Starting A New Floral Shop: Executing Your First Event

By Ryan ONeil
As we continue to look at how to start a floral shop from scratch, we dive deeper into executing your first event. Now that you've made it through your first consultation and have your design space set up, it's time to execute your first event! It's an exciting time to be sure but with so many moving parts, having a timeline of what you should be doing in advance is critical. Here's the timeline we use for a Saturday event.
Two Months Before:
Be sure you have all details from client. The major details should be finalized and you should know exactly what time to deliver the flowers and if there are any tricky things to consider when delivering and setting up. Also confirm all the details from your proposal--are there still only 3 bridesmaids and 10 reception tables or have those numbers changed?

One Month Before:
Be sure you have all final payments in from the client. Never wait until the day of. Your client will likely have their mind on ten million other things and having to get the final payment to you will not be something they want to think about. Worse yet, having to track them down for it is a fool's errand.
If you need some extra hands, be sure to reach out to them to get them scheduled. We'll talk about the legal aspects of hiring help in an upcoming article.
Two Weeks Before:
Create your wholesaler order and order it. Curate makes ordering as easy as one click but even using a tool like our Excel Recipe Sheet makes this process a LOT easier because you can simply pull the data from the spreadsheet and send it to your wholesaler. 
Download the Excel Recipe Spreadsheet
One Week Before: 
Make sure your hired help (or best friend volunteer) is still available to help you. Be sure you have a backup plan in case they're unavailable for some reason. You always need a game plan to execute the event with one less person to help.
Create a timeline of when everything should go down. Everything from receiving the flowers to creating the arrangements to pick-up after the event is over. If you will have to build out some arrangements on site, be sure you know exactly how long it will take. If you have floral designers to help you before the big day, you should assign them to specific arrangements and give them a recipe sheet so they know how to create those arrangements. Curate automatically has these created when users select it. Also, put together a checklist of everything that will need to be loaded for transportation to the venue. If you're using Curate, you can use the "shopping list" as your pull list for your rentals and your packing list for the items you need to bring. Nothing is worse than forgetting an important item and trying to finagle an alternative design or rush back to the shop to pick it up.
If you're unfamiliar with the venue, send an email to them to check what time you can begin setup, what time the tables will be there, where their load-in dock is, and any quirks that you need to know--like if there isn't elevator! (Oh the stories!)
Be sure you have your transportation in place. If you own a van, you get to skip this step each week. We actually are like 5 minutes from a U-Haul store and just rent one of their vans any weekend that we need it. It ends up costing us like $60 so it's super cheap to use and convenient. Before we moved to our shop in St. Louis, we lived near a friend who had a large work van that they let us rent for $20 plus gas. Whatever you do, just take care of coordinating this a week ahead of time.
Monday and Tuesday of Wedding Week:
This is when you should make sure you have all of your hardgoods and rentals together. Count every candle, vase, etc., and put in floral foam where needed so you're good to go once you unload on site. Also prepare your buckets for when the flowers are delivered.
Your flowers should arrive from your wholesaler (or you should pick them up locally) 3 days before your event. Depending on the size of the event, this may need to happen on Tuesday. Another thing to weigh in is whether or not you have a cooler yet, which gives you a little more flexibility. Be sure to process the flowers, noting any deficiencies in them and how many extras you'll be left with so you can plan to do something with them. If you get the flowers and they're a bad batch, be sure to let your wholesaler know so they can replace them or give you credit for them. Once you've done that, you can start building out the designs.
Thursday and Friday:
If you haven't started on Wednesday, Thursday is a big design day. You've already prepped the work space and are ready to hammer away at designs. Be sure you have a printed copy of all the recipes that are needed for your designs so you're able to quickly check them off the list. If you have any arrangements that will last longer, be sure to make them earlier so that all arrangements look great once you deliver on Saturday.
The Big Day:
If your client is picking up the flowers, be sure to have everything prepped for them to pickup early. They will likely need more time to set things up than a professional florist would so suggest the earliest pick up time. For transport, we just take the empty closed flower boxes and cut an x in several places and pop in the vases that way.
If you're going to deliver and set up the flowers, grab that checklist you created on Monday. Go through every single item as it's being packed into the vehicle to make sure you don't forget anything.
Boxes are lifesavers for transportation! Box up all your items so they don't shift as much. As mentioned above, we use boxes for the flowers by cutting an x into them and putting the vases in. We used to use a black foam flower delivery option like this but for the most part have moved to our makeshift box setup.

When we pack a van, we put the hardgoods in first and the flowers last. This allows us to get the flowers out of the hot van and set them up.
We also have a wheelable cart to help us transport everything from the van to where it needs to go in the venue. This saves us a LOT of time in going back and forth to unload everything. 
On site:
A great touch is to have drop the bouquets off personally. It gives you a final chance to see your client and wish them the best on their big day. It also gives you an opportunity for bridesmaids to see you. It's very likely that your key marketing campaign are bridesmaids at weddings you've done. They're more powerful than WeddingWire, TheKnot, and all the brides magazines put together. 

As you unload, be sure you've know where you are going. If you don't know where you're going, take small items first and get it figure out.
Once everything is in the room, we often start by designing the tables. However, depending on the timing, you may have to hurry to set up your ceremony first before the guests can get there.
Once you have everything set up, take note of what worked well for you and what didn't and adjust your process accordingly. We love giving our feedback but we're sure you'll have some great lessons that we couldn't possible predict.

Keep an eye out for our next blog post (and the final one in this entrepreneur series) to find out more about how to set up the business side of your new floral shop! Did we miss anything in this? Be sure to comment below about tips and tricks you use!

When we were first getting started with our St. Louis floral shop, back in the days before Curate was even an idea, we set up an advanced Excel Recipe Spreadsheet that was a good stopgap measure until we needed a professional tool. We know that not every florist is in a place where they need the super powers of Curate so we're sharing an updated version of that Excel Recipe Spreadsheet with you to help you until you're ready for a tool made for professional florists.

Download the Excel Recipe Spreadsheet

Tags: Tips, Small Business Sally, Curate


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