How We Created Our Budget Calculator

By Ryan ONeil

Last week we shared why we created our budget calculator and emphasized how it revolutionized our bottom line by increasing our online conversion rate by 400%. Now it's time to talk about our secret recipe for success. We're not only giving you a copy of the Excel spreadsheet that started it all, but we're walking you step by step through how it works and why we chose specific questions to determine a potential client's multiplier and projected totals.

This isn't a genius thing we just imagined up ourselves. We saw several great companies with different takes on budget calculators and borrowed ideas from each one so we want to freely give out our take on it!

NOTE: We highly reccommend giving this to your web developer to set up. As simple as it may sound talking about it in retrospect, it was a very complex piece to build out and required a bit of trial and error to get quite right. We built out the calculator using a Gravity Forms plugin on our Wordpress site but your developers may find another way to do it.


There are a few key steps to creating the calculations needed.
  • First, you're wanting to create a global budget multiplier. This is essentially a number that takes into account certain factors (How picky is the bride? Are they DIY? etc.). For our shop, the global budget multiplier typically ends up anywhere between 1 and 2.3.
  • Second, you need to determine your "menu" of typical items that you provide. This will likely take a while but we do give you a head start in our excel sheet download. You'll want to do this for your ceremony first and for your reception second. You need to choose a low (what's the absolute lowest amount that you could do that piece for) and a high (this is the typical high price for this item for you...definitely not the absolute most high.)

 First page

On the first page of our calculator, we do a few things. We narrow down what type of event they're looking for (reception only? Ceremony only? Ceremony and reception?). This allows us to generate the proper questions. If they only want the ceremony, we skip page 3 (the reception questions). It's just a super simple way of letting users feel that it's tailored to them. We also determine our global budget multiplier on this page as well! So what is this infamous global budget multiplier?

Determining The Global Budget Multiplier

The Global Budget Multiplier is essentially a number that factors in what kind of experience the client wants and typically ranges from a multiple of 1 (you're pretty much at our lowest cost) to up to 2.3 (you're Kim Kardashian...or think you are). You can make other components, but for us, it's calculated based on 3 things: the client's event style, how involved the client will be, and to what extent they may want to DIY the florals. Here's a breakdown of how each partial multiplier is used.
Event Style
First, we ask for their event style and have the following options available:
  • My style is very minimalistic.
  • I'd like my florals to make a statement.
  • Guests should be wowed by the florals.

If they select the first option, their style multiplier is 1. If they choose the second option, their style multiplier becomes 1.5. If they choose the third option, they're style multiplier becomes 2. This is because delivering something that makes a statement or has a real "wow" factor means more expensive flowers and more intensive labor.

Easy going or involved in every detail?
The next question we ask is "Do you have any specific ideas for florals, decor, or design at your event?" and have the following options available:

  • I'd love to hear some suggestions.
  • I have a bit of Pin-spiration, but am open to other ideas.
  • I know exactly what I would like and am looking for a great designer to bring the plan to life.

If they select either of the first two options, they're idea multiplier remains at a 1 because they are going to be pretty easy going and open to the florist executing what they know to work best from their professional experience. If they select the third option, the idea multiplier becomes a 1.1 because they are likely to take much more time and want to be more involved. As we've previously discussed, Pinterest brides are fine, but there comes a point where the extra consultations and phone calls start to create such a high overhead fee that you'll be hard-pressed to make a decent profit on the event. 

DIY vs Letting A Pro Do It
  • I'd like to leave the florals to the pro.
  • I need help with the florals but can take on some simple projects.
  • I love to DIY things like this!

If they choose either of the first two options, their DIY multiple remains at 1. If they select the third option, their DIY multiple drops to 0.75 because they aren't going to need as much work on our end. Our shop has moved to a different end of the market so we've actually even made the third choice worth 1.

Calculating the Global Budget Multiplier
To determine the Global Budget Multiplier, multiply the event style, idea, and DIY multipliers together. So, for example, if a potential client--let's call her Molly--says she wants something that will make a statement (1.5), basically have it all planned out (1.1), and would like to let a pro handle the details (1), their global budget multiplier would be 1.65 because 1.5 * 1.1 * 1 = 1.65.

