More than 2 million couples get married in the United States every year, and presumably, most of them have weddings. Most of those weddings have flowers, and most of those flowers are prepared, arranged, delivered, and set up by florists.
In 2017, on average, those florists worked 54 weddings apiece, with about 23.7 hours of work per event. The average wedding requires 632 “stems” (that’s florist talk for individual flowers). Over and above the near-full-day florists spend arranging flowers for each wedding, they also provide countless hours of consultation, email correspondence, and debate over the relative merits of fuchsia versus magenta.
Florists are human beings who can only take so much before they want to set fire to their own flower coolers. And couples who are essentially tasked with planning a massive, raging party that won’t offend the grandparents aren’t known for their calm, stress-free approach to personal interaction.
I’d rather go out of business than go back to weddings every weekend.
Florists get it: It’s your special day. But your special day is another hard shift for the person behind your floral dreams. It’s nice to remember that and to avoid behavior that drives florists crazy. We’re talking about stuff like:
1. Having Eyes Too Big for Your Budget
We’ll call this florist “Violet.” She runs a small, Midwestern flower shop that caters largely to the young and the hip, i.e., the prime marriage demographic. But not so long ago, she stopped offering wedding services, even though the events made up a fair chunk of her shop’s income.
“I’d rather go out of business than go back to weddings every weekend,” she tells HealthyWay. This is a source who’s ready to talk straight. With no incentive to sugarcoat, she’s the ideal florist to warn those who are about to get married what not to do.
When we ask Violet about annoying bride behavior, one word comes up again and again: Pinterest. Apparently the site’s floral content can create outsized expectations.
“They find some pictures on Pinterest and then contact you about their wedding,” Violet says. “They’ll be like, ‘Well, I have a really low budget, but it’s cool because I just want something really simple, like this.’ And they’ll show you a bouquet that they maybe think is really simple because it just has one ingredient, but it’s about 30 stems of Phalaenopsis orchid, which are quite expensive per stem.”
The misunderstanding isn’t the problem, Violet says. She’s happy to explain the blunt facts of cut flower pricing to a confused bride. The trouble starts when Violet gently breaks the news that this Pinterest bouquet would cost a cool grand, and the bride stares back, unperturbed.
“But they’re like, ‘Okay, so my budget is $75, and this is what I want. What can you do for me?'”
Keep in mind that florists are very aware they’ll be interacting with their clients for the next 12 to 18 months or however far out they book their weddings. This is not the right foot to start out on. Still, Violet doesn’t blame the bride, not really.
“That happens a lot,” she says. “But that’s the internet’s fault.”
2. Expecting “Local” Without Limits
“Lily” works for another Midwestern flower shop, where she handles most of the wedding business. Her shop focuses on local flowers and greens, with dramatic, unconventional arrangements.
As a result, Lily’s shop has become quite popular with couples who worry about the (considerable) environmental problems associated with importing cut flowers from Central and South America. The concern is commendable. Unfortunately, some brides seem to like the idea of shopping local more than the reality of what’s locally available.
“They’ll book a wedding on New Year’s Eve and say they want all local,” Lily says. “I mean, unless you live in Hawaii, that’s not very cool to do.”
Local flowers grow according to the local ecosystem. Sadly, brides must choose between what’s available locally during the season and having the bouquet they’ve always dreamed of.
Of course, there is a middle ground if neither extreme works for you. You can always ask for sustainably-grown flowers from California. The California Cut Flower Commission awards BloomCheck Certification only to growers that use the “best practices for sustainability when it comes to water; air and soil quality; wildlife protection; and social impacts on workers and the community,” and the state offers a wide range of cut flower species year-round.
3. Inviting Too Many Cooks to the Consultation
Wedding consultations can be short and sweet. Often, more gets done that way. Most are neither short nor sweet, to hear Violet tell it. She never charged for consultations (many florists don’t), and as the hours ticked past, she could hear almost the steady plink of coins dropping from her cash register into the bottomless pit of lost productivity.
“The second-worst [person to bring to a wedding consultation] would be a sister or a bridesmaid who just got married,” Violet says. “Because then that person will be like, ‘Well, at my wedding…’ It’s really fresh in her mind because she just did all that, so she wants to be a lot like, ‘When I was planning my wedding, then…,’ you know? That person can be bossy.”
Okay, so we have to ask: If that’s the “second-worst” attendee of a wedding consultation, who is the worst? Violet doesn’t bat an eyelash.
“The worst thing is a mom, and then the worst type of mom is the one that’s like, ‘Well, I worked at a florist shop when I was in high school, so I have a lot of ideas and specifications about what should happen here.'”
Apparently, this character appears frequently enough to be a thing in the floral industry.
Now, we wouldn’t advocate leaving your mother out of the consultation if you want her there. But there are a few things you can do to make the whole experience more pleasant.
First of all, have clear ideas about what you want. Arrive with your budget in mind. And, if you prefer a longer, more intensive discussion (or if your mother takes the whole afternoon off in preparation), consider visiting a florist that charges for consultations. At least that way, there’ll be pressure on both sides to keep things rolling along efficiently.
4. Having Too Particular a Palette
Florists are experts in color. They can talk your ear off about the difference between “eggshell” and “cream.” But what they can’t do is affect the subtle shade of a particular bloom, at least, not without spray paint, and who wants a spray-painted flower?
The color scheme is a huge decision for a wedding ceremony, and many couples get really into picking theirs out. That’s terrific. Just remember that flowers are plants, and while growers breed them in many finely-tuned hues, there’s bound to be a little variation from stem to stem. A bit of flexibility will go a long way in creating the picture-perfect ceremony.
The most annoying bridal behavior “comes in the form of a Biblical nitpickery … like, 18 emails a day for a year,” says Violet. “Like, ‘Look, I know before I said royal, but now it might be more of a cobalt, but cobalt tending more towards royal than to navy. Maybe it’s a light navy.”
That’s too particular, Violet says.
“It doesn’t get to that level of specificity,” she explains.
5. Being Too Stressed to Survive
This advice goes way beyond the flowers: Relax. No wedding ceremony is perfect. The caterers will forget the mac and cheese. Your in-laws will be unhappy with the music. The kids will drain unattended glasses. This stuff happens, and you still end up married the next day.
Wedding florists have seen it all, and since they’re on the scene on the big day, they often end up acting as unofficial fixers for the couple of the hour. They might provide the crucial safety pin to correct a last-minute dress malfunction. They might talk down a stressed out groomsman while pinning on the boutonniere. But performing in this role also subjects them to some less-than-chill behavior on the part of their clients.
“You can have a bride that is really easygoing up to the day of the wedding, and on wedding day, she’s a type A nightmare,” says Lily. “Wedding days are stressful, so that makes more sense.”
The stranger iteration of a stressed-out bride is the opposite, Lily says.
“What’s weirder, and this happens just as often, is that someone who bothers you for months before the event, and then on wedding day, they’re super relaxed about whatever happens,” she says. “That’s a little more heartening to me: They made it here, and they’re happy about it. They’re enjoying this.”
6. Ignoring This Alarming Professional Advice
You know what else gets you married, besides a lavish, 500-guest, Kim and Kanye-style ceremony? A quick trip to the courthouse. Violet won’t blame you if you decide to take the easy route. Her general take on the wedding ceremony is that it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
“For most people, it does seem like a really stressful and off-putting occasion,” she says. “And I feel bad for them.”
“Just don’t do it,” she says. “I mean, that’s the only way to avoid the overthinking and the terror and the anxiety.”