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As an established wedding flower designer I have plenty of experience of helping couples to translate their ideas into reality. Along the way I have picked up a lot of tips and ideas which I would like to be able to pass on. Even if you are not having Pollen™ to do your wedding flowers you can benefit from our involvement at the initial planning stage. A first point to make is that it’s best not to leave it too late before you start contacting florists , good ones get booked early and often have a restriction on the number of weddings they feel able to do, to ensure that they can offer a personal service.

Word of mouth is a good way to find a florist, either through friends who have got married or venue of other supplier recommendations. Another way is to get yourself a nice glass of wine and start browsing the internet. A creative wedding florist will have galleries of their work and this can be a great way to get ideas and inspiration.Book a time to meet with a florist to talk through your ideas. This is an ideal opportunity to ask questions about the service they offer:

1. Who will make my bouquet? At Pollen I make all the bouquets myself and try to deliver them all personally which is part of our service. Check with your chosen florist what they offer.

2. Do they deliver and if so to more than one location, is there a charge? At Pollen we quite often find that we need to deliver the brides’ bouquet to one location, the buttonholes to another and then travel to the wedding venue and reception to deliver and setup the floral displays. We don’t charge extra for this but it is advisable to confirm these details in advance and also when considering the quote you have been given.

3. The payment terms. A deposit is standard and full payment prior to the wedding /civil ceremony date.

4. Can an appointment be arranged at the venue? Most florists will not have a problem with this as long a you pick a convenient time. Another alternative is to visit the venue when your chosen florist is decorating another wedding or event and you can combine a visit and see them in action.

5. Can I see examples of your work or the flowers I like? Wedding fairs are a good place to see floral designers. It’s a bit like a catwalk show for florists, they like to show off their skills plus you will get to see the sort of flowers they like to use. Another good tip is to schedule a visit when the shop or studio has had a delivery, at Pollen our flowers arrive super fresh on a Wednesday so later in the week is the ideal time to come and have a feel and a smell of some beautiful roses.

6. Can you do the church flowers? Often the church flower ladies like to do the wedding flowers and there is no reason why they shouldn’t do a very good job. At Pollen we find if that a good tip can be that if for example you are having pew ends, they can be unclipped/detached by an usher or member of the wedding party and easily transported to the venue to use on buffet tables or bars as decoration. If the church are providing the flowers check with them if this is acceptable.

Picking A Colour: Flowers in matching shades or cool contrasts are very striking. Bring a bridesmaid dress fabric swatch and any pictures you have, when you meet with your floral designer (to illustrate your wedding colours).

Consider Your Season: Marrying in summer or winter in a cold or hot climate? Go for hardy flowers that won't wilt, your florist will advise you. Don’t forget it can be a long day for the flowers. They need to be delivered early for the photographer to take pictures, they need to look stunning for the ceremony and still look good when you are welcoming the evening guests. It’s worth keeping this in mind when choosing. If it is very hot then it might be worth arranging to have vases to put the brides and bridesmaids bouquets in during the day. Your florist will advise you if this is suitable for your bouquet type.

Tip: Certain types of bouquet can suit certain dress styles and body shapes but at the end of the day it’s your special day so if you have always dreamed of having a massive waterfall bouquet then you should probably have it! Worth noting: Be sure your bouquets aren't too heavy or too hard to carry.

Think About The Fragrance: Some of the most fragrant flowers include freesia, lilies, lilacs, tuberoses, roses, gardenias, sweet peas, and lily of the valley. magazines and websites to browse.

Consider Complimetary Flowers: Once the bridal bouquet's composition has been established, move on to other bouquets, buttonholes and corsages, which should complement or accent the bridal bouquet in style, flowers, and colour.

Get Coordinated: Coordinate delivery time of your bouquets, corsages, and buttonholes with your photographer's arrival -- you'll want them to be worn or held in formal pictures. Reportage style photography is very fashionable which includes the brides’ preparations so liaise with your florist on delivery times. (Once flowers are distributed, keep them out of heat and direct sunlight.)

Tip: Ask your florist to create a Throwing Bouquet if you plan to have yours preserved. You don't have to throw the actual bridal bouquet -- many brides have their florist create a smaller throwing bouquet for this traditional ritual.

Accepting the quotation and paying a deposit: After the consultation your florist should have written up your exact proposal, itemising the number of arrangements, the kinds of flowers to be used, and any set-up or clean-up fees. If you're commissioning a very elaborate display or themed arrangements, it is wise to ask your florist to should show you previous examples in their portfolio, website, sketches or actual samples at this time. It is acceptable to ask for a mock up if you, but expect to be charged for this

Tip: Avoid traditional floral gift giving periods. Is the big day on or near Valentine's Day or Mother's Day? Flowers are expensive at this time and rose prices in particular will be high. At Christmas red and white flowers generally become more expensive.

Sunday weddings are becoming increasingly more popular, check with your chosen florist that this does not incur a major price increase. Some may, others may not. At Pollen™ we don’t make any differentiation but it is worth investigating. Although we are in the 21st century some flowers are just not available all year round. If Peonies for example are your absolute favourite then you are going to have to schedule your wedding when they are in season, check with your florist. For that reason roses, calla lilies and orchids are among the most popular wedding flowers as they have such a constant supply in a variety of colours and types. Check with your florist, will they collect items the following day or is it your responsibility to return them. If you are jetting off on honeymoon this is something you may need to ask someone to do or take care of arranging for you. At Pollen we collect the vases we have used ourselves, check with the venue also, some have an area where things can be stored, others may need you or the florist to remove them immediately, particularly if they have a wedding the following day.

Tip: Candles – yes or no? Some historic venues have an embargo on candles and tea lights, if your wedding fantasy is lots of atmospheric candles in Winter you need to investigate what they will allow.

Tip: What becomes of my flowers? It is a nice touch to give floral arrangements as gifts to guests. If you are staying at the reception venue overnight then often the arrangements will be used around the hotel or country house venue and used in the breakfast room in the morning. The flowers may also be given as gifts to guests the following morning. The florist may provide wrapping paper for this, just ask!

Start Your Budget: How much of your budget should you expect to pay for your flowers? First, remember that everything is relative -- to the city where you will wed, to the season in which you will wed, to the length of your guest list, and so forth. One of the points I have found over time is that the brides’ bouquet and the table centres are often the most remembered so it pays to focus your budget in these areas. If you think, guests are at the table for some time so a gorgeous display will be well remembered and you will enjoy receiving all the compliments on your stylish choices!

Last minute changes and Extra Touches: Ask your florist when they will need confirmed table numbers from you and/or buttonholes. If you end up having fewer tables then the extra arrangement(s) can always be used to decorate a bar or buffet table. Some venues like to have some extra flowers to put on the first drinks tray or canapé trays, check with them and then you can always ask your florist to leave a few extra. It’s a nice touch to co-ordinate the wedding and won’t cost much either. I really hope that some of these tips will ensure you have the flowers that you really want, It also has the added bonus in the fact that if you can show your florist what you would like and need from them, you are a much more likely to get what you expect. Some of the pitfalls are that your florist may want to do their own ‘creative’ interpretation of your ideas and on the morning of your wedding you don’t want any surprises. The best plan is to be quite clear from the start. For my part at Pollen I feel a great responsibility to my customers due to the fact that I know that however many weddings we have done (500+) we must never forget that it is each customers special day. I still get excited about each and every wedding I do. On the day it feels like I am doing the flowers for a friends wedding!
Article and images courtesy of Donal at Pollen