Why are wedding flowers so expensive? The true costs behind your wedding florals. Part Three. Hanging flowers and roof installations.

You may have read my two posts, if not you can find it here. I suggest you go back and read it first to get the context for everything I am about to run you through here.

So in the last article, we learnt about everything that is involved with a $2.5K wedding flower  budget and where all our money goes. We broken down a the budget to include basic floral needs for the bridal party, ceremony and reception.

Now, let’s say you’ve been scrolling Pinterest for some time now and you’re in love with the idea of a big, ceiling installation. Lots of beautiful flowers and foliage hanging from the ceiling of your wedding reception venue.

Ask most wedding florists and they’ll tell you how much the love designing and creating a large focal piece like this. No two are ever the same.

Now, you’re thinking to yourself, how to I make this fit my budget. Installations are a whole different ball game when it comes to wedding flowers. It’s nothing like creating a bouquet which can be made in advance. Roof installs have to be made on site, on the actual roof. It takes a small army to install one, and usually under very tight time constraints.

Hands up how many of you have sent an enquiry off to a florist to ask “How much would something like this cost” along with a Pinterest image of some sort of hanging install. Only to be greeted with a vague response and no actual cost.

Here is the reason why.

“It’s nothing like creating a bouquet which can be made in advance. Roof installs have to be made on site, on the actual roof. It takes a small army to install one, and usually under very tight time constraints.”

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Before we even begin talking about budget, your florist will need answers to the following..

How big are we talking? And how many? Do you want the entire roof covered? Do you want it to frame the dance floor? Do you want just a light covering of foliage over the exisiting beams in your venue? Or do you want multiple hanging in various locations from the roof? Do you want them really thick and lush, or light and airy? Will it be seen from all sides, or just viewed from the front? How tall in the roof? Do I need a scissor lift to reach the roof or an 12ft ladder, or an 8ft ladder? Does the venue supply ladders or scissor lifts? What does the roof look like? Are there existing anchor points in the roof to add to? How much weight can these anchor points hold? What time can we begin setting up? What time do we have to come back to take it all down?

Do you have an answer for all of those? Nup, didn’t think so. You’re florist is probably going to want to talk to the venue, or at the very least, you in person to get an idea on these answers.

All these answers will dictate price. Maybe your florist will have to hire a scissor lift to get up into the roof. If you want something really thick and lush, your florist will probably need to use some sort of heavy duty rigging to create the piece on, but if you want it light and airy, they might only need a single, thin pole. If it’s being viewed from all sides, you’ll need twice as many blooms. If the venue is only going to give us 1.5 hours to set up, then you’re florist will probably have it bring on heaps more staff to get it done in time. If your florist has to come back at midnight to take it down, that will most likely occur an after-hours fee, or at the very least, double time wage rates for staff.

“You’re florist is probably going to want to talk to the venue, or at the very least, you in person to get an idea on these answers.”

simmer on the bay wedding reception sydney stylist flowers hanging roof

For the sake of this discussion, let’s look at a very, very, VERY basic, simple hanging install. Light and airy, can be seen from both sides. Mostly greenery with minimal florals with a good 5 hour bump in time.

The wedding is your average 100 guest event, plus bridal party. 108 people in the room, spread over 10 guest tables, a bridal table and a dance floor. A venue to fit 108 people is probably about 10meters x 12meters in size.

I always tell my clients, that the point of an install if to make it a “focal point” in the room. You want guests to walk in and say “WOW” when they see it. So there’s no point hanging a 50cm worth of foliage from the roof in a 10x12m room. It’s going to look ridiculous. A roof this size probably needs one large install (say 4 meters running the length of the dance floor or above the bridal table) or 4 individual 1.5 meter installs throughout the room.

In this example, let’s run with the 4 meter install running through the middle of the dance floor. Light, airy and lots of foliage. The roof is your average 12ft so I don’t have to hire a large ladder, intact the venue has one I can use.

So because its going to be light and thin, I can just use a pole to attach the florals too, and then attach this pole to the existing hooks in the venues roof. The hooks have a large max weight so I don’t have to worry about it being too heavy.

Easy! These are dream mechanics, because it is all there ready to go.

So, I’m probably going need a 4 meter pole, several meters of high tension galvanised wire cables, s-hooks and a few wire grips. Plus tools. Wire cutters. A second ladder and a drop tarp. These are my mechanics. The bits and pieces that I need to safely secure a pole to the roof so it doesn’t fall and can hold enough florals. $200 should cover it.

Now I need sundries to actually secure the florals to the pole. And I need a water source to keep the flowers alive for 6+ hours. Oasis (or floral foam) is the most common option. I need various shapes, sizes, styles to cover the 4 meters. And then I need something to attached the oasis to the pole. Zip ties? Twine? More Cables? Which ever the option, you’re probably look at about $300 for 4 meters worth.

So, we’re at $500 just in mechanics and sundries. Next up, florals.

