Earlier this year I suggested the creation of a document called the Standards of The Industry. You can read more about that here. The purpose of this document is to shed a little light on the business practices of event floral designers.

My hope in creating this document is that we will unite as business owners. Essentially there are no published standard business practices for event designers. I’m hoping this document can start a wave of unity. I believe by adopting solid business practices or guidelines, we as professionals will organically grow stronger, better businesses. Our businesses must be able to sustain themselves and our families. In addition our business practices will not only affect the viability of our businesses, but our practices will also send a clear and understandable message to the consumer and benefit the planners, venues, industry professionals and the growers that support our businesses. The health and strength of our companies is in our hands. We need to protect our creative process. If we all set prices within reasonable boundaries we will have viable profitable businesses and an enjoyable life. I have witnessed over and over again that most florists who serve the wedding industry do not have a work life balance. We work endless hours to make ourselves and our customers happy. We are so busy chasing the pretty or our flower buzz, that we forget just how much time and effort is going into the production of an event. When this happens we end up working for a low wage. I have learned this the hard way. I am not sure why so many creatives have trouble charging accordingly for their time, but it’s something that needs to stop. This document will hopefully be an open discussion that can be changed via your comments here on this blog. I by no means believe I have all the answers, but I would love to see us come together in our individual communities and set standards.

Design Pricing

Proper floral design studios/shops mark up the wholesale cost of the flowers 3.5 to 4 times per design and add an additional 30 percent for the labor to create the design. This is per design or line item.  Labor and delivery associated with installations or deliveries is another line item (which we will address in our next post).  This 30 percent markup is the labor to physically make the design. An easier equation is four or five times mark up total (four would actually be slightly lower than the suggested mark up) on each piece created. This is the known standard in the industry. Please know that this is the proven markup that is necessary to support your business. Pricing under this margin only confuses the market and devalues each stem and the work and creative process required for quality floral design. Pricing below this is bad for the farmers/growers and the industry at large. This is not a get rich equation by any means; it is truly the required amount needed to grow and sustain a floral design business. No matter how big or how small your business is, this is the margin we all should be aiming for. Building a business by selling for less, not only diminishes you as a designer, but it jeopardizes your chance for future success and is detrimental to the market. Designers that sell below industry standards will soon find themselves in a state of turmoil and they will not gain respect from their clients or their industry peers. The value of flowers and the art to create them is real and undeniable. Artistically created designs which are properly constructed with quality blooms are a precious commodity and the pricing should reflect the value. We realize that some designers do not create quotes in a line item fashion but prefer to quote the event as a packaged price. No matter what pricing format a designer chooses to use, the standard markup should be the same. If these practices are not followed it will severely reduce your chances for success, will confuse the market, and diminish the work of the growers and other designers. We need to stand together on the value of a stem and the art it takes to create a design. This pricing structure is not being suggested to protect the older more established companies, it is being offered to help those newer  designers or business who will eventually lose their joy for a job if they are not paid properly. Deciding you will work for less or below industry standards means you could ultimately burn out, make mistakes, and possibly lose your business. In addition, it’s really important that we are all good stewards of this industry. So many people are counting on us. I do realize there are always exceptions to this rule, like weddings for family or friends or even some unique portfolio opportunities, but the day in and out running of our shops should be tight. If we all charge accordingly and stand united on pricing, together we will create companies that bring us joy as well as help to feed the family.

Any comments regarding pricing and markups will be greatly appreciated. If all goes well, when we get through this series we will see the light. Things look so much more inviting and way less frightening when there is light.

Photographs by Carlene and Chris Thomas of Healthfully Ever After.




  • Linda V. Ward Says: (10.30.2017 | 10:07)

    I agree with your comments about markup 100%!!! I have been in the retail florist business for 41 years & have consistently use the 3.5 to 4 x mark up for fresh flowers. I can proudly say that I always pay my wholesalers on time !!When preparing a quote for a special event or wedding , I sometimes even round “up” a little. It paid off this week when the deep burgundy roses that we used for a wedding actually cost 40% more than expected. I do have one question- how do we charge for our time for the the endless emails from some of our Brides? Afterall, attorney’s charge for phone calls .

