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Event Floristry – Professional or DIY?
Guest post by Gemma Stevens | Your Event Coach
As any good event manager or wedding planner will know, flowers create an immediate impact; not just elevating the styling of your event but transforming the overall ambience. There are a huge variety of floral options and arrangements available that can match almost any theme.
Undoubtedly, most event managers and wedding planners will have considered or been asked by their clients, “professional florist, or DIY”? The deciding factor in most cases: budget.
You can certainly save money in arranging the flowers for your own event or wedding, but do you have the time and skill to pull it off? Having arranged flowers for numerous events, celebrations and weddings (including my own!), below are my tips for DIY floristry as well as the benefits in sourcing a professional florist.
Using a professional
We’ve all heard about crazily expensive quotes for event floristry. Sure, some may be a little over the top, although I think the majority are pretty much spot on. What is often unspecified and absorbed in these quotes (as is so common with most valuable suppliers) is the huge amount of labour & skill that goes into planning, sourcing, arranging & delivering these flowers.
For the friend’s weddings that I’ve been fortunate to be entrusted in arranging the flowers for, I’ve produced bouquets, flower crowns, boutonniere’s, corsages, centrepieces and décor/room arrangements. With the couple covering the cost of the flowers, I’ve contributed everything else as a gift – often 2 solid days of labour. The arranging (and other services) is what is often overlooked or misunderstood in reviewing professional quotes.
What is really covered in a professional quote?
- Research & Planning: Whether you know exactly what species & arrangements you’re after or if your brief is only that you ‘like flowers’, a florist will know what is in season, what can be created & installed and how to maximise the options, for your budget.
- Sourcing: Generally, your florist will be sourcing your flowers from 4am the day before your event. They will have their preferred vendors, know how to choose a ‘good/fresh’ flower from a ‘bad/old’ one and have first pick at the best quality. They will also know where to source more exclusive species at wholesale rates.
- Preparation & Arranging: You know how you walk into a florist and see the beautiful flowers with their long clean stems, sitting neatly in their individual vases, ready to be picked? They don’t come like that from the market! Florists will spend hours upon hours stemming, trimming, cutting & preparing your flowers, before they even begin to arrange them. When that time does come, you’re paying for their knowledge and skill to arrange flowers that don’t droop, bruise, fall apart, snap or look like a $10 special bunch from the local petrol station.
- Delivery & Installation: It’s going to be 35° day, flowers need to be delivered 2 hours away at 8am, there are 20 centerpieces, 10 wedding party bouquets/ boutonniere’s and a ceremony archway to be created & installed onsite. Your florist? They have their temperature-controlled van packed securely with extra flowers, tools & equipment and staff for installation.
When should you get a professional?
Because I love all things flowers, I will always gravitate towards sourcing & arranging them myself. Although, there are times when I will always defer to a professional:
- Scale: the logistics involved in any large event means you need to factor in the storage room, tools, staff, transport & time. When delivering a client event with other factors to manage, I cannot afford to step away from these other responsibilities, for the crucial 24-48 hours pre-event.
- Exotic species: whilst I know to handle most ‘common’ flower varieties, I know very little about exotic species, such as tropical flowers. For specialist products or services, it’s always best to use the experts.
- Difficult/heavy installation Vase arrangements are one thing. A suspended, hanging or wall installation is another. Due to the complexity, WH&S factors and skill required for these, I look to the professionals.
Do it yourself
If you’re comfortable in having a go at arranging flowers yourself, it can be a very relaxing & rewarding activity. You’re working with a beautiful & natural product, so even the simplest & informal arrangement is sure to look good!
Personally, I love the freedom & creativity in arranging flowers myself as I can choose what varieties look & feel the best on the day and what styles complement each other. As I already have many of the tools & supplies, I can closely monitor my expenses and choose the best options for my budget.
Knowing first-hand how expensive it can be, a great benefit to me is the ability to use my skills to help friends and family reduce their expenses and give them a hugely personal gift.
Its relaxing! Bizarre as it sounds, I find arriving at the noisy, busy & chaotic markets at 5.30am very calming. By now I have my preferred vendors so I can grab a coffee, check out all the varieties on offer and enjoy the beauty and perfume.
When to try?
A celebration or party for you, a friend or relative (birthday, hen’s, baby shower, special anniversary) could be a great time to experiment in arranging your
own flowers. If you’re planning on giving it a try, below are my tips to ensure you’re well prepared and can really enjoy the experience.
My tips & tricks
- Plan & budget: Have a think about what type of flowers you want (cottage-garden, native or all roses?) and check that they are in season. Work out your budget, make a list of all the arrangements you want/need (centrepieces, present/cake table, bathroom, flower crowns).
- Market day: To make the most of your budget, I strongly suggest you venture to your local flower markets (Sydney). You’ll need to get there early (by 6am if you can), ideally the day before your event. Have a walk around before you buy anything, to check out which flowers look & feel best. Take a trolley, tall buckets with a little water and cash!
- Preparation: Be prepared to spend a large part of the day before your event preparing & arranging your flowers. I always prefer to do this the day before, that way I can clean up all the mess and keep the actual day free to focus on food & setting up! You’ll need to trim, cut & clean your flowers of thorns, excess leaves, bruised petals etc. Make sure you have sharp scissors, gloves & buckets with lots of fresh water plus a large table to work on.
- Arranging: The type of arrangements you make will depend on what you want and have the skill to do. Lovely casual, soft arrangements in vases or jars are always great, as you can build & add as you go. You can be a little firmer with strong stem flowers (I.e. roses) but be mindful of softer more fragile stem flowers (I.e. tulips) which need more care.
- Tools & Equipment: You’ll need lots of bits and pieces to bring your flowers together. This may include vases, jars, florist tape & wire, scissors, ribbon, string. You can buy some of these cheaply from craft stores (like Lincraft or Spotlight) or for a larger & quality variety, check out the 2-3 supply stores at the markets.
- Get others involved! Arranging flowers is a great group activity. If you have friends or family that want to help you organise your event, invite them to the markets and/or to help prepare & arrange the flowers with you. Even better, if you know some guests will arrive far too early, keep some flowers and vases on-hand and put them to work! They’ll feel useful and stay out of your hair at the same time!
Guest post by Gemma Stevens | Your Event Coach
Gemma has worked in the events industry for over a decade, planning conferences, exhibitions, film-premiers, gala events, sporting days and private celebrations including weddings & parties.
With a love of offering advice to people who rarely or never organise events, Gemma started Your Event Coach, with an aim to support individuals, organisations, not-for-profits and associations who often have the workforce and skill to plan and manage their own events, however need short-term coaching on key processes, templates, suppliers and strategies.
“I don’t want to run your event. I want to coach you to run it.”