Monday, May 2, 2011

Flowers Fit for a Future Queen: Lily-of-the-Valley

OK, the Royal Wedding is all over, and much of the hype has died down. I restrained myself as much as possible for as long a possible because I know a lot of you are so tired of the whole thing.

But I can't keep it in any longer!

We must discuss the royal wedding bouquet!!!

What were your first impressions? Like it, love it?

I'm sure by now you've heard how the flowers were all English grown and that they were chosen for their meanings in the Language of Flowers. There were several flowers in the bouquet, but the main blossom was lily-of-the-valley.

Are you now in love with lily-of-the-valley?! My first thoughts as a florist when I saw the bouquet were - LOV = $$$, and Crap. I do not want to wire lily-of-the-valley.

The cost: Lily-of-the-valley is one of the priciest little flowers around. It is generally forced in greenhouses in the Netherlands (a well paid first world economy) and I have been told that only half of the tubers will actually bloom so they have to grow twice as many as they need.

It is available most of the year, except the hot summer months. There are two weeks in May where you can get locally grown LOV and the price will come down, but is still not cheap. Not even close.

I spoke with my vendor Friday and got the latest prices.

Are you sitting down?

Twenty-five teeny tiny stems of lily-of-the-valley, with nothing done to it, at my shop would cost - $180-190.

This is how lily-of-the-valley comes in the flower market. I think that little jar has 3 bunches in it. With leaves.

How many stems do you think were used in Kate Middleton's bouquet? One hundred? At least 100 is my guess.

Now 100 stems at $190/25 stems = $760. We're talking some serious cash here and I may be way off on the stem count, could be 100 stems, could be 200. It's hard to tell.

You may recall my other reaction - Crap. I do not want to wire lily-of-the-valley.

Wiring is where the florist adds a thin wire to the stem of the flower with floral tape. This lengthens the stem if is short (or even non-existent in the case of gardenias and stephanotis). It also can make the stem thinner and lighter than if you used the natural stem and it allows you to bend the stem in directions it wouldn't naturally be able to go, like upside down.

As I'm sure you can imagine, this is tedious, time consuming, and labor intensive work.

Labor intensive = $$$

It's why corsages can be expensive relative to their size, it's not only the price of the flowers but all the painstaking handwork that goes into them.

Kate Middleton's bouquet was all handwired - you can tell by the tiny handle and the fact that the flowers hang upside down.

How much could you expect to pay for a bridal bouquet fit for a queen?

My best estimate - $1500-2000.

Yes, you can say it - a queen's ransom!

Perhaps most of us would be better off planting a little in the yard to enjoy like this!


Cadet said...

Great analysis. You've hit it on the head. In the scheme of things, considering the wedding cost at least $34 million including security, it's not a lot of money for a royal bouquet. But it's as much as some people spend on all their wedding flowers. There were at LEAST three identical bouquets made for Kate... one for the procession, one for family photographs at Buckingham Palace, and a spare, just in case (just like Harry.)

Now, florists around the world are trying to figure out how to "get the look" for less cost, using substitute flowers that just aren't the same.

Sprout said...

The average cost of flowers for an entire wedding in the US is $1988. That includes everything, so one bouquet like this is certainly over the top for most people. Unless you find a Prince!

I'm working on some ideas for a substitute, but man it's tough. Very little has that look and is widely available. And certainly not much has the lovely fragrance!

Tracy Novick said...

I had the same thought: that's going to be a tough one to fake!

Sprout said...

One florist suggested we use a high quality fake flower, but of course that would have no scent at all!


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