Recently a farmer florist asked me, “How do you grow your wedding business?”
I thought this would make an informative blog post.
I have been working in this industry for 15 years now. When I started I charged very low prices. I didn’t know any better, and it got my name out there. As time has moved along my experience and knowledge has grown, making me valuable.
I attend affordable design workshops to learn new skills…under $600. Also if there is a florist you admire that’s not competition (like in another state or different part of your state) ask if you can apprentice a few wedding weekends for free. That way you can observe and learn. You have to sell yourself and hustle doing that. Everyone wants free help, but you can’t hold up the process of designing the wedding. Treat it like a job interview and sell your strong points: what are you good and fast at. If you know the designer it may take less convincing. Becoming knowledgeable in all types of design helps too. Not just the farmer florist look.
For years I worked with a wedding planner who was very demanding but I learned tons about designing and executing big weddings. I sold myself by getting published in magazines and wedding blogs, Style- Me-Pretty and others. This is a ton of work, coordinating with the couple and the photographer to put together an amazing unique submissions. I also advertised in a local high style magazine called Vermont Vows which unfortunately went out of business.
Now it’s mostly word of mouth and I am on preferred vendor lists at venues. There is a “clique”of florist and venues I work with. At farmers market, we put out a professionally made sign advertising “The Painted Tulip designs: Weddings, Events and Holiday Decorating” with business cards next to it.
Try setting up photo shoots with photographers who are interested in trade for flowers. This past summer I worked out an arrangement with a photographer living close and whose work I love, and offered her cash and trade. She took the flowers, eggs and the photo credit, every time one of her images is posted. I would make up a bouquet for her to shoot and she would use her creativity shooting on the farm, and providing me a bunch of professional images to work with. This is a huge help as it is documentary and artful at the same time. Professional photos are worth their weight in gold.
So what’s in vogue? How can you make it your own?
I am interested in educating the public about what it takes to get the flowers to the table. How much money and labor goes into small scale farming. I am bad-ass empowered woman (with a bit of goofy) and want to show that women are strong and we can kick ass without a man. No offence men reading this, I have no man issues.. but am fiercely independent. So the image of me in the frilly apron doesn’t work. As I don’t have a family or kids the American dream isn’t representation of me either. It’s me running my show and working very hard.. so that’s what I present. Wonder Woman and Rosie the Riveter are my icons.
What makes you different? Why should people book their wedding with you? Why should people buy your flowers/product? What makes you valuable? Find your niche and exploit it!! The farmer florist is a good niche but what else? What makes your design style amazing?
Famous people are famous because they are very good at selling themselves!
As a farmer, use winter downtime to work on these questions and get social media going. I have hordes of photos I have to collect from wedding photographers and Jen to post on Instagram and Facebook. So make a few goals and stick to them.
You can make arrangements give them to venues and wedding planners with your business card so they become familiar with you. Like their Instagram and Facebook pages. Invite people you want to work with, to your farm but make sure it’s cleaned up some. I warn people it is not a display garden but a working farm. They are often so blown away with all the blooms, the irrigation line and row cover is not a distraction. Everyone loves our laying hens running up to them, looking for tidbits. They consider it “Vermont-y” and “charming”, thankfully.
The more you are out for the public to view the more people will see you, and become acquainted with you. That’s how you get customers. It’s tons of work but do the best you can and the snowball will turn into an avalanche.
Don’t worry if everyone doesn’t love you…what’s important is the people who do respect and admire you. Please share any helpful hints you have about growing your wedding business below. All questions are great questions so please ask.