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Is anyone “helping” you to choose your wedding flowers?
Last week I had a consultation with a lovely lady, let’s call her Susan.
We had previous to our meeting talked over the phone a few times and to me she sounded like the ideal client.
I loved the location of her wedding, a venue I had worked with on several occasions, and she had a lovely Pinterest board with lots of gorgeous images of wedding flowers that were achievable for her season and budget.
Little did I know I was going to have the worst consultation I have ever had; accompanying Susan was the furure mother in law.
It turned out that Susan had accepted the offer of help from her future mother in law, lets call her Beth, to help her with the wedding flowers.
Both Susan and her husband work full time and since Beth had been married before and knew what to expect she came along to the consultation.
I always prepare for a consultation so I can show my prospective client as many options as her budget/colour scheme/season would allow. Susan had a really gorgeous Pinterest board that I could also use to discuss what to have at the venue and in her bridal bouquet so I was super looking forward to this meeting.
Things went off to a great start, we talked about the personal flowers she and her bridesmaids were going to have and even Beth was happy with the choice of flowers, the shape of the bouquet and the colours.
It was when we went on to the venue flowers where it all went wrong;
Susan and Beth had totally different ideas on the venue flowers. The kind offer of help that Beth had extended to Susan got slightly out of hand, Beth was under the impression that the “decision making progress” was in her hands.
Beth had not seen Susan’s beautiful Pinterest page, nor did she want to match anything to the chosen colour scheme nor the season of the wedding. Beth was stuck in an awesomely freaky time warp and her mind was made up.
There is a huge choice when it comes to wedding flowers.
It all depends on the place you get married in, the season and your budget and I know it’s hard to make a choice, especially as you are going to do this wedding thing only once!
The only person who really knows their stuff is the wedding florist (or swap this to caterer, dress designer, cakemaker, planner or stylist) or maybe a friend or sibling that got married recently.
Beth thought she had experience as she was a keen gardener and had organised the flowers for her own wedding but that was a long long long long long long long long long long long time ago.
Imagine comparing the Royal weddings of William and Harry to their parents wedding. The dress and flowers Diana wore were gorgeous at the time but now seem so dated compared to Kate and Meghan’s dresses and flowers.
Beth got married with a lot less style and budget, even longer ago than Diana did and hadn’t really bothered to do her homework and see how times have changed in wedding fashion and flowers.
So we continue on with the consultation. Beth is not really open to my expertise as a wedding florist and as she had offer to pay for the flowers is now dismissing many of Susans suggestions as well. I can see the desparation in Susan’s face but she politely lets Beth take charge, things are getting slightly out of hand and I can see that neither Beth nor Susan is really happy.
Now here comes my dilemma, I want to book this wedding but I also want to keep all parties involved happy.
I started to talk about the level of expectation in all parties involved. This consultation was going nowhere and whatever was decided, it was impossible for everybody to be truly happy, most of all me caught up between these two.
There is a distinct difference between offering advise or help with ideas and making the final decisions.
Decision making should only ever be left to the bride and groom, regardless of who is paying for the flowers, unless other parties have explicit permission.
I have had many successful consultations with brides who brought along their mothers or mothers in law along but the line between helping and decision making can sometimes get blurred.
I have even experienced whole families falling out and severing all contact just before the wedding over trivial things like napkins and canapes.
Choice is a powerful thing and lack of choice or abuse of decision making can lead to a lot of frustration.
Organising a wedding should not be a stressful process but a fun and creative one. All weddings I have done (over one hundred now) are different and truly bespoke to the bride and groom’s wishes. The wedding supplier should be there to guide you through all the options.
With flowers you are to a certain extend subject to the season and sometimes restrictions at the venue but you can have whatever your budget allows you to have; there are no boundries to your wishes.
If asking for help in this process from a friend or family member it is really important to set bounderies on decision making. They will inadvertively impose their personal stamp on the choices they provide and that can be really positive but sometimes it is not, especially if there is an age or style gap. We live in a melting pot Cosmopolitan and more often than not a union between 2 people will bring culture, tradition and personal favourites from both sides that all have to be taken into account.
Also sometimes the offering of help and advise is more to the benefit of the adviser than the advisee as it gives them a sense of purpose but can sometimes enhance an individuals sense of power over the one seeking advise (or in Beth’s case turn into a phantasmagorical power trip)
Just because they have been married before doesn’t give them a lot of experience in contemporary wedding flowers. Try and compare it to your interiors. Imagine your mother in law coming into your house and changing all the furniture and decoration because they moved house 35 years ago, it’s a bit like that…..
So what happened to Susan and Beth in the end?
I stopped the wedding consultation and rebooked with Susan on her own. When Beth objected I gave her a direct but friendly lecture on the power of decision making. Beth got a bit upset about that but it turned out that when Beth got married all those years ago the same happened to her and her mother in law. It brought up a lot of negative memories for her; by offering to help Susan Beth finally got her wish to choose the flowers she really wanted for her own wedding without realising that she was choosing for somebody else…. Once she realised she was doing the same thing she backed out of the decision making progress and everything had a happy ending. Susan chose beautifully and did become my ideal client and Beth got a really big bunch of the flowers she loved most as a surprise during the speeches.
So to round up this blog please be clear, communicate your feelings and expectations and set your bounderies. It is always handy to just write a list of advise people give you. That way you acknowledge their ideas and take it away to think about/compare to the other ideas at a more convenient time.
In the words of comedian Mindy kaling:
In real life, shouldn’t a wedding be an awesome party you throw with your great pal, in the presence of a bunch of your other friends? A great day, for sure , but not the beginning and certainly not the end of your friendship with a person you can’t wait to talk about gardening with for the next fourty years…..