Follow-up Meeting: check off those critical details

Our designer Katie added an elegant touch to her organization by labelling and displaying the boutonnieres on an antique silver tray. No worries-no mistakes. Photography by The Purple Fern.

Our designer Katie added an elegant touch to her organization by labelling and displaying the boutonnieres on an antique silver tray. No worries-no mistakes. Photography by The Purple Fern.

My brother and sister-in-law got married the year after I did at a lovely vineyard near Charlottesville, Virginia. Like many brides, Jessica put a lot of time and effort in to planning and preparing for their gorgeous June day. And like many brides, she gave her fiancé an assignment or two. Peter’s job was to hire the bagpiper, the only source of music planned for the ceremony.

We are sure he found an excellent bagpiper though we never got to hear him play. The wedding happened the third Saturday in June and apparently the bagpiper arrived the fourth Saturday in June. The officiant did his very best to save the moment (thank goodness he had a sense of humor). As Jess appeared at the very end of the vines, he raised his hands, shouted “everybody” and led us in a rowsing chorus of “dum, dum, tee dum; dum dum tee dum.” Jessica, already one of the world’s best sports, grinned broadly and the moment was saved.

Saved, but easily avoided. I have mentioned in my other postings how much I value a face-to-face, follow-up meeting between you and your floral designer. It is a very important final step before your wedding day. Your wedding flowers are simply the very best way to express your personal style and we want them to be perfect. Your follow-up meeting (45 to 60 days before your date) allows us to revisit your original ideas and take care of the important last minute details creating a beautiful and seam-less wedding day. A little time spent with each of your vendors during the weeks leading up to your wedding means that the whole day goes just the way you want it to.

Here are three things we will accomplish at your follow-up meeting:

1. Confirm logistics

The musicians were warming up when we placed this last arrangement 45 minutes before the ceremony.

The musicians were warming up when we placed this last arrangement 45 minutes before the ceremony.

This is really the least glamorous part of wedding planning and the most important. All of your vendors will need to know what time your venue will allow set-up to begin and what time the venue wants to have everything cleaned up. As your florist, we are bringing fresh flowers to your venue and we need to make sure that they are going to thrive until the ceremony begins. Your caterer has to serve hot food and your bakery needs the fresh flowers to decorate your cake. There is a fine art to timing the arrival of your vendors and we need the best information that you can get. Consider completing a short questionnaire like the one below for your own notes or to share with your vendors.

Photographers will often plan for a “first look.” If you are planning to use your flowers, then it is important to notify your floral designer at least thirty days before your wedding. Delivery and set-up staff are hired months in advance and schedules need to be set so that we can make your earlier delivery a top priority.

We will ask for a “day of” contact. Someone you trust and who knows your plans, but who is also not trying to experience the day of their dreams. If you are not using a wedding coordinator, then choose an organized, capable friend or relative who will remember to have their phone at the ready until every crouton is in place.

Here are some important questions to get answered so that you can communicate to each of your vendors.

Here are some important questions to get answered so that you can communicate to each of your vendors.

2. Revisit and review the design of your wedding

Your first consultation with us is typically held eight months to a year before your wedding. You had pictures, we had pictures and we used the creative process to design your flowers. But, we also know that you do not live in a vacuum. Yes, keep looking and exploring. Your changes are important to my staff and I, we don’t want to see you have any regrets.

At your follow-up, we will review the flower varieties and colors, the style of your arrangements and the ribbon lengths and colors. Click the link below to review ribbon styles. You can also order a sample of an arrangement or a small version of your bouquet (not all of your bouquet, we don’t want to ruin the surprise). This process is thoughtful and purposeful, aimed to help you feel relaxed and excited about the beautiful selections you have made.

3. Review quantities of “everything”

It is nearly impossible to predict the number of people who will RSVP though there are a lot of formulas out there. I don’t want you to end up with a table without a centerpiece or not enough flowers for your growing cake. Even more importantly, we don’t want to see a grandmother without a corsage. That’s why we go through all of your numbers very carefully with you.

We will go over everything again, the number of guests, the number of tables, and the way each tablescape should look. Photography by Nicole Haun.

We will go over everything again, the number of guests, the number of tables, and the way each tablescape should look. Photography by Nicole Haun.

We will record everything you know at that moment (I do recommend scheduling six weeks to two months out from your date - you will have more details). We will ask you to revisit your numbers one more time with two weeks left to go and call us right away if you have any changes. It is never a bad idea to order an extra boutonniere or corsage if you think you may have a last minute addition to your party.

All of this extra planning and review time will pay off- you can fix your hair, sip champagne with your bridesmaids and relax, while your florist and your other vendors do their thing.

My brother was appropriately timid about facing Jessica and telling her that there was no music for her procession, so he sent my sister, Heather. Not sure what decorum dictated in this moment, Heather met her in her suite and said something like, “Hey, Jess, how important is it, really, that you have a bagpiper at your wedding?” Not exactly smooth. But, in her defense, it is difficult to know what to say during wedding day stresses so I suggest that we work together to avoid them completely.