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The vendor I was most excited about working with AND also the most nervous about working with for my own wedding? My florist. Like most people, I adore flowers and wanted beautiful ones on my wedding day, but I was also very aware that flowers are expensive (and that my budget was not so large).

A lot of what I learned as a bride about making the most of a floral budget went into the vendor section of the Joyful Wedding Planner, so today, we’re sharing a few tips along with the floral inspiration board from my own wedding! :)

1. Set your budget first. Even though it’s difficult to guess how much the flowers you want will cost, you can still set a floral budget that makes sense within your overall wedding budget (most sources recommend 5-10% of your overall budget). Knowing your budget will help your florist recommend flowers and styles within your price range. It’s also helpful to have a general idea of numbers, like how many reception tables and how many bridesmaids you’re having, before your first meeting, as most proposals are priced per piece.

2. Be flexible about specifics. So many factors go into beautiful blooms–season, weather, location–making it hard for a florist to make any guarantees about what will be available and in good condition on your wedding day. As well as communicating your favorite flowers to your florist, discuss the colors and feel you’re going for. They will make their best effort to get you the blooms you want, but if anything goes wrong, they can use their expertise to find substitutes that will fit the overall look you’re going for and look great, instead of using a sad-looking flower because it’s one you HAD to have. To improve your chances of getting your must-have flower, find out when it’s in season in your area and set your wedding date accordingly. The flower chart in the Joyful Wedding Planner is a great reference!

3. Organize your inspiration. Florists are visual people, so lots of picture inspiration is helpful IF it’s well organized. Instead of general captions like “love this” on your Pinterest board, identify WHAT you love about different arrangements and bouquets. Is it the shape? The texture? The colors? The specific flowers? Making a note of what specifically draws you to each picture will help you communicate your vision and style more effectively.

4. Be realistic. One of the biggest pet peeves we’ve heard from florists is when brides bring in pictures of grand arrangements or pricey blooms, and ask for something similar on a minimal budget. Keep in mind that floral arrangements in magazines and on Pinterest are often the most unique and expensive in a florist’s portfolio. Instead of asking for an exact replica of an arrangement you love, bring your inspiration photos to your florist and have a conversation about what you like about them. Love the large scale of an arrangement? Use lower-cost greenery to get the same big impact. Love the fullness of a big peony bouquet? Create the same lush effect with different flowers that fit into your budget.

5. BYOA: Bring your own accents. Supplementing your florist with vessels and bouquet wraps is a great way to save money, because you won’t be paying for the time they spend searching for something perfect for you. Just be sure you’re willing to do the work and have the resources to do so before adding this task to your to-do list, and be aware that wide and intricate ribbons come with their own price tag – often upwards of $15/yard.

6. Don’t try to change them. Just like you wouldn’t hope to fundamentally change your mate, don’t expect a wedding vendor to stray far from her preferred style. If you don’t like the style of the arrangements or bouquets in their portfolio, you probably won’t like what they produce for your wedding. If you’re unsure, ask them to send over some examples of past work that they think fits with your style, like my florist did for us (make sure you have an initial conversation first, of course!).

7. The easiest way to cut is to cut. By that I mean, you may be able to wiggle the price of a bouquet from $200 down to $150 by changing the size or composition, but you’re not going to get it down to $25. If the proposal your florist delivers is outside of your budget, instead of whittling down every item, look instead at cutting out several items entirely, like ceremony altar flowers or boutonnieres. That way, you’ll meet your budget AND the pieces you leave in your order will be showstoppers that are exactly want you want!

Are you nodding your head along with this advice? You’ll love the Joyful Wedding Planner! Pick yours up in our shop.

emily Written with love by Emily
3 Comments
  1. avatar Karen reply

    Emily, thank you for sharing great tips that both help brides and are respectful of designers! Tips 6 & 7 have me smiling and joyfully clapping inside! To give a realistic expectation to brides, I did want to share one shift from what is stated in #1: Within the past few years (due to drought as well as economic factors) the average floral budget takes up 12-15% of a budget. Floral Design is often on par or more than what is spent on photography.

  2. avatar M. Goblet reply

    Do you often copy/paste your previous articles into new articles, only adding a few small bits of information, and then publishing it as new? See what Lisa wrote in Expert Advice on May 15, 2014, as it’s pretty much word for word what this article is.

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi M.! This may or may not surprise you, but actually, yes! We know that our readership largely turns over every 1-2 years as brides get engaged and married and new brides come to our site, so we regularly re-post similar content buried in our archives that we think is helpful for every engaged bride to read. I hope that helps to clarify, and thank you so much for reading!

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John and I are coming up on our fifth wedding anniversary in a few months.

Enough time has passed since that September day that you might think our choices would have fallen out of favor in our memories, that I’d now wish we’d switched this or that detail or done this or that differently. I know some friends who are already itching for a complete do-over, though thankfully to the same people (ha!).

But no. No. Our wedding day was an absolutely magical day, crystalline in its clarity and astonishing in its beauty. I feel so lucky to have absolutely no regrets, looking back — so thankful, in hindsight, that we took the time to do things our way, to do them meaningfully, and to do them with great love. I have no desire to do our wedding over again; instead, I’m free to look forward to what is to come.

