The trick to buying quality bulk wedding flowers online is to read past the gimmicks and disclaimers of "free shipping" and "wholesale prices".
Wholesale is sold to retailers who get a cheap price on bulk products because they buy in quantities with intent to resell. Those same savings, however, are not always being passed on to the DIY bride. She is often being required to buy in huge quantities - but not being given a wholesale price.
Just like the grocery store, you need to learn to be a savvy shopper and read past the hype. Read the descriptions of the flowers you want to purchase and find out just how much you are going to be required to buy in order to get "wholesale". It may surprise you.
Let's compare dendrobium orchids. Tropicals are the ultimate in high class - but are surprisingly easy to work with. Florists like brides to choose orchids for that simple fact!
Dendrobiums have a dainty flower head that measures about 1 1/2" and
up to 3" across. The norm is more around 2" wide.There are a generally a
lot of blooms on a single dendrobium stem.
Most wholesale sites require a minimum purchase of single stems. In truth, however, stems are bought by professional florists in grower's bunches of 10 per bunch. This translates into about 80 - 100 individual blooms.
doing a massive wedding, most florist would balk at being required to
order in increments of 5 bunches, 10 bunches or 15 bunches. I always
preferred buying exactly what I needed by the grower's bunch (10 stems).
So . . . .before YOU order online, you need to read the fine print and find out how many blooms are on each of those stems and the minimum you are required to purchase.
(Please note that total blooms on a stem are governed by nature. The total amount is always an estimate - not a guarantee. )
Let's look at the list price of white dendrobiums sold by a well known wholesale flower website:
Please note prices may change due to availability or current market from the time of this page publish. Check current prices by clicking on above button.
Why the difference in stem length and price? Because longer stems are desired for creating tall dramatic sprays for dramatic centerpieces and altar sprays. It doesn't necessarily mean there are more blooms on the stem - just longer stems.
Typically, a shorter stem lengths (which are cheaper) are fine for cascading bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres. This is where you need to pay attention to how many estimated blooms per stem are needed for your DIY wedding and what do you intend to use them for.
Now take a look at how many estimated blooms per stem are listed in this website's description:
This means if you have to buy a minimum of 50 stems at a time from an online wholesaler, you multiply the average blooms per stem by the amount of stems purchased. The description shows average of 4 - 8 blooms - so we'll call it 6.
6 blooms x 80 stems = 480 total blooms
Long stem - $179.99 (required purchase) divided by 480 bloom = 38 cents per bloom.
Long Stem - $179.99 (required purchase) divided by 300 blooms = 59 cents per bloom.
If the minimum purchase is 50 stems with an average of 6 blooms per stem, you will have an high estimate 300 blooms.
Now an average dendrobium corsage by an online florist has around 5 blooms in it and sells on average for $30.00. (Plain - with no embellishments, jewels, etc.) If you buy 50 stems with 300 blooms - that is enough orchids to make 60 corsages!
This is where the thinking comes in. Just how many stems do you actually need? No matter how cheap the flowers are - if you have to buy in multiples of 5 bunches at a time, you may end up spending more money than you really need. These types of sites are counting on that!
I believe most of these type of flower sites are really geared towards selling massive quantities of roses, orchids and gerberas. Everything else, including greenery, is way overpriced or require large quantity purchases that brides feel restricted on making anything more than a simple hand tied rose or orchid bouquet.
I try to put the power of variety back into the bride's control. Check out my free flower tutorials and see how many gorgeous designs you can make using different flowers and exotic greens.
An average single bunch of 10 stems can make a simple hand tied bouquet tied with a satin ribbon and sells for about $70.
Larger bouquets require more stems - so the quantity you need is determined by how many stems you want in each bouquet, corsage and boutonniere. This is where a Wedding Flower Calculator comes in handy.
I have always used this type of calculator to determine exactly how many stems and greens I needed for every arrangement, bouquet, corsage and boutonniere I made for a wedding.