  • Fran Says: (10.30.2017 | 11:45)

    Holly, thank you for this much needed information. I look forward to joining your profession over the next year as I grow a flower farm and florist business. Pricing has been hard to wrap my head around – there isn’t a lot of information out there that I’ve found to be authoritative, and I feel so lucky to have stumbled upon this information so I can do it correctly from the start. I’m looking forward to reading your next post – and again, thank you for your time and wisdom!!!

  • Holly Turville Says: (10.30.2017 | 01:52)

    Holly, I greatly appreciate you reiterating what I believe to be true with pricing. It’s so difficult to be competitive when your competition, (who are often times peers and friends in the same market) do not price in the same fashion. Wedding planners often times don’t understand why my pricing comes in higher than other designers in my area- it’s because I’m simply quoting properly for my product, time and labor (and I only set my labor at 20%!) It’s frustrating but so important to stick to my guns on this. I also really, really love Details Floral Software which does all the yucky math for me- assuring my margins are tight and on point. It’s such a game changer and my proposals and invoices are clean and my Floral orders are much tighter! I highly recommend a software like this to keep everything zipped up. This is, after all, a business- not a hobby. Much respect to you for broadening the conversation!

  • Mandy Says: (10.30.2017 | 03:17)

    I pay attention to pricing labor at 40%, but am bad at pricing per stem. I under charged myself for a huge wedding this past year without even realizing it. I made myself sick and felt ashamed. For 2018 I am seriously going to take my time with my proposals and create recipes so I know the stem count needed to be able to price correctly. Working in retail at the beginning of my career, I did learn the mark up I just need to actually make recipes.

    I’ve read and taken courses about pricing and sometimes do not correlate with our industry or makes me feel like up-charging everything is OKAY so we can make money. I’m very excited that you are taking it upon yourself to create a “Standard.” It is much needed and business owners need it!

  • BJ Dyer Says: (10.30.2017 | 03:26)


    We should all be competitive, and try to bid the lowest price we can to capture the business we can.

    That said, the florists who cut their profit margin to a hair, or even bid at no profit, just to get the business, are woefully shortsighted. Not only do they eventually feel the pain of their actions, they cause pain to their fellow businesswomen and men along the way.

    The ONLY ones who profit THEN are the brides, who laugh their way to the bank.

    If you consistently bid on a narrow profit margin, then you work REALLY hard for almost nothing. That gets old fast, and makes it difficult to pay overhead.

    The worst, though, are the florists who have no clue how to really figure out their profit margins. They just guess, hoping that it’ll all come out ok by averages in the end. They just want to make pretty flowers.

    Those florists should do everyone a favor, including themselves, and work for a business person who can pay them well to do that artistic job, so that they don’t have to think about the math.

  • Rachel and Lauren Says: (10.30.2017 | 06:39)

    Yes yes yes! Pricing for appropriate profit to build your business and take care of yourself and your people is SO IMPORTANT! The markup may feel huge sometimes, but literally none of us are “rolling in it.” It’s what is necessary to do what we need to do! And even if we DIDN’T have overhead and employees and the like, pricing properly means you are preparing for that growth and you will have room to play and bless people with your extra and you’ll be much much happier for it! Nothing worse than a burnt out designer who stops finding joy in their work. The business of flowers is no walk in the park. We are small business owners with kids to send to college and retirement to consider just like everyone else, and we work extra long hours and have much higher taxes to pay than most, so being able to properly support yourself and know your worth is imperative.

    • chappleadmin Says: (10.30.2017 | 08:32)

      Lover your comments girls. All that you said is so true. I think sometimes people forget we are raising families and paying bills by designing. The myth about playing with flowers may be a part of the problem. You are doing such a beautiful job creating a strong business. Raise those babies!!

  • Polly Sage Says: (10.30.2017 | 07:09)

    I think we are afraid of pricing appropriately BC people are so used to crummy flower big box pricing. We started doing a larger minimum last year and had about 4 weddings, vs 20 the year before.

