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Working Designer Wednesday: The Flower Proposal (Bid)

Feb 16, 2011

I’ve received many emails asking how to write a proposal or bid…what to include, how to organize it and how to estimate costs. I’m a bit overwhelmed with the subject because there are so many factors involved and so many ways to approach a bid. Once again, I’m feeling a little vulnerable…after all, the only way I know to do it is the way I did it…and it might seem odd to some of you…but it’s a chance I’m willing to take if it will help another designer think through the process.

Many of you have asked, “Do you listen to the bride’s wants and then give an estimate or do you ask the bride her budget and try to design within her budget?” I’m hoping some of you experienced designers will share your thoughts on that question. After many consultations with brides, I decided the following scenario worked best for me…

When making a consultation appointment with a bride, I would ask her to bring anything she could think of that would help me understand her vision for the wedding…pictures of bridal party wardrobe pieces, fabric samples, magazine clippings, personal items she wanted to incorporate into the wedding decor, etc. At the consultation, I encouraged the bride to describe her dreams for her wedding to me without thinking of costs. By having her describe the wedding without worrying about cost, I got a clear picture of her vision…holding nothing back. I always found it easier to pare down the original vision to fit a budget than to design within the restraints of a budget from the start. For some reason, having a budget stated upfront tended to squelch my creativity…probably because the vision is usually much larger than the budget.

I’ve decided to share an actual wedding proposal with you (with the names and dates changed). I’ve removed the prices to respect the privacy of the couple in case anyone recognizes the description of the wedding. I’m mostly sharing the bid so you can see how I organized it and the details it included. Hope it’s helpful…




As you can see, the bride could easily see the cost break down and call me with changes. For example, if the bid was $300 over her budget and the pew ends cost $50 each, she might decide to use only 4 pew ends (the first two rows for family) cutting the total cost of the wedding by $300. Because the price per piece was clear, most brides called with simple revisions instead of calling and asking, “We’re $550 over budget, where can we cut?”….which took a lot of time and work off of me!

If you have questions about this post, please feel free to email me. And, by all means, if you’re a designer and want to share your thoughts on the subject, leave a comment or email me. I love to have company in the Vulnerability Boat!

And, because we can’t have a Botanical Brouhaha post without flowers…

tumblr_kys7y90d9W1qb3edao1_500 pretty little flowerimage via Pretty Little Flower

Hope your Wednesday is wonderful!



  1. Being on the bride’s side of this equation right now, I completely agree with your approach. Not only does it eliminate work for you when cuts need to be made, it makes whoever is paying feel so much more comfortable about the total, and reminds them that each dollar corresponds to concrete flowers, it’s not just a total you’re throwing out to make the wedding worth your time and energy. It’s good to understand that if you want to cut $, you’re cutting flowers, and to be empowered to have the question of which flowers to nix be up to you. It just makes the whole thing so much more transparent. Totals can seem shocking, but when you look at the breakdown, you do understand how each bout. is maybe up near $20 and that they add up quickly, most people already know that bridal bouquets are in the hundreds and your average centerpiece would start at nearly $100 as well- but it just takes some of the sticker shock out when you can personally weigh your order piece by piece and you know how a total was reached.

  2. flwrjane says:

    Very coherent proposal. Also sounds lovely. if I get married again I might have to ask you to do the flowers!

    At the end of the consult I ask about budget. if I have 3,000.00 to work with I can then think best how to spend their money.

    You are totally on spot with this whole post.


  3. Thank you soooooo much for this informative post! I also give the bride options for most items and let them decide where they want to splurge or skip an item altogether.. also just a personal practice, if I free an item for the bride (e.g. flower girl’s bouquet, flowers for hair etc).. I still list the price I would have charged, I think it makes them appreciate a bit more..

  4. This is EXACTLY how I do it. The only difference is that if I know the proposal is coming in over budget, I try to guide the bride into where to cut if it is needed by finding out here priorities. If the reception is more important, I suggest areas in the ceremony where I think could be cut without compromising her vision and vice-versa. Great post!

  5. Lesa Atteo says:

    If this is a dup, sorry.

    I just want to say thank you so much for providing this sample estimate. You are helping others more than you know. I sincerely appreciate this blog.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Is this format done on word or excel? Is there a way to automatically add up all of the costs?


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