Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Cost of Wedding Flowers - Centerpieces

To give you some idea of what the flowers you see in bridal magazines really cost, I've borrowed a couple photos of centerpieces from Martha Stewart Weddings and priced them out for you.

Centerpiece #1 in purples and browns with roses, succulents, and fern curls in cast iron urn. $684.

Centerpiece #2 in orange and yellow with roses, dahlias, crab apples, and viburnum berries. $490.

Centerpiece #3 all ranunculus in shades of yellow in a ceramic urn. $822.

Now you're wondering where I got those crazy prices from! Flowers, baby, flowers! Martha loves her flowers and uses lots of them.

I'm sure the prices I gave can be disputed, but here's how the numbers work:

  1. Count the number of blossoms of each type of flower. Multiply this by 2 since you can only see half of the centerpiece in the photo.
  2. Multiply the total number of each type of blossom by what they cost retail per stem.
  3. Add all those prices up.
  4. Add in price of container and any other floral supplies.
  5. Multiply this total by 50% for labor.
  6. Add labor figure to total for flowers and supplies for final price.

Every florist uses a different formula for their pricing structure, but this is mine and not that unusual. Even using different formulas, a lot of florists will end up priced out about the same.

I know you're looking at that 50% for labor and thinking that's insane, but all those flowers don't arrange themselves, and depending on your florist, any where from 1/4 to 1/2 of the cost of your flower arrangements is the labor it takes to make them, with my 1/3 falling somewhere in the middle. (Yes, 50% of materials costs equals 33% of the total cost of the arrangement - $200 of materials, times 50% for labor of $100, adds up to $300, with 33% of your cost as labor. There's a lot of math when you're a florist!)

Magazine flowers are arranged to make a nice photograph, actually a more than nice photograph, and while I'm sure every photo shoot has a budget, I'm sure the retail price of the arrangement is not a major consideration.

Keep in mind, these are basic round centerpieces, nothing even very tricky construction-wise, which can add to the cost. It's mostly the sheer volume of flowers - that brown and purple piece has easily $70 of fern curls alone!

Repeat after me - flowers in abundance cost more!


Angela Kusek-Schubert said...

Such amazing arrangements but I can't imagine doing 30 of them! ;)
Most of our brides want their centerpieces under $50 each.

Sprout said...

Our brides want the $490 fruit filled centerpiece for $60, maybe $75. They have no clue what these magazine things cost.

I'd love to see Martha do a $50 floral centerpiece!!! Can we challenge her?!

I wish I had a big readership of florists - I'd challenge all the florist bloggers to a $50 centerpiece contest, readers decide. :-)

Michelle May said...

Wow! Can I repost? This is an amazing and insightful post that brides should keep in mind. Thanks Cathy for taking the time to get down and dirty!

Sprout said...

Repost away!

I think brides are blissfully unaware of what those pretty flowers in bridal magazines cost which puts them at a terrible disadvantage when it comes time to plan their weddings.

Michelle May said...

Cathy your post is so valuable to brides and to florists. Time is a big cost for everyone. Brides should really know that magazine arrangements are like airbrushed models! This post is so informative and real. Thanks Cathy for this realistic kick in the pants! ;))) Bring on that challenge. I would love to see the results.

Kristin Wolter-Canfield said...

So how do you talk a "blissfully unaware" bride down? What kind of suggestions do you make?

Sprout said...

Talking brides down is not easy, but I definitely start talking about the budget right at the beginning of the consultation now and not after all the fantasizing!

To make it easier, I now give them a short questionnaire about flowers and one of the questions is "What's your budget?" with boxes to tick off with price ranges, "under $1000, $1000-2000, $2000-3000" etc. They'd rather check off a box than say it out loud.

A good selection of photos of my work in the more common price ranges also helps.

I can then talk about substitutions for some flowers, say hypericum for the uber expensive viburnum berries, but frankly there's no substitution for the volume of flowers. Even in carnations that ranunculus centerpiece would be well over $200!

I also advise my brides that if they don't have a large budget for flowers, they should consider putting some of their money into colored linens. An extra $10 per table to get out of white or ivory linen and into a color does way more to the look of the room than putting that $10 in flowers! No, I don't rent linen, so not the best business move, but honest!

Sprout said...

Come on! Anyone up for the $50 floral centerpiece challenge??!!

Kristin Wolter-Canfield said...

Hmmmm, what does the winner get???

Sprout said...

Hmmm....let me think on that!

Keep watching the blog - I'll try to figure out how we can do the $50 centerpiece challenge! I'll take any suggestions out there on how to set up a contest. :-)

Angela Kusek-Schubert said...

I'm totally up for $50 centerpiece challenge!

