This week we caught up with Liza Roeser Atwood, the founder and CEO of FiftyFlowers.com, which is a great resource for DIY couples that want gorgeous wholesale flowers on a tight budget. Do you covet off-season lush Juliet garden roses but think they’re the opposite of budget-friendly? FiftyFlowers to the rescue – all you need is a dash of creativity and a bit of elbow grease. Read on to learn more about Liza and the money-saving world of DIY blooms.
How did you come up with the idea behind FiftyFlowers?
In 1992, I was working on a flower farm in Ecuador as a Peace Corps volunteer. When I started preparing to come back to the states and launch a career, it occurred to me that I could help brides by shipping them roses directly from the farm. The idea of putting 50 roses in a box and having them ship directly to her doorstep was the reason the company is called FiftyFlowers.
Today we offer more than 2,000 varieties and all different box sizes, so things have changed quite a bit. We ship from farms all over the world directly to your doorstep.
Walk us through the FiftyFlowers process. What can brides and grooms expect once they select and order flowers?
Brides can make an appointment with our complementary wedding flower consultant if they want help designing their flowers. Or, if they just have a few questions, our customer service team is available via phone, email or chat to help them as they prepare their order. We also have a flower-ordering worksheet available for download on our website. Our goal is to help DIY brides, those who have never worked with flowers before, feel confident to do their wedding flowers.
Once she is ready to place the order, it’s easy to order online or call our toll-free number. As soon as the order is entered, she will receive a phone call from one of our customer service reps to review the order. We will discuss the flower care and delivery dates, how long it takes [flowers] to open and any special instructions for varieties so she knows what she needs to do. Typically, our brides order two to four months prior to their wedding and schedule delivery two to three days before their event date.
Right before the flowers ship, our customer service [department] will confirm everything and the bride will receive shipping updates via text message. On the day the flowers are delivered, the bride will receive a phone call from customer service about 30 minutes after delivery to make sure everything arrived safely. The bride should plan to be there to receive the flowers, process them by trimming stems and remove any extra foliage, and get them in water to hydrate.
The most important thing to remember is that the flowers will look sleepy and thirsty upon arrival. That is normal, and they perk up after a nice, long drink. Each flower we sell has the care instructions on our web site. Once the flowers are hydrated, she is ready to make the arrangements.
Our flowers are 100 percent guaranteed for freshness, and in the event of a concern, we ask the customer to send us photos and call us so we can discuss next steps. Sometimes more flower care is required, and we can walk them through that. Other times, if something was damaged, we can reship.
Where does the FiftyFlowers’s inventory come from? Are there any benefits of buying flowers from FiftyFlowers rather than places like farmers markets or retail stores?
FiftyFlowers ships directly from farms around the globe. Everything we ship is cut to order, so we do not have inventory of flowers sitting around. The benefit is superior freshness – no stopping or middle man.
According to the latest report by the XO Group, Inc., the average U.S. wedding costs about $30,000, with $2,069 going toward flowers. How much of a price difference is doing it yourself, such as with FiftyFlowers, compared to hiring a florist?
Brides can save up to 75 percent by doing their own flowers. Our average order is several hundred dollars, so our DIY brides are finding ways to make their own simple and beautiful bouquets, centerpieces and boutonnieres, and save a lot of money.
It seems like many couples initially want to create DIY bouquets and arrangements, then decide it will be too difficult or time-consuming. What would you tell people who have concerns about taking this on?
The ideal situation is for the couple to choose their flowers, plan out the designs, buy the materials and then turn it over to a dear friend to manage on the wedding day. In many cases, the bride can decorate the day prior and have a friend set things in place the next day. The more support the couple has, the easier it will be for them to do their own flowers.
We ship flowers for 500 to 1,000 weddings every weekend, so clearly couples are finding a way to get it done and enjoy their wedding! Just check out the testimonials on our web site and see what they’ve created!
What supplies will brides and grooms need if they decide to DIY flower arrangements?
A basic tool kit includes clean buckets, flower food, garden shears, floral wire, floral tape, ribbon and pins.
What skills or expertise do couples need in order to design and create their ideal DIY bouquets and arrangements? How can FiftyFlowers help people who don’t think of themselves as crafty or creative, but still want to save money on fresh flowers?
Skill level required correlates to the complexity of the chosen design. If non-crafty couples just want beautiful blooms on their special day, it’s easy to keep it simple and display them with the right vessels.
How much time and money would you recommend couples set aside for DIY flower arrangements? Do you have any money-saving flower tips?
The allocation of the budget is entirely a personal decision. Once you know what you want to spend on flowers, we can make a recommendation on any budget. We have ideas for $5 centerpieces and up! Here are a couple of money-saving flower tips for brides on a budget:
1. If you must have a flower variety that is an expensive one (such as peonies), be sure to choose a vessel with a small neck so you only need one to three stems per table.
2. Consider using a mix of greenery to decorate at your wedding. Our Greenery Combo boxes give you variety, texture and a lot for your money.
3. Our DIY Wedding Combo boxes offer the best value with a mix of several varieties in one box.
Bridal bouquets and centerpieces come to mind when planning wedding florals, but where else are flowers typically used? How many flowers are at a typical wedding, and where?
Rose petal ceremony aisles are one of the best ways to DIY your wedding flowers. You can embellish place settings with a single bloom, add flowers to the cake or place a vase of flowers in the ladies’ room. [You] can make hand-tied bouquets, boutonnieres and mini bouquets for the mothers instead of corsages. The options are endless!
Do you have any final advice for brides and grooms on their big day, flower tips or otherwise?
Remember why you are having the wedding in the first place – to start a life with the one you love. So if you are on a budget, don’t worry about spending more or doing more. Whatever you do will be perfect!
Sounds like a pretty great plan, right? Be sure to check out the FiftyFlowers 2014 flower trend guide to ensure your budget-friendly blooms are on trend, too. We’ll be back soon with more vendor spotlights, real bride interviews and money-saving tips that will help you plan and keep you sane.