Wedding flowers are an important part of a wedding but can seem extortionately expensive: Beautiful florals are a time honoured part of a couple’s big day and choosing them should be a joyful and fun experience for everyone. Sadly, common misconceptions about the value of flowers and floral design can leave people feeling deflated and confused when they realise that their budget will not stretch to all the gorgeous arrangements they thought they’d be able to have. It is really important to me that my customers don’t feel like they’re being ripped of when they ask me to quote for their wedding flowers. I passionately believe in giving them a wonderful, personalised experience that will enhance their wedding preparations and add an extra touch of sparkle to the day itself. For that reason, I wanted to write this post to try and help demystify the pricing of wedding flowers and help people to understand why they cost what they do.
Supermarket Flowers are cheap: Until I became a florist and began studying pricing within the floral industry, I think I too would have baulked at the prices of many of the arrangements being offered. Supermarket flowers have much to do with the misconception that flowers are a cheap commodity. It is true that supermarkets do sell some incredibly cheap flowers. You can pick up a bunch of carnations or chrysanthemums for a few pounds pretty much anywhere. The problems is, these cheap bunches of flowers are not representative of the floral industry as a whole. The flowers are often medium grade with shorter stems (rather than the premium grade that is so important for wedding florals) and are grown by the millions! and bought by each supermaket chain in their thousands for distribution to all their stores. Buying them in such huge numbers qualifies them for the lowest possible wholesale prices so that they can then sell them to the public with a tiny price tag – they won’t make much on a single bunch but when you factor in how many thousands of bunches are sold each year, they do make some profit. When you move up a rung from these low budget single variety bunches to the bouquets of flowers for sale in the supermakets, you do see a significant price rise and likewise an increase in the cost per flower stem. These bouquets are where the supermarkets really make their money on flower sales. The problem is, those very cheap bunches (of a very limited variety of flowers) set a precedent – they create the false impression that all flowers are cheap when most aren’t.
Wholesale flowers cost how much?!: Becoming a florist gave me access to floristry wholesalers and really opened my eyes to the true cost of flowers, needless to say, even wholesale prices were more than I was expecting. I had assumed, wrongly, that they would be cheaper than the supermarkets. Not always so. Floristry is an auction based industry in which flowers are bought in from Holland. The price of a single stem of a flower can vary from day to day depending on what happens at the auctions. The same flower can fetch wildly different prices at different times of year depending on supply and demand. For example, a red rose will cost much more around Valentines Day than at any other time of year. At the time of writing, some varieties of red rose are selling for £1.45 per rose at the wholesalers! This variation in price is one of the contributing factors to why flowers cost the consumer what they do. Florists have to factor in the possible maximum cost of a flower in case there is low supply or high demand at the time when they need to buy them. It’s also worth remembering that not every variety of flower has the same value. Some flowers, such as Peonies, Delphiniums and Astilbe will fetch higher prices that those such as Alstroemeria, Tulips, Daffodils and mini Gerberas. Some flowers are even considered super-luxury. David Austin roses, for example, which are hugely popular and can be found all over Pintrest and in the bridal magazines can cost around £4 per rose stem and that’s just the wholesale price!
A bouquet with a high proportion of these super-luxury flowers will have a super-luxury price tag to match. This is really important to remember when you’re looking for inspiration on Pintrest and in magazines. Often the most popular, most commonly pinned images are from huge-budget weddings and styled photoshoots which are dripping with lush abundant florals. The budgets for these events are likely to be in the thousands and even tens of thousands of pounds. However, this doesn’t have to be a disaster for you if you’ve got your heart set on a particular look. It is often possible to substitute lower value varieties of the same flower type for those super-luxury varieties whilst still capturing the essence of the style. This is where your florist’s knowledge of flower varieties and their relative values really comes into it’s own. This knowledge is what you pay them for. Your florist will also help you to focus on which are the most important floral arrangements for you and ensure you prioritise your budget on these. It’s always worth investing in your bridal bouquet as this is the piece that is likely to be most looked at and most photographed.
