Why are wedding flowers so expensive? Part two – What do wedding flowers actually cost?
You may have read my first post, if not you can find it here. I suggest you go back and read it to understand the context for this next post.
I’m going to run you through a ACTUAL cost breakdown of an “average size wedding”. I’ve noticed over the last few years, that the average wedding usually consists of decorations for a reception with 80-90 guests, a bridal party of about 6 people (bride + groom + 2 bridesmaids + 2 groomsmen), and couples usually want a little something for the ceremony like a arch with florals. But what is NOT consistent is their budget. I get enquiries from couples expecting to pay as little $700, to couples with budgets of $5K and upwards. It’s becoming really clear that when most couples start planning their wedding, they have no idea what costs to expect. And fair enough – chances are you’ve never done this before so you have no idea what things normally cost! So I’ve written this article based on the average size wedding, with average size arrangements.
Keep in mind, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all. You may want something completely different. Bigger table arrangements, or less flowers and more foliage. All these factors will change your budget and designs. But I’m hoping this article will make things clearer for those who are looking for a guide on prices, why things cost this much, and if you do make the decision to DIY, this is what you can expect to pay wholesale at the Flower Markets, what you can save on doing it yourself, and how much time and effort you will need to achieve your special day.
Let’s show you an actual break down of all those costs. Here is an example for an average size wedding.. Lets say, you have 3 bridesmaids, 3 groomsmen, mum and dad would like flowers too. And around 90 guests at the reception, with florals on every table. You’d also like some beautiful florals for an abour and some blooms for the cake. Here’s the breakdown..
3 x Simple, posy/med size bouquets (bride + 2 bridesmaids)
3 x Buttonholes
4 x mother/father buttonholes
8 x small guest table arrangements
1 x Small, Bridal table arrangement (1 meter, long and low style in the centre of the table)
1 x Small, floral arrangement for a ceremony arbour (1 meter)
1 x florals for a two tier cake
For arguments sake, let’s say I’m sourcing flowers in the clients chosen colour palette and style, and they’ve given me free reign of the flower types. So I go for seasonal florals that are plentiful, good quality, plus a few special, imported blooms to make the bouquet extra special.
I’d probably going to have to buy about 550 stems of flowers, plus foliage. 30 stems per bouquet, 30 stems per table centrepiece, 100 for the arbour, 100 for the bridal table and the rest goes to the buttonholes, cake and spares (ALWAYS have spares. It a wedding, we don’t risk it). When buying wholesale, most flowers come in bunches. And depending on the flower type, bunches can have between 5-10 stems in them. So, let’s average it out to 8 stems per bunch, equals approx 69 bunches at an average cost price of $8 plus gst. Wholesale prices for your average, seasonal local blooms can range from $5 per bunch t0 $15 per bunch. We also need a bit of foliage to flesh out the designs – 15 bunches of foliage at $10 plus gst each.
Thats a floral budget of $702 plus gst. Now, I want to grab a few extra special blooms for your bouquets, because at the moment I just have the average stuff. I have another $75 up my sleeves for 5 more bunches of special extras. Orchids, peonies, David austins, queen annes lace, hellebours, rananculas. A lil more expensive, but hey, its your wedding bouquet. You only get one. Total flower budget is $777 plus gst.
Next up, sundries. It costs $10 to enter the markets. And a bit of petrol to get there, say another 10 bucks. Then all the bits and pieces your flowers actually go into. Floral foam/Oasis for the guest table, ceremony and bridal table arrangements – about $60 worth, plus $20 to actually get to the markets to pick up all your florals and oasis. $80 total.
What about the bridal party? Ribbon, wires, pearl head pins, floral tape, packing, boxes, tissue paper, floral food etc. At least another $150 for the basics to help keep your flowers alive, looking fresh and jazz them up so they don’t look like just your average gift bouquet bought from a retail shop. But hang on, I had to drive out to my wholesaler west of Sydney to pick up all this stuff. Thats another $10 in petrol. $160 total.
