Wedding Flower Blues

Spring Manhattan Wedding, photo by Josh Goleman

Spring Manhattan Wedding, photo by Josh Goleman

Hiya love birds … February is a romantic time of year - and even more romantic for those of you who have enjoyed an eventful engagement season. We’ve been hearing from so many couples regarding their upcoming nuptials, and I have to say, while I love hearing all their visions, I hate being the bearer of bad news when it comes to educating couples about the expenses of wedding flowers.  And not simply because I feel like kind of dasher of all dreams wedding related!  But because we talk and talk during our call, and, being an enthusiastic sort, I get all giddy along with my couples thinking about their celebration, until, their gasps of disbelief audible, we get to talking about a realistic floral budget for all that we’ve discussed. And then my excitement plummets with theirs as I realize that this couple – this being the first time and perhaps only time they have thrown or will throw a party involving lots of flowers and décor, had absolutely no idea of what any of this would cost and are, in the throes of all this romance, about to feel very disheartened.

So here I am. Blogging about it. Hoping that these couples will read this before becoming too attached to their visions.

Hoping that it will make them feel better not only about their florists but the myriad other vendors you are working with and wondering why they are charging you an arm and a leg, or why they are requiring that you commit to a hefty minimum in order to garner their attention.

It is not because we want to take advantage of you.  Trust me. I don’t think I have ever not gone over budget for a wedding, or ever not given more than a client has paid for  And I would venture to say many floral designers are in the same boat. Because if I can make a generalization about floral designers with confidence it’s this: We really like things to be pretty!

Spring Brooklyn Wedding, photo by Amber Gress

Spring Brooklyn Wedding, photo by Amber Gress


The cost of wedding flowers are simply high because there are so many darned labor hours, totally invisible to the eye that encounters only a beautifully finished product, perfectly placed, on the day of.  On your big day, with any luck, you will find your bouquet and centerpieces looking so perfect that you have no doubt they simply fell from the heavens, but I can assure you they did not! As otherworldly as I hope your décor seems, it did not simply appear. There was a huge amount of labor outside of floral arranging itself, starting with proposals, consulting, designing, sourcing, pulling and prepping vessels from inventory, collecting flowers from the market, loading and unloading, processing hundreds to thousands of stems, packing and delivering, setting up and breaking down! ……. Phew, I am tired just having written all that.

So I am writing to give you a lens into it all – to help you wrap your head around these giant price tags. Here is my quick summary about why décor ends up being so costly.

  • Cut flowers are expensive, point blank. Even for florists. Did you know that one stem of Ranunculus, fro example, wholesale, can be anywhere from $1.50 to $3.50 per stem? There is a large range of costs per flower stem, and several factors that affect market pricing for those stems at any different time such as supply and demand, seasonality, whether locally grown or not, or the cultivar of a particular flower. For example, weddings around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day will have a substantially higher cost per stem.

  • Many more stems go into an arrangement then you’d think.  A medium-sized centerpiece, for example, can easily have 50-60 stems in it, depending on flower/greens types. Plus, the more variety of flower types, the more bundles of flowers needed for purchase. Having heart set on glossy Pinterest photos of bouquets and centerpieces that are completely filled with premium flowers also doesn’t help a couple looking to save on flowers.

  • Consulting for full service wedding design over the course of contract can take many. many hours and is not usually billed for, which is why most florists have minimums for full-service wedding design.

  • Floral production usually begins only 24-48 hours before your ceremony for guaranteed freshness, and so involves long hours, lots of staff, and lots of prep, and often higher budgets than planned due to perishability and/or stem breakage. Usually 5-10% of all flowers purchase are unusable (from being broken, bruised, or spent), and so 5-10% more than needed is usually purchased, a cost your florist absorbs.

  • Delivery, set up and breakdown will cost you in NYC! Once décor is produced, it is then very carefully packed, loaded, and transported . Load ins can be difficult, even at venues with easy access, and unpacking, touching up and placing  décor takes time. The more elaborate your design, the more staff and time it takes to set up. As for break down, if it’s late night as most venues require, it will definitely cost you. I mean, who would go out in the middle of the night for a couple hours work without expecting to be really well compensated. I can’t speak for other florists, but I know that our breakdown prices are break even! Lastly, keeping or renting a van or truck in NYC is neither inexpensive nor convenient. 

None of this means there is no help for those with smaller budgets. I am just trying to give you first-time fancy party-throwers the lay of the land.

 Some florists, including yours truly, offer an A La Carte menu for smaller weddings. In my studio we feel we not only offer this service, but have cracked the code as far as offering great design for a fraction of the cost of full service weddings. But our A La Carte service is not for everyone and will require that you are okay with fewer choices, and less consulting, to enjoy beautiful décor with a smaller price tag.

To inquire about a future wedding or event, click here.

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Top left by Shannen Natasha, top middle by Ein Photography and Design, top right by Amber Gress, bottom left by City Love, and bottom right by Spencer Lum

Fall Manhattan Wedding, photo by Julian Ribinik

Fall Manhattan Wedding, photo by Julian Ribinik