Wedding florals scared me to death in the planning process.  I was warned and warned again that the flowers would be one of the bigger expenses and that I should ‘be careful’ when getting quotes because prices are often sickeningly exaggerated when you utter the two syllable money-maker (or in our case, money-black-hole): wedding.  {Ironic right? being warned to be careful in the face of gentle souled women who nurture plants and make art with flowers for a living}

And so I devised a plan of action for getting exactly what I want for a price I could swallow (or at least choke down with champagne), that I’m going to share with you.  Because I’m generous like that.  {Now you be generous and share the post}.

STEP 1: FLORAL RESEARCH. To save money, you need to be practical.  Make a list of the florals that are most important to you and prioritize.  It’s also important to look up which flowers are in season during your wedding so you don’t end up paying a premium to get lilies in winter.  wedding-flowers-season

STEP 2: PIN IT TO WIN IT. Before approaching potential vendors, I went crazy on pinterest trying to find the perfect inspiration photos for what I envisioned.  While I couldn’t find exact matches, pinterest gave me the opportunity to create a ‘floral-inspo’ folder to share with my potential florists so that I could get the most accurate quote possible. (No surprises is key here).

Here’s a few examples of what I pinned:

bouquet-1 boutineer-1 table-runners ceremony-pews ceremony-arch-1 lavender-toss

STEP 3: RESEARCH VENDORS. I searched wedding wire and yelp, asked for recommendations and went through my venue’s preferred vendor list before narrowing it down to my top 6 selects.  Read the reviews, check their social media pages, and try to find examples of real weddings they have done.

STEP 4: DRAFT THE EMAIL. Be forward and direct. You want to include a complete run down of exactly what you are looking to have for florals.

  • Bridal bouquet
  • Bridesmaids bouquet
  • Flower girl
  • Parents of the bride & Groom
  • Grandparents
  • Groom
  • Groomsmen
  • Aisle decor
  • Aisle Petals
  • Floral Toss
  • Ceremony arch
  • Miscellaneous decor (for card box table, guest book, etc.)
  • Cocktail table decor
  • Centerpieces
  • Cake decor
  • Flower at each place setting
  • Bouquet toss
  • Sweetheart Table decor
  • …and anything else your little heart desires

You should also establish your expectations for their involvement. For example, will you expect them to drape a ceremony arch in fabric?  Make 150 cones for lavender tosses and arrange them in a basket? Again, we don’t want any surprise fees on the bill, so be as up front as possible.


I got your information from ____, you did such a beautiful job at their wedding! I am searching for a florist for my own wedding on Sept 10, 2016 in Santa Barbara.  Guest count is 150 and the theme is French Vintage.  

The property is stunning (Dos Pueblos Ranch) and honestly doesn’t need much. We’ll have our ceremony on a bluff overlooking the ocean, cocktail hour below on a grass area next to the sand, and then move to a large lawn behind the house on the property for reception.

I’ve never been much of a cut flower person and want pretty minimal floral decorations.  

I’d like a bit of greenery (I love eucalyptus) on the 15 rectangular dinner tables and a bit of greenery with a few flowers that match my bouquet on the ceremony arch we’re getting married under. I’d be interested in finding out the cost of putting a little snip of greenery at each place setting – or a sprig of rosemary or lavender. I’d like to include some potted lavender and/or rosemary (whichever is less expensive) as additional decor for cake table, guestbook, lounge set up, bar area, etc.

I also really would like to have crushed lavender in paper cones for guests to throw at the recessional. Is this something you’d be able to do? I’d like the cones arranged in a basket at the end of aisle so guests can grab them before they are seated.

I’ll have a bouquet of mostly foliage with a bit of white and a wee bit of maroon. (or something along those lines – I love the look of wild flowers).  I prefer when the ribbons hang down from the bridal bouquet and that the flowers look more gathered and less arranged.

But my decisions are very financial driven, I’d like to use whatever is in season and most cost effective!  

I haven’t thought too much about bridesmaids bouquets, or even if I definitely want them – but perhaps something very simple and plain would be nice – like single stem flowers or bushels of lavender.  I have nine bridesmaids.  Same with boutonnieres, just simple and small for the 9 guys plus a grooms boutonniere that is a bit more substantial.  Mother and father of the bride will need a corsage/boutonniere.   

I was also wondering if you offer any rental services?  We would love to rent an arch, hurricane candles, draping, and anything else you might have that works with our venue and theme!

Attached to this email you will find example photos of what I like.

Thank you for your time.  I am looking forward to your response!

STEP 5: ASK ABOUT RENTALS. I suggest you bring up the rentals in the first or second exchange.  Some florists will be rental havens and have endless candles and draping and even cake stands at their disposal.  Since you are already paying them for florals (and delivery/time), their prices are usually kept reasonable.

STEP 5: CROSS REFERENCE. This is going to be your best weapon of defense. Get all your quotes together and you undoubtedly will be shocked by some of the discrepancies.  I had one chick (a referral from a friend!) quote me $9000 and another woman quote me $2000 for the same exact thing. Cross referencing will help you with your negotiating power and help you rule out bids that are so high that it’s offensive (yes, 9k, I’m talking to you).  Also cross reference rentals with your rental company or see what the prices would be to buy or make some of the items yourself.

STEP 6: NEGOTIATE. First, determine if there’s anything on the quotes of your top 2-3 that seem completely off the charts.  Use the intel you gathered from cross referencing as a negotiating tool to get the prices down.  Also, ask the florist what you can do to save money.  Maybe switching greenery will help, or changing out the larger than life centerpieces to something more tame.  Or maybe you decided that your bridal toss bouquet can just be two bridesmaids ones tied together (or not do it at all – like me!).  Try to think if anything can be repurposed.  We used my bridal bouquet as decor at the head table, and arranged the bridesmaid bouquets around the cake.

STEP 7: SEAL THE DEAL. You need a contract, and you need to actually read it.

STEP 8: SHIP EXTRAS TO FLORIST. If you decided to be annoying like me and take DIY to the next level, make sure to ship things for your florist directly to their address so you don’t have to deal with it day of. I was incessant on having the lavender toss be in old sheet music cones, so I mailed my florist the paper.  For ceremony draping and table candles, I left them at the venue for the florist the day before the wedding. Not ideal. It would have been better for her to have the draping ahead of time so she could have confirmed it would work!

STEP 9: 2 WEEKS PRIOR EMAIL. Now, it’s been months since you’ve talked to your florist.. and maybe you’ve got to a few weddings and your vision has been changed a bit.  Send an email no later than 2 weeks before the wedding with your finalized ‘floral-inspo’ and a run down of exactly what you expect from the florist day of.  Make sure she has the appropriate contact person’s number for day-of load in.

STEP 10: Write your florist a blog post professing your love to her when she ABSOLUTELY NAILS IT.  Thank you Cecilia of Pismo Petals for making my floral dreams come true <3 <3 Forever grateful!

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Florist: Pismo Petals

Photographer : Jessica Grazia-Mangia 

Bridal/Bridesmaid Robes: The Lace Atelier 

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