I love things that look expensive but aren’t. It just gives you this great feeling—indulgence without the guilt of a busted budget. The trick is saving money without looking cheap, and that can be a tough balance.
Such is the struggle of an event planner planning a floral budget.
Fresh flowers and creative arrangements can transform a meeting venue, but they can also eat up a big portion of your budget. But try to cut corners and you can end up with a venue that looks cheap and sparse.
Let’s stop and smell the roses and get a fresh perspective on event flowers. We spoke to two professional florists to get their expert insight on getting the most bloom for your buck.
Many florists don’t like to plan from a distance—they often request to join venue site tours to see the space themselves.
“Spacing is a huge issue when planning floral for an event,” says Paul Castro, vice president of sales and operations at Big Apple Florist in New York City. “I like to walk into a space and see what areas catch my eye. Seeing the space helps me save event planners money and get the most value.”
By allowing your florist to see the space in person, they can help pick out the points of interest or areas of the space that could use some floral enhancement. That way, you’re not paying for flowers that will go unnoticed in a part of the venue that won’t be used.
Big spaces can be daunting on a tight floral budget, but there’s no need to put floral arrangements in every last nook and cranny. Instead, think about the flow of the event—focus your efforts where they will have the biggest impact.
“If you don’t have a big budget but want to have an impact, do a couple of larger pieces instead ten centerpieces,” says Orly Khon, owner of Orly Khon Floral in Boston.
Khon says to think about where people will be spending time at the event. Is this a seated dinner? Then maybe centerpieces are indeed where you want to focus the budget. “But if you have more of a cocktail area where people will be moving place to place, focus the budget there,” says Khon. “A lot of event planners want flowers everywhere, but when it comes to budget, they realize it’s not possible.”
Many planners come in dead set on a certain type of flower, either because of a client request or their own notion of what is needed, but many times the same look and feel can be accomplished with a more economical choice. If you come in set on a certain blossom, only to find out it’s going to stretch your budget, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
“A lot of people like seasonal flowers, gardenias, peonies, but these often are either not available or very expensive,” says Castro. “An orchid could give you the same look and feel, but without spending nearly as much.”
So many problems between vendors and planners can be solved with clarity around just one subject: budget.
“It’s important to be very clear about the budget,” says Khon. “Sometimes people don’t want to be clear because they feel like they’ll be locked into a certain amount, but for us to create a proposal and make it seamless, we need to understand what you can spend.”
Without a clear number in mind, it’s difficult for your florist to make a proposal that will match your needs and expectations. And it’s not just the money that Khon and other florists need clarity on—the event type, style, and desired look are all vital to getting a proposal right the first time.
Some florists prefer you meet with them to go over the space, event type, and needs before settling on a final budget. Why?
“You end up wanting to drive a Benz, but with a Kia budget!” says Castro. Meeting with the florist beforehand can help manage expectations on both ends. Event planners can share with the florist the needs, the space, what’s non-negotiable and where they can have some flexibility. The florist can use that information to give the planner an idea of what they’ll need to spend to meet their goals.
More than anything, Castro says to find a florist you can build a relationship with. “Find a florist that you trust and will do the right thing by you, every time you work together. You may not need flowers for every event you plan, but many you will. You need someone you can rely on to give you the best deal possible.”
Like most things in life, it’s possible to cut corners and save money by doing-it-yourself, but having a florist you trust will lead to a high quality experience for attendees. Florists—as opposed to a big box store—are more likely to guarantee flower freshness and longevity, as well as have long standing relationships with trusted producers. Plus, they can get to know your needs and style and give you exactly what you need.
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