Before you started planning a wedding, there were probably tons of things you never needed to know about. What should a great caterer provide? What does a DJ really do? How is wedding cake different than other cake? It's a lot to try and become an "expert" in very quickly.
Today, we are going to talk some about Wedding Florists. This one probably intimidates me the most to talk to you about because we get to work with so many AMAZING florists, and they know way more than me. But, hey, florist friends feel free to add in the comments!!
Photo Capture Thirteen Photography; Florals Stems Atlanta
There are a couple categories of florists that I'll focus on. Floral Shops and Studio Florists
These are the storefronts you can walk into to order flowers for all kinds of occasions - birthday flowers, funeral arrangements, valentines bouquets, get well flowers and wedding flowers. Some of the perks of working with a floral shop is they can handle smaller orders more easily. They have large amounts of flowers coming in that they use for all the types of orders mentioned above. So, if you want to just do a bouquet or two, they can usually work with you at a good price point. Some floral shops have a large wedding team and they can do multiple weddings in a day - that way you have a better chance of booking your dream floral team.
These florists often focus on weddings. They do not have a storefront, but rather work in rented studio space or have studio space at their home. Since they specialize in weddings, you can get more unique designs. They also order the flowers specifically for your wedding, which means you have more control over what goes into your overall floral package. They often keep smaller design teams to ensure high quality, so book them quickly!
Photo Camille Wilson Photography, Florals Stems Atlanta
What about DIY?
My first question to you would be, what is your goal in choosing DIY? Save money? You love the idea of creating the flowers yourself?
If it's saving money, I would recommend you really look into what the total cost will be. There are websites that advertise wholesale flowers to the public - but their pricing is not wholesale. You are spending just as much on the flowers (if not more) than you would pay a florist for their materials. So then it comes down to design cost and time. Flowers need to be put together no earlier than a day before the wedding and then kept in a cooler (with no fruit in it!). Otherwise, you need to put them together on the day of the wedding. (When you also need to have hair and makeup done, photos and so much more). There is also the issue of transporting them to the venue (spilled flowers in your car are not an added stress you want on your wedding day) and the time to set them out on the tables.
If you really love the idea of creating the flowers yourself and you know what you can handle, then look carefully into where you can get flowers. As I mentioned the "wholesale websites" are not really a great deal. Instead, look into local flower farms or Farmers Markets for locally grown flowers. Keep your plan simple on what you are creating, when you are putting the flowers together and who is placing them for you on your wedding day.
To be completely transparent, I did a lot of my own wedding flowers along with the help of family. I am extremely laid back on a lot of things. I didn't have a professional do my hair and makeup, we were hanging out in shorts and t-shirts that morning putting together flowers and I kept it simple. We had a connection to a real wholesale flower shop so the flowers were affordable. And, one of my family members had worked as a florist for a while and she put together the bouquets for me.
DIY can work, just make sure you are honest with yourself on what you can handle.
Photo Kaptured Photography, Florals Stems Atlanta
Where do the flowers come from?
This is another question that a lot of couples don't even know to ask (or why it matters). Flowers are grown all over the world in different climates, seasons and methods. The great thing about that is it gives you access to flowers that might be out of season locally - like peonies that grown in Alaska for a large portion of the year. However, those come with a higher cost due to shipping. Flowers that are shipped in also have a shorter life span (they've already spent some time in shipping since they were fresh cut).
Locally grown and US grown flowers is another great option. Locally grown flowers can give you blooms that aren't able to ship - they are just too fragile. They also tend to have more scent to them than ones that are shipped.
US grown can be shipped, but at a much shorter distance so they tend to last a little longer.
And, if you choose our farm for your wedding venue, you may even have some flowers that are grown at our farm! You can't get much more local than that!
You're planning your wedding - yay! And now you need to hire a Dj - or do you? Can't you just play a Spotify list on your phone?
Image by Stephen Judy
More than just Music
A good wedding DJ does more than just play music. They provide a sound system fit for the venue, microphones as needed for the ceremony and act as MC to keep the events flowing smoothly. They work closely with the coordinator to let guests know when it's time to be seated for dinner, they announce when it's time for cake cutting, bouquet toss and other items that guests don't want to miss. And they can read the crowd to know when a little extra help is needed to get the guests out on the dance floor (we've seen our favorite DJ's out leading the crowd in dancing!)
Music is an art
There is a BIG difference in what a qualified wedding DJ provides vs. running a Spotify list. Let's start with the ceremony. A DJ has the ability to start and stop songs at certain points so you have your favorite part of the song playing as you walk down the aisle. They can also smoothly transition between songs with no downtime. Waiting to walk down the aisle is often one of the most nerve wracking parts of wedding day and waiting for your cousin's boyfriend to get the right song to play just adds to the nerves.
It's not just music for ceremony and dancing, you don't realize how important background music during dinner is until it's absolutely silent. Background music adds to the overall atmosphere and keeps conversation flowing.
Ok, raise your hand if you've ever been busting moves to your favorite music on the radio or Pandora only to have your groove interrupted by commercials? (it's ok, no one's looking, you can admit it) You want the music to keep flowing and blend smoothly during dancing. It keeps guests on the dancefloor and having a good time.
Photo by Hillary Leah Photography
What will it cost?
