With our Wedding Flowers hotline ringing off the hook, Judith up to her chin in raffia, and our drivers up at the crack of dawn for early morning Saturday deliveries, the wedding season is now truly upon us at Flowers HQ. With the bustles of brides visiting our wedding team in Park Royal for advice on an almost daily basis, you’d be tempted to wonder whether the recession is really just a figment of the media’s imagination after all…
Although couples are insisting on committing to their 2009 wedding plans, the economic downturn has nonetheless brought with it a whole gamut of challenges for those intending to marry this year. Partner up the recession with the fact that the average cost of a British wedding topped £20,000 for the first time in 2008, shows that deciding when to scrimp and when to splurge on a such a monumental day isn’t going to be easy.
As the wedding season has approached, we’ve seen a significant increase in wedding flower enquiries in recent months, and with those we’re seeing more emphasis laid on price: “We’re looking for something cheap…” , “Could you advise us on the cheapest flowers…” etc. This nature of enquiry can automatically put any florist into defence mode, as any floral designer worth their salt knows that “cheap” is a relative description and doesn’t normally equate for very good (or even appropriate) flower arrangements.
Wedding Flowers on a Budget
If there is a budget involved (see below for more advice on setting wedding budgets), a wedding florist can then easily come up with flower choices and designs that will fall within that budget. According to last year’s figures, the average cost of wedding flowers in 2008 reached £381, accounting for just 2% of the overall average UK wedding budget of £20,000 (Source: Sky News, November 2008). But in most cases, wedding flowers normally take up 10-15% of the final wedding bill – thus proving every wedding is different with an array requirements and preferences.
The task of choosing wedding flowers is a personal, expressive and emotional experience, which is why we always recommend brides drop into Flowers HQ for an informal chat to discuss their requirements in person with our wedding florists, who will source the right wedding flowers for you – not only suiting your pocket but also of exceptional quality too.
Credit Crunch Wedding Flowers
While 10-15% is a good estimate for your wedding flowers bill, you can modify many floral elements to determine the actual amount you will spend on your wedding arrangements. Factors such as whether or not your preferred flowers are in season, the number, size and complexity of the arrangements all influence your final cost estimate.
In economically hard times, creativity comes to the fore, as brides are find ways to spend their wedding budget more wisely, and discovering “cheap” wedding ideas that help them save money. Here are just a few budget-friendly ideas to help you on the way to beautiful, economical wedding flowers that won’t cost you a king’s ransom.
Easy Peasey. Flowers in season are often less expensive and easier to source. For a list of common flowers for each season, visit our wedding flowers tips page for our guide to seasonal flowers. Don’t forget that flowers over peak / holiday periods such as Valentine’s, Christmas and Mother’s Day will cost more.
Simple things. Because the time taken to create your flowers will be factored into your wedding flowers bill, go for less elaborate bridal flowers which are less labour intensive. For instance, a hand-tied or free form bouquet takes less time to create than a wired or teardrop one. For extra savings, bridesmaids can carry a single flower in a flower wand instead of a bouquet.
Filler thriller. Use more, cheaper foliage and greenery, baby’s breath, wax flower, soft ruscus etc which will pad out flower arrangements. Use flowery blooms as an accent to the arrangement rather than the main ingredient.
Bargain hunt. Shop around for end of line / discounted glassware in charity shops and budget household stores for vases. This way, for the price of renting / paying deposit on breakages, you can keep, sell on or recycle. The Christmas sale period is the perfect time to purchase candles, fairy lights and other decorations at huge discount.
Let’s go outside. Find a venue such as a park or garden that is already lush and beautiful – a springtime wedding in a garden will require little in the way of floral arrangements, while a traditional church may be breathtaking on its own. Also consider that many venues come ready decorated in the lead up to Christmas, so holding an earl-mid December wedding may provide you seasonal flowers for free.
A problem shared. Find out from your venues whether any other weddings are scheduled for the same day. If the two events can share decorating expenses, you’ll save a lot of money.