$1,017 plus gst so far. Not bad. But this is just cost price. Let’s look at actual labour hours..
Now, this is where the magic happens. Labour costs are a luxury service. They allows you the to sit back, relax and enjoy your wedding date while my team and I design, create and set up your dream wedding day.
In the lead up to your day, I have created a design brief, a budget, a run sheet and probably met with you at least once and sent you various emails. Then I’ve spent a few more hours emailing growers, confirming stock, ordering sundries, calling your vendors to confirm details and bump in times. For a wedding this size, I would spend a minimum of 12 hours in admin. Or 1.6 days straight, for all of you who work in an office.
Now, market day. I leave no later than 4.20am. Let’s call it 4.30am for arguments sake. And this is LATE for most people, because I am lucky enough to have a reserved car spot.
So, out the door at 4.30am. In the market at 5am, pick up orders, visit multiple growers, dodge the trollies and slippery puddles. Pack it all carefully in the van, and then head back to the studio. By this time it’s about 8am. Hour count is currently 3.5 hours.
“This is where the magic happens. Labour costs are a luxury service. They allow you to sit back, relax and enjoy your wedding day, while my team and I design, create and set up your dream wedding day. “
At this time, my assistant arrives at the studio and together we begin prep. Yes, my assistant. A wedding this size will take two professionals to prep. Next up, conditioning. We strip, cut and conditional all your florals in pre-washed, bleached buckets. Processing 500 stems plus foliage takes about 2 hours. Now it’s 10am, and I’m probably going to stop for 15 minutes so I can have a coffee and shove some food in my face (I’ve have been up since 3.30am!).
10.15am – I get started on making the bridal party florals, while my assistant starts on the guest table centrepieces. I spend about 1 hour per bouquet, plus extra to ribbon up bouquets and get their packing ready. This gets me to 2.15pm. 4 hours total
My assistant spends about 20 minutes per table centrepiece – again, for arguments sake let’s say she’s having a great day and gets them all done in 3 hours. Then she spends an hour on the bridal table and cake flowers. 4 hours total.
2.15pm – Another quick stop for lunch and back to it by 2.30pm. My assistant and I join forces to finish off the buttonholes and do a final check of all the centrepieces, bouquets etc. The buttonholes are all wired and taped to ensure the moisture is sealed in and they don’t break from all the chest bumps and hugs that the groom/groomsmen will no doubt experience during the day. Fiddly work. To make 4 x groom/groomsmen buttonholes, plus another 4 mum/dad buttonholes and do our final checks, takes us about 2 hours. Or 4 hours of labour because there are two of us.
Alright, day is almost done. It’s 4.30pm. Now we need to check our supplies, do our pre-pack for tomorrow and run a final check list for to ensure we haven’t forgotten anything, clean up and wash any empty buckets. 1 hour. Or 2 hours total labour because there are two of us. Its now 5.30pm and I send my assistant home. She has been here since 8am and had a half an hour break. 9 hours work.
I knock off too because I’ve been up since 4.30am and I am WRECKED! I’ve been on the clock from 4.30am with a half hour break. Total hours worked today is 12.5 hours
WEDDING DAY! The best part of the job. Everything is ready and now all the beautiful bits and pieces fall together to make your dream wedding happen.
It’s 9am and I start my day. I pack all your beautiful bouquets into their water sources and boxes, I check over and label all the buttonholes before packing them into their boxes. I pack the van with all your bits and pieces, centrepieces, spare flowers, tools to build the arch – packing the van is like playing a game of real life tetras, except with very fragile items! Because flowers are fragile, I have to take it slow. This whole process takes me about 1.5 hours. By 10.30am I’m on the road for my first delivery – your bridal bouquets. Second delivery, groom’s buttonholes. Again, for arguments sake, let’s say it takes me 1.5 hours to drive around and deliver to two locations.
