from the mouths of brides
Five brides-to-be and recent newlyweds share the reasons they chose the
florists they did.
by Morgan Chilson
Most brides spend considerable time, money and energy making sure their
weddings are exactly what they've pictured, and flowers are one of the
fundamental elements they use to create weddings that are uniquely their
own. To give you the customers' perspective, we interviewed several
brides-to-be and newlyweds to see what criteria they considered when
choosing their florists.
Help Wanted: Must find wedding florist who will take my ideas and make
them better; who will listen and understand what I want; who will stay
within my budget; who will be on time the day of the wedding and go that
extra step with service. Friendliness is crucial. Knowledge of religious
customs is helpful.
Communication is a key component to the florist/bride relationship. For
brides who may not be familiar with flowers, getting a good picture of
what the florist is talking about is essential. Bride-to-be Amanda Henry
(right), whose wedding to Daniel Lawson is in October in Houston, Texas,
had some ideas about what she wanted but didn't know a lot about
I'm not familiar with various flower names, Ms. Henry says. One florist
I met with had tons of fresh flowers, and they would bring them out and
put pieces and colors together so I could see them.
Newlywed Ashwini Davison, whose Phoenix, Ariz., wedding was in May,
liked that her florist (Y-Knot Party & Rentals in Mesa) drew small
sketches of the designs as they talked so she could visualize the
arrangements. With about 60 table centerpieces, ceremony flowers, a
wedding party of more than 15 and large arrangements for
tables, Mrs. Davison wanted to have a good concept of what the floral
designs would look like.
Most of the bridal customers with whom we spoke said it was up to the
florist to elicit the information they need to tailor designs to the
bride. I was really surprised at the extent the florist went to to
ensure that she fully captured what Kevin and I were looking for simple,
yet elegant and romantic, says Jodi (Carey) Heidinger (right), who is
from Leduc, Alberta, Canada, and was married in St. Catharines, Ontario
on Lake Ontario, near Niagara Falls on Aug. 19. The florist we dealt
with [VanNoort Florists in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario] went over, in
detail, our ideas for our special day and offered suggestions on how to
create something unique just for Kevin and me. Those suggestions guided
the couple toward flowers that would be most available on their wedding
date as well as ones that would hold up well for the entire event.
top 10 brides' suggestions
1 Ask lots of
appropriate, probing questions to help you determine what the
bridal customers wants, needs and styles are before making any
suggestions. Then offer detailed suggestions tailored to each
2 Familiarize your bridal clients with various flower
types by showing them samples or photos as you discuss them.
Don't use floral industry jargon (gyp, poms, carns, etc.).
3 Show bridal clients suggested color combinations using
4 Show albums with current, professional photographs of
weddings that you have done for other clients in addition to or
in place of wedding flower selection guides.
5 Draw sketches of the designs you suggest so that
brides-to-be can better visualize what you're describing.
6 Be as flexible as you can with bridal clients if they
change their minds.
7 Study any religious and ethnic customs that are
prevalent in your area, then advertise your expertise within
those communities. Research any customs and traditions with
which you are not familiar prior to a consultation, as
determined by a preconsultation interview or questionnaire.
8 Offer innovative ideas to help bridal customers stay
within their budgets.
9 Provide good value not the lowest prices but the best
value for the money spent.
10 Provide extraordinary service that goes above and
beyond what the clients might expect and what other florists
Communication means sizing up clients, too, says Mrs. Davison.
She advises florists to gauge the person's style or to ask
questions to determine what it is.
Don't show me your coolest, hippest stuff, Mrs. Davison says. I
don't want to be the trendsetter. [One florist] had wonderful
ideas, great for a Beverly Hills wedding. I just wanted to have
a normal wedding.
Myrtha Medrano, of Houston, Texas, will be married on Nov. 10,
and she is thankful for the florist (Wedding Flowers by Lisa)
who was able to help her construct flowers that fit her
personality. When I started, I wanted much more trendy,
contemporary floral arrangements, she says. But as time went on
and I looked at pictures of the weddings [the florist] has done,
I realized that I want something timeless.
learn religious customs
Mrs. Davison's May wedding in Phoenix presented a particular
challenge because she and her fiancée had two ceremonies, an
Indian (Hindu) ceremony on Saturday and a Christian ceremony on
Sunday. We needed a florist who could cater to both services,
she explains, adding that although floral needs were different
for both ceremonies, she wanted the arrangements to have a
common feel to them. Because the florist was familiar with
Indian customs, Mrs. Davison didn't have to explain the nuances
of what she wanted. For instance, a flower-garland necklace used
in Indian ceremonies, called a haar, isn't like a Hawaiian lei
and can be hard to explain to those unfamiliar with the custom.
Mrs. Davison recommends that florists study customs and then
advertise in newsletters of local community organizations and
cater to those communities.
show professional pictures
Ms. Henry interviewed two florists for her Houston wedding and
surprised herself by choosing the smaller and lesser known of
the two (also Wedding Flowers by Lisa) rather than the one who
showed her all the fresh flowers. [The first florist] had some
picture presentations, including photos that were shot by an
amateur, but they were kind of old, and I was disappointed in
that, Ms. Henry relates. The second florist had tons of
professional photographs of all her centerpieces and bouquets in
beautiful albums. And she seemed to care a lot more about what I
Ms. Henry and our other brides noted that good pictures of work
the florist has actually done were important in making their
choices. Katy (Munch) Britton, of Lawrence, Kan., who married
Clay Britton on Aug. 4, says she's picky but that she had more
ideas about what she didn't want than what she did. There were a
few sentimental flowers that had been used at her mother's and
grandmother's weddings that she wanted incorporated, but she
took full advantage of the idea books of her florist (Dalton's
Flowers, Inc., in Overland Park, Kan.). There were real pictures
as well as the trade stuff, so I could see what [the florist]
was talking about when she mentioned a certain kind of flower,
Mrs. Britton says.
Brides want florists who give them excellent value, says Mary
Charmoli, a bridal consultant and owner of Saratoga Weddings
Inc., in Webster, Wis. They want florists who are going to give
them something besides their mother's bouquet, something that's
a bit innovative.
Giving value and being innovative sometimes feel like the
opposite sides of a goal. But being creative can mean achieving
the feel the bride wants without blowing her budget.
Donna Lutz was a bridal consultant for seven years, and in the
past year, she put that knowledge to work for her daughter
Kimberly's March 31 wedding to Jason Pacheco, organizing an
Arizona wedding from her home in Omaha, Neb. With her
experience, she knew how to stretch dollars with flowers and
worked with a florist to implement some of her ideas, which
included using some large flowers and a lot of greenery.
what it's all about
But really, what impressed Mrs. Lutz was the service provided by
the florist, who even did things outside the technical floral
scope, such as picking up chair covers for the bride. She was
very accommodating, Mrs. Lutz says. I'd go over things, I'd
change my mind. We revamped the budget five times, and she
didn't complain once. She was very pleasant to work with and did
an outstanding job.
That kind of word-of-mouth praise can't be bought. Indeed, many
of the brides we talked to didn't interview florists, instead
choosing to take the recommendations of friends, family and most
importantly, bridal consultants.
Morgan Chilson is a business
writer residing in Topeka, Kan. You may contact her by e-mail at