This cost is then multiplied by the minimum amount for each arrangement to give the higher estimate for the costs of each arrangement and the overall ceremony and reception. So if your bridal bouquets are $100 on the low end and $200 on the end, then the budget calculator would factor this in as $165 on the budget low and $330 on the budget high.

Lost on the math already? Download our Budget Calculator spreadsheet to give to your web developers. They'll know what to do. 

Download Our Budget Calculator Recipe

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Calculating Ceremony Costs

Determining The Cost Of Personal Arrangements
Now that the Global Budget Multiplier has been determined, it's time to start figuring out what types of arrangements the client will need. If they have selected that they need florals for both the ceremony and reception, our calculator automatically assumes that a bridal bouquet is needed. For each type of item, we have hidden fields that include the lowest and highest cost that item might be, not including the Global Budget Multiplier. At the end, these hidden fields are multiplied by the number of arrangements needed. The personal arrangement subtotals are then added together and multiplied by the Global Budget Multiplier. Here are our low and high figures for personal arrangements (all costs are in USD):
  • Bridal bouquet low: 185
  • Bridal bouquet high: 315
  • Bridesmaids' and other bouquets low: 75
  • Bridesmaids' and other bouquets high: 120
  • Flower girl low: 15
  • Flower girl high: 35
  • Mothers', grandmothers', and other small corsages low: 20
  • Mothers', grandmothers', and other small corsages high: 35
  • Boutonnieres low: 11
  • Boutonnieres high: 14

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Other Ceremony Florals
Once the personal arrangements have been determined, it's time to figure out what the potential client needs for the ceremony itself. We ask three primary questions where each choice has an estimated cost associated with it.
The first is about aisle decor. Here are the options and hidden values associated:
  • None: 0
  • Small florals/candles periodically on chairs/pews: 150
  • Mid-size florals lining aisles: 400
  • Large florals or full garland lining aisle: 700
Next, we ask if they'll be needing any flowers to decorate the altar/stage and associate the following costs with each answer:
  • None: 0
  • Candle treatment or small florals on altar: 90
  • One or two large florals: 350
  • Multiple large florals or other impressive decor: 600

Finally we ask about any other special arrangements they need and have the following values associated:

  • Entry arrangments: 200
  • Arbor, huppah, mandap, or other structure (simple): 700
  • Arbor, huppah, mandap, or other structure (premium): 1400
  • Guestbook arrangements: 100
Piecing Together The Ceremony Total
Let's imagine that Molly (whose Global Budget Multiplier is 1.65) is planning a wedding with the following details:
  • 6 bridesmaids bouquets
  • 2 flower girls
  • 3 mothers' and grandmother's corsages
  • 9 boutenneires
  • Small florals/candles periodically on chairs/pews
  • 1 or 2 large florals at the altar
  • 2 entry arrangements
  • A simple arbor
  • 1 guestbook arrangement

The low calculation for this ceremony would look like this:

[(Bridal bouquet low: 185) + (Number of bridesmaids' bouquets: 6)*(Bridesmaid bouquet low: 75) + (Number of Flower Girls: 2)*(Flower girl low: 15) + (Number of corsages: 3)*(Corsage low: 20) + (Number of bouts: 9)*(Bout low: 11) + (Simple arbor: 700) + (Small florals on aisle: 150) + (One or two large arrangements on altar: 350) + (Number of entry arrangements: 2)*(Entry arrangement: 200) + (Number of guestbook arrangements: 1)*(Guestbook arrangement: 100)] * (Global Budget Multiplier: 1.65) = $4,164.60

The high calculation would be:

[(Bridal bouquet high: 315) + (Number of bridesmaids' bouquets: 6)*(Bridesmaid bouquet high: 120) + (Number of Flower Girls: 2)*(Flower girl high: 35) + (Number of corsages: 3)*(Corsage high: 35) + (Number of bouts: 9)*(Bout high: 14) + (Simple arbor: 700) + (Small florals on aisle: 150) + (One or two large arrangements on altar: 350) + (Number of entry arrangements: 2)*(Entry arrangement: 200) + (Number of guestbook arrangements: 1)*(Guestbook arrangement: 100)] * (Global Budget Multiplier: 1.65) = $5,009.40

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Calculating Reception Florals

