Welcome to the Wedding Expert Series. This series of posts will feature advice from some of the world’s top wedding and event industry experts and are designed to help you regardless of what stage of your career or business you are at.
One of the reasons a couple will choose to work with you is because of your intimate knowledge of the wedding industry and ‘who’s who’ within it. But when you are starting out, recommending vendors/suppliers, can seem over-whelming, especially when everyone you talk to, is selling themselves. In this special guest post, Kathy Apostolidis founder of Nightingales gives her expert advice on what a Wedding Planner should look for in a floral designer they would like to potentially work with.
The Sourcing of Suppliers is a crucial element that needs time and attention when starting up as a wedding planner. Nowadays you have the benefit of social media to follow the styles and “happening right now” elements of weddings and events so that you can see the trends and more importantly the talents of suppliers in the Weddings industry. There are many extremely talented Floral Designers in Australia, we are truly blessed! When deciding whom you would like to meet in this field, its important to look at the style and demographic of weddings that you would like to be involved with – knowing your demographic determines where you look for your suppliers. I know I am always saying “be true to yourself” but this is crucial if you are going to know where you are heading and setting the foundations for success – so with this in mind you need to like the work of the floral designers you are considering.
Choose 3 or 4 and set out a plan to visit and connect with these suppliers. In the first instance it is good to connect via phone so that you can introduce yourself, your business and the area you are based in – explain that you would like to meet and view their portfolio for your potential clients and find out what would be a good time to pop in – keep in mind Mondays and Fridays are very busy days for florists so perhaps suggest another day of the week. Prepare for your meeting! Some questions that you should ask are :
- How long have you been in business?
- Do you work with other wedding planner? Or have you worked with wedding planners in the past?
- Are you a preferred supplier at any venues OR are there any venues that you mostly work at OR is there specific area you prefer to work in?
- Are you flexible with locations? (in the case of country weddings where local suppliers are not available)
- Some general pricing questions are good at this point: What is the cost range of your bouquets and buttonholes? (refer to the photos when asking these questions?
- What is the approximate range of this style of floral arrangement? (refer to photos in portfolio)
- Talk about your business and the types of clients that you will have and the areas that you are preferring to concentrate your business in?
- Are they happy to collaborate with you and the client in designing floral arrangements or bespoke pieces? (this will show you if they can take direction, are happy to experiment, or if they prefer just to do their own style)
- All suppliers will want to know if you will want a commission from them if you book them for a wedding – this depends on your fee structure – if you work on a commission basis you will have to be very clear on this from the outset so that there are no misunderstandings in the future.
It is vitally important that you can communicate well with your florist and that you can feel that you are in charge of the event, as ultimately you are the one the client has engaged and you are ultimately responsible for the flowers irrespective that you are not physically creating the arrangements – very important to remember that you are the one that will drive the budget, style and logistics of the florals. You have to feel completely comfortable with your floral suppliers in that they will work closely with you and the client in a friendly and professional manner and that they understand that you are the point of contact at all times. All suppliers must contact you first to ask if they can speak to the client – it is important that you understand that you are the project manager of the wedding and this means that your suppliers must discuss all aspects of the event with you in the first instance as you ultimately are their client.
Nightingales are Australia’s Leading Wedding Planners and Stylists. Kathy Apostolidis established Nightingales in 1994. Since then Nightingales’ team of Wedding Planners and Stylists has been setting benchmarks for quality and service in the Wedding Industry both in Australia and overseas. We are proud to have Kathy as a member of the AAWEP Advisory Board. Kathy is also a contributor to the International Wedding Trend Report 2016.