  • Larissa Meade Says: (10.30.2017 | 09:38)

    YES!!!! I hate competing with other florist that seem to be in this business as a hobby, because clearly they are not doing it to support their family.
    Just yesterday I did an experiment with my current markup (similar to what you suggest) vs a straight four or five times mark up total, and i found i fell right at 4.5 , which was satisfying knowing I’m falling in the right margin

    Keep it up Holly, with time hopefully the industry will be all on the same page.

  • Heath Says: (10.31.2017 | 12:26)

    I’m new to the business. My shop is in a very rural area… an area where a big portion of customers want an arrangement for under $50. And customers who want to spend $100 think they’re being elaborate with their purchase (and they expect an elaborate design).

    My first question is… when you markup stems 4 times, are you counting EVERY stem? I’m a calculus teacher by day, and my analytical mind wants to count every snip of greenery, piece of tape, block of foam, etc. my assumption is the 4x markup only counts stems of significant value? Am I right?

    Second, is there an “average” bride’s bouquet price? I price weddings differently from my everyday designs… weddings are much more work, and if I can’t make a good profit I’d rather not do it. I tell my brides $100 is the very minimum for their bouquets. Most range from $150-200 simply based on budgetary constraints. My most expensive has been $275 and it was a magnificent piece on a grand scale. I felt as though I was charging too much, but I put much time and energy into the planning and construction. Any thoughts?

    Last, I can’t order flowers in large quantities. I pay more per Stem than a designer who can order box quantities. I’m getting much better at finding new vendors around the country, but my purchasing power is still limited. So, if I order Garden roses that cost me $4.50 (including shipping) should I really value that flower at $18? That seems high to me. If my competitions in metropolitan areas are ordering in bulk and getting the same rise for $3 it seems I’d be hurting myself.

    In conclusion, I’m so very excited to see this post! The thought of being able to reach out and connect is delightful. I have so much to learn… I know that’s the case because I’m currently happy every month the shop can pay for itself without my help! I’ve given COUNTLESS hours over the past 8 months. My personal life has been nonexistent. Yet I’ve only given so far and not taken pay at all. I’m starting to hit the discouraged point on occasion. Wonderful timing for this read! Thanks again.

    • chappleadmin Says: (11.02.2017 | 07:28)

      Hi Heath,

      I am so sorry for my delay in responding. We have to talk!! Yes indeed you are supposed to account for every single stem, all greenery, all flowers, all fillers. In all honesty I neglected to account for the foam, tape and other supplies. That should be calculated into your recipes as well and that should be calculated at 2 times markup. In general by aiming for the 4 to 5 times markup overall, I believe I am covering all of my bases for the hard goods associated with bridal work, personal flowers, and table centers. If I get into big designs that require significant amounts of foam, cages, or rolls and rolls of wire and ribbon, I am surely doing that two times markup. Does that make sense?
      Now here comes the hard part. Just because you live in a rural area, doesn’t mean the flowers are less valuable, in fact it sounds like they are costing you more. I doubt very seriously I can go to your community and buy a car for less or sit down to a fine steak dinner for less. If I could, everyone would come to your market for their newest set of wheels. See what I mean, we all have to get consistent regardless of region. BTW, I also do not purchase by the box, don’t be confused when you see boxes and boxes of flowers coming my way. Because I am doing wedding work, I need specific stems, my orders are “special orders”. Every single order I make, all year long is a “special oder.” I am dictating color, length of stem, and variety, so I pay more and honestly I am happy to pay for the yummy I want. It’s a completely different type of buying. I buy by the box or assorted once a year, I do this when I vend at my towns garden festival, those flowers are a crap shoot and the quality is no where near the same. When I purchase like that I feel like my shop looks like rainbow bright. The box rate is more appropriate for retail florists who can use assorted colors for their daily orders. You can’t buy assorted boxes and assume the flowers you will need for your wedding are going to be in the box. If you explain that to the clients they truly understand. I also use this explantation when people mention that they see peonies or other fine stems at the grocery store for cheap. Sorry, but I am not going to leave a wedding up to chance, brides love hearing that.Simply put peonies from the grocery store or box pricing is not something I can do when I am running a wedding design studio. I have to secure specific blooms and that simply costs more.
      One other issue that could be affecting you is the wholesalers you are using and this might be your real problem. The more you purchase the more your prices should go down ( I think you were getting at this also), so you will need to be very wise about who you are buying from. If you work directly with your wholesaler and tell them you need support and that the prices you are being offered don’t seem to be industry standards, sometimes they will work with you. Strengthen that relationship. Ask them to help you grow your business, make a commitment to them to buy more if you do well (only do this if you trust the integrity of the wholesaler) this could benefit them for many years to come. I try to buy everything from my main wholesaler and only deviate if they can’t provide what I am looking for. If you don’t get the support you need from your current wholesaler, I believe you will need to strengthen your list of resources. But remember buying more from one person is how you get your prices to go down. Wholesalers do give deeper discounts based on the stature of your shop or the quantity you are purchasing. If you can’t get your stem price to come down you should at least find out what the standard price is in most markets and markup from there. If you did that you would still be charging more then you currently are. The price you are selling bridal bouquets for is entirely to low. I can’t imagine a bridal bouquet leaving this studio for $100.00 -$150.00 unless it was made with all greens, babies breath or carnations. FYI, I am also a grower and just so you know, I don’t even sell the stems from the garden that low. Sadly there is no bridal bouquet recipe I write that is worth $150.00. My time and artistry alone is worth more then that. I think your clients are getting you for too low and if this continues you will not be able to sustain your business. You are starting to drown, and I can hear that in your words. Grab the life preserver and save yourself. If your market can’t bear the true cost of quality designs, then so be it, you can’t continue to work for free. I want the best for you, I will help if I can. Praying for all of us, as we sort this out. Just so you know, I am sympathetic to you and to all of the hard work you have done trying to make your business work. I want the best for you and for all of us.

