Ronald Ponkey photography, LLC
The Question: Have you done many weddings?
Why You Want to Know: This is really code for: Do you know what you're doing? Experience is usually a good indicator of expertise, and that's important since it will mean she'll be able to guide you through the process easily—even if you throw in some curveballs, like asking her how to create less expensive alternatives or which flowers are in season or grow in the region.
The Question: Can I see photographs or live examples of your work?
Why You Want to Know: Be wary if the answer is no. Pictures of past bouquets and centerpieces will give you a sense of whether you and the florist have the same taste. Seeing photos of her work will let you know exactly what she's capable of and how it compares with your inspiration bouquets. The trick here, though, is having her tell you if the photo was something she considers her style or if it was the couple's vision. Neither answer is bad—if you love the look, you know she's capable of making it again; if you hate it, ask to see something she thinks is reflective of her own style.
The Question: Have you done weddings at our ceremony or reception site before?
Why You Want to Know: If she has, she'll be knowledgeable about what sizes, shapes and colors work in the venue. It's also a great way to see how other couples transformed the space. If she hasn't, ask if she'd be willing to do a site visit to scope it out and note any limitations. This isn't as essential as general experience and style, but it's super-helpful and could save you time and money.
The Question: How many weddings are you handling on the same day or weekend as mine? Will you simply be dropping off flowers, or will you be helping set up too?
Why You Want to Know: If your florist is handling multiple clients, you'll want to ensure she has enough staff and time to go around. Make sure to discuss your vision with the person who will actually be working on your wedding flowers. You'll pay more for a full-service florist who makes sure everything is in order the day of, but it's often worth the peace of mind.
The Question: How do you like to work with clients?
Why You Want to Know:Maybe you can picture your bridal bouquet, right down to the number of stems. Or maybe you have no idea and would like some serious hand-holding. Find your floral match. Some florists love input from their clients, while others work better with more freedom to handpick the freshest stems or stretch the palette a little. Hire someone whose creative process matches your needs. It will make this planning step better for everyone involved.
The Question: Are you willing to work within my budget?
Why You Want to Know: This seems obvious, but it's not just about making sure the florist will take the job. If your budget is low, talk openly and honestly about how much you can spend at your initial meeting. Sometimes hearing “no" is a good thing, because then you can figure out how to compromise early on. Maybe it's impossible for anyone to accomplish what you want within that price range (read: you want a lush flower wall on a shoestring budget). Most florists can work with you no matter how much you have to spend, but it's important to start the conversation early—and to be open to new ideas and alternatives.
The Question: Will you be responsible for working with my venue to find out about any restrictions they may have in terms of décor and installation?
Why You Want to Know: You don't want to be the middleman—florists have a better idea what's needed to carry out your vision, be it indoor topiaries or a 10-foot-tall floral chuppah. Ideally, your florist will communicate with your venue directly to be sure your plans don't interfere with their policies. You also want to make sure she's comfortable handling setup and breakdown without having to involve you, since you'll be pretty busy on your wedding day.
The Question: What other services do you offer?
Why You Want to Know: Most florists are actually more like event designers. You may be able to get extras, like fabric draping, lanterns, chairs, candelabras and lounge furniture, from them. Why is this a good thing? Dealing with one wedding pro rather than four or five can simplify the process and alleviate stress (sometimes you can save on delivery charges too!). If she doesn't offer these services and you're interested in them, see if she regularly partners with a rental company. Oftentimes florists have a friend in the industry, and you can be assured the two work well together.
The Question: Who will handle setup and delivery? What about breakdown? How long will you need for both, and what are the fees?
Why You Want to Know: These are the sneaky line items on a proposal that can add up. A florist usually assesses your budget for flowers and labor only, so ask about these “extras" that you can't really avoid. Also, make sure arrangements for pickup have been made for any rented items, like vases and arches.
The Question: What happens to the flowers after the wedding?
Why You Want to Know: When you hire a florist, you're typically quoted a price that includes not only the flowers but also the vases or other containers you'll be renting to display the stems. This means that while those pretty blooms are yours to keep, the urns or candelabras go home with the florist. If you're interested in repurposing the arrangements for a day-after brunch, you'll want to discuss the details with your florist. She can often work the additional cost of vases into your initial proposal.