beneath a faux-Hydrangea-covered chandelier. Designer Christopher Norwood, AIFD, suggests using permanent botanicals in designing rental pieces for ceilings and other lofty areas because the flowers look real from a distance but can be rented again or returned to a shop’s inventory for selling.

Large cylinder vases are ideal for transitional décor. Tipton & Hurst uses the same vases for rental applications including aisle décor with floating candles, buffet arrangements with large sprays, and centerpieces with rhinestone embellishments and other treatments.

event-planning tips

1. Offer the potential client a range of costs during the consultation—nothing specific.
2. Send a written proposal after the consultation. Include policies on substitutions, payment, liability, labor/setup, etc.
3. Add the event to your master calendar once the client has signed the contract and paid the deposit.
4. Sell event work by colors, not flowers (white flowers versus ‘Casablanca’ lilies, for example). This will ensure flexibility in buying flowers that are in season and that are at a good market rate.
5. Invest in rental props that can be used in a variety of ways across multiple events. If you do not offer rentals, network with other vendors in your area.
6. Work from a timeline for every event.
7. Utilize social media to network and share photos of your work.
8. Send a thank-you note to each client following the event.


get this party started!
Advice for consultations, cost-control and carrying out profitable events.

by Christopher Norwood, AIFD

Event design is about giving the customer an overall look when planning a party. Flowers should be the strongest concentration, but there is so much more involved. Here is one florist’s perspective, based on the practices of Tipton & Hurst, a full-service florist in Little Rock, Ark.

consultations: to charge or not to charge?
At Tipton & Hurst, we typically do not charge for consultations. If the event is months away and will require a lot of “hand-holding,” however, I would consider charging a fee up-front but allow the client a credit or refund after the event.

Some customers want to see a prototype of what they will be getting. The pro to providing this up-front is that it allows the designer to get a breakdown of each style to allow the arrangement to be assembled “production style” later. The con is that the customer has seen the arrangement; therefore, this locks you into having to reproduce the exact item, using the exact flowers, months down the road. If you provide a prototype, be sure to photograph the approved model, and place the pictures in the event folder. Consider adding a charge for the prototypes, even if it is just to recoup the flower cost.

During the meeting, I usually give the bride a range of costs. I am not very specific because I don’t want them taking my ideas and prices all over town to my competition.

Always send a written proposal after the consultation. We include a contract that contains certain conditions. For example, the contract states that specific flowers are not guaranteed and that we reserve the right to make substitutions based on availability. The contract also details our payment policies and deposit requirements as well as rental liability and labor/setup policies. Once the contract and deposit are received, add the event to your master calendar to assure you are not getting saturated at any time during the upcoming months.

As an event designer, you must charge for all your labor, including setup, clean up and delivery. Our shop uses a percentage of the sale to calculate this. In talking with other florists, I hear rates ranging from 10 percent to 20 percent of the overall cost. In our contract, we make it clear that additional fees will be charged for after-hours pickups or if the event runs later than the time that was allotted. I sometimes run into problems if I have several events on the same day with trying to divide my time. If another designer can handle the event or bride, the rates are fairly steady. If the client demands that I be the designer on site, this could lead to a higher “lead designer” fee.




... To read more, look to the October 2012 issue of Florists' Review.

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