A qualified wedding DJ (you want to make sure they have experience with weddings so they understand the flow of the day) can range from $650 to $1200+ in the Atlanta area. If you get quotes from someone who is lower, make sure you ask plenty of questions on the equipment they provide, how many weddings they have done, do they have all the music downloaded or do they require a wifi connection to download as they go.
You can find some of our favorite DJ's listed on our Vendors page.
Cake is perhaps one of my favorite wedding foods - especially GOOD wedding cake! (And, yes, I said perhaps - blame it on my love of Jane Austen books)
We'll start with some info on the traditional wedding cake and then talk about other options (because, yes, you can do something besides the traditional cake!)
Photo by Mary Claire Photography
The Top Tier
Traditionally, the top tier is saved for the couple's 1 year anniversary. You do need to wrap it really well to freeze it and enjoy it at your one year anniversary. Your baker should be able to give you instructions on this or Google is always your friend.
If you go this route, make sure you have enough servings on the other tiers to serve your guests. Also let the caterer or whoever is cutting your cake know to save the top.
Some bakers are switching to provide a separate anniversary cake so there is no chance of the top tier accidentally being served. You can also ask your baker for a "credit" to come back in a year and get a fresh cake from them
What about cake flavor?
Well, the best news is wedding cake no longer is just one flavor - there are tons of options! The flavors available will depend on the cake baker/artist you hire. We've had some amazing flavors and it's hard to pick a favorite. Lemon and blueberry, Marble with maple frosting, chocolate with peanut butter frosting, cookie butter cake (think Biscotti in cake form) - so many delicious flavors!
Some cake artists will allow you to do a different flavor on each tier - you'll just need to check with your chosen baker.
Photo by Hillary Leah Photography
You want your cake to be delicious AND pretty - that's not too much to ask, right? Nope - not at all. There are lots of amazing bakers that make delicious and beautiful cakes. Each baker will have their own style, so make sure you look at their work. But great cake artists love a challenge, too - so don't be afraid to send them inspiration that you don't see on their website.
Current trends lean toward buttercream icing instead of fondant. If you have ever had fondant, you are probably thrilled with that trend! Fondant can make an extremely smooth cake and is used to create figures but buttercream icing has it beat in taste!
Cake decorations can range from fresh flowers, edible sugar flowers, buttercream "painted" designs and so much more. If you are planning on fresh flowers, those typically come from your florist so make sure you connect the two vendors.
This piece can be tricky depending on your venue or caterer. Your cake baker will deliver the cake to your venue, but they do not stay to cut it. You need to make sure your caterer, coordinator or venue staff are lined up for that job. Check to see if there is a separate fee for cake cutting or if it's included. You do need someone who knows how to cut a wedding cake correctly to get the right amount of servings out of it. (See, who knew there was a special way to cut cake?)
Photo by Kaptured Photography
It doesn't have to be Cake!
Catering is typically the biggest wedding expense after the venue. It makes sense - you are serving dinner (usually) to 100+ of your closest friends and family. Even if you took them all to Chick-fil-a, you would have a big bill!
Let's talk about the different options for catering.
After the ceremony, you, your new spouse and family are wrapped up in pictures. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the number of pictures, how large your family is (and how well everyone follows directions!) Your guests are mingling at this time, waiting for dinner and sometimes wondering what they are supposed to be doing.
The bar usually opens up at this time, so it's a great time to offer them so food also. It can be as simple as cheese and crackers or an elaborately curated appetizer. Whatever you choose, it's a good idea to have something to keep your guests happy until dinner time.
Photo Hellen Oliveira Photography
We are focusing on a dinner timing but we've had brunch weddings, heavy appetizers, etc. Choose what works best for you as a couple.
Catering menus can range from 1 meat and 1 side to LOTS more options. Your guests will have a variety of food preferences and, even, restrictions. Offering a few options helps everyone fill their plate. Most of our couples offer a menu with two entrees, two - three sides, and bread.
Check with your caterer to see if they offer a kids option or if they let you provide separate food for kids. Most 4 - 9 year olds won't eat a plate full (unless it's a plate full of macaroni and cheese and a roll - yep, seen that). A simpler option may save money and keep any young guests happy.
Photo Andy Calvert Photography
Late Night Snacks
Some trends are totally worth it - like late night snacks! After your guests have been dancing and drinking for a while, loading them up on some snacks before you send them off is a great idea! We've seen fried apple pies, cookies, donuts, bbq sliders - so many options. Your caterer is a valuable resource with this as they can estimate how many guests may still be there at the end and want a late night snack - you don't usually need to plan for your full guest count on this one.
Catering is more than just the menu options. You want a caterer that has done weddings before so they understand the flow. They should have all the equipment and staff needed to get the food there and keep it hot, keep buffet filled or serve plated meals, clean tables and more.
When you are comparing costs, make sure you understand if tax and service fee is included in the initial price. If not, that adds 20% - 30%. Most of our preferred caterers fall in the $30 - $55/person price range. That includes non-alcoholic drinks, tax and service fee. It adds up quickly when you have 100 - 200 guests, but it matches up with what you would pay at a good restaurant. And you want good food for your wedding!
Check out our Vendors page for some of our preferred caterers!
Pleasant Union Farm is a family owned wedding venue in North GA, about an hour north of Atlanta.