When I first started my website, my goal was to teach brides how to create their own wedding flowers and save money by providing the labor. I have both worked as a professional florist/manager in a large flower shop AND created many weddings in my home.
There are a lot of talented people out their who want gorgeous wedding flowers, but their budget is kind of tight. So it makes sense to buy flowers and floral products and design the flowers themselves.
Unfortunately, the search for the best price for online flowers is a little daunting and very confusing. Without "insider" knowledge, it's hard to compare prices and know when you are getting a good deal.
Many online flower sites claim great sounding perks like "free shipping" and quote "wholesale pricing".
However, I have concerns that the quoted "retail price" compared to the "wholesale price" could be misleading. In the flower industry, purchasing wholesale in the United States requires a business license with proof of intent to resell that product.
So if your search for "wholesale flowers" brings up a site that require proof of a retailer's license and asks you to create an account and login - you have truly found a "wholesale" website.
The sticky part is they won't sell to you unless you prove you intend to resell it to others for a profit.
Most flower shops purchase their flowers from a wholesale distributor. The purchase chain looks like this:
So the grower/farm charges the wholesale distributor, who buys in large quantities (referred to as cases). The larger the purchase, the more of a discount.
The wholesale distributor marks the product up, then breaks up those case quantities and sells "wholesale" to area flower shops. The shops are usually allowed to buy in smaller quantities (referred to as bunches) from the wholesale distributor (obviously the shops don't have the storage capacity the the distributor has).
The flower shop then marks up the product from THEIR wholesale price (usually by multipliers of 2.5 or 3 times THEIR cost) and then creates arrangements and sells by single stems - then adds on a labor and delivery fee.
You can now see the various markups that a product goes thru as they pass from the farm to the distributor, who sells to the florist who then sells directly to the public.
This concept isn't any different that marketing clothing, groceries and products. Every markup is how that marketing group makes a profit.
If you were to search for "wholesale wedding flowers" online, the reputable companies that show at the top are usually flower farms marketing directly to the public consumer, skipping the middlemen of distributors and flower shops. BloomsbytheBox, FiftyFlowers and GlobalRose are all examples of reputable farms with good products. I believe these all companies sell quality flowers and greenery.
Sounds like a good deal, right? Buy from a wholesale flower farm and get the same price as your florist pays. Except - wholesale farms aren't forced to quote you the same price that they quote a wholesale distributor.
You will probably pay a higher price than a wholesale distributor (who buys straight from the farm). Since you aren't buying in very large quantities, you may be paying closer to a retail price than you realize.
The big crunch that hurts is if the site you are buying from insists that you buy a minimum quantity of grower's bunches.
You need to actually sit down an calculate exactly what flowers and greens you need AND how many (in grower's bunches) that you need of each variety.
Buying 5 - 10 bunches of every kind of greenery you want can dig deep into your flower budget before you even get to the flowers!
I believe the answer is buying in single bunches. You may pay a little more per bunch - but who needs ten bunches of leather leaf or five bunches of baby's breath? Always check out HOW MUCH YOU HAVE TO BUY.
I'm not claiming to sell wholesale . . . I wouldn't stay in business very long. I also charge overnight shipping on fresh flowers and greenery (you do want them arrive alive . . . right?)
All online flower sites have to pay our delivery carriers (places like FexEd, UPS and USPS) - so that cost has to be passed on to the consumer. That's just good business. If a website is claiming free shipping, they must recoup enough on the sale elsewhere to cover the transportation fees.
When I started this website, I only intended to show brides step by step tutorials for stunning bridal bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres, centerpieces and church florals (that go beyond a tight packed mass of roses) and then sell the hard good products she needed to create her own flower designs. I planned to refer my customers to reputable flower sites to get the flowers they needed.
I always encourage each bride to do a self-evalution before attempting DIY wedding flowers. You can save labor costs (which is sometimes a markup of 100% or more of the retail price of the flowers used.). That can usually cut a bride's flower budget in half. But to get that savings means a lot of work on her end and I want to prepare her for how much labor goes into flower design!
Let's see . . . one of my tutorials shows how to make this boutonniere. Let's pretend I buy from an anonymous wholesale farm online and break down the costs of this flower design using a "wholesale price" that requires you to have a minimum purchase.
Multiply by 2.5 to markup for retail pricing - $24.22
Add in 100% labor fees $24.22
Total Retail to Customer $48.45
$48.45 (if I purchased at a suggested "wholesale price") would be the quote I would have to to a bride if I were selling her a boutonniere after marking up retail and adding in labor costs.