12pm. I’ve finished deliveries and I head straight to your ceremony location to set up. Your ceremony is at 2pm, so by the time I arrive it’s about 12.30pm. I have my assistant meet me there as it’s a really quick turn around and I’m definitely going to need another set of hands. Guests will probably start arriving at 1.30pm. That means we have exactly 1 hour to unpack, and install your ceremony florals onto your abour and clean up after myself. It’s only a small arbour so 1 hour between two people for unpack, set up and clean up will be tight, but doable (providing I can drive right up to your ceremony location and unload).
Guests start arriving and we hang around (out of site) until the end of your ceremony and your guests have moved on so we can take down your flowers. It’s probably about 3.30pm by now. We carefully dismantle your flowers and pack up so I can take them to the reception and perhaps use them in the bathroom or on the bar (I hate wasting flowers). It’s now 4pm and I have to race to your reception venue by 4.30pm to set up.
4.30pm – your reception starts at 6pm, so my assistant and I have 1.5 hours to unpack and set up. Probably less because your guests will no doubt arrive a little early. We race around and put out all the table centrepieces, give them a final jazz because they have no doubt moved around in the bumpy van ride, set up bridal table flowers and decorated the cake. I’ve also re-arranged your ceremony florals so you have a few extras on the cake table, ladies bathroom and bar. It’s 5.45pm. Clean up, pack the van and get the hell out of there. 6pm. That’s a total of 9 hours.
“We carefully dismantle your flowers and pack up so I can take them to the reception and perhaps use them in the bathroom or on the bar (I hate wasting flowers).”
Lets do some maths. Here is a breakdown of the hours..
Admin hours – 12
Prep day hours – 12.5
Prep day hours for my assistant – 9
Wedding day hours – 9
Wedding day hours for my assistant – 5.5
Thats a total of 48 hours labour. The casual award rate for a junior florist in NSW is just under $25. Now, I am not a junior florist. And I do not pay my staff junior rates because their skills, design ability, hard work and dedication are incredible and worth much more. But, for arguments sake, let’s just role with it..
Total hours x $25 per hour = $1,200
Let’s look at our total budget shall we..
Florals / Sundries = $1,017 (plus gst)
Labour = $1,200
Total = $2,217 (plus gst)
Not bad, a wedding for 80 guests, bridal party and ceremony florals for just over the 2K mark.
But hang on, there are a few other things to factor in..
- We haven’t paid myself or my assistant superannuation yet
- I used heaps of water to keep your florals alive. I also used a lot of electricity too for the fridges and cool rooms. If I run my business out of a studio space, there is probably rent to pay too. Bills need to be paid, and that doesn’t come out of my personal pay.
- Petrol. I did a lot of driving on your wedding day. Probably 3/4 – one full tank.
- GST. I have tax to pay every quarter. And that’s not coming out of my pay either. Whack anther 10% on there.
- 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. You’d be looking at a standard, retail mark up of at least 50% on there. Food (or flowers) for thought..
- Pack down. At the end of your wedding, all you want to do is go and enjoy time with your new husband/wife. Or sleep. So I gracefully come back at midnight to pack down your wedding reception so you and your guests don’t have to. Working past midnight is costly. Think about it – how much would you want to be paid to get out of bed at 12am on a Saturday to pack up someone else’s party?
- Weekend rates. My team and I give up all of our weekend. We do it because we love it. But again, it is a luxury item for us to do this on your behalf. Casual rates in NSW usually factor in some sort of weekend penalty rates, which I have not included here.
I’m not going to add up the rest of these costs for you, but I’m sure you can now see how we very quickly get to a $3.5K wedding flower budget.
Next week, how do we stretch our budget? Just because you have a small budget, doesn’t mean you can’t have the wedding of your dreams. I’m a big fan of having “focal points” in a wedding design – this is where we pick out your priorities to focus on. This will give you a clear idea on where you should spend, where you can save, and what you should splurge on!
More tips on this next week – until then, stay badass kids!