The Business of (Profitable) Weddings
The business of weddings constantly changes and evolves as new generations of bridal customers emerge, so we asked seven wedding floral specialists from across the U.S. to share how they attract new bridal clients to their businesses, close sales and work with couples to create personalized events for all. They opened up about how they use social media to catch the attention of today’s brides and how they handle consultations, estimates and proposals, payment policies, and more. Plus, for a little eye candy, they provided a glimpse of their floral design styles.
“Seven standout wedding florists share their marketing and customer service secrets, as well as samples of the design work that has made them stars in their marketplaces.”
Photo by Talia Nelson Photography
Photo by Michael Will Photography
Photo by Leeann Marie Photography
Photo by Michael Will Photography
Photo by spottedstill Photography.
Photo by spottedstill Photography.
Photo by Power Photography Studios.
Photo by Chris Isham Photograph
Photo by Bree Anne Co.
Photo by Bree Anne Co
Photo by Bree Anne Co
Photo by Bree Anne Co
Photo by Dana Fernandez Photography.
Photo by Ashlen Sydney Photography.
Photo by Amy Caroline Photography.
Photo by Amy Caroline Photography
Photo by Amy Caroline Photography
Photo by Steve Scap Photography
Photo by Dawn E. Roscoe Photography
Mocha Rose Floral & Event Design is a boutique event florist that provides full-service flowers for weddings, corporate events, galas, mitzvahs, and restaurant and hotel accounts. Owner April Schwietzopened the business in 2005 after a less-than-excellent experience with her own wedding flowers. Mocha Rose’s creative team works out of a 4,000-square-foot design studio in Pittsburgh.
On attracting clients and booking their events: We use Instagram to brand our business and target our ideal customers, and we do this by showing howwe work. Our clients want the planning of their events to be experiences. They want a company to be extremely responsive; fun; and, most of all, qualified to do the job. We send descriptive proposals to our clients using Details Flowers software. We show our clients that we listen to every word they say and that we are the right company to bring their dreams to life.
On attracting new clients and marketing our business: Word-of-mouth is our primary source of new business, and we don’t advertise except through a local wedding blog that has a strong following on social media. Most of our referrals come through fellow industry professionals such as planners, venues, photographers and even DJs. Our team is the face of our business, and I tell them to go into every venue with smiles on their faces, branded aprons and the attitude to do whatever is needed to help out. We want our product and our service to be remembered positively by every person we come in contact with.
On using social media: We are an open book on Instagram. We want our clients/followers to see howwe work. We use the grid as a rolling portfolio of our events from week to week. We post mostly photos of finished work. We use the Stories to show how we put it together. We show the behind-the-scenes process including flowers coming in and the design process. There are often stories of us on scissor lifts, loading box trucks and wrapping carts for transportation. So many clients come into our shop for the first time and say, “This feels so familiar,” or they already know our employees’ names, or they mention “that really pretty wedding you did at the Omni last week.” They already know so much about our business that many have decided to hire us before they walk in the door.
We are also careful to not brand a style on Instagram. We do not use filters, and we post a variety of styles so that people know we can work in any style. This opens us up to more clients, and our portfolio can evolve as trends ebb and flow. I don’t spend as much time on Facebook or Twitter; everything from our Instagram feed is automatically posted to these sites. We get the brides on Instagram and the moms from Facebook.
On meeting with clients: Many of our clients plan their events from out of town. I prefer in-person meetings, but sometimes we have to hold meetings via phone or Skype. We absolutely recommend an in-person final meeting, and we offer to make full floral samples for these meetings, at the client’s cost.
On consultations and proposals: We allow two hours per meeting, and our turn-around time for proposals is less than two weeks. Our proposals are extremely detailed, so they take time to do. Details Flowers software has streamlined this process for us. We do not enforce an expiration date, but we tell clients that we take only two events per week, and they are on a first-contract-down basis. We do not charge for consultations, but we do have a minimum investment that clients must agree to before we schedule any meetings.
