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Advice on Choosing the Best Florist for Your Wedding

Advice on Choosing the Best Florist for Your Wedding
Choosing the best florist is as important as choosing the best wedding dress, or the perfect venue! This Wedessence article will give you some useful advice when it comes to selecting the best florist to get the job done; remember, it's all about a balance of professional and personal rapport.
Shalu Bhatti
A Common Mistake ...
Most couples tend to focus more on the budget, rather than the florist. Remember, if the florist is credible and well-experienced, he/she will find a way to meet your expectations within the set budget. An elaborate meeting is all that it takes.
According to The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, there are over 400,000 flowering plants in the world, with more additions being made constantly. While your wedding florist may not display so many options, what we're trying to imply is that among the many varieties, each flower (or combination of flowers) will emit a unique charisma, and it is very essential that the flowers you have at your wedding, perfectly reflect your personality.
Every wedding is a dream, unique and distinct from any other. Consider flowers to be your scent, and a florist to be the brand that manufactures it. To discover what works best for you, you'll have to scrutinize some options to see if they suit your skin. While it is obvious that you need to evaluate his/her credibility and experience, it is also important to seek a florist who suits your needs both professionally and personally―this cannot be done at the last minute. Even a month or two is too little a time. Most experts advise to start the process at least 6 to 8 months in advance, especially if you're tying the knot during the wedding season. Start well in advance so that you don't have to adjust your dates according to the florist's availability. That being said, the following points will help you understand what you need to do exactly.
1. Seek Referrals and References
Quite basic, yet right approach to get started with. You may start with browsing online. But an even better option is to ask those who have had first-hand experience with a good florist. Perhaps you have friends who have recently got married, or friends of friends? Just spread the word that you're looking for some testimonials, and you should see some options coming your way. Go through bridal magazines, or get a copy of the Florists' Review magazine. These will give you some real good names in the market. If you have been meaning to attend a bridal show, now is a good time to do it. They'll have various florists display their work, and you'll get an opportunity to evaluate your options. If you have decided on your venue, ask those guys if they could recommend a good florist. Choosing a florist who has worked at the venue before, would undoubtedly be an added advantage.
2. Browse Through Their Websites and Reviews
The internet has become a great way to access information without much efforts. Once you've got the names, start browsing through their individual websites―it'll give you a fair idea of their efficiency. Think of it this way―if they have put in so much into their website to please the visitors, imagine how much they're capable of doing to increase their clientele, which is impossible without customer satisfaction. We're not implying to base your decision on the look of the website―there are many other things to see―but yes, it does reflect a lot about the business.
Once you've scrutinized their work, pay a close attention to the customer reviews and testimonials mentioned, either on their website, or on websites such as the Better Business Bureau. This website not only gives you a chance to examine the consumer feedback, but also accredits and rates their work. It also has a feature through which you can get an online quote from a particular florist you choose. Florists' Review will also give you some worthy names, and samples of their work.
3. Formulate Your Ideas and Set a Fixed Budget
After browsing through all these websites and magazines, you'll come across many floral arrangements, approach, and ideas. Perhaps you might have incorporated some of your own in the process. It is highly advisable to be clear, or at least have a fair idea about the colors, theme, or patterns you seek for your special day. Apart from that, set a fixed budget. This is extremely crucial, because the last thing you want is to be flooded with varied options and being flummoxed! If you have a definite budget, it becomes easier for the florist to show you executable options as per your needs. When you, as a client, are confident and clear in terms of what you seek, the florist will also treat you with professionalism, and will not talk you into expanding your budget.
4. Narrow Down Your Options to 3 or 4 Vendors
You can't search the entire market and interview all the options―well, you may, if you'd like, but generally, we recommend you to narrow down your options to 3 or 4 vendors that seem to be the most promising. There is one thing we'd like to point out here. Most couples look at the big names, think that they are way too expensive for their budget, and do not even consider these as an option. One meeting is not going to cost anything. In fact, no matter what your budget is, a good florist will help you avail the maximum services within your budgetary limits. So, once you have selected your options, you must fix an appointment with each of them. Making an appointment is essential, as it will ensure that the florist has enough time to sit with you (ideally an hour or two) and discuss your vision and ideas.
If you can, carry some samples such as pictures or links of the flower arrangements that suit your taste, swatches of fabrics from the bridesmaids dresses, a picture of your wedding gown, the theme, and so on. Giving them an approximate number of the guests that are likely to attend the wedding would also help the florists give you an approximate price quotation.
5. Ask Questions Such As ...
There are certain questions that are quintessential to ask. A good rapport with the florist is more essential than any other parameter. They should welcome your queries, ideas, suggestions, and concerns with patience and ease. Do not go for those who don't pay heed to what you have in mind, and force their ideas on you. These questions will help you 'read between the lines' and help you determine if you 'click' with the florist.
How many weddings have you done so far? Are you comfortable with modern themes, or prefer the traditional ones?

