Wedding Wednesday :: Boutonnieres

Flirty Fleurs Magazine Issue Three!!!

Flirty Fleurs Flower Magazine, Issue ThreePurchase Issue Three

We are thrilled to announce the release of the third annual print issue of Flirty Fleurs!
This issue has a little something for everyone. If it’s travel that inspires you, stroll the streets of New York on a walk through the NY Flower District or tiptoe through the tulips in Holland. If it’s stunning images of gorgeous bridal work you like, cruise the pages of Bridal Beauties and our Real Weddings & Inspirational Shoots to be inspired by our peers. Read up on the incredible Field to Vase Dinner Tour, which pairs flower farmers, florists and local chefs to brings guests an unforgettable al fresco dining experience rooted in American grown flowers in an article brought to us by our dear friend Debra Prinzing. Sit down for a chat about flowers and design with acclaimed New York designer Lewis Miller and learn what it takes to be the nation’s “first florist” at The White House with Laura Dowling. Treat yourself to some great tips from cake designer Rachael Teufel of Intricate Icings about working with fresh flowers on cakes. Get down to business with the Alisons—Alison Ellis of Floral Artistry chats with us about branding and Alison Dahlson of Mayesh reviews the estimate-creating software programs currently on the market. Be ready to have your heart strings tugged by the incredibly inspiring women and stories told in “A Full Heart” with Shawn Chamberlain, “Plan B” with Nancy Liu Chin, and “The Long Road Home” with Ashley Woodson Bailey. And we think you all know by now that we love roses, so it brings us immense pleasure to fill more of these pages with gorgeous garden roses from Alexandra Farms. As always, we finish off the issue with a good dose of the giggles in Just For Laughs – stories brought to your by our fellow floral designers.

We thoroughly hope you all enjoy our latest issue of Flirty Fleurs Magazine; this year the magazine grew to 106 pages! It could be called a labor of love, but a project that is so worth the work in our eyes – we are constantly impressed by the beautiful work submitted by our peers as the features for Real Weddings, Inspirational Shoots, and Bridal Beauties comes together. As we pour through these pages and see work from designers throughout the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and United Kingdom it is a reminder of how our love of flowers connects us around the world!

All of this comes to you from a team of three (who never even breathe the same air!); the founder of Flirty Fleurs, Alicia Schwede, Robyn Rissman of Bare Root Flora, and Kim of Kimberly Schwede Graphic Design & Illustration. In addition to writing numerous articles in this issue Robyn also designed the floral arrangement gracing our front cover, photographed by Laura Murray. Kim once again brings together all our articles and imagery in such a beautiful way, you’ll want to treat yourself and sit for a spell while feasting your eyes on all this beauty.

**Order your copy HERE**


GSFA & Nancy Liu Chin Workshop

First, a little backstory before I start today’s post. Last summer I announced on Flirty Fleurs that my husband and I would be relocating to Washington State for his job. At the time I had no idea what to expect for myself, Bella Fiori or Flirty Fleurs and figured I’d take it as it comes. Well, I was very fortunate in that upon announcing the impending move on the blog right away Kelly of Botanique reached out to me and suggested I join her for a GSFA meeting. (Greater Seattle Floral Association). I cannot thank Kelly enough for inviting me to the group, being part of GSFA has been a wonderful experience and one that I’m very grateful for. GSFA meets monthly and at each meeting we focus on a business topic. At one meeting we all got together and decided to have a floral designer come in from another city and give us a hands-on workshop. I reached out to my sweet friend, Nancy Liu Chin of San Francisco to see if she’d be willing to come to Seattle for a workshop, and luckily she said yes! Plus, as an extra bonus to our workshop she brought her husband, Kevin, who took photos of our day together!
We worked on so many projects together – bouquets, centerpieces, table displays, head wreaths, and escort card table statement pieces, plus, lots of business discussions took place. I can honestly say that by the end of the day we were all very filled with ideas and very tired!
Here are some of the fun photos from the day –

