A week in the life of a wedding florist
I thought I’d write this post to try and give everyone a little behind the scenes look at what actually goes into creating your wedding flowers. There are probably a lot more processes than you think! I’ve divided this into two parts as it got a little long and I’m guessing you don’t want an essay from me!
I often hear people commenting on how expensive wedding flowers are and the main reason for this is (not that we add an extra zero because we hear the word wedding!) that there is a lot of work that goes into creating bespoke wedding flowers. There are many different steps and processes for us to go through before we get to the ‘playing with flowers’ fun part! So here is my summary of a recent wedding journey I went through. I hope you find it interesting.
So we have a wedding coming up on Saturday and this is the final 5 days in the lead up and where the most work happens. I will have already put together all my recipes and stem counts and ordered quite a lot of flowers on pre-order (which is an amazing system my supplier uses which allows us to order direct from the grower) The flowers will come in Wednesday giving them a few days to open up nicely and be fully in bloom for Saturday.
From 3pm on Monday is the best time to buy from the live Dutch auctions so this is what I will be doing for most of the afternoon. There’s 1000’s of stems to choose from and being indecisive it takes me quite a while to put my order together! Of course I know the kind of design I am going to create but there are many different ways to create beautiful displays. I spend a lot of time making sure I am buying the best quality ingredients at the best possible price.
This is a really fun part, cleaning buckets! Nope, not my favourite part of the job but a necessary one none the less. Flowers need to be in clean buckets with fresh water, if the buckets are dirty and contain bacteria then that will affect the life span and the quality of the flowers.
Tidying the workshop (which is inevitably still a mess from the previous weekends wedding) is also a Tuesday job. I’ll collect all my cardboard boxes and fold down into a neat stack for my supplier to collect with my delivery on Wednesday as they take them back and recycle.
Wednesday is flower day! When I got to my studio first thing in the morning there will be a big pile of boxes waiting for me to unpack, full of gorgeous flowers. The delivery driver has a key to my workshop and will let themselves in to drop the boxes there in the dead of night.
So now it’s time to unpack. All of the flowers are thirsty as they have been out of water whilst they travel from Holland, this isn’t a problem for them as long as you recut the stems so they can have a big drink. You should leave them to have a drink for at least 2 hours before using them. Part of the conditioning process is also stripping all foliage off which will be below the water line, if this is left on bacteria will form and your flowers wont be happy.
Above are beautiful British grown peonies and stocks. The British growers I use are great at packing their flowers without extra plastic packaging. These haven’t come from Holland as they are grown over here in the UK but will join the rest of the flowers which have arrived from Holland and will then go on to be delivered to us florists.
I make a trip to my local wholesaler to add some extras to my order. Sometimes I need to do this as there might be a problem with some of the flowers in my order, this could be that they are smaller headed than I was expecting or a different shade of colour which affects the whole harmony of the design! There’s all sorts of potential issues when working with a fresh product! Today I purchase extra peach carnations, orlaya, apricot stocks and yellow achillea.
Because most of my ordering is done online I have to visualise how everything is going to look together and sometimes when the flowers arrive I feel like an extra colour is needed to balance or to create an extra pop. When you have a creative eye so much has to be done with the product in front of you – well not everyone will do this but that’s how I work because I got into floristry for the creativity, colours and textures.
Check on your flowers. This is when you see some bursting open and some that look like they wont budge. The ones that are opening super fast need to be moved somewhere cool and dark, the ones that are taking a while need more warmth and more light! Prime example are these coral charm peonies, they often burst open straight away. Peonies are very unpredictable and cause a lot of stress for florists, they can take anything from 1 day to 1 week to open! Of course we forgive them and use them anyway because, well look at them they’re GORGEOUS!
These flowers above have been moved outside to the sun to help open them up. Part of the reason you might find the cost of peonies in your wedding flowers to be high is because we have to order more than we need as they are so temperamental.
Thursday also is major prep day as Friday will be the main day of making. This means prepping all containers and filling with water. Below are some wallpaper troughs I’m experimenting with! As I choose to work foam free for environmental reasons I am trialling different containers which I can use with chickenwire and water rather than floral foam. You can read more about my reasons to work foam free below
For this particular wedding I had a lot to make and the rest of Thursday was spent tying moss and foliage around large 5ft hoops which will be hung from the marquee ceiling creating floral chandelier style arrangements.
END OF PART ONE!
Part two will follow. This includes the bulk of the making, delivering and setting up but also the aftermath!