August 29th, 2019 jamesdouthwaite

18 tips for holding successful wedding consultations

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Our industry survey showed brides and grooms most often make first contact with their florist about one year ahead of their wedding date. Unfortunately for florists, that means when you’re busy dressing venues and delivering bouquets this wedding season, it’s also time to start thinking about next year’s wedding bookings.

Here, we’re sharing 18 top tips to help those consultations run without a hitch a whole year before your new customers get hitched.

 

Planning their designs 

 

1. Avoid Pinterest pain by showing your own style and skills first.
As soon as a prospective wedding client gets in touch to book a consultation, send them your portfolio. Whether it’s a predesigned digital pack or a link to your website or Instagram, suggest that they have a look at your previous work. While you’ll never stop brides bringing Pinterest boards, you can at least offer your own examples so they can see whether their perfect look fits with your style. Some florists even say they recommend other local florists if they don’t feel their brand works with a couple’s requirements.

 

2. Show them this list of the most popular wedding items.
These items are listed in order of popularity according to the 200 florists who responded to our survey. Show it to your couples at consultation so that they know what options are available – including the often forgotten ‘thank you’ bouquets. Add that unique ideas are possible too (see next point).

  1. Bridal bouquet
  2. Buttonholes
  3. Bridesmaids bouquet
  4. Corsages
  5. Gift bouquets for wedding party
  6. Long and low table arrangement
  7. Jam jars/ small scatter vases
  8. Cake decoration
  9. Low/ small table centrepieces for guest seating
  10. Wand, pomander, small basket of petals for flower girl/ children
  11. Flower crowns/ floral hair accessories
  12. Tall table centrepieces for guest seating
  13. Aisle ends
  14. Pedestal arrangement (e.g. for church ceremony)
  15. Garlands
  16. Floral archway (e.g. over church doorway)
  17. Wedding hoop designs
  18. Hanging designs/ installations
  19. Large scale work e.g. flower wall, moongate, chuppah
  20. Chair backs
  21. Plant decorations

 

3.  Remember people won’t ask for what they don’t know about.
Ideally, a couple will only order wedding flowers once in their lifetime, and not everyone trawls wedding blogs so they’re unlikely to know just how many options are available. At the consultation, explain or show examples of ideas they might not think of from different makeup styles of bouquets through to unique options like hair pieces, brooch bouquets, feathers, personalisation options, flower girl specials like bags and wands or wedding hoops.

 

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4. If they don’t have a clue where to start, ask for one word.
Asking them to think of a word that best describes the theme of their day might give you a clearer idea of what they really want, more so than a favourite colour or flower. For example, their favourite bloom might be Bird of Paradise but with the words ‘rustic’ or ‘country’ you’ll instantly know to avoid Strelitzia. Explain that this also impacts on the method you’ll use to make things, for instance a tightly bound, wired or loose bridal bouquet.

 

5. Recommend embracing seasonality.
Planning wedding flowers with a seasonal mindset is not only often better for the environment, but it allows you to be more flexible with what you promise and could even mean you can leave some variety decisions open until the last minute when you know that a certain stem is available in quality. Sometimes it can prove cheaper as well, as anyone who’s ever tried to source peonies for a late summer bride will know.

 

6. Offer alternatives to fulfil dreams at low-budgets.
It’s easy to feel frustrated by brides requesting a million-dollar flower wall at a fraction of the cost, but try to remember that they go into a consultation with no pre-existing knowledge. There are all sorts of options to suggest; reusing ceremony flowers for the reception, swapping luxury flower varieties for similar alternatives, adding size and impact to low-value arrangements by hiring out plinths (see example pic above), or having hoops as bridesmaid bouquets and hanging them up as décor.Even a luxury-style flower wall can be recreated at lower costs by using a reusable foliage tile base.

And if they can’t let go of their Pinterest dreams, remind them it’s always nicer to have something unique than an exact replica of someone else’s wedding.

 

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7. Ask whether they follow trends.
If so, you’ve got a lot more scope to suggest exciting, creative, fun and higher-budget ideas, from flower clouds and ostrich feathers to preserved flowers, floral crowns and wedding hoops.

 

8. Think about offering faux.
The quality of artificial blooms really is improving, and they’re now far more accepted among all sorts of circles including high-end stylists and bloggers. They can be a cost effective method because you can hire out reusable arrangements, or add more mark-up and sell much higher-value bouquets that can be kept forever. Plus, with heatwaves becoming more and common you can rest safely knowing they’ll avoid a hot summer wilt.

