Demystifying Wedding Flowers

Wedding Flowers, Sonoma, Napa

There are various things that you need to take into consideration when pricing out your wedding flowers and choosing your floral designer. First know that this is truly a labor of love! From the time I get up at 1am to make the drive to San Francisco to hand pick each bloom for your event, the long hours of production, to the moment I hand you your bouquet, YOU and your wedding are the most important thing I am doing. There are many hours that lead up to the day, planning every detail. Each wedding is unique, the florals are custom designed for you.

Pricing and cost is important to every client so I want to demystify it a little bit & tell you how it really works.

Your style, size of your event, quality & types of flowers desired, along with the complexity of design, staffing and production hours are just all parts of the many components of pricing. The installation & breakdown of your event is also crucial, the staffing & timing, late night hours to breakdown an event, all must be impeccable, adequately staffed and there are many more hours involved in just this part that you can possibly imagine. We always breakdown our events at the end of the evening, no matter what time that is.

The Budget…it must be realistic, and I know this is hard sometimes to figure out as there are many variables, and not enough information available.

Flowers themselves are expensive no matter where they come from, whether local, seasonal or imported. Product quality is extremely important & my long-standing relationships with my wholesale vendors are key as well. Each type of flower has a certain price tag, and this is not always due necessarily to it seasonality. Local and seasonal products are often comparable in pricing to the imports. The local bunch of flowers might be a little bigger, giving us a few more blooms to work with, but the price differences are not anything substantial. Pricing has stabilzed over the past few years, meaning we do not experience the huge product price fluctuations as we did in the past, except for maybe around certain holidays like Valentine’s day, however flower prices have taken an unexpected 20% to 30% increase this past season (2012).

More often than not brides want to talk about “seasonal product”, thinking this means their flowers will be less expensive. This is not always the case. Also, if you think about it, “Seasonal” really means whatever is growing outside at that time in whatever color or shade is at the moment. Not every shade of every “Seasonal” flower (any any flower for that matter) is available every week. Most brides do not plan their wedding flowers or color palettes this way.

We are extremely privileged to have the San Francisco Flower Market as our main resource, one of the largest in the country. Here In California “Local” product comes from as far as Southern California to Washington State. Quite a lot of our product is imported. Flowers & pricing may be different than the rest of the country. In recent years things have changed quite a bit due to the global shipping of product from around the world. What was once considered a very seasonal product is now available sometimes year round, or during the opposite season (Like spring flowers in the fall) as it is spring somewhere in the world or the growers in other parts of the world have figured out where & how to grow things that are off season. The prices of these items in the “Off season” are not much more expensive than during their normal season. The quality of these products is excellent for the most part, much of the time being more consistent than much of the “Local” product. Again it varies widely from grower to grower, wholesaler to wholesaler, and this again is why I work closely with my regular suppliers, as they know I am picky and what my expectations are.

I am always very upfront from the beginning with my clients about product quality & availability. The reality is that whether a floral designer is using local, or imported product, we require some flexibility on the bride’s part, as one never knows exactly what has arrived to the market, the exact shade or color, or condition of the product until one picks up one’s order and actually looks at it. I always equate it with being a chef and going to the grocery store, something every bride can relate to. One looks at one’s orders and makes an assessment. If there is something missing or wrong, then you choose something else to make it right, or even better. The market is always full of lovely surprises week to week, and sometimes the best floral designs come out of improvisation, or substitutions. I am still after this many years always excited to get up at 1am on flower day to go and see what is there.

Brides must absolutely trust trust their floral designer to make choices, and let them feel they have the freedom to make substitutions as needed without worrying. They will get better results.
Take a deep breath – you have chosen your particular vendor to create your floral designs for a reason, so let them do their thing and create for you. I always tell my brides I want to “wow” them, and bring them a present. Every thank you note from my past brides is filled with “it was so much more than I expected or could have imagined!” This is what I live for.

The 2015 wedding season is underway

We are already 2015 mid-wedding season, time flies. Weddings began as early as February, ramping up in earnest by March. The 2014 wedding season was filled with fabulous weddings, parties, anniversaries & special events. We created so many exciting events and I will be continuously uploading new images that I have taken, as well as new ones that I anxiously await to arrive from the many wonderful photographers. The 2015 season already is proving exciting as there is so much variety again on the table for this season & next year 2016 is already looking busy here in the Wine Country. Couples are coming armed with an array of new ideas, fabulous & fun color schemes, out of the box concepts, giving us a wide variety of creative inspiration, food for thought and as well as the much needed creative latitude. I love my couples! There are so many gorgeous new color schemes, themes, ideas and inspirations, each one different, it is definitely proving to be another fun year!

