Today we will tackle event design, rentals, and SAMPLES. I know, samples are the big issue. Let’s see what we can resolve together.

Rental & Container Pricing

I do not currently charge a rental fee for items that we are flowering such as candelabras, vases, arches, chuppahs, and mandaps. The price associated with the design is inclusive of the use of my props or containers. This practice also helps me to justify my labor, delivery, and breakdown fees because I can state I don’t charge a rental fee. We do charge rental fees for structures, furniture, candles and other props if they do not have floral designs attached to them. So essentially, when I am pricing an elevated design on a glass stand or a chuppah that I will flower, I am considering the value of the use of my container or structure and adding that to the 4 times mark up. Should we be charging a rental fee per item? Many of my colleagues do.

Event Design

Event design is a separate service and should be billed accordingly. We are doing event design when we consult on the overall look and feel of the wedding. We are the floral designer when we are simply providing the flower designs. We should not consult on vendor selection, theme development, linen choices, or any aspect of the overall design of the event without being paid to do so. I charge an additional fee for event design. My offering clearly states that we are not the planners and we do not handle logistics of the day. I have a list of planners I suggest and those planners are being contacted/contracted for logistics only. Event design is an important and necessary service that offers the client design support. I have found that this service actually creates the most beautiful events and allows me the opportunity to really be in the know about the wedding. I can make decisions on behalf of the client or with the client and I am constantly in the know about rentals and other aspects of the wedding. My designer friend Isha Foss calls this being “the editor of the wedding”. Being the event designer allows us the opportunity to salvage any aspect of the wedding that is not feeling cohesive or that can potentially destroy the overall beauty or flow of the event. Being the event designer allows us the opportunity to look at our floral designs in a new way.


How I wish we could come together on this topic. I have been in business for 25 years and for most of my career this was not a problem or an expected giveaway. Today it is one of the most complicated issues in our industry. First and foremost, I would never ever suggest creating a sample if you are not booked and confirmed as the floral designer for the event. Providing samples prior to booking could seriously cause a financial burden on your business. I do not think this is being done in most instances, but I have had designers ask me about this. Under no circumstances do I believe we should be creating samples before a client has booked our services.

I suggest that we do not create samples for free unless we are paid to be the event designers and I would only suggest this in some instances. I will explain that further below. Here are my thoughts on free samples. Clients are coming to us as individual designers because they believe in our brand. They love and appreciate our work and have already chosen us above all others. They need to trust us if they are going to book us as their vendors. I feel providing samples for free shows a weakness or an insecurity to get the job. We are experts hired to provide the most beautiful designs that we can create the weekend of the wedding. Making one beautiful sample in advance of the wedding does not in any way prove that we will be able to duplicate that service at a later date en masse. Flowers are a constantly changing commodity. A gorgeous ranunculus this week can become an absolute dud of a stem next week. It is the designer’s responsibility to be checking quality and substituting if necessary the week of the event. Seasonality also makes creating samples extremely difficult. For instance, if you have a spring wedding client and peonies are to be used, a sample produced in the winter without the peonies would be surely lacking. I think it is essentially impossible to provide an exact sample of a design unless it is created the week of the event. If all of these explanations were offered to a client they would most likely not request a sample. If a client is adamant about a sample they should understand the above listed information and they should agree to pay for the sample. Producing a sample is extremely costly. If we can explain this to the client they tend to understand why it is essential for us to charge. There are two instances where I do believe samples are beneficial. If I, as the designer, do not feel confident in the design or color combination I have sold, I believe a sample is absolutely necessary and should be produced at my expense. I may or may not offer the sample to the client but I have indeed purchased flowers to ensure that I have my recipe or design correct. This is when a sample is necessary. I also believe if you are being paid to be the event designer or working a luxury wedding you may want to consider doing a sample. If you are creating an experience for your client, then you may want to offer a sample to enhance the experience. This elevates and benefits YOUR brand. Providing free samples when you do not have face time with the client and they do not know they have been gifted a design does not elevate your business.

I also do not believe in hiding the cost of a sample in your overall floral invoice. This undermines the industry and misleads planners and clients to believe that samples are being given away for free and that they should be given away for free. Transparency is key in uplifting us all as designers. Let’s be honest about what we are doing, no more gilding the lily.

So here would be my suggested guidelines:

1st – No free samples for the clients who are simply sampling your business or have not paid a deposit. This would not pertain to clients that you have an ongoing relationship with or that you provide services to on a regular basis.

2nd – Clients or planners that insist on samples should be offered the samples at cost of the design or at cost of all goods required. The consumer and planner need to realize producing one design is more costly than the creation of the design en masse because we have to purchase stems in bulk. A delivery fee should also pertain to the sample if the client is not coming to your studio to view the design. The client is entitled to keep the design, of course.

3rd – Samples can be created if doing so elevates your brand as an event designer or if the client is purchasing floral designs on a large scale. Increasing our services as the client purchases more is certainly understandable.

4th – Let’s not bury the cost of a sample in our flower invoices. We need to promote transparency and education to our consumers.

Photo by Chris of Healthfully Ever After


  • Arlene Says: (11.27.2017 | 08:26)

    Thank you, Holly. I believe this document empowers us as floral designers (and owners) to believe in our product and to charge our worth instead of sidestepping so many of the slippery slopes, which are vague assumptions and/or guilt from charging fair prices. On the samples, it is rare that I have prepared one, but as you noted, occasionally the elements make one nervous about the final product, and at that point, if it is a large wedding, I am more comfortable making one up and sharing it with my customer. I guess I should have charged them, but, honestly, it gave me peace of mind also, and I repurposed it and used it someway in my daily or weekly deliveries.

    • chappleadmin Says: (11.27.2017 | 08:33)


      If you made the sample because you needed to ensure quality of the design and not because it was a request of the client or a planner, I believe that is totally acceptable and sometimes necessary. In addition you repurposed the design and made use of the stems you purchased. Totally brilliant!!

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