Seem a little ridiculous for one boutonniere if this were true wholesale pricing, doesn't it?
I don't think I would have sold many wedding packages if I started with this type of "wholesale" pricing. I won't even try to figure out how much the cost breakdown would be if I used their suggested "retail" costs. . .
Buy wait . . even if I only needed to make three bouquets and a few boutonnieres and corsages, I would still have to make a minimum purchase of ten bunches of galax leaves, ten bunches of lily grass, 25 bunches of white miniature carnations and 25 red charlotte roses, and still buy my floral tape, wire and pearl pins somewhere else. I'd have a WHOLE LOTTA FLOWERS left over!!
To buy all that would require a minimum "wholesale" purchase of:
Total Required purchase: $519.96 (estimated)*
You'll have a lot of extra flowers after making the above boutonniere - hopefully the leftovers will all work out perfectly to finish your needs for other bouquets, corsages and misc. flowers.
But what if you don't NEED all those extra flowers? What if you need "just a few more stems"?
Flower sites often offer cheaper "discount bulk packages" - but you are still required to buy the minimum bulk mix THEY offer - not always get to pick and choose your own individual flowers and greenery.
I was flabbergasted by this comparison price shopping. I decided to carry both fresh flowers and greenery in my on online store. It entailed a lot more work (a year of preparation and research!) I now ship out of a working wholesale flower distributor that one of the largest floral distributors in the United States. They are reputable and work hard to please all their customers. Best of all - they stand behind their product. This distributor provided flowers for the shops that I worked in and I'm pleased that they treat my customer as well.
I sell in full grower's bunches. (Supermarket and discount chains sometimes split bunches - thus there isn't as many stems in a bunch as the ones sold to professional flower shops.)
I encourage creative brides to step outside of a simple mound of clutched roses. (Which is all she can usually afford because the required minimums doesn't allow her a budget for greenery!)
Letting you buy in smaller amounts (single grower bunches) gives the DIY bride the flexibility of creating lots of beautiful designs, using a mix of different varieties of both flowers and greenery.
Instead of overspending and buying too many flowers, put some of that money towards buying professional products that let you process your bulk flowers correctly and extend the life of flowers thru to your wedding day.
My online store is a "one stop shop" - buy everything you need in one place to create your designs, including bouquet holders, corsage and boutonniere supplies and basics like tape, florist clay, ribbon and much more. If we don't have something you need - give us a call and we'll see if we can find it or reference where you can get it.
I always recommend that you use my free Wedding Flower Calculator to determine exactly how many bunches of flowers and greenery you need. This keeps your budget on track and allows you to spend your money on what you need rather than pre-set minimums you have to order.
E-mail me. If you have fallen in love with a specific flower (or don't know what it's called), we'll work with you to figure out what it is and whether it is in season during your wedding. We ship from a full service flower wholesale warehouse that services 100's of professional shops.
There are so many varieties of flowers that it is impossible to picture them all. So we show the basic colors and best flowers available year round for DIY flowers that hold up well in ground shipping.
Check out my free flower tutorials for inspiration. All of them contain a product list and show you step by step how professional florist use products to speed their design time while creating those beautiful arrangements.
I cannot always meet or beat every price for every flower you find on the hundreds of wholesalers online. Prices are different in different areas of the country. Some flowers are more plentiful and cheaper if they are locally grown. However, I do try to charge reasonable prices on both fresh and hard goods. Why else would a bride want to go to all that work?
There are some flowers I refuse to sell to my customers. Not because I want to talk a bride out of her favorite flower - but there are some varieties that simply don't hold up well traveling in a warm or freezing tractor trailer truck. Read the fine print - I've yet to find a flower site that delivers in a guaranteed refrigerated truck. The cost would be enormous for residential deliveries.
If a bride has her heart set on Lily of the Valley, I recommend that she buy this fragile flower from her local florist who can assure her that the "cold chain" of delivery hasn't been broken. She will pay top dollar - but that is better than a disappointing shipment just days before she needed those flowers! A guarantee of refund is standard for all reputable flower sites - but that isn't going to help a disappointed bride in the short days before her wedding.
Before buying a single flower - shop for yourself, compare prices and quantities carefully before buying . . . and don't forget to have fun and actually SAVE money designing your own flowers!