It’s been four years since we posted our Cost of Wedding Bouquets article, and because it’s been shared and saved so often since then, we thought we’d refresh it with some new designs and photos thanks to Amanda Vidmar and Christina McNeill.
When it comes to wedding expenses, sometimes it’s hard to understand just why a particular element costs what it does, or why there’s such a range in rates. Something as seemingly simple as cake can cost anywhere from $1.50 to $12.00 a slice! Well, today we thought we’d take a look at bridal bouquets to see if we could better understand some of the factors that might result in certain price tags, with our first installment of Budget Breakdown…
1. The Flowers
Let’s start with the most obvious thing: the flowers themselves. For all flowers, there is the cost of labor and resources required to grow and transport them, which can fluctuate based on things like weather and the cost of gas. And of course some flowers are easier to grow and/or transport (in-season sunflowers, for example), while others are more difficult and delicate (say, cattleya orchids).
Just like with fruits and vegetables, seasonality affects both the quality and cost of flowers. If you want peonies at the tail end of the season, they won’t be as full or lush as their peak-season counterparts, so you’ll need more stems to get the same effect. You might be able to get peonies in November, but they have to be shipped from around the world, meaning you pay extra transportation cost.
And similarly to how the slow food movement has become meaningful for a lot of people, the slow flower movement is taking off. You know how these days lots of us like to know where, how and by who our meat is reared? Well, florists (and increasingly, their clients!) like to know that the flower farmers are getting paid a fair wage, and growing flowers without lots of harmful chemicals. Some specialty farms even grow specific varieties of flowers in certain palettes so the florists they work with can source exactly what the client wants, while sticking to their principles. Of course, all of this doesn’t come cheaply, and raises the overall cost of each stem you’re working with.
2. The Florist
Sometimes called a floral designer, the florist you hire will play a role in what you pay for a bouquet. The more experienced, skilled, and in-demand the florist, the more they may charge for their work.
In addition to their time and talent, and the retail mark-up on materials, florists have overhead expenses you might not expect, and that gets factored into what they charge: rent and utilities (retail space or work space), transportation costs (to and from market, to and from venue), and supplies (tape, foam, tools, buckets), to name a few. And as with everything else, their costs depend on location (overhead will be higher in San Francisco than in Milwaukee), which results in a higher or lower mark-up on their product.
Florists may also have to purchase more flowers than they’ll actually end up using in your bouquet. Even if a bouquet will only include six tulips, the florist might need to buy twice that many to guarantee they have enough stems open the right amount at the right time, and can discard any that are damaged or bruised.
3. The Bouquet
And then there’s the bouquet itself. A large bouquet of tulips will obviously cost more than a smaller bouquet of tulips. If your bouquet includes more delicate flowers that require refrigeration, you may end up paying more. And what about the size of each flower? Garden roses and lily-of-the-valley might cost $10 a stem, but you’ll need far fewer garden roses to make an impact.
Something we see a lot in wedding magazines and blogs is bouquets tied with beautiful ribbon – not something that immediately comes to mind as an expense! Though some brides prefer a simple ribbon wrap, a more elaborate ribbon embellishment will cost more – and that cost goes up depending on the quality of the ribbon, which can run anywhere from $4 to $20 a yard.
If you’re thinking about your own wedding bouquet, and wondering how all these things might factor into what you carry down the aisle, here are three similarly-styled bouquets, each from the same San Francisco Based Florist, with three different price tags…
Some of the reasons this might be a $150 bouquet: medium size, use of a few expensive garden roses, use of less expensive textures like Amaranthus and Nut Grass to fill things out, simple color scheme and design with standard satin ribbon.
Why this bouquet might cost $250: slightly larger size, uses more large flowers than the previous bouquet (such as Honey Dijon Garden Roses, Swan Garden Roses, Cosmos, Ranunculus and Nerine Lily), uses fewer “filler” flowers and is accented with silk ribbon from May Arts ($25/roll) and Frou Frou Chic ($20/roll).
Now for a major splurge! Reasons this bouquet might run you $350: quite a large bouquet, almost no “filler” flowers except to add some texture, uses more of the expensive flowers (such as specialty local ‘Honey Dijon” garden roses, peonies, bittersweet vine) tied with hand dyed silk ribbon from Frou Frou Chic (Ivorie Silk $45/roll and Miel Silk $46/roll) which makes for a more elaborate overall design and color scheme.
While it’s good to have a sense of what’s available for your budget, a smaller budget doesn’t have to mean lower expectations; it just means having to be more flexible. A good florist should be able to listen to your ideas and then work within your budget to create something that you’ll love – even if it’s not an exact replica of what you originally had in mind. Who knows – you might just find a bouquet starring ranunculus just as beautiful as a handful of peonies!