Hope has asked me for information about wedding planning - particularly as it pertains to flowers:
As soon as you become engaged, you should select:
1. the date
2. the church or ceremony site
3. the reception site
4. the florist, photographer, videographer, cake baker and wedding consultant/planner, if you decide one is needed.
5. Your dress and those of your attendants.
You may find that not all of your selected vendors will be available on the date you have picked, so be prepared to (a.) change the date or (b.) compromise on selected vendors.
How do you know if you need a wedding planner or consultant? It depends on how knowledgeable you are about various vendors, what you may expect from their services and how much time you have available to put toward the planning. Consultants can be good at saving you money in the long run, so if they are good at what they do, they are often worth their weight in gold. They will save you a lot of time and aggravation, as well. They must be detail-oriented and thoroughly organized!
How to choose vendors? Get as many referrals from friends as you can. Also ask other vendors who they think reflects their own work ethic and gives good service and product. Caterers and photographers can be good referral sources, as can church wedding guilds. The web-site www.theknot.com is a wealth of information for brides in it's official content, as well as it's message boards for various sub-categories of planning. You can google wedding flowers and see many examples to consider. Some web-sites will be valuable for helping you determine what you do not want.
Book appointments with at least three different florists, preferably after you have bought your dress and ordered the bridesmaid's dresses. Before you meet with them, read as much as possible in various wedding magazines and books so you can determine your preferred style. Cut out or bookmark photos of flowers and bouquet styles which appeal to you. The more you are able to show the florist what you like, the better he/she will be equipped to give it to you. Look at color schemes you think you might like to try and ask if they are complimentary to your choice of color for the attendants.
A good florist will be able to show you many photos of their own work, not just pictures in a florist workbook. There is no guarantee they can duplicate the work unless you can see what they have designed and executed in the past. They will be familiar with a number of churches, reception sites, and other vendors. They will be very knowledgeable about various types of flowers and availability, ribbon, styles and current fashion for bouquets and buffet centerpieces, for example. If you sense much hesitation in their answers or see photos which reflect the styles of too many previous years - be wary of their abilities. You should be able to have the utmost confidence in your florist. Anything less creates too much stress for the bride in the last stages of planning and is not worth it!
Budget? I approach budget concerns a little differently than most florists. Most want to know your budget at once. I have found that most people have NO CLUE how to budget for wedding flowers and have very unrealistic expectations. I never ask a bride what her budget is during our first meeting. I gather information while showing my portfolios, and then do a written proposal based on what they have told me they would like to have. After they receive the proposal, if it is more than they wish to spend, we work together to get the budget to a more acceptable level, which usually requires compromise.
I know that when I hit publish, I will immediately remember something important that is not mentioned here. If you have questions on any aspect of wedding planning, I am always happy to help as much as possible. Fire away.......