I don't have what you'd call a green thumb. Try as I might, every year, by the end of the summer, my potted plants are wilted and weeds have taken over my poor excuse for a garden. I've never known much about flowers, so when I started planning my wedding, the learning curve was steep.
I went to each meeting with questions, but they never seemed to be the right ones. I was caught off guard, more than once, by protocol and availability. There are things I wish someone would have told me, so to save you the same strife, here's my advice on what I wish I would have known to ask from the start.
This is my date. What's available and what's impossible to get?
I had my heart set on peonies and lillies of the valley. Little did I know that if I wanted peonies, we would have had to fly them in from Holland. Yes, Holland. You can imagine the price tag on that one, so we passed, but it took some time for me to get over it. Be up front with your florist from the start about what flowers you like and don't like. I suggest bringing pictures from catalogs to your initial meetings so your florist can identify what you like and let you know availability from the start. Here's a primer on what you need to know.
Do you offer mock centerpieces or bouquets?
This one was pretty important to me, given my lack of knowledge in the floral arena. I got the general idea that my bouquet was going to have roses and orchids, but I wanted to see how they'd look together. Talk to your florist about what their protocol is for mock-ups. Often when people reach a certain spending threshold with a florist, they'll throw in a small mock-up of the centerpiece and/or bouquet. Determine ahead of time where the cost of this is coming from, and make sure you're all on the same page to avoid awkward conversations later.
What happens at the end of the night? Do you come back to strike the floral/vases at the end of the evening?
You want someone who does this (or at the very least will come back the morning after if your venue is okay with it). There's nothing worse than being ready to head out the door with your new spouse only to find out you need to load up your getaway car with the remaining centerpieces.
What other décor elements can you provide (aisle runner, candelabras, trees, chuppah, votives, mirrors, etc.)? Are these rental items? How will these items affect the overall cost?
Some florists rent these items out, others have them and just lend them to you, while still others encourage you to work with a decor rental company. Figure out how the addition of these items will work with your budget so you don't end up with added costs at the end.
What's the average budget for the weddings you've done in the last year?
I'll be honest, most brides are floored by the cost of florals; I know I was. So aligning with a florist who specializes in your budget range is ideal. They know how to make the most of the numbers that you're working with and can help direct you toward flowers that are in season and available at the appropriate price points.