 

9. Offer other kinds of venue décor.
Be one step ahead and offer what venue styling companies do. In our survey one florist said, “More and more venue styling companies are decorating the reception venues – no one wants venue decorations and table centrepieces anymore. More than ever before I am doing bouquets and buttonholes only.” If weddings are a crucial element of your business, become a florist and décor service rolled in one by offering everything for the big day. We now supply extra-large artificial trees including cherry blossom and ficus, as well as jute, fabrics, plinths and event pieces like cake stands and crystal globes.

 

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FAQs & sticky situations

 

10. Prepare a line to politely explain why something might be more expensive than they expect.
For instance, “We have to charge this much for our time because this [bouquet/ arrangement/ corsage/ installation] might only take [30] minutes to make but it took [30] years of training and experience to learn the skills needed to make it. That also means not only will it look beautiful, but it will be made with the correct mechanics to [be lightweight/ stay upright/ avoid falling apart] without wilting before the end of your wedding day.”

“We have to charge a small mark-up for flowers because florists are like good chefs who know their ingredients. They know which vegetables taste best with which meats as well as where those ingredients should come from and what to do differently with each of them. We know which flower varieties work together, where to source each one to find it in best quality and how to treat each one differently to keep them strong and fresh.”

 

11. Plan your response to making a mock-up.
While it can be sensible to mock-up something you’ve never made before if it’s got mechanics you’re unsure about, most florists prefer not to offer them because they can be costly, time-consuming and worrying if the end-result doesn’t end up exactly the same. Some florists charge fees for mock-ups, otherwise, there are reasons you can use to say no. For instance, if any of their flowers are seasonal it’ll be impossible to make a mock-up earlier in the year.

Or quote the wedding blog that said hiring a florist is like hiring an artist – it’s not about making an exact replica of something that’s already been done but about creating something unique with a florist whose work you like.

 

12. Tell them what your calendar and commitments are like around their date.
If you have other weddings or commitments in the run-up to or around their wedding date, tell them now to alleviate stress later when they can’t expect instant replies to calls or emails at busy times.

 

13. Prepare for the growing trend of ethical weddings.
Princess Eugenie requested a ‘plastic-free’ wedding last year and it’s increasingly common for couples to seek out supplies that have less negative impact on people or planet. If it comes up in a consultation, there are more ways to offer ethical options than you’d expect. There’s buying British, using biodegradable raffia, paper and cardboard when packaging anything and using the new Bio-foam, but also suggest simply reusing vases, working with reusable artificial foliage or using foliage tiles as a base for blooms.

You could also explain you can use imported flowers that have been grown at sustainably certified farms –  this can mean blooms grown with less greenhouse emissions while improving the livelihoods of people in developing countries. Ask your wholesaler for flowers that are certified by the likes of MPS, Rainforest Alliance, Global Gap or Florverde; for instance the latter supports local schools in rural flower growing areas of Colombia. 

 

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Payment & logistics 

 

14. Explain your costings upfront including cancellation and refund policies.
Tell them how and when they’ll receive their invoices and when their payment deadline is, and explain your cancellation policies. In our survey, the majority of florists take a set fee deposit while lots also take a percentage of the total booking value. Deposits of £100 and £50 were the most popular set fees, while 20% was a popular percentage taken.

 

15. Talk about consultation fees and follow-ups.
If you charge for consultations make it clear before holding one. Once you’ve got a feel for the couple and their requirements, give an idea of how many consultations you think they’ll need and how much communication to expect – so you’re neither hassled or ghosted.

 

16. Talk through timings in detail.
Ask what time both the ceremony and reception start as well as when people will be on-site, when you’re allowed to set-up and when you should breakdown. Large-scale events always take longer than you think.

 

17. Talk through your relationship with the venue team.
If it’s a large-scale set-up, find out whether you will communicate with the venue directly and take the relevant details. Think about when you’ll organise a site visit and whether the venue team will have any part in the flower set-up as well as when you can enter and sussing out the venue’s allowances, access points and water sources.

 

18. Bear in mind the breakdown.
Ask when breakdown should take place, discuss who will be in charge of taking or disposing of flowers and plan the removal of larger items like vases and structures. State whether you’ll charge an extra fee for doing it.

 

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