The awesome members of GSFA with Nancy Liu Chin

Greater Seattle Floral Association

floral designing

Nancy begins the day with designing centerpieces

Greater Seattle Floral Association

Nancy Liu Chin designing

Nancy designing a centerpiece for the group

Floral Design by Nancy Liu Chin

We begin our Escort Card table displays

GSFA floral group

floral designers at work

GSFA members

Nancy, Jodi, Kate, and Tess

display wall of flowers

Greater Seattle Floral Association

Colleen, Kelly, Melanie, Emily, Anne, and Melissa

Pink wreath of peonies and roses on salal board for escort card table display

Greater Seattle Floral Association members

Christiane, me, Wendy, Christopher, Lorie

White Floral Wreath on a salal leaf background

Time to design centerpieces in rustic urns

Colleen of Botanikal

Colleen of Botanikal showing her floral centerpiece

Colleen of Botanikal

Emily of Lola Flowers

Emily of Lola Flowers

Christiane of Flora Nova

Christiane of Flora Nova

Jodi of Woodland Flowers

Jodi of Woodland Flowers

Kate of in bloom designs

Kate of in bloom designs

Kelly of Botanique

Kelly of Botanique

Melissa of Terra Bella

Melissa of Terra Bella

Nancy Liu Chin

Nancy’s Design

Nancy Liu Chin

Nancy’s Design

Tess of July Floral

Tess of July Floral

Wendy of Ravenna Bloom

Wendy of Ravenna Bloom

Next up – group project of creating a white and green modern table display

floral designers creating a centerpiece

Nancy Liu Chin white floral centerpieces

table design by Nancy Liu Chin of white and green flowers

Nancy demonstrates how to make loose bridal bouquets

Nancy Liu Chin and GSFA

Bella Fiori - bridal bouquet of sherbert colors

Bella Fiori (my photo)

Bella Fiori - centerpiece of chocolate cosmos, peonies and roses

Bella Fiori – I took this photo with Kevin’s help, he gave me some pointers on how to shoot in manual settings. Thanks, Kevin!

Alicia Schwede and Nancy Liu Chin in Seattle

One last parting shot – Alicia & Nancy

Photographs are by Kevin Chin (except the last three that I took)

GSFA members pictured above include:
Alicia of Bella Fiori & Flirty Fleurs
Anne of Floressence
Christiane of Flora Nova
Christopher of Christopher Flowers
Colleen of Botanikal
Emily of Lola Floral
Jodi of Woodland Flowers
Kate of In Bloom Designs
Kelly of Botanique
Lorie of Ring Around The Rose
Melanie of Melanie Benson Floral
Melissa of Terra Bella Flowers
Tess of July Floral
Wendy of Ravenna Bloom

Discussing Burnout with Nancy Liu Chin

Dear Flower Friends, I have a very interesting and deep post to share with you today. Our friend, Nancy Liu Chin, is sharing with us her story of how she has coped with bouts of burnout and how she pushed on, and continues to wow us with her fabulous events. Thank you, Nancy, for sharing such a personal glimpse into your life.

For many of you, you probably don’t know that I’ve been doing flowers since 2001. It’s been a while and though in the grand scheme of life, it’s not that long, I feel like I’ve been doing this for 30 years, not just 12 seasons. And some years, things just work really well and it’s pretty darn great being a florist, floral designer, event producer. Other years, the challenges are immense.

On top of managing a business, developing creative designs, working under deadlines, there are the challenges of physical health. I’m no spring chicken though I’m hardly retiring (btw: I will not mention my age), yet I have had several near burnouts exemplified by extreme exhaustion both bodily and emotional.

During the 90’s I was working as a senior merchandise planner yet despite working for a very trendy and up-and-coming women’s fashion retailer, I was really burning out and running out of steam. The daily grind, intense retail environment, and the pressure of working during the era depleted my energy. I become soulless as I had no balance in my life and any accomplishment were received with less joy.