I say that not to stress you out — what kind of person would I be if I added stress to a bride’s plate?! — but to encourage you to double down with grace, patience, and purpose as you plan your wedding. Because I want that same clarity and beauty for you… one, five, ten, and fifty years on.

The urgency of wedding planning is this: if you do it right, you only get one chance — but if you do it right, you only need one chance.

One chance to create a memory that will shine in your mind like a beacon until you are old and gray, beckoning you back to why you committed to lifelong love.

One chance to honor and celebrate your community on your wedding day.

One chance to say to your world, This is who we are and who we will be, and this is what matters to us.

One chance to affect all of the people who matter most to you with the power of your love.

Don’t let the urgency of wedding planning scare you — let it fuel you. Don’t let it add details and to dos to your plate — let it strip from your plate the things that don’t matter, that aren’t “you” through and through. Leave those things behind without a trace of guilt.

While you are engaged, so far as you can, prioritize this unique opportunity called a wedding to create meaning in your life and in the lives of the people you love. I promise you that you will reap the riches of that work for years and years to come, and so will those beloved people of yours.

I am with you and for you, friends. And we’re here to help. What part of wedding planning can we help you with so that you’re freed up to create this one wild and beautiful memory? I’d love to hear.

P.S. It must be said – the best tool I know to help you plan a wedding is the Joyful Wedding Planner. I co-wrote it using all I learned from my own wedding, and I couldn’t recommend it more.

P.P.S. New here? You can see more of my wedding in two posts. The photo above is from our big day, by the inimitable Tanja Lippert.

emily Written with love by Emily
3 Comments
  1. avatar Kelly reply

    Oh how I love this post. I’m saving for my future season, whenever that might be, of wedding planning. So I can reflect and remember

  2. avatar Ashley reply

    These words are so true! I’m three weeks away from our wedding day. It feels good to read a post that leaves you encouraged.

    • avatar Emily reply

      I’m so glad this post encouraged you, Ashley!! Best of luck as you count down to your big day! :)

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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Some of you might be wondering why we’re even writing a post about whether you need to feed your wedding vendors, because the answer seems so obvious, while others of y’all are eager to hear the answer. And that’s part of the fun (and sometimes frustrating!) thing about wedding planning: you’ve never done it before, so almost every to do is uncharted territory. We’re here to help, with one of our main goals being to give you both the practical and the pretty as you plan your joyful, meaningful wedding day.

Photo by Whitney Neal with styling by Jaclyn Journey from Volume 8

But back to the question at hand! The short answer is yes, you need to feed your wedding vendors. A Southern bride is a gracious hostess to her carefully-chosen vendors as well as her invited guests, and in addition to being the right thing to do, it pays dividends! Here’s what you need to know:

Who should you feed? Any vendor who is “on” during your reception should be fed. You don’t need to worry about feeding a back-of-house vendor like your florist, who is setting up before your reception begins, because she’ll have the flexibility to set her own schedule and breaks. Generally, your planner, photographer, videographer, DJ or band members, and any assistants for any of these folks, will need to be fed.

Why should we be responsible for feeding them? Well, since they’ll typically be on the clock for 5-12 hours, they’ll need to eat to keep body and soul together somehow. A hot meal will give them way more energy to keep doing their best work than something they packed that morning, and you definitely don’t want them driving off-site (and missing important moments!) to find hot food. Most vendors will carry protein bars or something similar for emergencies, but you don’t want them to rely on those alone.

What should we feed them? Check each vendor’s contract, because some will specify what they need to be fed. If they don’t, many caterers offer “vendor meals” at a lower price point than what they’re charging for your guests. Ask what this consists of, because it can range from a boxed sandwich and chips to the exact same menu you’re eating. Again, it’s such a nice treat for your vendors to have a warm, yummy meal, so if at all possible, try to work that out with your caterer. If you’re having a buffet, sending your vendors through the line like everyone else is a great option.

Where should they eat? The best place for them to eat is an unobtrusive place that’s close to the action – maybe a table at the edge of the room, or a table just inside the catering tent, if it’s near the main event. You want them to be close enough so that they can spring into action, should it be required! Impromptu toast that needs to be photographed, anyone? :)

When should they eat? Generally, the best time for your vendors to eat is when you and your guests are eating. No one wants to be photographed while chewing, after all! Be sure to ask your vendors if they have a preference, or show them your proposed timeline and see if your suggested meal time works with how they like to do things. They have worked tons of weddings and will know what works best! See our tips for making a wedding day timeline.

Making sure your beloved vendors are well-fed will not only show your appreciation for their hard work, but will give them the fuel they need to finish out the night strong – a win-win for everyone! And if you have extra cake, a slice of that never hurts, either :)

emily Written with love by Emily
2 Comments
  1. avatar Cebu wedding photographer reply

    For me, the vendors should be fed. Its a common sense. It would definitely get the couple an extra mile.

  2. avatar Stephanie reply

    Thank you so much for a well written article As a wedding photographer for several years this time sometimes seems to be a point that brides don’t really understand. Thank you for making it So clear!

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