Calling All Floral Designers: Reality Check Wednesday

Here’s a question wedding pros, how do you really feel about Pinterest?

Brides, I ask you the same question.

Here is my take and a plan to do something about it.

Pinterest is jam packed with the most gorgeous images. Brides scroll for hours sparking their imagination and fueling their wedding dreams.


and this is a really big but. They have no idea of what some of this magnificent splendor costs.

Every week I see the look of shock and horror on the faces of the brides I consult with when they hear the price on the stunning bouquet that they just have to have or the floral chandelier or sky high centerpieces. It really isn’t their fault. The one thing you can’t find on Pinterest is pricing.

Here is my plan, I want to create a group of event florists from around the country, or the world for that matter to review one Pinterest image every week and price it out. Now I know no one wants to be quoted or held to a price, so we can do all this in private and I’ll just list your quotes by locations. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what the same design would go for in New York vs California vs Oklahoma. How about urban center vs rural America.

Don’t you think this would make life easier for us floral designers if our clients were armed with a little reality before they set their heart on lining the entire staircase with floral garland?

Who’s in? No commitment to participate every week and I promise to not reveal your identity. You can also feel free to comment on the item.

I think it will be a fun and informative project. If you want to participate you can email me directly at

To get this ball rolling

Do You Need a Wedding Planner? Would You Remodel Your Home Without a General Contractor?

I don’t get it. Why would you take on a project that can cost you anywhere from $10,000 to, well, as high as you want to go without having a professional by your side?

Here is the thing, would you take on a major home remodeling project without hiring a general contractor? Of course not. I know, you are asking how are those even remotely the same. Let me ask you,

“How are they different?”

  • Both have budgets in at least the 5 figure range. That is a LOT of money.
  • In both instances you want a high degree of personalization. In short, you want YOUR dream to be executed.
  • Both will require a long list of sub-contractors that you have most likely never dealt with before.
  • Both require tight scheduling to make sure everything comes together on time and on budget.
  • Both are going to have glitches and unexpected issues pop up that someone is going to have to deal with.
  • The results of both are going to be with you for a long, long time.

Am I beginning to make some sense here?

All those things listed above are what a wedding planner does.

  • They know which vendors are reliable and match your style.
  • They help you translate your dreams to the people who are going to make them come true.
  • They know all about how your venue works in terms of timing and convenience for load in.
  • It is their job to keep that timeline on track so, for example, the flowers show up after the tables are set up, dinner is served hot and the MC know when to do the first dance.
  • It is their job to keep all those sub-contractors working together on the right plan.
  • They are there to look you right in the eye and say “Yes you can have that, but you are going to have to give up XYZ”
  • They are there to handle those last-minute glitches and issues in a way that you don’t even know they happened.

There is a wealth of information online today on how to plan a wedding, but until you actually do it, you have no idea of everything involved.
Seriously, when you look at it in this light, why would you even think of not hiring a wedding planner for one of the days you are going to remember for the rest of your life.

Sure, I could watch HGTV, DIY Network, House Crashers and This Old House until my eyes bleed but one episode of Holmes on Homes or DIY Disaster will cure my ass of thinking I can remodel my kitchen on my own!


*To my wedding planner friends, please feel free to copy this to your own blog. All I need is that you leave the following attribution:

By: Christine Boulton

Wedding Dish

Think Like A Bride


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Why Can’t I Get Lobster for the Price of Cheeseburgers?

I mean they take up the same amount of space on the plate??

That is just about as ridiculous of a statement as the one I heard today from a wedding planner. She was talking to a good friend of the Dish about how expensive her bride’s bouquet was going to be.
Yes, this bouquet was a bit pricier than most, BUT, that had to do entirely with the flowers the bride insisted on using.Purple Lady Slipper Orchid
Two of the most expensive flowers you can use are Lady Slipper Orchids and mini Calla Lilies. The bride wanted both, with the callas in two different colors. Two different colors means two entire bunches no matter how few you are actually using in the bouquet. ~sigh~

As wedding professionals, we are running a business. Our intention above and beyond making our clients outrageously happy  and their day all they have dreamed of is to make a profit while doing so. That is why we are in business. If we don’t do that, we won’t have the opportunity to make clients happy for long.
As a bride, there is nothing, and I do mean nothing; no product or service, that you cannot have. With one little caveat: you have to pay for it.