To combat my fatigue and inner “burnout”, I thought that working for a more stable retailer would resolve my issues. Unfortunately, it didn’t. While I was vacationing in Italy, I knew that if the opportunity were to come up and I could magically find a new source of joy, I would take it. Then came 9/11. It further affirmed what I knew, life was short, it could be unfair and that there wasn’t a moment to waste. When I was offered a choice between staying at my managerial job at Gap or leaving to start something. I choose the path that few dared. I choose to leave.

I needed a radical change.

Luckily I found floral and event design. It was a dream for me. However, 12 seasons later even at my dream job, I have honesty had periods of near burnout.

You ask…. what are the signs of burnout?

They include
1) extreme fatigue
2) inability to deal with intense stress
3) creative soullessness
4) diminished interests
5) reduced sense of accomplishment

This is an excerpt from Wikipedia that I thought I would share with you.

Psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North have divided the burnout process into 12 phases which may not occur in each individual sequentially. They include:

The Compulsion to Prove Oneself
Often found at the beginning is excessive ambition. This is one’s desire to prove themselves while at the workplace. This desire turns into determination and compulsion.
Working Harder
Because they have to prove themselves to others or try to fit in an organization that does not suit them, people establish high personal expectations. In order to meet these expectations, they tend to focus only on work while they take on more work than they usually would. It may happen that they become obsessed with doing everything themselves. This will show that they are irreplaceable since they are able to do so much work without enlisting in the help of others.

Neglecting Their Needs
Since they have devoted everything to work, they now have no time and energy for anything else. Friends and family, eating, and sleeping start to become seen as unnecessary or unimportant, as they reduce the time and energy that can be spent on work.

Displacement of Conflicts
Now, the person has become aware that what they are doing is not right, but they are unable to see the source of the problem. This could lead to a crisis in themselves and become threatening. This is when the first physical symptoms are expressed.

Revision of Values
In this stage, people isolate themselves from others, they avoid conflicts, and fall into a state of denial towards their basic physical needs while their perceptions change. They also change their
value systems. The work consumes all energy they have left, leaving no energy and time for friends and hobbies. Their new value system is their job and they start to be emotionally blunt.

Denial of Emerging Problems
The person begins to become intolerant. They do not like being social, and if they were to have social contact, it would be merely unbearable for them. Outsiders tend to see more aggression and sarcasm. It is not uncommon for them to blame their increasing problems on time pressure and all the work that they have to do, instead of on the ways that they have changed, themselves.

Their social contact is now at a minimum, soon turning into isolation, a wall. Alcohol or drugs may be sought out for a release since they are obsessively working “by the book”. They often have feelings of being without hope or direction.

Obvious Behavioral Changes
Coworkers, family, friends, and other people that are in their immediate social circles cannot overlook the behavioral changes of this person.

Losing contact with themselves, it’s possible that they no longer see themselves or others as valuable. As well, the person loses track of their personal needs. Their view of life narrows to only seeing in the present time, while their life turns to a series of mechanical functions.

Inner Emptiness
They feel empty inside and to overcome this, they might look for activity such as overeating, sex, alcohol, or drugs. These activities are often exaggerated.
[clarification needed][1]

Burnout may include depression. In that case, the person is exhausted, hopeless, indifferent, and believes that there is nothing for them in the future. To them, there is no meaning of life. Typical depression symptoms arise.

Burnout Syndrome
They collapse physically and emotionally and should seek immediate medical attention. In extreme cases, usually only when depression is involved, suicidal ideation may occur, with it being viewed as an escape from their situation. Only a few people will actually commit suicide.

I am no expert on how to survive burnout. I don’t even know if I can tell you how to prevent it.
However, this is how I have crawled out of my burnout.