Pricing Methods: Different florists use different pricing methods and there is no regulated standard across the industry. This is why it’s so hard to judge what a fair price is and I appreciate this can be very confusing for couples, especially in the midst of all the other wedding stresses. You could, for example, contact three different local florists for quotes and get three quite different prices. How can you possibly know if you’re paying a fair price? This bothers me. I don’t want any of my customers to feel in the dark about this and so I have put a lot of time and energy into researching pricing models and talking to a lot of other florists and people in other buisinesses in order to guage what a fair pricing system is. I know there will still be some who disagree with me but below is the pricing method I have now adopted as a result of my research:
(Wholesale cost of flowers x 3) + 30% design fee
The Formula Explained – The Mark-up: So what does this mean? In any retail industry, it is standard for a seller to mark-up the items they have bought at wholesale in order to make a profit. Whether it’s a supermarket, an independent local shop, a cafe or restaurant, a garden centre or a florist, they all do it. In the case of flowers, which are a perishable good with a fairly short vase life, the mark up is typically 3x. In the example of the red rose for Valentines Day above, if the wholesale price is £1.45 per rose, the retail price would be £4.35 for each rose. This might seem like a huge price increase but there are several reasons for it besides the fact that for a business to be sustainable, it needs to be making a profit. Consider the following: as we have already seen, wholesale flower prices can vary by a significant amount. A florist cannot know for sure how much the flowers for a wedding will cost on the day of the event when they are quoting months in advance. They mark up the flowers in order to accommodate these variations in price. Furthermore, as flowers can only be purchased from the wholesalers in minimum quantities, usually 10 in the case of roses but often 20, 25 or even 50 stems for some other varieties a florist must make a significant outlay to obtain a customer’s requested flowers. Added to that is the fact that florists must buy more flowers than are actually reqiured in order to compensate for the perishable nature of the product- not every flower in a bunch will be of a high enough quality to use, especially in wedding arrangements. Some may be damaged or bruised or blemished in a way that makes them unsellable. When you take all these factors into consideration, it make sense why a 3x mark up is applied to the wholesale price.
The Design Fee: How about the 30% design fee? Well, that covers the time and skill it takes for the florist to design and make the arrangement. That designing does not just include the thought process that takes place when the arrangement is being constructed. It also factors in meeting with a couple and investing time in really listening to what they want, making them feel valued and sharing floral expertise with them to help them focus their ideas so that they reach a concept for their wedding florals that they absolutely love. It involves putting together a detailed proposal and a mood board. It involves a pre-visit to the venue so that the florist knows exactly what will be needed to construct any arrangements in situ. A huge amount of behind the scenes work goes into creating wedding flowers and this is not often charged for separately. However it’s imporant that we all value our time and experties and receive a fair wage for whatever work we do. This is what the design fee covers.
An illustration: It may help to see this pricing model in action. The following is the costing for an example bridal bouquet:
British flowers are cheap as well?: A final misconception that is particularly relevant to The Cotswold Posy Patch as it uses flowers it has grown itself or bought in from other UK growers is that seasonal British flowers are cheap becuase anyone can grow them in their own garden. It’s true that anyone can grow the varieties of flowers themselves but a huge amount of skilled knowledge and pracical experience is needed to grow flowers to a quality comparable to what could be purchaed from a floristry wholesaler and used in wedding work. There is a movement across the British Flowers industry to price fairly and I match my prices to those of other members of Flowers from the Farm, the UK network for British Flower Growers.
I am happy to admit that I am not the cheapest florist out there because I have done my research and believe that the way I price my flowers is fair and will enable me to run a sustainable business and offer the level of service that a bride and groom-to-be deserve. There will be florists who charge less but their overheads etc will be different from mine and they may not be paying themselves a fair wage or factoring in making a profit. I don’t believe this is a sustainable way of running a business.
Obviously I do appreciate that everyone has a budget and a couple does need to find a florist who can work within that. My intention in writing this post is simply to help people understand a bit more about how the floristry industry works, how florists buy flowers and how they price their work.