Hooray! You’ve booked your first wedding!
Here’s what you need to do before the big day:
1. Get organized.
The more you can prepare in advance, the better. You could:
— make a list of all the inventory you'll need
— purchase supplies
— pack candles, candleholders, and lighters
— prepare vases
o remove stickers with Goo Gone
o wash them with soap and water
o attach tape, frogs, or chicken wire
2. Create a wedding day toolkit.
Pack a bag, box, or crate with the tools and supplies that you’ll need to bring with you to the wedding venue. (Clippers, scissors, wire, tape, extra ribbon, an extra vase or two, drop cloths, garbage bags, paper towels, etc.)
Make a checklist of items to pack last minute on the wedding day. Keep the list in your kit.
3. Set up your workspace.
Aim for efficiency. Making extra, unnecessary movements can cause fatigue and muscle strain.
o Stock supplies in a place that's easy to reach.
o Use high work tables. (Or put your vase on an upside-down bucket to create extra height.)
o Stand on a padded mat to support your back.
o Keep a large trash can next to or underneath your work table. (Consider attaching casters to the bottom of the can so you can move it without lifting.)
o Use a mirror to help you look at bouquets from different angles as you make them.
o Use lazy susans to help you look at centerpieces from different angles as you make them.
4. Hire help!
Hire florists who are more experienced than you are. Learn from them.
Hire people who are less experienced than you are. Teach them what you know.
Create sample arrangements for newbies to reference as they make their first centerpieces. (Or teach them the basics of arranging and let them get creative!)
They can also:
— process flowers
— make small items, like boutonnières or corsages
— green arrangements
o “greening”: using foliage—greens!—to create the base, shape, or structure of an arrangement
5. Communicate. Clearly.
o Create an emergency plan.
o Create a schedule for each work day. Share it with the people you're working with.
o Set clear work expectations. Should everyone expect to wash buckets or sweep the floor? What should your team members wear to the wedding venue?
o Write a list of what needs to happen at the wedding venue. How much time do you have for load-in and set-up? Decide who will complete each task.
6. Batch tasks.
Batching—doing the same task repeatedly, instead of switching back and forth between different tasks—will help you become a more efficient and productive florist.
o Before you start processing flowers, fill multiple buckets with water. This way, they're waiting and ready for use.
o For a given bunch of flowers (say 10-25 stems), strip the leaves off all of the stems first, then cut and place them in water as a group.
7. Pull flowers.
As you condition, set aside flowers for specific items, like bouquets. (Florists refer to this as “pulling” flowers.)
Put these flowers in dedicated vases or buckets. Each bouquet should have it's own bucket or vase.
8. Keep batching. You could:
— attach tape or chicken wire to all of your vases before you begin arranging
— fill all of the vases with water (& flower food, if you're using it)
— green all of the arrangements before you start adding flowers
— make all the boutonnières, then ribbon all the boutonnières; make all the bouquets, then ribbon all the bouquets
9. Aim for pretty, not perfection.
Yes, you want your work to be beautiful. Yes, you want your clients to be happy. But: you have a lot to do and not that much time to do it.
o Don't obsess over every tiny leaf. Flowers are beautiful!
o The flowers will move and shift as you're driving to the venue. You can always tweak arrangements when you get there.
10. Take photos of your work.
Don’t rely on wedding photographers to photograph your flowers. Set aside time to shoot your work before you go to the wedding venue.
11. Pack up flowers for delivery.
o Leave plenty of time to pack.
o Some florists use empty flower boxes to transport centerpieces, while others prefer using shallow plastic storage boxes. Stabilize the vases by surrounding them with old newspaper or bubble wrap.
o Check that you've made and packed everything you needed to! Double check. ...triple check.
o Don't forget to add those “last minute” items to your kit. (Reference your checklist.)
o Spray flowers with Crowning Glory.
o Bring a bucket (or several buckets) of extra flowers with you to the venue.
12. Load in and set up.
o Delegate! Don't do everything yourself.
o Keep an eye on the time.
o Deliver the personal flowers first.
o Get started on installation work (arbors, chuppahs, etc.) ASAP. Work over a drop cloth for easy cleanup.
o Unpack candles and decor. Place them on the tables.
o Unpack centerpieces. If necessary, refill the vases with water. (Use a small watering can). Remove or replace any damaged flowers or leaves.
o Place the arrangements on the tables. Make last minute adjustments as needed.
o Light candles (if needed).
o Take photos!
o Clean up.
o Confirm that you've fulfilled your contract. Make sure that you haven't forgotten any small tasks, like placing cake flowers or filling flower girl baskets with petals.
13. Educate, assist, & delight.
o Show brides and bridesmaids how to hold their bouquets. (Front vs. back, tipped forward vs. upright, in front of stomach vs. at chest height, etc.)
o Remind them to keep the bouquets in water and out of the sun for as long as possible.
o Provide them with paper towels that they can use to dry the stems.
o Offer to help your clients' family members pin on bouts and corsages.
o Leave a card in the gift box! Wish your clients a lifetime of love and happiness—and thank them for working with you.
14. Clean up your workspace.
Get cleanup over with, especially while you have help. Wash vases, buckets, clippers, and knives. Sweep the floor. Put away supplies. Decide what to do with leftover flowers. (Take some home to enjoy!)
15. Celebrate! You did it!