Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Florists and the Grocery Store

As promised in my earlier post, I thought I would share with y'all how I'm saving some major moo-lah on my flowers. One of my biggest non-negotiables for this wedding has been that I want beautiful flowers...and lots of them.  I was extremely worried for awhile that this non-negotiable was not going to happen because flowers can run you thousands (and I'm not talking low thousands).  Yikes! 

My dear sweet Mama and I had heard that you could save quite a bit of $$$ by using a grocery store florist.  I'm not talking about those stores that have teeny tiny corners devoted towards a few bouquets of aging roses (designed to sell to forgetful husbands, I'm sure).  What we mean is the grocery store in the nice part of town with the refrigerated displays of floral arrangements who usually have a florist on staff at all times.  For those of you lucky enough to be near a Wegmans grocery store, these are pretty standard...but for the rest of us it can be hit or miss.

Not being from Roanoke, I was a little worried about finding a suitable grocery store and I had heard that Kroger had the lockdown on the grocery store chain market (which is not a store I grew up with and they don't have them in the DC area either).

Enter Mr. 3's stepmother, who did some calling around for me and tracked down a referral to the Kroger at Bonsack location for their florist, Vicki Chambers.  Vicki does all the bridal shows in the area and is working on a portfolio of all the wedding flowers she has done for past brides.  I met with Vicki at Thanksgiving to find out the general types of flowers that will be in season in July and a general idea of price point.  Vicki told me to bring pictures of what I liked so she could give me a better idea of pricing. 

This particular Kroger location is HUGE and includes a cafe sitting area next to the floral department which is where we met.  I brought along some initial pictures, mostly with the idea that I want all my flowers to be soft and fluffy and include bushes of baby's breath.

Pinned Image
Style Me Pretty

I also knew that I wanted my bouquet to be all white and the bridesmaid's bouquets to be soft shades of pink.  Ditto for all the centerpieces.

Love those peonies!
Style Me Pretty
What I didn't really care about (besides the baby's breath), was the type of flower used.  My theory is that no one notices the type of flower as much as they notice the volume of flowers.  So, I was prepared to embrace the idea of carnations and garden roses (which can resemble peonies) wholeheartedly.  What I wasn't prepared for, was the florist to give me exactly what I wanted.

Vicki told me not to bother with carnations or garden roses because she could get me peonies for waaaaaay cheap.  Vicki explained to me that because Kroger has such large buying power, the grower's give them a great deal...which gets passed on to the customer.  Here's a rough price estimate for my wedding party flowers using PEONIES:

Bridal Bouquet: $100
Bridesmaid Bouquets: $25-$30 ea. for 8-10 blooms  (if you just fell out of your chair, please pick yourself up and continue reading)
Groom's Boutonnieres: $12
Groomsmen, Ring Boy, and Father's Boutonnieres: $10 ea
Mother's corsages and attendants (using roses): $15 ea

Total Wedding Party Cost Estimate: Less than $500!!!

But wait.  It gets better.  My large bushes of baby's breath, like the arrangement pictured above, (which will be used on 6 round tables at the reception) are going to be $30 each.  For my rectangular tables, I'm putting 5 low arrangements of varying heights composed of roses, hydrangeas, and more baby's breath, with a look similar to this one:

Pinned Image
Style Me Pretty

....which are going to run me about $60 per table for 10 tables.  My altar arrangement and flowers for the guest book table at the church are going to be about $70 each.  (Note: These prices don't include the vases/containers, which I am supplying myself.)

Total Floral Arrangement Cost Estimate: Less than $1000!!!*

I followed up with Vicki in February to give her the exact pictures that I wanted copied and I'm going to provide her with a swatch of my tablecloth fabric, bridesmaid dresses, and paint samples with my color palette for her to reference as she places the order for her supplies and assembles all the arrangements.  At our second appointment, I brought a few of the containers I would be using to get a more accurate estimate of the prices. Vicki told me she would throw in the toss bouquet for free using the left over materials and she offered to make a mock-up of the bridesmaids bouquets and my bouquet, but told me to wait until peony season started so that the mockups wouldn't be as expensive.  I also do not have to sign a contract or put down a deposit...I have to let her know about a month and a half before the wedding the exact quantities I need (which may change because the room layout hasn't been finalized for the reception) and then I will pay for them the week of the wedding at the check out line...exactly as if I was purchasing toilet paper and milk.

Ok, so now for the bad news.  Since I'm supplying my own containers (which has involved countless trips with Mr. 3 to TJ Maxx, Marshall's, Home Goods, etc), I have to drop them off the Saturday before the wedding.  Kroger also won't deliver the flowers like a regular florist would...I will be enlisting two volunteers the morning of the wedding to pick up and transport the flowers (one for the church and one for the reception....I can't take the chance that the flowers will wilt in the car due to the July heat).  I'm also taking the chance that Vicki won't quit her job between now and my wedding (I questioned her overall job satisfaction and she seems to love what she does, so this is a minor worry!).  While these are going to be logistical headaches, I'm willing to pop the tylenol to deal with them because I'm getting such an awesome deal on such a large amount of flowers!   

What headaches are you dealing with these days?  Do you think they are worth the $ savings?  Leave a comment below!  If you'd like to see more floral inspiration, check us out on Pinterest!

*Thrifty Tip Extra: If the grocery store has a rewards program that awards you savings points to put toward gas, make sure to swipe the card when they ring up your transaction.  Since we don't have any Krogers nearby, we will be using Mr. 3's dad's rewards card.  I hope he has lots of gas cans ready to fill up...they may all be free!