We have had lots of fun with our many same sex / gay weddings, now that California & everyone else has finally jumped on the band wagon.

Thank you all, the brides & grooms, as without you none of this would be! The couples from seasons past and to all of you with upcoming weddings & events who entrust Fleurs de France with this important piece of your day! The thank you letters and the incredibly beautiful photos are awesome and inspiring. A huge thank you to all the many talented photographers and videographer who have graciously provided me with so many wonderful images and videos.

There are many of our gorgeous weddings published on STYLE ME PRETTY, and other Wedding Blogs & Magazines, so look for these postings as well, and we will keep updating as they come. To visit current blog, video & web postings visit our Facebook page and You Tube (links at the bottom of this page and it will take you straight there)

I have created my FEATURED EVENTS section (on our other web site, where I post what I call Wedding Vignettes -which you will find if you click above on the link. Here you will find a collage of photos from different events, giving you the flavor, and mood, and perhaps something inspirational. I have also created a set of Inspiration galleries, which may help you with style concepts. Keep checking back, as I am constantly adding new things.And I am currently juggling the 2 web sites.

I am always UPLOADING NEW PHOTOS and moving photos around between the various portfolio galleries. If you have not already seen them, we have new videos on our You Tube account, awesome work created by Aaron Lee Films and Weddings on Film.

THERE IS STILL MORE TO COME! I will continue to add to them as the newest photos come in from the photographers over the next few months, so keep checking back. It is a time consuming process to get it just right…

I feel fortunate & extremely privileged to do what I love, create art and beauty with flowers, and being part of designing a once in a lifetime day. I am bursting with energy and enthusiasm, ready for the next 2 am wake up call to go to the flower market and begin creating for the current week’s wedding or event.

Fleurs de France is honored to be included on some of the most prestigious preferred vendor lists of many of the Wine Country Wineries & Wedding Sites in the Sonoma & Napa Valley, including Auberge du Soleil, The Calistoga Ranch, Meadowood, Merryvale, Viansa Winery, The Lodge at Sonoma, V.Sattui Winery, Trentadue Wineries, and many other locations. (See our Venue Page link). We love working with other awesome vendors (see our Preferred Vendor list).

We serve exclusively The Northern California Wine Country of Sonoma & the Napa Valley and are a full service wedding florist and event floral design studio. We do not do any retail, so we can concentrate exclusively on you and your event.

We also specialize in Destination Weddings in the Northern California Wine Country, working with couples worldwide. We work closely with each of the sites, and all your other vendors, ensuring your day is flawlessly executed, seemless and perfect, even better than you imagined. The Sonoma and Napa Valley are filled with gorgeous wineries, stunning vineyard settings, rustic barns, fabulous barrel rooms and wine caves, all perfect for weddings and events, spectacular views everywhere, and fabulous wines & food.

I started Fleurs de France more than 27 years ago. I work from my home studio, nestled on a few tranquil acres in Sonoma county, surrounded by vineyards, forest, and wildlife (& my peacocks), the perfect place for a creative soul.
Every event is one of a kind, unique in it’s own way. There are no rules; each wedding or event offers new and exciting possibilities. Everyone’s vision of their day is different. That is what keeps things exciting for us at Fleurs de France. It offers the chance for me to reinvent my creative self daily. Every detail is important, each bouquet, boutonniere and centerpiece. Each creation is a piece of art made especially for you. I am constantly searching for new textures, containers, color combinations, new elements, fabrics, lace and embellishments to enhance to our work. I personally hand pick every bloom, always looking for the extraordinary, the perfect elements to add. I shop personally for each event, getting up at 2am ready and excited to go to market.

I could go on, however…a picture is worth a thousand words, so please visit the various portfolios on my web site for a small sample. I hope that the photos of my work will speak to you, and inspire you. I look forward to being part of your day.

We still have some availability for the rest of the 2015 season and are currently booking 2016. Please contact me to see if your date is still available

Jessica Switala
By Appointment
Sebastopol, Ca.
Office: (707) 824-8158
Cell: (707) 535-9208