1) Community – Having a community of people who are supporters, cheerleaders and actually work assistants have helped me survive. My secret from burning out is having a great team. My team has fundamentally helped me save me from me!!! Without a team of great great great assistants, I know I would not have survived. As a leader, as a creative director, and a manager, I have to have capable people to hand off work to. Beyond my team who are so amazing, there are good friends and my family who are great supporters. They include my cute parents who bring me food from across the Bay when they know I need it. My mom recognized the importance of not skipping meals which I often do since I’m always designing in the studio but as a nutritionist, she knows that the body is important to nourish.

I have a friend name Augie Chang(you might know him — he is a fabulous photographer). I remember that he came over one night when I wanted to throw in the towel just to give me some words of wisdom. Having someone who really cares and who is willing to come over after their own work to give you a pep talk means the world to me. It means that you are never alone(thanks AC).

You need cheerleaders and I’m honored to have many including Kelly of A Savvy Event, Bev of Especially Yours, Josh of Joshua Charles and on and on.

And of course, my husband!!! Kevin Chin is the Zen master when it comes to being cool under fire. He continues to counsel me. He has made it possible for me to work out my struggles without the financial burden of knowing that I had to do it on my own. He also helped me stay in touch with others when I wanted to be alone. He refused to let me wallow in self pity or remove myself from social media when I was tempted. He was instrumental in getting me involved when I didn’t want to.

You can prevent burning out — BUILD. A. COMMUNITY.

2) Finding What is Important – I know what it takes for me to function and it means that I have to have a sound body. So taking small vacations during the day is important. That means eating lunch, not at my desk but sitting down and not thinking about work is important. It means taking long walks usually I take my dogs for a walk before work. It means that I don’t schedule consultations twice a week when it’s family day and not being apologetic about it. For each of us, we have to have set days in which we have off. I know it’s easier said then done but once I put my body, my values as a priority, I could feel the difference.

That is why a mental break is important not only in terms of taking an annual vacation but also daily breaks. Your soul needs it.


3) Set Boundaries, Adopt a Roadmap, Be Fair – By setting consistent standards and fair values at work with my staff, I can see how it has resulted in less confusion, less stress for them and for me. An indifferent work environment can lead to a mess. I think, less mess, less stress.

When we design, I have created recipes, this helps the staff. It ensures that we have enough flowers, we have a roadmap. It creates this sense of consistency at work. It’s making our organization run more efficiently which means it’s easier for me to manage. Setting standards took so long for me to create but it has helped immensely to give my staff consistency that they can follow.

I also implemented directives, we have a production schedule prior to a set up, now everyone knows what is to be expected so it leads to fewer issues. It’s one of many things that we implement that has created a sense of fairness at work which results in a really tight team of individuals.

Same goes for the way we work with our clients. We create templates, we adopt the same fair policy so that each client is treated the same way. I’ve also set boundaries on my time so that our clients can get the best from me because I’m feeling the most optimal. We have legal contracts. We have business insurances. All these things ensure one thing. A roadmap to fair practice.

And it’s the same for our suppliers and vendors. I want to have the best flowers possible. And we seek to work with people who share that value of fresh and great flowers. I had a situation where a sales rep for a floral vendor gave me an ultimatum. It was rather blunt and frustrating and it made me go into a tailspin. A supplier wanted me to give them all my flower orders and ignore the fairness of the open market at the SF Flower Market. Instead of buying the best that each supplier has to offer, they insisted that I shop only with them or not at all.

After understanding what I value, I knew that this salesperson ‘s values were not align with my own. We have choices. I choose boundaries that I could accept so I choose to work with the open market system at the market then putting all my eggs in one basket.
No matter what it is, one has to decide for themselves, what they can tolerate so that their work is more fair because when it’s not, and when things are not in balance, that is when burnout can arise.

Understanding what you need to do your best means that you need to know what is fair, what are the limits. We have to have some boundaries so that we can act with consistency and fairness.

