BEHIND THE SCENES
A WEDDING COORDINATOR “PLAYING” FLORIST FOR THE DAY
As a florist, we often hear people say, “wow, it must be so fun to play with flowers all day.” Trust me, we don’t “play” with flowers all day. Most of our days consist of administrative work, cleaning buckets and the studio, sourcing the cheapest but best quality vessels, buying, loading and unloading large flower boxes and buckets, working in cold and wet condition. Does that sound fun to you? Not to me.
Yes, creating flower arrangements is soothing and can be an excellent way for some to relax but for a wedding, the florist is stressed out to the max. Just a few of the stresses going through our mind are is the studio cold enough, do the flowers look perfect, will the bride love this bouquet as much as I do, what's the weather going to be like the day of the event, is the road to the venue curvy and bumping. These are just some of the thoughts going through our minds as we “play with flowers.”
A few weeks ago I got to work with a wedding coordinator named Heather, but this wasn’t a typical wedding day. Heather wasn’t the coordinator of the event she was helping us set up for a wedding. Heather played florist for the day. At the end of the event we were chatting about things and I asked Heather if I could interview her for our blog.
I wanted to interview Heather because she was an excellent addition to our team that day but had never worked as a florist before. I believe every wedding vendor works extremely hard to create the perfect day for the clients. I believe we all have different struggles that we may not know the other vendor goes through. As a florist we have to prep for days before the wedding, but we get to leave the wedding first. For the catering company, they have been prepping for a day or two plus stay until dinner is over. The photographer has a long day, but spends hours after the wedding at their computer. The coordinator depending if he/she is of day of or full service can prep without worry the product dying or spoiling (aka catering food). But the day of struggles with micro- managing groomsmen who act like drunk cats and is the first one on-site and the last one to leave. Basically, we all have tough jobs, but I feel like we all need to live a day in each other shoes.
One reason, Ash + Oak has a one-up on most other florist is from all my experience working in events. I have coordinated significant corporate events, small weddings, been a catering manager as well as been the lead server or bartender for events. Having a perspective of what everyone contributes allows us to be a team because as wedding vendors, we are ONE team working towards the same goal.
ON WITH THE INTERVIEW
1. Heather, what do you do and what's your business?
I am a wedding planner, stylist, and coordinator. My business is Sterling Black Events. Reach Heather at
2. How long have you been in the wedding industry?
Technically (I suppose) 10 years, as I’m also an esthetician, so I started as a bridal/ wedding party MUA. During that time, I met a lot of vendors and started picking up gigs with catering and bartending. Then got a job at a venue as a day of coordinator and now here I am.
3. What do you love most about what you do?
I love that I get to be creative. I love meeting and working with different types of people. I love that every event is something different, and I’m always being challenged. Most of all I love the energy about weddings and Parties in which “most” people are generally happy.
4. Before you freelanced for Shannon (Arvo floral), had you ever consider becoming a florist?
If so, what appealed to you?
Absolutely, I still am considering it. However, after working with you ladies, my perception of florists is wildly different. I always watched florists at events and thought to myself, “that seems like such a calming job to have.” I loved helping with floral table runners and putting little greenery touches around the venue for my events. I like the creativity of styling florals. That was the extent of what I had done involving florals before working with you and Shannon. Afterward, I realized how physically demanding floral is, so many moving parts... the ups and downs, cleaning and picking up all the tiny pieces left behind. Having your clients (and wedding party) continuously ask you for more work and product then you contracted for. As a planner I’m used to always saying “yes,” but as a florist, I can see how yourself & your business could go under if you were still doing more then what you’ve been contracted for. Not to mention how vital what your budget for time is. “Time,” most of all, I realized how essential time is in floral.
5. What was the hardest part of the day? Weather, beginning on your feet, lifting buckets, long hours, etc.
The hardest part of my day was working in the heat, I’ve worked many events in the heat but never have I worked one that I couldn’t escape the sun for hours on end, almost everything we did require working in the sun.
As I wasn’t part of the team that was at the studio beforehand, I can’t fully speak on hours, but as a planner, I’m used to being at an event from the moment the doors open till after the last guest leaves. With that said, the hours of a florist are a dream. But the physical part of floral is definitely demanding.
6. After the 7 hours of freelancing did you feel dirtier/sweatier than you usually do as a coordinator? (again I know it was hot but think dirtier)
I felt sweaty, dirty, and I didn’t smell like a flower. Then again, as a coordinator, I tend to get pretty sweaty as well, but also no, probably not as dirty.
7. Before the wedding how long and how many people did you think it took to create a full, lush wedding arch — rough estimate. Many times as florist, clients think we can pull it all off in the 2 hours a venue allocates. That was before Pinterest created backdrops and installs.
Before the wedding, my rough estimate on a “full, lush” arch probably would be similar to the others; I would have thought it took maybe two people around 2 or 3 hours to complete. (Haha) Now I realize I grossly underestimated my original statement.
8. Did you break any nails, cut yourself. Or get throned by a rose?
Surprisingly I didn’t, but I dealt with more bee’s than ever before.
9. As a florist, we worry about two things wind and sun. Since the wedding was in the 90-degree sun we could not put out the centerpieces until the very last second causing Shannon to pay for 2 more hours of labor (assuming not included in the proposal) Knowing this is a problem for florist would you reconsider where and when reception is being held if your planning a summer wedding?
I’m not a fan of mid-summer outdoor weddings at all, for many reasons but yes, if I have a summer bride who wants heavy florals or candles or even buffet style food I typically make her vary aware of all of the difficulties and expenses that might occur if held outside.
10. Looking back on the day, what was the one thing you took away from freelancing?
That florals are more labor-intensive than I could have ever imagined.
11. As a coordinator you are dealing with a lot of moving parts and groomsmen to herd, do you feel florist deal with as many moving parts?
Absolutely, the main difference is that as a florist you don’t have to deal with the guests/ wedding party as much however, your dealing with working around vendors and their duties... kind of a game of chess in the wedding industry.
12. A have had a client question me about what I charge for labor (which I always under charge) since you freelance do you think you have a better grasp on how to explain the cost of labor to future clients. If so, what would you explain to them?
I’d explain that it’s hard to estimate a cost in something like florals because of your responsibility to keep an item looking fresh with all of the other factors that may be out of their hands, such as heat and wind. I’d explain they are probably undercharging what their time is worth before they even get to the venue. That what you see happening on the wedding day itself isn’t all of the work that happened. That they spent hours beforehand on planning, making trips to the flower market, and executing a vision for you.
13. Do you feel couples genuinely understand how much work and effect it takes to make their day smooth and beautiful?
100% not. I don’t think they have any idea when dealing with the budget/ partly DIY clients/ weddings regularly I like to break down the time and product/ rental cost. I want to compare their own (DIY) time and results vs. paying a professional to get professional results. I like to tell them about the importance of hiring professionals and showing them examples. ***I keep the pictures/ examples of DIY verses professional for my clients.
14. What do would you tell brides that want to DIY flowers to save money? Do you recommend it?
Again, I love giving examples of DIY/ cheap versus professional. Professional florals will provide you with that stunning/ polished look they probably imagine their wedding will have. But if they truly need to cut costs on florals, I usually tell them to go light on table florals and do greenery runners and have the professionals do your bouquets, boutonnières & Arbors.
15. Do you believe flowers are an essential part of a wedding?
I personally feel that florals are essential to any picture-perfect wedding. I feel like if clients want a “Pinterest/ Instagram” worthy wedding (which let’s be real, that’s what most brides are trying to achieve) then hiring a good planner, florist and photographer are key.
Examples of Heather’s work below