Can you give me some tips to maximize my budget?

Do you also provide flower vases, candelabras, and other decorations in the package, or as rentals?

How many weddings will you be working on that weekend, or that very day?

How many floral designers do you have working for you? Are they registered and qualified?

If there arises a need to change the discussed plan, or alter it, how many days do I have before the wedding?

Would it be possible for you to use the wedding flowers to decorate the reception venue, as well?

How long would you take to set up the flowers at the venue?

Are there any additional services that you offer? Table linens, wedding favors, lights, and the like?

Are there any hidden costs or charges that I should be aware of?
6. Look for Positive Replies
Carefully evaluate the way the florist replies to your questions. If the answers are at the tip of their tongue, know that they know their job well. Also, when asked for suggestions and tips to avail the maximum services within your budget, a good florist will give you endless options that fit your needs. For instance, using some amount of foliage in bouquets and centerpieces, instead of using only flowers would help in cost-cutting. Also, opting for a mix of seasonal flowers along with the exotic ones would minimize expenses. If you haven't finalized the date officially, your florist may advise you to not plan your wedding around Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Mother's Day, as flowers are in great demand during these seasons, and therefore, are expensive. Look for these cues, and see if the florist is speaking like your guide, or as a profit-seeking businessperson.
7. Decide and Choose
Once you have interviewed the shortlisted vendors, and scrutinized their work, experience, behavior, and working policies, it is time to make the final decision. A point to be noted here is to not make budget your ultimate deciding factor. In case of confusion between two options, you may ask each of the florist to make a sample of bridal bouquet, or perhaps a centerpiece. They should do this without charging anything. This step would also give you a chance to see how well they have been able to capture your imagination and style. More than the price quoted, focus on the relationship and rapport you shared with the florist during the meeting.
8. Evaluate the Contract Before Signing
Most florists will ask for a deposit amount while signing the contract, while you'll be expected to pay the balance somewhere during the wedding week. The amount, mode of payment, date of payment, and other details discussed and finalized should be written clearly in the contract. Ensure that the quoted price is inclusive of everything―labor charges, transportation, taxes, and the like. It should also contain details of the numbers and prices of each centerpiece, boutonnière, bouquet, corsage, and other floral pieces that will adorn the venue. The kind of flowers used and in what numbers, should also be clearly written. Also, the details of the delivery and set-up should also be mentioned. Ensure that all the important details are mentioned in the contract before signing it.
Another essential advice would be to exchange numbers with the florist, not only yours, but also of family members who will be helping you in the process. This will take some load off your shoulders, especially when you also have other arrangements to take care of. Inform the florist of any specific flowers or scents that you are allergic to, just so that those are not a part of the wedding in any case. Also, the availability of flowers are subjective, and situations may arise wherein there could be a shortage of supply. Therefore, it would be a good option to keep a plan B, as in, a substitute for the original flower(s) chosen. Consider the florist to be an artist who would beautify your wedding with the ethereal flower decorations. Give them your ideas and let them use their creative instinct to make your imagination blossom into reality.