Recycle arrangements. If you can’t share your arrangements, transfer the flowers from your ceremony to your reception. Save more money on head table decoration by displaying the bridal bouquets on the head table.
Don’t Do it Yourself!
Floristry looks easier than it really is, so if you really can’t afford a florist, make sure you find someone with at least some skill and experience with flowers. We can provide flowers wholesale at discount prices for brides wishing to create their wedding flowers ‘in house’, but don’t forget you’ll need somewhere cool to store them safely and keep them fresh.
Making of the arrangements should be left to the very last minute, so best not leave them to a stressed-out, sleep deprived bride-to-be! If you don’t know what you are doing and don’t enjoy working under pressure, don’t try this – even if the temptation of saving some money is far too much to resist!
A good budget compromise would be to ask your florist to create the key arrangements such as the bridal and bridesmaid bouquets which are important to get absolutely right, then purchase additional matching stems for your own vase displays and other ad hoc uses such as buttonholes, hair flowers etc.
Jilted at the Alter?
With sterling still relatively weak against the euro (therefore inflating wholesale prices) as well as diminishing footfall, local independent florists are increasingly falling victim to the economic downturn, leaving distressed brides empty handed for their big day with little time to make alternative arrangements.
If your wedding florist goes bust, first off – don’t panic. Most florists will be able to stock your wedding flower requirements within 4-5 days, depending on how often they visit their wholesalers. If you are based in the London area (and your wedding doesn’t fall on a holiday / event day such as Mother’s or Valentine’s Day) we’ll be more than happy to pick up your order (we get fresh flowers in direct from the Dutch auctions nearly every day).
In many cases we’ve been known to slash existing quotes, and can sometimes provide wedding bouquets with just a day or two’s notice. So, even with times as they currently are, there are good deals to be found by the frugal bride. If you’re just starting to plan your wedding, our short list of 5 steps to a debt-free wedding might just be of some use…
Easy Steps Towards Recession-Proofing Your Wedding
1. Establish Your Wedding Budget
Choose a reliable method to keep track of all expenditures – there are now lots of websites that offer free budgeting services. If possible, keep your wedding fund separate from your personal accounts, so you can easily determine what’s being spent on the wedding. Don’t forget to call in all those favours: contact old mates, colleagues, family members and even the bloke down the road who you lent that jump lead to last winter, who may be able to offer their services.
2. Wedding Wedding Gifts.
Continuing from the above, barter your way to the wedding you want by asking wedding guests to offer their skills and services as a wedding present. If there’s a hairdresser or keen photographer on your guest list, time to bend their ear and put them to work! Chances are they’ll probably bring you a pressie anyway on the day, too…
3. Beware Hidden Costs
Set aside 5% of your budget for those extras that are bound to sneak in one way or another. If you absolutely cannot exceed £20,000, aim to spend £19,000. When last minute costs such as VAT, fees etc come up (and they will), your reserve funds will save you from debt. Similarly, look out for deals and discount rates often offered during low season, midweek or during the day which can trim significant costs from your wedding bill.
4. Super Skinny Me
Serve three courses instead of five (saving on catering and waistlines). Have two bridesmaids instead of four (saving on dresses). Invite 100 guests instead of 200 (saving on just about everything). If you’re struggling with whom to cut from the guest list, cut out children and anyone you don’t know personally, and you’ll see that guest list rapidly streamline itself!
5. More Wine, Madame?
Don’t crack under pressure of the up-sell! That diamond-encrusted designer dress, the fancy five star hotel suite, the vintage champagne – they might seem like good ideas at the time, and it’s easy to get carried away, but they all add up. It’s important to understand which details are truly most important to you. Be strong, prioritise what you want beforehand and you’re less likely to face a nasty surprise later.
Similar Posts: If you liked this post you may find our credit crunching post Lessons From Flowers – Tulips & the Economic Crisis interesting as well as our oodles of wedding related posts!!