Work within Fair Boundaries.

Thank you, Nancy, for sharing such an insightful post with us. I’m sure it has a lot of floral designers thinking and taking a deep look at how they are feeling and reflecting back on the past wedding season.
And because no post is complete without some flowers here are some of Nancy’s lovely floral designs

beautiful white and blush reception room

White floral entry way design

bridal bouquet with blushing bride protea

reception table with tall greenery centerpieces

rectangular table with white flowers for wedding reception

Contact Information:
Nancy Liu Chin
San Francisco, California

PS – Nancy will be a speaker at The Chapel Designers – Florabundance Inspirational Design Days in Santa Barbara taking place January 20, 21 & 22, 2014. Click here for more info

What is the per guest cost for this table? by Nancy Liu Chin

At the end of the last post on Flirty Fleurs Blog, I promised Alicia that I would do another behind the scenes breakdown of real costs. Last time, the design was more luxe and glam. This time I wanted to feature rustic/farmhouse, country elegance. I have a feeling that this style might connect with more of you as not many weddings are Gatsby like(yet!)

I certainly want to reiterate what I said previously which is this — the world, as we know it, is filled with instant gratification. Through the ease at which any bride, groom, planner can now find stunning inspirations via“social media or the internet outlets “ (aka pinterest, twitter, facebook, instagram, blogs), wedding “eye candy” has encouraged a heightened level of expectation — which many clients may not be able to afford.

Visual impact of posts, tweets, instagrams from planned photo shoots and actual real weddings have set the bar – the standards of beauty for a wedding is now much higher than ever before. What was in yesterday, might not be good enough today.
What was once considered a fantasy, now seems and appears to be a norm that should be doable, reachable. Because every day people seem to have weddings that look equally as glamorous as celebrities, brides (and their planners) are having a harder time trying to distinguish the true value of things.

For several years now, there seems to be dozens and dozens of weddings featured daily that are all so beautiful and quite detailed oriented. It’s made people think that every wedding can look like a published real wedding.

I promised in the last article that I would show a breakdown of another design. I wanted it to be rustic and country since the last one was more ballroom and luxury. I also wanted to feature a table design that was more simple and featured items that were not premium rentals. Going with linens that were actually poly cotton. Dishes that were standard. This photo shoot at Quarry Hill featuring BLR Photo and A Savvy Event was previously featured on Style Me Pretty and also in 2012’s Today’s Bride Magazine.


Nancy Liu Chin

Nancy Liu Chin

Nancy Liu Chin

For this reception underneath a wood gazebo, we(meaning our awesome planner, A Savvy Event and I) decided on 2 long tables(each 16 feet long, seating 16 guests each). For this rustic, garden look, let’s break down the costs – for 32 guests

4 8 feet table metal tables – $60 each
8 wooden bench – $30
6 Large Rustic Lanterns – $25 each
6 Medium Rustic Lanterns – $20 each
6 Small Rustic Lanterns – $15 each
30 dozen rose petals – $150
Scented Colored candles for Lanterns – $8.99 each
32 Bowls – $.55 each
32 Cream Dinner plates – $.55 each
32 Cream Chargers – $1.15 each
32 Bread Plates – $.55 each
32 Melon Poly Cotton Napkins – $.75 each
32 Champagne Etched Glass – $.75 each
32 Water Etched Glass – $.75 each
32 Wine Etched Glass – $.75 each
32 Knife – $.60 each
32 Salad Fork – $.60 each
32 Dinner Fork – $.60 each
32 Spoon – $.60 each
2 boxes of 24 macaroons each – $42.00 each box
8 rustic centerpieces featuring coral charm peonies, ranunculus and other seasonal flowers from NLC – $75.00 each
6 Assorted Pillows – $15.00 each

*setup, delivery, taxes and breakdown costs are not included.

What do you think is the per guest cost?

Is it between
a) $20 – $35?
b) $35 – $50?
c) $50 – $75?
d) none of the above

Please note: For this photo shoot, Kelly McKeskey-Dolata, wedding planner and owner of A Savvy Event and I rented all the tables, lanterns, dishes, glassware, linens, pillows, flatware. The flowers, macaroons and the paper products were not rental items. All rentals courtesy of Wine Country Party Rentals. Venue at Quarry Hill in Sonoma. Photography by BLR

I would like to end this by saying that I’m guilty of feeding this frenzy of complex tablescapes, glamourous weddings, and intricate pretty details that all seem pretty effortless. Effortless. But it would be naïve of me to say that behind even a simple table design, there were countless of decisions and hours and hours of thought. I’m lucky to have an abundance of resources(yet I always want more) that can make any dream, inspiration happen!

Let us know what you think about this more budget design.

Written by Nancy Liu Chin, visit Nancy’s Website HERE.
Thank you, Nancy, for another fabulous and in-depth article. I, for one, am quite curious to hear what the Price Per Guest is!

What is the per guest cost for this table? by Nancy Liu Chin

I’m so pleased to be writing another article for the Flirty Fleurs Blog. Alicia has been so inspiring to me as I await the new ideas, new flower tips, and behind the scenes stories from her perspective.

One of the things I often sense from clients today is that they have these fantasy inspiration boards through pinterest or that to them should be achievable. After all, if it’s so easy to find all this wedding “eye candy”, it’s got to be fairly reachable for any budget, right?

Unlike when I was wedding planning in 1999, where the average bride would only see a handful of real weddings in magazines, today you can see plenty of new real weddings every day (actually – not just a handful in magazines but dozens upon dozens of real weddings on blogs, on line digital magazines as well as through pinterest, facebook, twitter and instagram), so there is no shortage of real weddings! What was once seen as special, unique, and one of kind, today with the oversaturation of “real weddings”, it would make anyone planning a wedding now to feel like all things are within their budgetary grasp.

But is it?

What is behind the cost for a real event, might just surprise you.
Let’s break down this Gatsby inspired Art Deco table featured in April 2013’s Grace Ormonde’s digital wedding issue.

Grace Ormonde

Nancy Liu Chin Floral Design

This table photographed by Kevin Chin and designed by Charmed Events and NLC Designs.

Black Gold White Table Setting

black succulent

Black Gold White Table Setting

Black Gold White Table Setting

Black Gold White Table Setting

Black Gold White Table Setting

Black Gold White Table Setting

For this 24 foot long table, let’s break down the costs – for 24 guests

3 8 feet table Black – $225 each
30 Louis Chair Black chair with Gold Cushion center – $17.50 Each
5 Black Acrylic Lamps – $45 each
1 Gold And Black Back Drop – $500
30 Gold King A. Dinner Fork – $1.20 each
30 Gold Dinner Knives -$1.20 each
90 Gold Salad Fork(30 for salad, 30 for 1st course, 30 for dessert)- $1.20 each
60 Gold Salad Knives – $1.20 each
30 Gold Teaspoon – $1.20 each
30 Black C. Napkin $2.25 each
30 Black Onyz Goblet – $1.56 each
30 Champagne Glass $- 1.46 each
30 Wine Glass -$1.46 each
30 Water Glass – $1.46 each
30 Black Charger – $3.15
30 Gothic Plate – $.1.00 each
90 Gothic Salad Plate(30 for salad, 30 for 1st plated course, 30 for cake) – $1.00 each
30 Cups – $1.00 each
30 Saucer – $1.00
30 Dinner Plate white with Gold – $.57 each
4 Chevron Runner – $30 each
20 gold logs – $5 each
4 gold arrangement with all white lisianthus – $70 each
3 gold arrangements with white irises – $55 each
12 narrow glass with white phalenopsis – $40 each
20 black succulent – $7.50 each
24 gold votives – $2.25 each
15 assorted Mercury Distressed Candlesticks – $10 each
15 Pillar candles – $12.50 each
3 oval gold arrangements with white cyclamen – $55 each
8 pieces of gold sand blasted grapevine – $25 each
4 cans of gold spray paint – $5.50 each
2 bunches of loose white phalenopsis orchid – $150 each

*setup, delivery, taxes and breakdown costs are not included.