Once the potential client has answered questions about the ceremony, it's time to talk about the reception. We start by asking how many guests they are expecting and how many tables. We do ask the table question, but because we don't show the clients a breakdown, we actually do our estimates based on the raw # of people. This is because some tables may be bigger and fit up to 10 people and others may be quite a bit smaller and only fit 4. So it's convoluted to try to keep up with all the different table sizes.
As a standard, we use a low per person amount of $4 and a high person amount of $7. This took a bit of trial and error on our part to figure out what worked for our average client and you may choose to calculate your low/high person amounts differently. We probably need to even bump the price up a little bit. The important thing to note, however, is that while all the centerpieces may be similar in style, fewer flowers are used on the smaller tables so the low end calculation should reflect that. The other thing is that these $ amounts seem small but you have to remember you're factoring in your global variable as well.
We then ask about their centerpiece style and associate the following multiples with their answer:
  • Minimalistic and low, perhaps candle based: 1
  • Simple but striking, mostly low centerpieces: 2
  • A mix of low and high floral centerpieces: 3
  • Large and impressive centerpieces on all tables: 5

Let's say that Molly would like simple but striking, mostly low centerpieces. Now that we have this information, we can calculate the low and high centerpiece pricing for her wedding:

[(Number of guests: 100) * (Person low: 4) * (Centerpiece style multiplier: 2) = $800 (before the global multiple)

[(Number of guests: 100) * (Person high: 7) * (Centerpiece style multiplier: 2) = $1,400 (before the global multiple)

Accent Florals
Here are the options we have available for accent florals and the cost associate with each arrangement. Similar to the personal arrangements, we have hidden fields that offer the low and high range of the particular arrangement. The number desired for each accent is multiplied by the cost to get the accent subtotal:
  • Cake florals low: 40
  • Cake florals high: 100
  • Buffet arrangements low: 175
  • Buffet arrangements high: 275
  • Restroom arrangements low: 15
  • Restroom arrangement high: 45
  • Large accent arrangements (other than buffet) low: 250
  • Large accent arrangements (other than buffet) high: 275

If Molly wants floral arrangements for one cake, a buffet line, and a large accent arrangement, we would figure out her low and high costs as follows:

(Cake florals low: 40)*(Number of cakes: 1) + (Buffet arrangements low: 175) + (Large accent arrangements low: 250)*(Number of large accent arrangements: 1) = $465

(Cake florals low: 100)*(Number of cakes: 1) + (Buffet arrangements low: 275) + (Large accent arrangements low: 275)*(Number of large accent arrangements: 1) = $650

Calculating The Reception Total
To calculate the low and high projected prices for Molly's reception, the following formula is used:

[(Centerpiece low subtotal: 800)+(Accent florals low subtotal: 465)] * (Global Markup Multiplier: 1.65) = $2,087.25

[(Centerpiece high subtotal: 1400)+(Accent florals low subtotal: 650)] * (Global Markup Multiplier: 1.65) = $3382.50


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The Grand Total

Of course, the potential client doesn't see any of these back end numbers. But the calculator is designed to give them the grand total after they've finished answering these few questions. This includes their ceremony and reception high and low projections separate from the total budget high and low projections. This way, a potential client can see where the majority of the budget will be spent and choose to cut back on certain things or add more details as desired. 
As we mentioned last week, if a potential client fills out the calculator and does not meet our sales qualifications of a minimum budget of $3,000, our Check My Date form appears on the same page with a message that says ""Interested in more info for your wedding? Check your date below. Our floral investments start at $3,000. We'd love to hear about your vision and see if we can bring it to life." If they do meet our sales qualification criteria, they will see a message that says "Interested in seeing if your date is open? Check your date below. We specialize in exquisite events with flexible budgets and would love to hear more about your vision." This allows us to customize our messaging based on the client type, which leads to a better client experience.

*Whew* You've made it all the way through! There's a lot to digest here but we hope it helps you understand the framework that we used for running these quick calculations for potential clients.


Ready to use our secret recipe to create your own budget calculator? Download the spreadsheet that started it all and share it with your web developers to make it your own.

Download Our Budget Calculator Recipe

Tags: Tips, Efficiency, Small Business Sally, Curate, Corporate Cate, Established Ed


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