What Being A Wedding Florist Means To Me
I don’t often open my heart here on my blog but this post has been bubbling away in my brain for so long that I felt it was finally time to put pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard) to explain just what being a wedding florist means to me and what really goes into making your wedding flowers perfect.
Let me say right from the start that I adore being a wedding florist. From the moment I started my three years of training (yes, you read that right!) through to the work placements and internships where I worked for free to get experience, it’s been amazing. I’ve also come to love the obscenely early mornings trawling flowers markets when sane people are still asleep and the bitterly cold days in the workshops preparing for winter weddings. The fact my hands are continually covered in cuts and marks can be overlooked. I love what I do.
Unleashing your creativity is powerful thing. It makes you happy, joyful and almost euphoric. I call it my floral high and I just love it when people see my work, when the bride cries happy tears when I hand over her bouquet and when faces light up at floral decorations I’ve created. It’s the day when everything comes together.
But this day is always the result of many, many days of hard work. It’s the culmination of a process that can be months or years in the making and although I’m only visible on the wedding day itself, the hours I put in on the day itself are the very tip of an iceberg, the few public moments in a very private marathon.
The work starts with an initial meeting with a potential client, often a year or so in advance of the wedding date. During a conversation that will last typically two hours, we discuss everything about the wedding and plenty of things that have nothing to do with flowers at all! From these early thoughts and disparate comments, I prepare an accurate quote (always interesting when flower prices vary from one week to the next, let alone from year to year!) and a complete moodboard to illustrate the plan.
Quite often, there are follow-up questions and conversations before the couple book me and then I work to raise invoices, create schedules, book staff, source equipment and search online for the perfect items. I know more about shipment times and import duties that I ever thought possible!
Then, a few months further in, there’s usually a meeting with clients where plans are updated. Now the dress is bought, the bridesmaids outfits are decided, the groom and groomsmen are kitted out, the stationery has been commissioned, the menus have been chosen and the timings of the day have been finalised, it’s time to bring everything up to date. Sometimes, we pack vases and accessories into the van and meet clients at their venue so we can all see things in situ. From this, we return to update quotes, add pictures to moodboards, reassess our prop store and revise all the paperwork.
At the final meeting, we go over everything yet again and run through the plan for the day with a fine tooth comb. Where will you be and what time do you need your bouquet by? Will your bridesmaids be with you? What time does the church open and will you need us to help the chaps on with their buttonholes? Then we hit the desk once again, update the quote, contact the venues and work out the logistics for the day as well as raising the final invoice and creating the master buying list.
Now, after a year or so of planning, we still haven’t touched a single flower for your wedding.
The week before the wedding is busy in a way that’s almost impossible to explain. We have to scrupulously clean every vase and container, clean and fill buckets with water and solutions for storing flowers, prep boxes to hold bouquets and buttonholes, clean the van, prep ribbons, pins and hundreds of sundry items and the, eventually, we finally get to collect the flowers themselves.
The flowers are collected two or three days before the wedding – we drive to the wholesaler, check the quality of everything, check all the colours work together as a whole, pick up a few spare bunches at our own expense, mandhandle everything onto trolleys and into the van and then drive home with our precious cargo (it should be no surprise this journey is a LOT slower!)
Back at the workshop, the team sets to work. The van is emptied, the flowers are unpacked, every single individual stem is checked for damage before having leaves removed and the stem cut before being put into the right bucket to ‘drink’. This process lasts at least six hours before you even realise you’ve not had any lunch and it’s now mid-afternoon.
The nights before the wedding really aren’t nights at all and in 13 years as a florist, I can honestly say I never really sleep before a wedding. You’ll often find me trekking to the workshop sometime after midnight to check the flowers – are they opening enough? Do I need to take the roses into the house to help them bloom? The 5am alarm is never painful because I’m always awake, laying there and planning and replanning in my head. What needs doing the next day? Where should I start? When the day has progressed and ‘normal’ people are at work, I’ll contact the church and venue again to reconfirm the details and, if I’m super lucky and all has gone completely to plan, I’ll get dinner with my husband sometime after 9pm.
Finally, it’s your wedding day. We start early making buttonholes and wrapping the bouquet with ribbon, finishing arrangements and making corsages before loading the van with more care than you can imagine. Fingers crossed we find a parking space that’s close to the venue and then we unpack and start setting up. Large arrangements often need their various parts piecing together, candles or tealights have to be added, everything needs to be in the right place looking immaculate. Then we drive on to deliver the buttonholes and finally, I can personally deliver your bouquet.
Now I should apologise right now for how I might look as I hand you your flowers but three days of almost constant work and worry doesn’t leave me at my best. In fact, I don’t care what I look like as long as your eyes light up when you finally hold your wedding bouquet in your hands on the day of your wedding.
And then, when everything is perfect, we leave you to celebrate and return to the workshop to clear up before tumbling in to bed to finally sleep. The next day, we are woken by the alarm but we’re back on the road, collecting equipment and cleaning up, wrapping flowers for guests to take when they leave and anxiously checking with the venue staff – how did the day go? Was it everything they hoped it would be because that’s the only thing we care about.
So, that’s what being a wedding florist is all about. It’s about hard work, responsibility, creativity, stress, joy, worry and happiness. It’s scary, humbling, exhausting and uplifting. It’s my world and I don’t want any other. It’s what being a wedding florist means to me.