It’s that time of year where my inbox fills with requests to do a floral styled shoots. I LOVE and appreciate the thought and the request for inclusion into some pretty awesome vendor circles. Some opportunities would actually be great networking, and awesome photography with amazing designers. These are people I’d LOVE to work with. As a general rule, I only do paid styled wedding shoots. I often get unanswered emails from those that inquired when I send back information about my pricing and services for styled shoots. I’ve even had wedding planners and photographers get angry and bad mouth me to other people because they thought I was playing favorites — shocking, right? This doesn’t just happen to me — this happens to pretty much every florist I’ve ever talked to.
If you’re a wedding planner or a photographer, you have likely tried in the past to contact wedding florists to be a part of styled shoots. You’ve probably also realized that many turn it down. Maybe you’re thinking they either aren’t being team players, or they are playing favorites. Or maybe you’re thinking everyone is doing it for ‘free’ so they should too for trade of the images. Or maybe you’re just a curious reader ;) I want you to understand why you shouldn’t be mad at the florist for not doing your shoot.
Before I go into my explanation, keep in mind this won’t be the reason for ALL the florist “no’s” but my armchair critic opinion for a common reason why. Other reasons include, but are not limited to, availability and brand alignment.
Most of the time it boils down to one simple reason…
Flowers are perishable.
HOLD THE PHONE! WHAT?
This might be a total DUH to some people, but often people just don’t think about it, and that’s okay! I understand! It’s not their job to know how much flowers cost, and our job as floral designers is to spread the word. But seriously — for me to do a styled shoot (bouquet, centerpiece, cake flowers, other large ceremony display, etc.) is expensive relative to what other vendors PAY to be involved in a styled shoots.
Take out of the equation the babysitter I need for my son and gas and it’s still about $750 WHOLESALE. That's just to do designs that fit my standard, quality, brand, and style and also to fit all those garden rose and peony filled inspirations I get emailed. Not all florists need that much budgeted and not all shoots need that many flowers, but that’s the standard for me. The flowers cannot be reused again, and that expense is entirely a waste other than for the (lovely, I’m sure) photographs.
Photographers, rentals companies, bridal salons, stationery, calligraphy, makeup artists – they all already have purchased the products they need to do their job. They are providing more of a service when it comes to joining a styled shoot when compared to a florists styled shoot. Yes, makeup gets used, photographers have to buy lenses, etc. But, all those things can essentially be reused.
I’ve had response that said, "Well, everyone is doing it for free." Yes, their TIME is free and maybe a very nominal fee for their gas or the paper for the invitation suite. But, in comparison to florists, the expense is very low, so the return is good for their money. For a floral styled shoot, the return is very low. From a business standpoint, it’s almost a waste of money unless someone is new to an area, new to the market, or wanting to make certain connections that can’t otherwise be made on social media or over coffee.
I’ve heard the ‘We’re aiming for Style Me Pretty’ or ‘I hope this starts a long relationship with us and I’ll send you all my weddings.' I’ve heard it all. For some of those, I’ve never heard from again, never worked with again, never got a publication, never saw images, never got a thing from the shoot. So, those words are just words and can’t really be guaranteed. Do you know how hard it is to get published on Style Me Pretty? I’ve been on there probably 8+ times, but each time it got published was something that was so randomly submitted that we honestly didn’t think SMP would pick it up. The ones that you’d think were perfect fits never got chosen.
So, telling a florist 'we’re aiming for ____’ really isn’t a selling point. It’s a goal, yes. But, it’s not a guarantee. A $750 expense for the HOPE of a publication is like buying a lottery ticket. I’d rather spend $750 on a new computer for my business; or my client gifts; a workshop or conference.
Some florists might think florist style shoots are fun and like to spend the money, but for the most part, florists will agree with me that shoots are EXPENSIVE. I won’t go on a tangent about the waste of shoots too much, but who looks at wedding blogs? Mostly wedding vendors. I’ve never once had a bride book me from a wedding blog. That means publications are simply a notch on a belt in relation to the cost. Even if I DID get one wedding from a styled shoot, $750 is a very high price to pay. You might say ‘what if it gets published in PRINT?' Well, ya, I had that happen once - 99% of the time print magazines don’t list the florist for images they pick from shoots. I had that happen in the Knot Magazine.
This same idea goes for bridal shows, but don’t get me started on those — OY!
Honestly, I don’t want to pay $750+ to be published. I’d rather pay that to all my wedding vendor friends for coffee dates, invest in an upgraded website or client experience. As a trade for images, I offer my TIME and my service free just like anyone else, but ask that the wholesale flower and supply costs be covered – this goes for ANY photographer, ANY planner – momma don’t play favorites.
Because most shoots don’t have a budget for florals, I tend to only do these for photographer workshops and those kinds of shoots — but to be fair I ALWAYS always charge. $750-1500 that ends up in the trash afterwards for some photographs and the HOPE of a publication is not a good return on investment...if we’re trying to discover WHY florists do or don’t participate. At that rate, I’d be better off with a REAL wedding feature.
I will step back and say when I was new inspiration shoots were great to get my name out and meet new vendors and make friends. I was able to get some big publications that also made for something to blog or post about and brag on myself. "Oo oo look where I got published." I was also designing with a very small budget; the designs weren’t the best and most certainly not what I’d put out now. Over time I’ve realized that brides book me, not because I was published in certain places, but from past bride reviews, word of mouth, etc. Not one bride has ever booked me because they found a publication. Although, it’s possible the SEO links have helped the website traffic, but I’m not even sure of that.
I hope this gives some insight! Please don’t be mad at florists for not participating in a floral styled shoot!
Amanda Veronee has been in the floral industry for 15 years, owning her own business for 6 of those years. After 2 years of owning a retail flower business, she changed the business to weddings-only and now has a work studio in Stafford, VA.
Editors note: We read this article by Amanda Veronee and HAD to share it with all our floral followers. She was gracious enough to give us permission to post it for our subscribers. Amanda does a tremendous job of giving her experience balancing a real issue that deals with financials and marketing, while being positive about other vendors who are involved as well. We love hearing from her viewpoint and hope you have too! Share this article with your wedding vendor friends and, especially, your flower friends.