I think we should get Martha (or her people) to do one too! ;)

Your insight is invaluable - thanks for sharing!

Sprout said...

I am going to find a way to make the $50 centerpiece challenge work! And I will invite Martha or her team to participate!

Know anyone florists where you are who you could coax into playing? I'm thinking the more, the merrier, and the more informative it will be!

Apotheca Flower Shoppe said...

This is incredible! As current florist we are dealing with more informed brides that ever before--it makes it exciting but difficult at times. They want what they see in magazines and it's hard sometimes to express just how expensive those images are to produce! Thanks for taking the time to do this
- and for the nice comment you posted on my blog : )

Sprout said...

Apotheca, thanks back! Want to do the $50 centerpiece challenge? ;-)

Keep watching the blog, while I figure out the details!

GirlTikiLove said...

I know that this post is old, but I found it as I was perusing your blog (which is a great read) and I wanted to comment because it has to do with the cost of wedding flowers.

I’m a bride who is having the hardest time trying to find a florist for my smallish wedding (70 people) in Boston. I’m getting married at the beginning of May and had my heart set on tulips for our centerpieces. I love tulips and I chose them because they are still in season at that time. My needs are simple: a bunch of long stemmed tulips coming out of a fish bowl or glass cylinder vase. Nothing else. No greens, no extra flowers – that’s it.

My problem is this: every florist I have met with wants nothing less than $100 for this simple arrangement. It is completely inconceivable to me why I should be expected to pay that kind of money. In a way, I feel like I am being ripped off because it’s for a wedding (not another occasion) and I’m at my wit’s end.

Around the end of April, I like to buy tulips for my home. I can always get a bunch of 6 tulips for around $10 at Costco or even at a local shop. I buy the long stemmed ones and they are gorgeous. For my centerpieces, I would want a dozen pink or white tulips – so say that’s around $20 for two bunches. For the vases, I just want a simple glass vase. That would be around $15. Add that up and you get $35. Of course, we should mark that up a bit for “labor”, although that should only be an extra $10 or so. All the florist is doing is putting a dozen tulips in a vase, maybe taking 15 seconds to arrange them a bit so they are evenly distributed. Total cost? $45-$50.

So, someone please tell me where the $100 figure comes from. I expect to pay well for my bouquet and our ceremony flowers because these take lots of time and skill to create. That’s not an issue. But charging me $100 to stick $20 worth of tulips in a cheap glass vase is insulting. I have tried meeting with florists in Boston and in surrounding communities (thinking that they would be more reasonable than florists in the city) and it’s always the same story. By the way, the $100 usually excludes the delivery/set-up fee.

I realize that florists need to make money – I’m not disputing that. But, you would think that someone out there would want to forge a good business relationship with a new client and quote reasonable prices. Word of mouth travels quickly. I surely would sing the praises of a florist who didn’t try to jip her customers when it comes to weddings. Everything is already priced way out of whack and it’s terrible how businesses take advantage of this.

By the way, I really wanted to order my own tulips and pick up vases at GoodWill for like $3 each (they have those common cylinder ones at my local store) – then my family and I could create the centerpieces ourselves. But, we don’t have a place to store them and we don’t have any time the day before the wedding…so that’s out. Now, I’m faced with the possibility that I won’t be able to have any flowers for our tables because we can’t fit the $100 a table into our budget. Even if I could, I don’t think I could justify the cost for what I am asking for.

Sprout said...

Dear GirlTikiLove -

I understand your frustration, and hope you will find a florist who will be willing to work with you on your wedding, but I think you've got 2 main problems.

1. You said your wedding is at the beginning of May. Well, a quick look at the 2010 calendar, and I have to ask if you're getting married the same week as Mother's Day? (Mother's Day 2010 is May 9th)

If you're getting married on Mother's Day or in the week preceding it, you may be stuck. The price of flowers goes up across the board due to demand.

Also, you may find some florists won't be even remotely interested in your wedding, particularly during a holiday, unless it meets some minimum amount of $$ they need to make it worth their while. They will be sacrificing taking care of their regular customers who support them all year round to do your one time job.

2. You want "long stemmed" tulips. Without meeting you and showing you pictures, right off the bat, I'm thinking you mean French tulips which cost considerably more than regular tulips. I think most florists would assume the same thing.

A bunch of French tulips, which are the only ones with long stems, (and by the way, all tulips only come in bunches of 10 stems) can cost 2 -3 times more than regular tulips.

I'd love to more fully address your comment in a blog post, so we can get more thoughts from other florists!

Keep your eyes peeled next week!


Great flower lady said...

I am total in on the 50.00 center pc. I hardly get anyone to pay over 65.00..I am IN!


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