Throughout my 20 years of wedding planning and after the first 10 weddings of my now over 600, I watched and observed two wedding service providers that affected the overall success of the event more than any other event supply partner: the role of the caterer and that of the florist.
When I say this to couples or if they read it in my articles, at first glance it may appear as though my insistence on full service standards for these two providers is based on snobbery or simply superficiality such as just the quality of food and presentation and the quality and “beauty” of “pretty” floral arrangements. Let me say this about that: food quality & presentation along with beautiful florals and decor are simply a given. And this is something that is easily seen with the eyes in portfolios, magazine features or in the case of catering, by tasting their food. But there is something far greater that photos and even the taste of good food do not reveal which is equally – and in some cases – more important: the service level standards of these event suppliers.
The job of an experienced professional wedding coordinator is to keep their eye on the “macro” – overseeing and helping prevent crises before the day of by reviewing planning and then the day of the wedding managing the entire event. If they have to do the job of any of the event supply partners, they are taking away from seeing other potential “fires” elsewhere and tending to them. In other words, they cannot do their job and that of all the event supply partners. The event therefore suffers. If a florist is just contracted by the client to drop off arrangements, whose job is it to place the arrangements? The caterer’s job is to set the tables and has limited staff to tend to catering duties; the Coordinator is busy tending to all the other pre-wedding prep. Who will find every single bridal party member to distribute and personally pin all personals ? What if equipment/decor has to be transferred between the ceremony and reception sites? Who knows the policies of the venue and when they can access the site for set up, set up according to the venue’s restrictions and will clean up after themselves and return to pick up any and all “rented” floral equipment that the bride has not purchased? Have they staffed adequately so they know the labor involved to decorate and distribute their work? These, along with several other service basics are adhered to by leading professional full service florists. None of these should ever be an “option” when booking a florist. By everyone knowing and agreeing to service standard basics in advance, the event can flow seamlessly.
This insistence on minimal service basics has been a Santa Barbara Wine Country Weddings & Events “standard” for 10 years and why we require our clients to hire from our list of Full Service Florists. We welcome the hire of other florists off our lists but our clients sign our contract confirming that they will insist on these service levels from whomever they do hire in the end. The result? Allow one of our clients to elaborate: “It was like magic – everything went off like clockwork! You worked to determine the pre-ceremony photography schedule and coordinate the florists’ distribution of personals and decorating all around that, as well as when linens would be on the table by the caterer so the florist could do her job to begin with. I didn’t know there was so much coordination involved with all the vendors relating so closely to each other in the timeline. Imagine if the florist was not full service – their lack of those service basics would have held up every other vendor and the entire event timeline and affected the wedding’s success.” – Mrs. David Calderon
So what is that full “checklist” that defines a Full Service Wedding Florist? Here is just a partial excerpt.
Florist meets with Client to establish Client’s initial wishes – including color, design and requests. If necessary, Florist will visit the wedding venue to walkthrough and establish what the Client wishes.
Florist works up a comprehensive Proposal, itemizing Client’s wishes and giving a price quote.
Florist provides contract (often the same as the Proposal) stating terms and conditions, a deposit schedule and cancellation policy.
In Proposal, Florist must include the staffing necessary to personally hand deliver and pin all personals (bridal bouquet, bridesmaids bouquets, groomsmen boutonnieres, corsages, etc) to their corresponding wearers for the day of the event.
Works with Coordinator to determine best time to arrive for personals delivery, ceremony and reception set up/décor and provides date and time they will return (ideally the night of the wedding) to pick up their equipment (i.e. vases or rented items for the décor)
Maintains Liability Insurance and all specifications as required by the wedding location
Absolutely must have working knowledge of the wedding ceremony and reception site – including allowing for travel time to/from the venue(s), what the venue’s loading policies are, how long it will take to unload and set up , all ensuring it is set up in time for the ceremony and reception start and guest arrival.
Day –Of Services
Arrives at designated time , with all the proper equipment, to decorate ceremony and reception sites.
Has visited and knows the event venue properly to allow enough time for decorating and other contingencies prior to guest arrival.
Personally distributes all personals –including pinning all boutonnieres to each person who has ordered personals (corsages, boutonnieres, bouquets, etc)
Centerpieces for reception must be placed by the florist
Any and all décor provided by florist must be placed by florist.
If there is a transfer of ceremony décor to reception, or any moving around of any décor that florist has provided during the event, in between ceremony and reception, etc. florist must provide a staffperson to transfer the décor/equipment.
If florist is providing candles, the following rules apply: any candles for dining tables can be lit by catering staff or Coordinator. Any candles that are used as general décor for the entire event for ambiance must be lit by florist prior to leaving (they will need to purchase 10 hour candles) or they will need to have a staff person stay on to light the candles just prior to the event.
Following the event, any décor that was NOT placed on the dining tables (i.e. general décor throughout the event site provided by florist) must be packed up by the florist or one of their staff. The Coordinator, Caterer and their staffs are not available to do this due to their other contract work. If Coordinator knows about this in advance, this service may be added on to Coordinator’s duties with extra Production Staff being hired and cost being passed on to the Client.
Returns post-event to pick up and pack up all equipment; or lets Coordinator and Venue Manager or Caterer know where their dining table centerpiece (only) equipment may be stored and what day and time they will return to pick everything up.
We are proud to work with the following Florists/Designers who not only demonstrate incredible creative artistry and design but have balanced the world of art with business and Full Service practices, benefiting their clients: