What's an Unconventional Florist?
If you are reading this now you are probably wondering what's an unconventional Florist (operationally speaking)? An unconventional Florist is a business that doesn't go the traditional route of having a brick and mortar retail storefront and providing a combination of services that would traditionally be offered such as daily orders/deliveries, weddings and events, weekly/monthly orders, sympathy orders and more. Nowadays, some Florists consider themselves as Floral Artists and Designers that cater to their specialties without necessarily needing to have a retail storefront. There are event-based floral companies that only caters to wedding/event clients and operate out of warehouses/studios to design. There are floral artists that chooses to travel and transport their flowers close to the event location and renting a space to operate out of. And there's me where I consider myself a Botanical Artist that operates out of a closed-to-the-public studio where I design arrangements and deliver them--simply put, I focus on sending out floral art and all things botanically-inspired to my clients and they can think of me as a private flower "chef" operating out of a commissary kitchen. With that said, lets move on to what you should ask whether you're working with a Traditional or an Unconventional Florist prior to booking your wedding/event.
Top Questions to ask your Florist
You've booked your venue and catering company, nailed down a photographer and now you're ready to tie it all together with flowers and or plants if that's your thing. Here are top questions to ask:
What are your security deposit requirements and cancellation/rebooking policies?
As a client, you would want to be aware and protected when it comes to cancellations and unforeseen circumstances (as you have probably heard about nightmares stories from the year 2020). Generally, a security deposit (flat fee or a percentage of the total cost of flowers and services) secures the date of your event with the Florist which guarantees their availability. This common and procedural fee allows the Florist to know for certain that they are booked and might politely decline any incoming events that might interfere with your date. This protects the Florist and also comforts the couple knowing that they've reserved the Florist. If you cancel for a reason within your control, the deposit is usually non-refundable because the Florist could have accrued expenses for your event like purchasing specific vases, or they could've missed out on other potential bookings. If they're understanding of special circumstances they do have the power to refund your deposit less expenses but that's on a per case basis. Florists might refund your deposit only if you can rebook within a time range as well. It never hurts to speak to them about that to determine your comfortability.
Will you be able to provide vendor COI (depending on whether the venue requires it)?
Depending on your booked venue, a Certificate of Insurance might be required from your vendors to cover potential property damages such as water and fire damages. A traditional florist might pay a monthly fee to to uphold their COI insurance policy so that they can provide COIs for any event if asked whereas an unconventional Florist might opt for only purchasing one on a per case basis. There's no right or wrong because this cost is either "baked-in" or revealed for transparency. The important thing to know is whether they would be able to provide one if the venue requires it. The rest is coordinated between the Floirst and the venue's event coordinator.
When do I need to pay in full prior to the event? Can my payments be split up? What form of payments do you take and are there fees associated?
Payment information is crucial to determine whether these arrangements will work for your current financial position and your plans moving forward. By asking about them you will gain a better sense in your timeline and you and your partner will be better organized and prepared.
What are your Delivery & Drop-Offs, Setup, and Breakdown procedures and fees? Do these fees depend on the amount of time, items, and mileage needed or do you have a baked-in flat fee given that the location is within a set radius from design base?
Every Florist has their own way of doing things and every service has a charge. Make sure you know these fees so that you can stay on budget. Don't forget about Sales Tax! So when you're revealing your budget to your florist you can let them know that this budget accounts for service fees and sales tax.
When is the latest to provide you with final table counts and décor modifications?
As invited guests are slowly RSVPing, you would like to get the final table count numbers in to your florists as soon as possible so that they can increase or decrease the amount of arrangements you will officially need before the big day. Generally, you should try to let them know the official numbers at least 14-20 days prior to your event.
What happens if the flower I want is no longer available, what is your procedure in handling this case?
We all want what was proposed to us but in the floral industry, it is common for flowers to become unavailable due to drastic fluctuations in weather, flower yield expectations and sudden surges in demand. Generally the florist will make a judgement call and substitute a particular flower with equal or higher value while matching the overall wedding color scheme and theme. For my own business this is the case as well but being a "Type-A" designer I will make a note and present a list of "B" flowers for certain flowers that might be substituted that way final picks are not completely out of left field. This is where your trust in the company comes in.
Are you also the designer or the hands-on Florist that will be onsite for the wedding?
This is something that isn't asked too often but given that I am presenting questions to ask for the unconventional Florist, this question pertains and can be highly insightful. Traditionally, a Florist who operates out of a retail location will have designers that will take direction from the events department and translate them using the flowers provided. Sometimes the shop might be small enough in that the event salesperson you've talked to is also a designer that will be designing your wedding. Lets say you really like the person you are talking with and feel like you can trust them however, they might just be the salesperson that will relay the information to a department or a team of designers which might allow for miscommunication or a watered-down version of what was discussed. Again, here is where the trust comes in with the company. Obviously it would be simpler and more reassuring that the trust developed while in consultation with the person you're in contact with is also a designer/hands-on person for the day of the event. There are no do-overs when it comes to weddings and events so it really comes down to your preference and comfortability.
Can you show me some examples of your work that might be similar in style/colors/shape and design in what I am looking to do?
It's always a bonus if a Florist can provide you portfolio images of their recent and past work to further build your trust in their capabilities. If they don't have any, ask them how they would present your vision to you, is it via 2D-digitized images, 3D-renderings, real life samples, and etc.? Getting the Florist's process would help you get an idea on what to expect.
How long will the estimate you provided be valid until?
Once the Florist sends you the proposal, there's usually a certain time limit until quotes expire so it's best to make a decision as soon as possible to secure your date as the florist might also be talking with other couples and the last thing you want is to miss out on the right deal because they've become fully booked and unavailable.
Do you book more than one wedding per event date? If so, what is the maximum number of events you will take in?
Often times a Florist might book multiple events per day and assign teams for each wedding or have the same team install more than one event a day depending on the setup times for each event. This might be helpful information for you if you prefer the sole focus to be on your day. For my wedding and events services, I clearly make it known that if you book with me, regardless of the size of your wedding/event, you're the only event I will be focused on.
I hope these questions help you, your family or a friend's floral journey!
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need help for your wedding/event feel free to read about my process here.
Your unconventional Florist