  • claire Says: (10.31.2017 | 09:07)

    thanks a lot for sharing this with us. I am new in the business and it is not always easy to figure this out!
    Also Heath has a very interesting question: how do you do if you have stems which are costing you 4 to $5 (garden roses), this is the average price where I am…

    • chappleadmin Says: (10.31.2017 | 09:10)

      Thank you, please see my remarks to Heath below.

  • Tabitha Says: (10.31.2017 | 09:26)

    Thank you. Coming from a corporate background, then self owned retail, to now..fledgling floral and event design… the lack of industry standards feels daunting! Creating solidarity amongst designers is an awesome goal, especially where pricing is concerned. I’d love to see these standards put into the consumer’s view consistently so that adequate compensation becomes the norm, not the dreaded discussion! ♡ *excited to for part 2*

  • Desiree Dean Says: (10.31.2017 | 10:54)

    Good Morning Holly,

    This is great and very familiar to another floral designer I follow Allison Ellis. Allison is the sole reason I know what to price my clients and since then have been able to successfully help support my family and the needs of the business. So thankful for her! Having a industry standard as something we can all go to as a guide is so important and I think we are there, we all want to be profitable so I think there is zero resistance as far as a industry standard. I’ve seen the many FB groups and chats all over social media everyone really is so helpful and it’s a tight nit communtity. I have friends all over the country that I go to for support and questions. Such a really wonderful community and I love it!

    I think the resistance is all outside influences and what our clients are reading and bringing to the consults. On Saturday I sat down with a new prospect and she said flat out, I am doing my own centerpieces. I’m doing garland with flowers and I was very taken back. By the end of the consult I managed to educate her on the time and skills and things required to make these centerpieces and how I would feel more comfortable making them for her and so on…she then sent me this video.


    We are battling at every consult the DIY world and the people who are speaking about us like we are evil “Flower Witches”.. glass, candles, vases, ribbon, drape is all trying to be handled by the client and now they are even trying to handle the centerpieces. How do we set the standard for this? I had a cake vendor cut into the brides bouquet because she wanted the best flowers to decorate the cake with and I had provided well over 24 stems of beautiful flowers for her to use, they didn’t like those, they wanted what was in her bouquet. It’s crazy where things are going our work disrespected at every turn. I feel like I do a great job reeling my clients in and really educating them on the importance of letting us do the hard leg work and that they should relax during this special time but should I turn away clients who want to buy their own vases? I’m too new to this industry to turn clients away? How can we educate the world on our industry and other vendors?