It always rounds up to the nearest bunch, so you should expect to have some flowers left over. A professional florist expects there to be some wastage with a fresh grown product in the form of creased petals, one bad stem here or there or using more stems than originally calculated because the bride adds in a last minute corsage or boutonniere. You should take this attitude as well.
However - there is no sense in ordering a massive amount of flowers that you don't need. That just drives your flower budget up and can easily make you order more flowers than you actually need.
I began my own online store intending to just sell hard goods for DIY brides (bouquet holders, floral foam, pew cages, etc.) and recommend that they order their fresh flowers from a reputable online flower source.
I was shocked, however, to discover that most "wholesale" places require brides to buy in huge quantities while actually charging full retail price (or even more!)
This doesn't represent much savings and she might as well have a local florist do the work for her.
I wanted my site to actually give her the advantage of saving money by providing her own labor, which represents upwards of 50% or more of flower designs.
This way the bride can make her own hand tied orchid sprays for about half of what a professional florist would ask.
I decided to sell fresh flowers and ship them from my own wholesale source. I've dealt with this company for years and am always impressed with their dedication to providing my customers with excellent service, quality products and reasonable prices.
Here is my own long stem dendrobium cost breakdown from my own store:
Note that I allow my customers to buy in single bunches so they can purchase only the amount of stems they need. These stems average 8 - 10 blooms per stem (realize these are products of nature and no guarantee is implied.)
These means the average 10 stem bunch has around 80 blooms or more. That averages about 38 - 59 cents a bloom - depending on the length. (Remember it was 59 cents for long stems the wholesale site above and you were required to buy 50 - 80 stems to get this price).
Ten stems (a single grower's bunch) is enough for a single hand tied bouquet or for a set of 5 corsages and 10 boutonnieres (5 blooms per corsage and 3 per boutonniere). This breaks down to an average cost of about 50 cents a bloom if you buy in single bunches and about 46 cents a bloom if you buy in 3 bunch quantities.
I don't claim to sell wholesale - I wouldn't stay in business very long if I did. My prices are retail and I do run a store to make a profit. But so do those "wholesale" sites!
Why buy 5 - 8 bunches if you only need 2 bunches? Doesn't make sense.
Many of those sites offer "free shipping" - but trust me - the shipping is built into the price. They would go out of business quickly if it wasn't. My store will generate a coupon offering discounted shipping if you purchase $250 or more in fresh flowers.
Overnight shipping has to be overnight regardless of who you purchase from . . . and the customer will pay for shipping whether it is in the shipping box or built into the flower cost.
But I do provide the whole package, including the availability of the fresh flower products needed to properly cut and hydrate those bulk wedding flowers.
Professionals always carefully prepare their flowers, using the correct quantities of flower food in the water to nourish the blooms, the re-hydrator that encourage quick uptake of water to bring the flowers out of their dormant state and the Finish Flower spray sealants to protect the cut flowers (corsages and boutonnieres) and prevent petal transparency.
These are important products and set professional apart from amateurs. Skip these products and you cut down a great deal on the life of your flowers.
I also sell the new Max-Life foam products by Oasis. This new foam actually extends the life of flowers. DIY designs are much easier when using bouquet holders and assure that the flowers have a continuous water source during the ceremony and at the wedding reception.
You can even create a hand-tied look while still using a bouquet holder with a built in wick handle. I urge you to consider doing this, since a continual water source is important to fresh flowers and gives you the added convenience of making your flowers up ahead of time.
You can simply gather your ten stems of orchids together and create an elegant hand tied with a simple ribbon wrap at the bottom. This is very fast and easy to do.
However, consider using a Stay Fresh bouquet holder and creating a mock hand tie - keeping the bouquet fresher with a continual water source.
You create a more custom looking bouquet design using decorative Oasis wire to quickly create an fun armature for your Dendrobium Bouquet. This tutorial only requires one bunch of orchids.