Mark Held and his staff ad Mark's Garden in Sherman Oaks, Calif., handled all the decorative details for this elegant wedding reception in Pasadena, Calif. including its faux base, the captivating cake, adorned with a ring of hundreds of roses, stood more than 6 feet tall.  Photo courtesy of Mar's Garden.

planning for success

Five event florists share their strategies and experiences with weddings and special events.
  by Kelsey E. Smith

     The fast-paced events industry is a competitive one in which every detail must be perfect and every function—from an intimate wedding to a star-studded awards ceremony—is an opportunity to capture the attention of potential clients. We spoke with five event florists across the country to gain some perspective into how they run their businesses and what advice they have for florists who want to get into full-service event planning.
                                                                            meet the event florists

FR:  How many events, and what types of events, do you typically handle in a year? What is the average bill?

Mark Held: We handle about 200 large events (about 75 percent are weddings) plus a large number of smaller parties including luncheons, showers and cocktail parties. We have done the Oscars Governors’ Ball for 16 years as well as a variety of events all over the country. Our events range from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands.

Lynn Jawitz: Last year was about 60 events. Sixty percent were weddings, 20 percent charity fundraisers and 20 percent corporate events. The bills average less than $10,000. Floral décor is usually 80 percent to 90 percent of the order.

Steve Schmidt: We do about 75 projects a year. About 50 percent are corporate events, 15 percent are fundraisers and galas, 15 percent are weddings, 10 percent are social events and 10 percent are custom design projects. Corporate events range from $25,000 up, averaging $50,000 to $75,000. Weddings and social events are usually high-end, over $25,000. Galas are usually a partial donation and range from $500 to $30,000. Floral [ranges from about] 20 percent to 30 percent of the budget.

Kathy Whalen: We handle fewer than most businesses—perhaps one a month or one every six weeks. Business is spread pretty evenly between corporate, weddings and parties, with limited charity/fundraisers. The average bill is $500,000 to $750,000. [Floral décor averages] around 20 percent.

FR:  Where do you source fresh product for events?

Mark Held: I use a couple great suppliers at the LA Flower Market, mainly Mayesh Wholesale. They supply me with flowers from all over the world, but I do not buy directly from growers.

Lynn Jawitz: I buy only from local floral and nursery wholesalers, where I can choose the product. [Occasionally] I order flowers from Holland, but I know they’re taking a direct flight to NYC, and I can be confident that they will be fresh.

J. Keith White: A trusted wholesaler that has a history with your company is the best to assist you with shipping and supplying the quantities required. Local wholesalers can work for last-minute items needed when [you are] out of town.

Mark Held, along with Richard David, owns Mark’s Garden (, a Sherman Oaks, Calif., business that is part retail flower shop and part creative design studio. The duo and their full-time staff of approximately 40 regularly travel to distant locations to create event décor, and the business has received several honors including being recognized by London’s Financial Times as one of the top florists in the world.

Lynn Jawitz is the owner and head designer of Florisan Wedding and Event Design (, a New York City business specializing in weddings, parties and events.

Steve Schmidt is a co-owner of Design Circle ... Event Architecture (, along with John Hosek, AIFD, CAFA, MCF. Based in Madison, Wis., the business handles mostly corporate events and offers full event design and production services.

Kathy Whalen, AIFD, is a visual event stylist, floral designer and owner of Nature’s Daughter, a full-service wedding and event business in Naples, Fla. She is a five-time winner of the prestigious Gala Awards from Special Events Magazine.

J. Keith White, AIFD, is a partner and design director of A AND K Productions, Inc., a full-service floral and event planning  business in Houston, Texas.

Steve Schmidt and John Hosek, AIFD, CAFA, MCF, owners of Design Circle ... Event Architecture, traveled to London in November 2008 to assist British floral designer Wendy Andrade, AIFD, NDSF FSF, with the arrangements for a re-enactment of the Great Banquet in the historical Smithfields Market.

The centerpieces, featuring flowers and fruit, were created by Messrs. Schmidt and Hosek and Ms. Andrade, along with approximately 20 students and a few industry friends. The arrangements were modeled after those at the November 1868 banquet that commemorated the market’s opening.

The finished “banquet hall,” which was set up in the middle of a covered road that runs through the market, included more than 160 floral arrangements.

John Hosek and Wendy Andrade inspect the first batch of centerpieces before they are transported to the banquet tables.

Photos courtesy of Design Circle ... Event Architecture

      ... For the rest of the story, look to the September 2009 issue of Florists' Review.

Contact Kelsey E. Smith at or (800) 367-4708.

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