    I love our flower community and feel we can all pull together, charge the correct prices and teach clients and the general population to trust us and the process. Set the record straight about our prices why we charge what we charge. That we are artists and regular people with families to support and that we truly care about our clients and the reputation of our industry.

    • chappleadmin Says: (11.02.2017 | 07:53)

      I love Alison. She is a dear friend and she is a fabulous steward of this industry. She is also one of our Chapel Designers. I can’t say enough good things about her. The DIY video you posted made me do a super cringe. I mean really!! Did you notice the silver dollar was dead? I am sorry, but making garland is a timely and lengthy process, something that makes the most experienced designers cringe. OMG. Can you imagine doing all of that on your wedding day. The amount of product they had also does not calculate out for me. It would have never made it across the table.

  • Jill Says: (11.01.2017 | 09:50)

    I am so happy for this blog and all that it has to offer.

    I don’t see your reply to Heath and would love to hear your answers on his concerns as they are also mine.

    Thank you for this forum!

    • chappleadmin Says: (11.02.2017 | 07:48)

      Hi Jill,

      Thanks for your comments. I answered Heath. Please see if that helps. Let’s fix this situation!!!

  • Teresa Says: (11.02.2017 | 09:46)

    I also feel like my clients think that because we live in rural area that they shouldn’t have to pay like city folks do for the same work and same flowers. We are even payimg more because of shipping cost. How do we get them to understand we all buy from wholesalers at the same prices? By the way love your work. It inspires me.

  • Tammy Says: (11.04.2017 | 08:39)

    Hi Holly
    I am so glad I found your blog, interesting information. First on my FB I had a news feed from Syndicate that your Chapels Innovative pillow design will being sold through them, I read the article they had, and I just got intrigued to learn more about you as a floral designer. I found an interview you did with floral design institute, with David Kassler at an orchid ranch. Keep up the exciting creative designs!!! I really Like them.
    I am I florist in southern Iowa, a very rural community. I work out of my studio from home and I also work part time at two different near by towns at floral shops as they need the extra help. I really enjoy wedding flowers; the other florist would rather do sympathy work. A lot of the weddings around here are DIY but they want you to do part of the work the wedding flowers or the reception flowers.
    Your design work is marvelous!!!!
    Happy Thanksgiving,

  • Jody Says: (11.05.2017 | 10:52)

    Been following you for awhile and would love to take a course with you! I was crazy disappointed that i just missed you when you came to Niagara Canada area! Hoping to catch you in the future! I love your work and vision!
    I am always sooo impressed by the heart you have to help your peers…and here you are again! Your generous heart is a blessing!
    I have been praying and working toward my own business…its excruciatingly slow as i continue to work for other florist for min. wage even with design certification, but i am trying to look at this time as opportunity for growth ( in character to ! Lol) and time to learn more business wise.This article has been a wonderful discussion as i see this in the flowershops i work for. This constant discussion with client about trying to justify your pricing …its discouraging ! Then they take your time consuming quote down the road to your competitor who is happy to undercut you. It saddens me to think of the customer not caring about quality and design ability , why do they come to your shop in the first place? Its usually because you did their friend or sister’s wedding! But what is more sad is the competitor ‘ s behavior… first off why would they want a client like that?? Its a red flag ! Second, its biting off your own face! If you dont stick together on some sort of industry
    standard and business ethic of respect you only suffer later…and that’s where it is now… I see it as if your so hellbent to stand alone you would treat a fellow florist like that, then you will eventually get just that ….you will be alone while your sinking ! There really is enough business for everyone to service all budget levels if this undercutting wasnt a factor. I love that you are educating us and hopefully we can pass this wisdom simply and firmly to the client. I also hope we find a united front in each other in the near future. I am looking forward to this discussion as i prepare for my own business. I find it difficult to get info that i need to prepare ,so your answers to Heath and others has been helpful … i am so grateful for this blog post.
    Keep forging on sister!

  • Mary Pappas Says: (11.07.2017 | 10:30)

    Hello Holly:
    Thank you for taking the time away from your busy schedule to advocate for the industry!
    I couldn’t agree more with all the comments and your replies!
    I’m more than happy to help out in any way I can with the standards of our industry!
    With much appreciation,

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