Bridal 2001

Tips for choosing a florist
Ideas, recommendations are the key

by Karen Alden

Flowers can transform almost any setting into an expression of the bride and groom's unique vision. Here are some suggestions on how to decide on a floral theme and select a florist:

1. Look in bridal magazines and books. "The Best of Martha Stewart Living: Weddings" (1999) has suggestions and pictures for the ceremony and reception. "The Elegant Wedding and the Budget-Savvy Bride" by Deborah McCoy (1999) offers advice on coordinating bridal bouquets with types and styles of dresses and gowns. "Town and Country Elegant Weddings" by Stacey Okun (2001) discusses themes that incorporate the interests and hobbies of the bride and groom. "Legendary Brides" by Letitia Baldridge (2000) reviews the weddings of such luminaries as Queen Victoria, Jacqueline Bouvier, Grace Kelly and Lady Diana Spencer.

2. Ask family and friends to recommend florists. Look at the latest edition of "By Recommendation Only" by Johanna Kaestner, a wedding and party resource guide to the Bay Area that only includes sources that have been recommended by satisfied customers.

3. After selecting a few possible florists, call them for a one-hour appointment to discuss your plans. Try to formulate what you want on paper and take any pictures you may have collected to illustrate what you like. Remember that some flowers are available year-round--like roses, lilies, orchids, stephanotis, gladioli, baby's breath, daisies, and gardenias--while others are only available during certain seasons. Consider the florist's suggestions and recommendations. Provide all the information concerning the wedding ceremony and reception including date, time, style and colors of bridal party, including fabric swatches.

4. Request cost estimates, including any delivery or set up fees and rental items, that are within your budget.

5. Ask how many weddings the florist books in a day. Consider that florists who handle more than two or three in one day might be overextending themselves, and you may run into problems.

6. Be sure the florist you speak to is the person who will be in charge of your flowers and not a less experienced subordinate.