On payment: We require a 30 percent nonrefundable retainer to reserve a date, with the final balance due 21 days before the event.
Lora Losinger launched her studio-based business, Sophisticated Floral, in Portland, Ore., in 2006. She discovered her passion for floral design at the young age of 14 and went on to formal training where she mastered her skills as a wedding and event designer. She knew from the beginning that the studio model is what she wanted; no walk-in traffic meant more time to focus on what she really wanted to do – weddings.
On attracting bridal customers and booking their weddings: Have a specialty within your business. Be known for something whether you use only locally grown flowers; work with specific color palettes/blooms; or a have a certain look, e.g., traditional, minimalist-modern, luxury, fine art, etc. This sets your business apart, and clients looking for that specialty will find you.
On attracting new clients and marketing our wedding business: I utilize social media, fellow wedding vendors and blog my current work.
On using social media: Instagram is a major platform for our marketing because so many potential clients use this platform to find vendors and ideas. I post daily, mainly on stories as well as the feed.
On meeting with clients: More couples are planning from out of town and hiring wedding planners, and they prefer to communi-cate via email instead of in-person meetings. To accommodate their needs, I work with them mainly via email and phone. More often than not, I don’t meet the bride until the wedding day.
On consultations and proposals: For in-person meetings, I allocate one hour. Phone consultations tend to go much faster. I strive to get the proposals to the clients in two or three days. Couples prefer quick and efficient responses, and getting quotes to them quickly is helpful with booking. I then give them seven days to get back to me with a decision.
Urban Petals is a floral and event design company based in Greer, S.C. What began as a home-based business in 2012 has grown and evolved into a solid, trusted floral design company. In September 2018, owner Anna Stouffer opened the Urban Petals Lifestyle Boutique in the historic downtown of Greer, where she offers a selection of home décor items and curated gifts.
On attracting bridal customers and booking their weddings: We showcase work that speaks directly to the clients, connects emotionally with them and reflects who they are as a couple; we keep our portfolio and social media feeds up to date and fresh; and we maintain a brand that reflects our aesthetic and attracts customers who are inspired by the content we produce.
On attracting new clients and marketing our wedding business: Social media plays a huge role in attracting and connecting with new clients. Word-of-mouth referrals are invaluable. We stay true to our style and values; our work is a reflection of who we are and attracts similar clients. We also maintain honest and respectful relationships with other vendors on the events we work.
On meeting with clients: A lot of our clients live in other parts of the country and choose Greenville as their wedding destination. We like to schedule in-person appointments when they’re visiting in town and phone consults for other times.
On consultations and proposals: Initial in-person consultations typically take 60 to 90 minutes, and phone \consultations usually take 30 to 45 minutes. I do not charge for consultations.
On final meetings and payment: After a client books our services, we meet to discuss all the specifics and/or present the design board. If needed, we’ll meet on-site with the clients and planners. Our final meeting is held approximately six weeks before the wedding, and final numbers, layouts and payment in full are due at that time.
Maggie Bailey began designing weddings in January 2014, and within a year, she moved her business into its first studio space. The following year, she and her husband, Mick, moved into an even larger space that enabled them to add retail to the growing business. While weddings currently compose about 75 percent of their business, daily retail orders continue to grow each year.
On attracting bridal customers and booking their weddings: Customer experience and referrals from other vendors are the two biggest factors when it comes to booking clients. Wedding planner and photographer referrals are golden, and we work hard to maintain our relationships with these vendors. We interact with them on social media and send regular notes via snail mail.
As far as client experience, we require an in-person meeting before we provide a quote or proposal (with phone consultations for our out-of-town brides). Our clients get to stroll through all the beautiful flowers in the store on their way to our consult space, which is decorated to represent our aesthetic and has a vase of their favorite flowers in their wedding colors (we ask for color palette and Pinterest board links on our inquiry form, which we ask prospective clients to fill out before the consultations).
