Now I'm not by any stretch of the imagination putting myself in the same league as our amazing Team GB - but I was delighted at the weekend when I received notification that I've been short listed for Best Newcomer as part of the North of England Wedding Awards. Which I guess is where the hard work and determination parallel comes in! What I'm most proud of is that the award is for Outstanding Customer Service - something which I'm really passionate about.
I loathe bad customer service, whatever guise it takes, and am constantly reflecting on how I can improve what I do for my Brides and thinking up new ideas and ways to make their day even more special. So this got me thinking, what makes a good florist? Here's a few tips, which might be a bit obvious, but I hope might help when choosing who you want to design your wedding flowers:
1. Design Style
If I was looking for someone to design my wedding flowers, I'd start here. Look carefully at websites and on-line portfolios. Remember you'd only put your best work on a website, so are the designs they've featured to your liking? Can you imagine the flowers fitting with your theme? If their website says 'corporate' do you think it will suit your Boho wedding? Make sure it 'feels' right to you.
Look carefully at the range of designs they feature on their website. Do they look like they are theirs?! I know it sounds dreadful, but I know of quite a few florists who put 'generic' images taken from relay companies in their portfolios, using the excuse that they are just a guide to show the full range of what they can do. Do you get a sense that the florist is experienced in his/her field and could just as easily make a floral arch as a hand tied bouquet? If you see something you love, then it's usually easier to imagine it in your colours.
Do you feel reassured that your florist is knowledgeable about flowers and important factors like trends, colours and seasonality? Do they keep their Brides and followers up-to-date - maybe through a blog and/or facebook? I've found that this has worked really well for my Brides by featuring specific posts covering these topics. Ask your florist what's in season in your chosen colours and if you're not happy with his/her answer, then you're probably best to keep looking.
4. Customer Service
How easy has the whole experience been so far? Booking an appointment and having a consultation should be simple, fun and exciting. Was the florist flexible in terms of which day and time she/he could see you? Did you feel special and looked after or were you constantly interrupted by the phone and people coming in and out of the shop? Did you receive a written consultation promptly and was it fully itemised and easy to understand? Was the process of what would happen - deposit, full payment, changing the order, delivery etc all carefully explained? Make sure you feel really reassured, happy, confident and above all excited about your flowers. I know not everyone's the same, but I love it when spontaneous hugs happen as I'm saying goodbye to a Bride and her friends/family after a consultation. You know it's been a great experience!
This is a tricky one, but really important. I get asked all the time to quote over the phone, by email, even by text. It's pretty impossible to do as so there are so many factors which determine the cost of a wedding. Which flowers (think Ferrari 'vs' Mini), or when (think red roses on 14th Feb) or how many (one Bride and a few buttonholes 'vs' a Bride, six Bridesmaids, two pedestals, huge table decs, a floral arch etc etc!) - you see the problem. What I can say is, for me, the average wedding is £500+ and the smallest wedding I've designed this year was just under £200.00. If you have a budget that you absolutely can't go over, it's probably best to let the florist know at the beginning of your consultation. That way they can advise you of clever ways to get the most from your budget as economically as possible. If you get the feeling they're not listening and push you to spend more, then I'd say look elsewhere.
Finally, one last piece of advice. Getting married is a joyous, wonderful thing and I think it's really important to feel as if your florist 'gets you', so talk to friends about their experiences and look out for businesses which seem to offer that all important, slightly indefinable, something extra which makes working with them a real pleasure. Do you feel they go 'the extra mile'? I know not everyone feels the need to be best mates with their supplier, but if thinking about your wedding flowers makes you smile, then you know you're on the right track!
I hope that's been helpful. What's been your experience of dealing with florists? Have your or your friends found it easy or difficult to choose the right business for you?
As always if you want to leave me a comment asking a specific question about ordering wedding flowers, please do and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
Photocredit: Niel Stewart Photography