The Complete Guide to Your Floral Contract, Decoded

The flower proposal and contract can be pretty complicated. These details are what to look for (and what to insist on).

What is it?

A flower proposal is a detailed description and itemized list of every arrangement and rental item your florist will use to bring your floral (and oftentimes décor) vision to life. In its final form, the proposal is very comprehensive—in addition to an all-inclusive list of the arrangements, you’ll also find all the flowers (and plausible substitutes) and rental items (vases, candles, linens and chair covers) the florist plans to use, pricing information and the contract policy.

Who puts it together?

After an initial consultation, final florist candidates will draft a proposal. So once you’ve set your flower budget (usually about 10 percent of your total wedding budget), you’ll want to begin researching florists. Determine if you want someone who will not only make arrangements but also design the look of your tables and ceremony. If so, look for a floral designer. If you already hired an event designer or have a keen eye for design, a regular florist will probably do. Your venue and planner can recommend pros they’ve worked with before, as can your newly married friends. Narrow down your list and set up consultations with your top three choices.

How does it work?

During your initial consultation, you’ll talk about what you’re looking for based on your budget and style. Map out your vision, touching on theme, colors and your favorite flowers, as well as the types of arrangements and décor you want your florist to work into the proposal. Images are more telling than words, so bring along your inspiration boards, pictures of your dress and the bridesmaid dresses, and swatches of your linens. This will help give your florist a sense of what you’re looking for.

What else is in the proposal?

Before you put down a deposit or sign a contract, you’ll meet again with your top-choice florists and they’ll present an exact proposal based on what you discussed during your first meeting.

Here’s what should be included:

  • Contact info for you and the florist
  • Date, times and locations of both your ceremony and reception
  • Itemized list of all arrangements, including the exact varieties to be used, prices and colors, plus acceptable alternatives (in your price range) if your desired bloom isn’t available, and unacceptable substitutions, if any
  • List of rental items the florist will supply, such as vases, candles, linens and chairs
  • Setup details for the ceremony and reception
  • Delivery info for bouquets and boutonnieres
  • Name of florist who will be on hand during the wedding
  • Sales tax, overtime charges, delivery costs and set-up fees
  • Total amount and deposit amount
  • Payment schedule
  • Cancellation and refund polices

How is a proposal different from a contract?

In addition to descriptions of all the various elements you’re considering and the logistical details, the florist will show you sketches or small models of complex or major items, such as a flowering archway for your outdoor ceremony, a bouquet based on your inspiration photos, table topiaries or the modern table arrangements you discussed, as part of the proposal.

How is pricing determined?

Every floral designer works a little differently. Some florists use a fixed-price menu (price per arrangement), while others base pricing on the amount of time it will take them to put each arrangement together.

Can we request changes to the proposal?

Yes! This is the time to make changes, adjust the budget and voice concerns about logistics or design elements you don’t like. Work with your florist to adjust both your floral budget and proposal, ensuring the two match and you’re happy with everything before making it official.

Can we make changes later?

Once you’re completely satisfied with the proposal, it will be made into a formal contract that you will then sign. Don’t worry if you miss something or if you change your mind after reviewing the proposal—it happens. When interviewing potential florists, ask about the process for changing the proposal and make sure you can make adjustments as the wedding date gets closer and you have a better idea of, say, how many centerpieces you’ll need or what the rest of the décor will look like. Ask how far in advance changes must be made. You should have a (close to) final head count about a month prior to the wedding—making it the perfect deadline. If you do change your mind about something, tell your florist as soon as possible, and have it added to the proposal to make it official.

When do we sign the contract?

Don’t sign the contract right away. Take it home, look it over and make any final revisions and comparisons before committing. That said, don’t take more than two weeks to mull it over and make a decision. It’s important to get it signed, sealed and delivered in a timely manner—good florists book up fast during the busy season, so the sooner your put down a deposit and secure a florist, the better (six to eight months in advance is ideal). And until you and the florist have signed on the dotted line, no one is obligated to the wedding date, so your florist could possibly book another wedding.

Here’s which details should be finalized in the contract:

  • Date, times and locations of your ceremony and reception
  • An itemized list of all the flower arrangements you’re buying—from bouquets to centerpieces—with exact names, amounts and colors of flowers
  • Flower alternatives (in your price range) if a specific bloom is unavailable on your wedding day; also include unacceptable substitutions, if any
  • A list of items the florist will supply—centerpiece vases, trellises or other accessories
  • Arrival times for setup at the ceremony and reception sites and addresses for both
  • Where and when bouquets and boutonnieres should be delivered, if not to the ceremony site (to your home, for example, including that address)
  • Name of the florist who will be on hand during the wedding and for how long (you’ll want the florist you’ve been working with to help set up the arrangements at both your ceremony and reception sites; if you’re transporting ceremony flowers to your reception site, you may also want your florist to stay through the ceremony to help transport and rearrange your ceremony flowers for the reception)
  • Flower proposal details
  • Who will be responsible for the breakdown of any installations and when and where that will occur
  • Who will fill in if the florist can’t be there on your wedding day
  • Sales tax, delivery fees and setup fees
  • Deposit amount and due date
  • Balance amount and due date
  • Cancellation/refund policy

What happens next?

After you’ve agreed to a contract and put down your deposit, you’ll still need to meet with your florist a few more times before you say “I do.” You may want to make additions or adjustments along the way, like adding fresh flowers to the cake or arrangements to the restrooms at the reception. Some florists will also create mock-ups of your centerpieces and other major arrangements to review (occasionally this costs extra). We highly recommend reviewing a sample arrangement before the wedding. The flowers are one of your largest expenses and a main décor element, so you want to make sure you’re happy with them. It’s also a good idea to see how any major arrangements look with the rest of the planned décor, so everything works together.

Find a florist in your area here.

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