Do you want your florist to store, transport and arrange the hundreds of votive candles you bought online instead of from them? No problem, Purple Mini Calla Liliesas long as you compensate them for their time.

Do you want the calligrapher you hired to address the invitations you bought online to also fold them and stuff the envelopes? Same thing, expect to compensate them.

Do you want your caterer to cork and pour the cases of Two Buck Chuck you picked up at Trader Joes? Same thing.

Have to have coral peonies for your arrangements? Great but they won’t be in season for 3 weeks. How does $6 a stem grab you?

My point is two fold. First and foremost, work with your wedding vendors to find compromises that work with both your budget and desired outcome. For instance, with today’s bride’s bouquet she switched to a different orchid, one color of callas and replaced the other with cream roses. Your professionals know how to make things happen.

The second point is that if you are not willing to compromise, be willing to pay for the privilege.

Negotiating With Wedding Vendors

You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.

I work with some of the best wedding professionals in the world and most are more than willing to bend over backwards to ensure your day is all you dreamed. However, there comes time when even they lose patience. By holding strictly to the letter of the contract, a wedding professional can step back and let you suffer the consequences.

Such was the case recently. This bride was doing anything and everything to cut cost, understandably. The problem was the way she was going about it. Rather than working with her vendors to find alternatives and solutions, she brow beat and demanded. At one point she actually said, “I know I have pissed off every one of my vendors.” By the end of the day, even her sister wasn’t speaking to her.

Take for instance the florist. She had been so nickel and dimed, browbeat and berated by this bride that there was no way she would do anything extra for this woman. When the bride realized that she had neglected to have the friend that was making the bouquet put together anything for the mothers the bride told her sister to go get any leftover flowers and make something. Now anytime a florist is doing anything on site there are always extra flowers hanging around. Guess what? Awww all the left over roses had been beheaded and put on the cake table. Sorry. But the cake table looked great.

Florists charge for candles and for rentals. This bride didn’t want to pay for either so she borrowed candelabrum from a friend and bought her own candles. The bad news is that the first time the florist got to see the candelabrum was on site at the event. Great. The flowers barely fit and the candles not at all. If we had used the candles provided the whole thing would have gone up in flames. Did we or the hotel have taller candles or another option available? Of course we did. Did we tell her? Nope. The hotel (which had been pushed around enough that the head of sales came into handle the event personally) simple said Sorry, no open flames. Do without.

There were just a million and one little things that went on like this throughout the entire day. No one did anything wrong or unethical; all they did was hold the bride to the letter of the contract.  I don’t know how to convince you that you will get more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Thanks to Foxy Wedding for the heads up on this video.

Beware the Best of Lists

Just about every city or hamlet has them, blogs have them, websites have them and they all sound so good. What am I talking about? Those ubiquitous “Best Of” lists. Just how good are they? Do they really represent anything? Not really.

There are two basic types: pure numbers and private selection. The pure numbers one is the most prevalent. You know what I’m talking about; some local paper or website runs a marketing campaign to get everyone to vote for their favorite wedding vendors. Best Cake in Bugtussle, Best Photographer, Best Florist and so on. You know as well as I do these are nothing more than a giant ballot box stuffing fest devised to drive traffic to the sponsor’s website. Everyone that is nominated sends out email to their entire network saying “Vote for ME!!!” You’ve done it, so have I. I voted everyday for a friend’s bridal salon to be Best of Boston. Have I shopped there? I’ve never even been to Boston! Of course now I can’t seem to get off the lead list for whatever Boston paper it was that ran the thing.

My point is that it has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the vendors that win, well not usually*. It has to do with how deep their network is.

Yesterday I say a new one. This one was all full of itself and set up to be different. Nomination were open, just fill out the form. Then the website owner and one other person would review the nominees and pick the top three in each category. Hahaha, ya right.

I have been in this industry in this market for over 20 years. I have been an active member of the largest regional bridal networking organization for almost that long. I work on the B2B end now and hear all the dirt from everyone. Having said that you would have to figure that I have a pretty decent handle on what’s what and who’s who around here.

As my friend, a wedding planner and I looked over the winners yesterday, we started seeing a distinct trend. All the winners were second to third tier players and interestingly enough, either advertisers on the site or had been the vendors of the bride chosen to do the review. Not one of the people places or things that always rise to the top was chosen. Not one.