“I always tell my clients, that the point of an install if to make it a “focal point” in the room. You want guests to walk in and say “WOW” when they see it. So there’s no point hanging a 50cm worth of foliage from the roof in a 10x12m room. It’s going to look ridiculous.”

bendooley estate book barn wedding reception florist flowers hanging greenery sydney stylist

We’re doing a mostly foliage with pops of florals for this one, but it is going to be seen from both sizes as it runs through the middle of the dance floor. For our average size wedding, we used 25 stems of flowers plus foliage for each “small” guest table arrangement. A small arrangement would probably be about 25 – 30cm. To make things easy for ourselves, let’s say we want 1 bloom for every 1 cm of hanging install. Keep in mind, this is going to be up high, and very ‘hangy and drappy’ so 1 bloom for every 1cm is not much at all. So 400 stems. But we need to double that because this install is going to be seen from both sides. So 800 stems total. 80 bunches of seasonal florals.

Now foliage. We want to foliage to hang down and give it a lovely drappy look. So we’re going to need a fair bit and we’re going to mix it up so it adds different textures and depth to the arrangement. Let’s say, 4 bunches of foliage per meter, per side.  32 bunches total.

So, based on our average seasonal florals and foliage costs from our first post, we’re looking at an average of $8 per bunch of florals, and $10 per bunch of foliage (not including gst).

80 x $8 = $640 (plus gst)

32 x $10 = $320 (plus gst)

That gives us a total floral budget of $960

Next, labour. Now, our venue gave us an excellent bump in time of 5 hours. And if we cast our mind back to the previous article, it took my assistant an average of 20 minutes to make each guest table arrangement. Now, installs are a lot more complicated that guest tables. But let’s use that as a base for our labour estimates. 1 x 30cm arrangement takes 20 minutes. So theoretically 4 meters of of install should take about 260 minutes, or 4.5 hours, give or take. There’s your 5 hours. BUT if the florist has to keep climbing up and down a ladder to pick up florals and step back to look at the install to ensure it looks good, its going to take twice as long, so now we need 2 florists. The second can pass florals up, tell the other where to make placements etc. But we also haven’t factored in unloading the van, installing the pole onto the roof, installing the oasis onto the pole and clean up before the guests arrive. With all those extras, we’ve just gone over our 5 hours.

So, now we probably need two teams, or 4 people total working on the roof install so we can get it done in time. And what about guest tables? Who is going to set them up while our team of 4 set up the roof install? Now we need a team of 5.

5 florists for 5 hours at $25 per hour (and remember, this is the award rate for a Jnr florist. NOT a senior florist with install and large scale floral projects. Most floral designers value their time and skills differently, which is why I’m sticking to the LOWEST award rate in this example) = $625.

So, let’s look at the cost breakdown so far..

“If the florist has to keep climbing up and down a ladder to pick up florals and step back to look at the install to ensure it looks good, its going to take twice as long”

sydney wedding reception ceremony flowers hanging greenery prices cost packages

Sundries = $500

Florals = $960

Labour = $625

Total cost = $2,085 plus gst.

Now, cast your mind back to the last article where I outlined some extra costs that need to be factored..

  • Design fee and admin hours. You can’t just pull a floral install design out of your ass. These take HOURS to create and design. Logistics like mechanics need to be designed specifically to your venue, size, timing and needs. There are OH&S issues to consider and LOTS of problem solving involved to ensure your install is SAFE, logistically possible and looks beautiful. Sketching out plans and designing the actual look of the florals takes even longer. Site visits must also be done to confirm all those logistical questions with the venue and actually see the space to ensure the design will work. You’ll be looking at a starting rate of 15 hours admin and design. 
  • We’ve based labour costs on a base wage of 25 bucks. This is the rate for a JNR florist, and someone who absolutely isn’t experienced enough to pull off this type of design. 
  • We haven’t paid myself or my team superannuation yet
  • We haven’t factored in ANY admin hours, prep day, designing, emails, ordering, sourcing, picking up florals etc.
  • I used heaps of water to keep your florals alive. I also used a lot of electricity too for the fridges and cool rooms. Bills need to be paid, and that doesn’t come out of my personal pay.
  • Petrol. I did a lot of driving today. I probably had to hire a second van and second driver so I could get all your bridal party florals delivered while I was setting up your roof install.
  • GST. I have tax to pay every quarter. And that’s not coming out of my pay either. Whack anther 10% on there.
  • We have NO back ups in our team. Danger. Everyone has a task that has to be completed. Normally, I like to have at least one extra set of staff member to ensure we have extra hands to help if things take longer than usual, plans change with the venue, someone injures themselves while setting up.
  • Bump out. Venues usually have a quick turn around and need everything out that night so they can be ready for the next event the following day. Asking my staff to back up after a long, hard day of physical labour is costly. Especially if they have to get out of bed at 11pm to do so.
  • Insurance. Every venue requires vendors to have a currency certificate of $10 million for these type of installs. They won’t let you walk through the front door without it. 
  • Notice how I didn’t put a mark up on the flowers? Flower are a product. You take them home at the end of the night. If you went to woolies and bought a kg of oranges, they wouldn’t except cost price plus a few dollars for their staff labour at the check out, would they? Or if you bought a bouquet of flowers from a retail shop, they’re definitely not charging you wholesale price.. Food (or flowers) for thought..