On attracting new clients and marketing our wedding business: I can’t stress enough how game-changing good relationships with vendors can be. To build these relationships, I go to industry networking events, I interact on Instagram and I initiate styled photoshoots.
On social media: Instagram and Facebook have been integral in building our business. The majority of our website traffic comes from those two sites, so our social media is the first impression most people have of our business. We use Instagram primarily as a portfolio of wedding and event design, with Stories for the “behind the scenes of running a flower shop,” and we use Facebook as more of an outlet for events and retail shop stuff. We publish events and workshops to Facebook Events and usually fill up or sell out there before we make it to Instagram.
On consultations and proposals: I do not charge for initial consultations. We spend about an hour in person, and it takes me three to four hours to write proposals with design inspiration boards. I try to get these out within a week after the consultation. If a client wants a follow-up consult prior to paying a deposit, we charge $300, and that amount is applied to the balance if she books with us. Our proposals are good for three weeks; however, many clients don’t make decisions within that time frame, so we’re flexible, as long as communication continues.
On payment: We collect a 25 percent nonrefundable deposit to reserve a date, and the balance is due three weeks before the wedding.
MJM Designs is a boutique floral design studio specializing in full-service weddings throughout Colorado. Owner Mandy Hess entered the flower industry more than 10 years ago, and weddings and special events have always appealed to her most. Mandy and her team work out of a 1,300-square- foot studio in Denver, Colo.
On attracting bridal customers and booking their weddings: The most important factors in attracting bridal couples is being honest, delivering topnotch customer service and listening to what they want. Being able to describe your process and set expectations with couples is key. Many are getting married for the first time and have no idea what the process is for choosing florals for their weddings. Helping them figure out how to include their personalities into their weddings is important.
On attracting new clients and marketing our wedding business: The majority of our business comes from word- of-mouth referrals from past clients, planners, venues and photographers. We do utilize social media, which is helpful, and we are part of a local online wedding vendor list, but that is the only paid marketing we do.
On social media: Social media is a great way to showcase our work and to give consumers a look into our floral world. Instagram is great for reaching out to other wedding professionals locally and around the world as well as showcasing our work to potential bridal couples. I also use Pinterest, which is becoming a type of search engine for photos, so I make sure my work is on my page, and I use relevant keywords so that my photos show up when people search certain keywords.
On meeting with clients: Colorado is a place for destination weddings, so we have both local and out-of-town couples. I prefer to meet with clients at my studio so we can play with materials to create a look that the couple is going for. If an initial in-person meeting isn’t possible, we consult via phone or Skype.
On consultations and proposals: I do not charge for consultations. Free consultations provide an incentive for couples to come to us and for both parties to get to know each other and ensure we’re a fit. My in-person consultations last 40 minutes to 1 hour, and my phone/Skype consults last 30 to 40 minutes.
With my proposals, I like to create design boards that showcase a color palette, types of flowers and foliages, and inspiration photos. This can take two to three hours. I give clients two weeks to make a decision, and final changes and payment must be made no later than one month out.
FlowersFlowers is a quaint European-style flower shop located in Evanston, Ill., a suburb just north of Chicago. The shop is known for offering flowers of the highest quality, with product brought in daily from sources around the world. While FlowersFlowers offers all the services of a traditional full-service flower shop, weddings account for approximately 30 percent of the business’ revenues.
On attracting bridal customers and booking their weddings: Today’s brides and grooms in our area are looking for experienced florists who will design floral décor specific to their needs and wants. They want to be recognized as unique and individual, and they want their weddings to be different from others. They also want prices that are realistic and not inflated.
On attracting new clients and marketing your wedding business: New clients most often find us by word-of-mouth, online reviews and our website. We have built a reputation for doing outstanding work and providing the best in service.
On social media: Instagram shows off our work to current and future clients best, enabling them to get to know us.
On consultations: I don’t charge for consultations; I regard the time involved with consultations and preparing proposals as a cost of acquiring clients. I try to limit consultations to an hour each.