Friday, November 20, 2009

behind the scenes ... cost vs. art

As the market corrects causing the un-savy shopper to become savy, the wedding industry is also under financial scrutiny, including the cost of wedding flowers. More then ever in my eleven year floral career, brides are asking me what flowers cost. sometimes they are finding this out for themselves … and then they are asking me why a single stem boutonniere that carries a cost of only $1 is being charged at a $7-$10 rate. So following in suit (with permission of course) of some other amazing designers across the nation (ie nancy liu chin, amy of hidden garden, david dahlson w/mayesh, sean low and a few others) I want to break it down for you as to what it is that you GET when you “get what you pay for.”

Ill try to keep it simple and straight forward. For simplicity take this bouquet for example (that i chose for seasonal reasons):

here is what you will need to make this bouquet, this is cost only you may not use the entirety of product but you will have to purchase it to create this one piece.

1 bunch of black magic roses $22
1 bunch of red france roses $22
1 bunch of red berry $9
1 bunch of salal or lemon leaf or foliage $5.25
1 bunch of red tulips $10
1 box of pins $2.50
1 spool of ribbon $6
1 spool of floral tape $1.50

the basic costs of goods to make this bouquet rings in @ $78.25

now consider what a few other elements going into this bouquet might be worth. What about the design of flowers that so eloquently marry each other, how they are grouped and or arranged? The knowledge of knowing that before hand and not being reliant on an assumption that the combination you have chosen will look good. Basically what about experience that ultimately ends in a piece of art that has a bit more integrity then an un-experienced DIY bouquet done by someone with little to no experience? The energy to order them, pick them up, store them, hydrate them, arrange them, finish them, and deliver them? Yeah you can avoid all this expense by doing it yourself if you have lots of time, great resources, some serious know how and a few other skills, or your aunt kate can do it as well, but what is the outcome? Great floral designs really can make or break your wedding, and I mean this literally! They are often the focus and indication of how nice your wedding was and what style it entailed in all your forever pictures you just paid a great photographer for (i hope you have done this at least). So lets say you recognize this and you want works of art for your floral designs. Above and beyond the costs you see above, what are you willing to pay for those other underlying less physically tangible things to consider? What is someones time & talent worth to you? What should their markup be? What about covering their company expenses before they even make a profit? Like the advertising that got you to them in the first place, their insurance that covers the unimaginable, the gas for all the driving around they did for that one bouquet? a professional florists needs to 'account for their costs and pay themseleves a LIVING wage” as david w/mayesh would say.

So is this bouquet worth $160 to you? Its cost plus match? Is it worth $200? is it worth more? Does it depend on who its coming from? What I want you to know is this, more often then not you get what you pay for. If you want your catering done out of your kitchen from costco by aunt jane then thats what your catering will taste & look like and so on and so on. But most importantly I want you to know that if you ask your professional florist to break it down for you, he or she just might be willing to show you how meager their income really is. sometimes a little light shed is a valuable piece of knowledge.

In fact I think this concept pertains to nearly every vendor in the wedding industry. Many soon to wed couples think about doing invitations, catering, photographer and other resources themselves. But what is the value of a pro doing it right?

I do realize the doom and gloom of the current financial crisis and how it is truly curtailing the dreams of many betrothed. I dont doubt that a DIY path may be the only option and I dont mean to offend or downplay great possibilities that come out this, I sincerely wish you all the best. I merely mean to educate you as consumers as to what you get when you get flowers vs art or food vs catering or images vs photography and the values associated with both sides. There are ways to work around the economy with your vendors, they are full of options. Seek them out and utilize their expertize.


Jenn Hocker said...

So beautifully written; nice job, Audrey.

Jessie said...

Very good post, a must-read for all brides and their parents.

Amber said...

Thank You! As a floral deigner, lately I wonder what people are thinking, I don't work for free. I appreciate your polite and candid approach!

Melissa Kelsey said...

You get what you pay for! :) Just ask many a bride who "wishes" they would have hired a great photographer, a talented floral designer, or an MC to keep their event running smoothly instead using an Ipod. I hear it all the time, from sisters and friends of my clients.