What is the per guest cost for this table?

A: $170 per guest!

It’s sometimes hard to understand but a reception is not just about the flowers but it’s a combination of many parts.

This was a ballroom table so look forward to my next article will I will break down a farm/rustic table.

Contact Information:
Nancy Liu Chin Floral & Event Design

Thank you, Nancy, for this insightful article! As always, you are such an inspiring treasure in our floral industry!

A discussion on Wedding Budgets with Nancy Liu Chin

A few days ago, a prospective client sent me an email asking me to create a wedding floral proposal for a 200 guest sit down dinner reception and ceremony in the Northern California area at a 4 star hotel(*according to Tripadvisor) based on some images that he/she was inspired by.

The wedding was described as the following(to hide the anonymity of the client, I have paraphrased from her email and have changed the rounded the budget to the narrowest thousand).

Different shades of pinks and white hues for 200 guests equaling 20 tables in total. 3 different kinds of centerpieces from low to medium to tall with the tallest arrangement being not too full of flowers to keep the cost down. Incorporating crystals and possibly feathers as it was part of the theme.
For the wedding party will need a bridal bouquet, a toss bouquet, 5 bridemaids’ bouquets, 1 groom’s boutonniere, 10 ceremony aisle decoration with
2 additional floral arrangements for the ceremony to be repurposed for the sweetheart table.

With regards to the flowers, the client said that he/she was not picky about flowers and could even use baby’s breath if needed. In conclusion, the wedding budget for flowers would need to be under $2000.

I am including two visuals of the images that he/she sent so that we as vendors and as potential clients can learn a bit about budgeting.

glamorous centerpieces

glamourous centerpie

crystal vases with white flowers

Even before I address this specific question, I thought I would play “bride” and find an online resource to see what I should expect to budget for an average wedding.

I used a wedding calculator called Cost of

After inputting the information the result concluded that the average wedding in Northern California for 200 guests would be $46,900 with an estimated cost per guest of $235 not including any travel.
See below for the breakdown.

wedding planning

wedding budgets

wedding budgets

wedding budget

I want to highlight the floral information which shows that even the internet calculated the average flowers for this 200 guest to be $2800. The take away from this exercise is the following.

1) Is your wedding at average, above, or below the average in your area?
2) Are your wedding inspirations minimal, fair, or designer?
3) Does your budget also include delivery, taxes, and other rental fees associated with flowers.

As you can see in the budget, the calculator does not factor in deliver, installation, setup, breakdown, prop rental, taxes, or any design shop fees that might incur. A more realistic budget should account for these non related items.
If the calculator offers you a $2800 average cost for flowers, keep that in mind when you are asking for a proposal. The non floral should be on top of the budget. Note: Tell your vendor that the budget you have does not include for non floral expenses so that they can write a proposal that is fair. Or tell your vendor that your budget needs to include all incidentals which means, you will get much less flowers.

When a client says they want the following for less than $2000, that means it is below the average and on the low end. If we were choosing a dinner spot, we would understand that to mean that the restaurant might be off the beaten track, possibly new, or lacking in décor or food quality. If the range for dinner restaurants in SF were $15 to $50 then everyone knows that the $15 dinner place might be hamburgers and fries versus the higher is Wagyu beef.

If your design concept is not your average flowers, more tailored, more designer,it’s almost impossible to expect that any decent floral designer could create your dream inspired wedding at the lowest end of the average for flowers.

Picture 34

This clients’ $2000 floral budget is just not achievable when you break things down.

