Buying local flowers, to me, is one of the most important things that I can do for my wedding clients. Of course, meeting their expectations for the design of their event, and giving them a pleasant, easy business experience is also important. But the back-end of their experience, the hidden components that make up our time together is equally important. The aspects of my work that clients don’t actively view is what can make my job appear easy, and if those parts work smoothly, my job is actually easier.
When I meet with clients, I make sure to establish that purchasing local flowers is a known and valued practice in my process. I share my excitement about the gorgeous local product with my prospective clients, and I educate them a bit about the natural variation in all floral product. We might even talk about how white can be slightly yellow, and that ivory tends to read as very yellow in some flowers. We also talk about how nature does not come in Pantone.
It’s not that I immediately shatter their floral dreams, because I tell them how local flowers can be special in their wedding. Perhaps I know that in the spring, they can expect soft neutral tones with pops of blush, burgundy, and soft purple in the ranunculus, anemones, and tulips that we know our farmers are growing. If their wedding is next October and they tell me how they love pink peonies, I tell them that unfortunately, I cannot guarantee peonies in any way, but have they ever SEEN a dahlia? The shaping may be totally different, but the large-headed, captivating focal bloom can certainly hold its own. Some clients accept this local, seasonal substitution. When they don’t we talk about ordering in roses.
I’m no less a supporter of local flowers when I order outside of Philadelphia. However, if the conversation does not immediately include locally grown flowers, it can be more challenging to bring up as a topic later on. It’s all about striking a balance between routing the clients budget where I want it to go, and where the budget must go to achieve their vision. If I can sneak in more locally grown flowers when it comes time to order their blooms, then great! It happens a lot, but it’s not always a possibility. The important thing is that the effort is made.
The effort in purchasing local flowers involves a combination of decisions: will the blooms be large enough? Will there be enough product to design adequately in all of my vessels? Are there enough flower varieties for each design? Have I purchased any varieties that will hold up out of water exceptionally well, for boutonnieres and bouquets? Which items will wilt out of water quickly…and did I buy too many of those?
Careful consideration must be exercised in determining quantities of flower varieties, local or imported. This takes practice.
Good luck practicing. And prioritizing!