What makes me sad is that there are brides that look to these lists for answers. It isn’t fair to mislead the public like this just to drive traffic to your site and your friends. Take these things with a big grain of salt and recognize them for what they are: marketing tools for the sponsor.

*I said usually because there is one that really does it right and must be honest to a fault. After all, they picked me for best dessert in Nashville 13 years in a row! LOL

DIY Madness

Every now and then I run across a DIY project that makes me nuts. This is one of them. It is a ring bearer’s pillow made of stephanotis. Yes it is beautiful. Yes it will smell fabulous. Yes you CAN do it yourself. Should you? Well let’s take a little look at what they don’t tell you.

First off the let’s look at the flowers themselves. Stephanotis is beautiful alright but they are one of the most fragile flowers out there. They must be handled much differently from other flowers. As cited in the article there are special cotton tipped stems that must be used to keep them fresh. First you remove the natural stems and insert the moistened cotton tipped wires which you then wrap in floral tape. That is not as easy for a novice as it sounds since steph’s will discolor from the slightest touch. A florist knows to only touch them on the back side of the bloom. It’s also very time consuming.

The article calls for 150 to 175 blooms. I checked yesterday and the current wholesale price is $1 per bloom. Unless you have an inside connection to the floral wholesalers they aren’t going to sell to you. That means you will be paying retail, more like $2 per bloom. I’m betting that you aren’t going to find these bad boys at Costco either; so be prepared for a bit of sticker shock.

The second glaring inconsistence in the article is the use of floral foam. Makes sense on the surface but falls apart in reality. Literally. A 6” x 6” x 1” block of floral foam, once soaked will snap in half from its own weight. So now your little 5 year old nephew is carrying a very fragile, heavy, drippy thing that turns brown where ever he touches it. Good times.

Not only have you got a mess on your hands but it’s a mess you didn’t need in the first place. Remember all the work you did to remove the stems and replace them with the cotton tipped wires? Think about this for a minute; if the blooms have no stems how are they possibly going to soak up water from the foam? Besides, wasn’t the whole point of replacing the stems to give each bloom its own water source?

There are a lot of wonderful DIY projects out there; this my friends, isn’t one of them. Save your money and your sanity and find one that you can do in advance. In fact, this one might just be do-able out of silks. Now I’ll bet that is something you never thought you’d hear your Wedding Diva say. I did kind of shudder as I typed it.

The article is in the Aug Sept 2008 issue of Modern Bride, page 178. Sorry guys, but you know I call them as I see them.

Thank you Miss Peacock for Speaking Up.

I found the following comment from Miss Peacock over at Wedding Bee this morning.

”Since the VW salon would not allow me to take pictures, I asked these very unhappy 14 year old girls to model the dresses for me. They all showed up without washing their hair or putting on make-up, but since I was on a time crunch, I let it slide. They were also so hungry that I was worried they would eat me.”

Boy did she nail it! I have to tell you that seeing these models in person is sometimes pretty startling. While Miss. P’s comment is directed at the runway models for Vera Wang; the ones that have always disturbed me the most are the ones that Monique Lhullier uses. One season I sat in her runway show thinking that if these young ladies are that damn miserable why didn’t they just quit. Are they some kind of indentured servants? What are the designers trying to achieve with this undernourished junkie look?

In defense of Miss Wang, the models I see at her salon runway show don’t have that heroin junkie look. They also however, don’t have boobs either. I have sat at table in her showroom with both buyers and other members of the press and the comment always goes something like this:

“Pretty but can that gown even be cut to accommodate real breasts?”

It is a sad commentary that so many of the couture gowns are designed for the models rather than real American women.

At the same time that these designers are cutting for an almost boyish figure the popularity of breast augmentation surgery is on the rise. The result of these two distinctly opposite trends is that more and more brides that wear something like a size 2 in street clothes are having to order their gown in a size 12 or 14 to accommodate their bust. There is no way under the sun that these gowns can then be altered that much with out losing precious details.

I have said it before and I will keep saying until the WIC gets it. Stop designing for your models and take a look at the real women all around you. Climb down out of your atelier and go for a walk. One more thing, while you’re out there…eat a freaking sandwich, you could use it!!!!

Hide the Bride

There just are not words…

Oh wait, didn’t someone say something about tulleolopes?

See the complete story here.

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