Notes from a wedding planner – Rachel Hagen

Rachel Hagen of Talia Events
Image – Becky Young Photography

“I love what I do and I’m so grateful to do what I love.” It’s a phrase that’s been heard many times coming out of my mouth. It’s all true. As the Owner of  Talia Events, a Wedding Design and Planning company based in Colorado, I feel incredibly blessed for to do what I love and be involved in such an important day in clients’ lives.

Additionally, I am grateful for the path that led me here. When I first started my business, I thought I’d only plan nonprofit and corporate events, but quickly realized that I missed creativity and a personal connection.

I’d forgotten that up until moving to Colorado a few years prior, I’d spent my weeks planning events for 300-30,000 and my weekends “playing” at local flower shops. I began working at a small store while in high school, made a stop at another Florist while in college, spent many cold winter days working with an event Florist and then at an amazing retail shop in Chicago and another in San Francisco. I have seen a variety of working models and bleached my fair share of buckets!

It was an early mentor who pointed out that Florists are intimately connected to their customers’ emotions—excitement around the birth of a new baby, anticipation of the date with a crush, sadness and longing for a beautiful reminder of life for a funeral. None are perhaps as tangible, however, than the range of emotions a flower-loving bride exhibits when the pretty blooms of her dream arrive or are set-up in front of her.

As a Wedding Designer and Planner with a wide-range of Floral Design experience, I am honored that the Flirty Fleurs staff have asked me to share what I find helpful in working with Floral Designers.

 

Image – Christina Kiffney Photography
Floral Design – Painted Primrose

Communication is Key

It’s such a cliché, but for good reason. A Florist friend pointed out the other day that when working with a Wedding Designer and Planner, that person is as much her client as the couple. In ways, I would agree.

I appreciate and expect that Florists communicate with the couple through me. Different than photography and even cake or dessert bakers, it can be difficult to compare Florists based on pricing. Most photographers offer packages with set prices. Similarly, many cake or dessert bakers charge by the slice or serving. Two or three Florists, however, can easily produce very different proposals for the same wedding. The vision and thus the flowers being incorporated may be different. The price per bloom may be different. The allowance for rental or the client’s purchase of vases, arches and so much more can affect pricing. You know well how different one proposal you write can be from the next. Now, imagine the incongruity of different Florists’ proposals.

I will acknowledge that there are Wedding Planners who simply want to control the process—it’s just a part of our personalities—and that may result in you feeling “played” against another and unable to reach your ultimate client, the couple. Unfortunately, I can’t address how to deal with that, except to say that it’s really ok to decide not to work with a Planner who doesn’t seem to value your work and voice.

For the purposes of this entry, assume that the Planner you’re working with has a vested interest in his or her clients potentially hiring you. He or she did, after all, bring the couple to you! Now, with that in mind, understand that I want to be able to take your proposal and those from your competition and guide the client as best as I can to compare apples to apples.

I’m not asking that there be a uniform look or format to all floral proposals, but by sending me the proposal to then show it to my client, you allow me to be your advocate and explain why that flower she just “had to have” is as much as it is.

So please, communicate with me. Send me your proposal. Don’t simply add me to the email you’re sending to the bride. Send it to me first.

In addition to the rationale that I can actually advocate for you and your costs, keep in mind that I am providing what is essentially an intangible service. A large part of that service is saving the couple time and energy. By being able to take all the proposals, compose an e-mail or set-up a phone call to step through their differences and similarities and coach my client to determine which is the right fit, the best “man” will win.

A Budget is a Budget

It probably won’t surprise you that one of the top priorities for my wedding last October was the flowers. A friend, Cori Cook from Cori Cook Floral Design, blessed me with some beautiful blooms for the day—I literally wouldn’t put my bouquet down until I had to because I loved it so much.

Images – Tyler Jones Photography
Floral Design – Cori Cook Floral Design

Even though I loved and was so excited about the flowers, I had a budget. We all do. Even the most extravagant weddings have a limit. As wedding industry professionals we know that there are those who have a budget that can accommodate our services and others that will not hire us because they simply don’t have the budget. Couples shouldn’t be ashamed of their budget and, we as wedding professionals shouldn’t apologize for our prices.

However, as a Wedding Florist interested in working with Wedding Planners, it is important that you understand your prices.

If I am bringing in a client and know and have shared the client’s budget with the Florist we’re visiting, I expect him or her to be aware of that as the vision unfolds.

A responsible Planner will be careful not to set his or her client up for disappointment. I don’t want my client to leave a meeting feeling completely deflated because there’s no way she could even afford the Florist’s design fee, let alone the actual designs. That being said, if the vision starts to get out of control and you as a Florist know we’ve blown the $3,000, $5,000 or even $12,000 floral budget, please speak up during the meeting. It’s better for them to hear it then rather than a week later when you send over a proposal that’s three times the communicated budget.

Now, having said that, I don’t expect you to sit there and count the number of peonies in a bouquet and tell me the exact cost. I’d rather you be present for the meeting than counting pennies the entire time. If the design we discussed is more than the client’s budget, give us some options in the proposal. This allows the client to decide if they’re able to accommodate the splurge or not. I would much rather receive a proposal with three options and three different prices, only one of which is within the original budget than to receive a proposal with one option that’s far beyond.

Finally, back to communication, if you get back to your computer and realize that the vision the three of us discussed is beyond the budget, give me a call and let me know. Maybe there’s a piece of information I know that will allow for some flexibility. Or, I may be able to plant a seed in the client’s mind to consider if there’s any wiggle room.

Image – Becky Young Photography
Flowers – Cori Cook Floral Design
Manage Expectations

A good Wedding Planner wants all the vendors involved in a wedding to succeed. In fact, we may go to great lengths to make sure you succeed in the clients’ eyes. However, we will not appreciate having to pick up the slack if you’ve over promised what you can deliver.

Constraints like a short amount of time for set-up at a venue, trials of creating décor for an outdoor ceremony or reception or delivering to multiple locations can add to the pressure a Florist feels to get everything perfect on the wedding day. I understand this and can do my best to lessen constraints.

However, I expect that professional Florists have considered their staffing and transportation needs and taken all the related costs into account at the time the proposal’s written. It’s important that you’re realistic about the ability of a certain bloom to hold up in the July sun, that one person will not be able to set-up a flower covered arch in 30 minutes, or that it will take several delivery vans to make it across town during rush hour.

All in all, keep in mind that I as a Wedding Designer and Planner want nothing more than for the wedding day to go off without a hitch and, I consider the Florist an integral part of it.

I can be an advocate for you and make the proposal and contracting process easier provided you communicate with me, realistically consider a client’s budget and plan for the constraints of the day.

Do all this and create beautiful pieces and well, you’re golden!

Thank you Rachel Hagen for this valuable innsight!  Learn more abouut Rachel and her thoughtful approach to wedding planning and design on her website and blog – Talia Events.

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