Here’s my low end breakdown taking the budget below and reducing it by 15% roughly per item.
1 Bridal bouquet $149 each – $148( I took $174 and reduced it by 15%)
5 Bridedsmaid $38 each – $190 ( I took $226, reduced it by 15% and divided it by 5 bouquets)
1 Toss Bouquet $38 each – $38 ( I took the price of 1 bridesmaid and assumed the toss would be at the bridesmaid bouquet price)
1 Boutonniere $24.50 each – $24.50 ( I took the boutonniere/corsage and divided it by 6 pieces(1 for groom, 5 for groomsmen. I took 15% off to get to $24.50)
10 Aisle Pew Flowers $29.50 each = $295 ( I took the $347 for ceremony décor and took 15% and divided by 10)
2 Ceremony flowers $165 each = $330( I took $389 for ceremony flower arrangements, took 15% and divided by 2)
20 Centerpieces – all same style = $65 each = $1300(I took All reception flowers plus the amount for the flowers girl since the client did not request a flower girl and added it together to get to $1531, took 15% off and divided by 20)

Total if I took 15% off the average = $2326.50. The client’s request is still $326.50 below this “below average request”. There simply is no way for any designer to do this unless the centerpiece is below average.

It also assumes that there is a designer who could do a bridesmaid bouquet for $38.00(*it would have to be very very small, perhaps all baby’s breath). Even if I could locate someone to do the flowers, it doesn’t account for any crystals, any vases, any embellishment. It assumes that someone is willing to do 3 varied arrangements so that it averages $65.00. That’s going to be hard to find.

For brides, please just take a quick look at what a $120.00 average centerpieces on 1800 flowers looks like.

flower budgets

I’ll even show you my $120.00 centerpiece.

Nancy Liu Chin pink and white centerpiece

The reason why I think this client’s budget isn’t realistic is because it assumes that a business is willing to take profit loses. Unfortunately, most thriving businesses can’t just give every wedding away. If so, the floral designer would eventually be out of business. To invest in 1) tall and grand vases is a huge undertaking that involves knowing future client preferences. If a vendor is willing to invest in these props, then there is more of a likelihood that they could sell this wedding at a potential loss. Please note invest for 9 vases is $990(If I were to buy 2 for the sweet heart table + 7(1/3 for the centerpieces) = 9 x $110 each not including shippings/taxes).

vase full of gems

Secondly, it also assumes that a business owner is willing to forego the cost of delivery, installation, breakdown and possibly design labor costs. This is also very unrealistic. The cost of fuel is rising. Labor in the SF area is now $10.55 at the minimum wage. Venues are requiring more rental and floral businesses to acquire worker’s compensation. Delivery vehicles rent for approximate $125 for a cargo or mini van a day. Skilled designers to create arrangements as well as delivery is on a rise. All in all, the cost for labor is increasing and unless the business owner can do it all, this is probably not responsible to ask a business to take a major hit to make this one wedding budget.

Lastly, it assumes that one’s flowers are on the below average side. And that is the great folly. When your inspiration images are obviously from a luxury wedding inspiration table, it’s really hard and difficult to do quality work and have quality products and quality props and the low end. Something has got to give. It’s the old champagne taste, beer budget. And in this reality, when your inspiration is on the over the top side, it really is hard to make it fit. It’s like two things are fighting each other.

So to review, ask yourself is your flower style minimal, average or designer. Ask yourself did you account for non floral costs? Do some research and find out what your props might actually costs? Be more realistic when you collect your inspiration images. Do some homework and figure out what average cost is in your area before realizing if your over the top dreams can fit into a below average budget? Find a floral internet website like a 1800flowers or Look and examine what a middle of the road flowers service charges. This will give you insight into what real average design and costs are.

Thank you, Nancy, for this insightful and helpful article!

Nancy’s beautiful floral designs can be viewed on her website: