Q - Can you offer tips on finding a florist and working with them to choose the right flowers for my wedding?

A - Choosing your flowers is one of the most exciting parts of wedding planning but before you make any decisions, there are a few points you'll want to consider.

1. Find the right florist - Check out the listings of great florists in your area. If you find one you haven't heard of, be sure to check them out with the Better Business Bureau to see if anyone has had problems with them in the past. Talk to friends and relatives who recently got married, they may have a florist they can recommend. When you finally venture out and start the meet and greets with the florists you've selected, think of the type of person you work well with, the design style you want them to have, and be sure to see a portfolio of their previous work before you commit.

2. Determine your budget - Figure out what you need from the bouquets and boutonnieres to the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception décor and decide on a budget. At the start of your first meeting ask straight out: What great things can you do with $_insert your budget here_?

3. Establish a vision - Are you a true minimalist looking for simplicity or are you dreaming of a romantic wedding with full blooms covering every last square inch? Create a folder of magazine tear-outs to help give your florist a clear idea of your style and the vision you want to capture on your wedding day.

4. Consider your reception site - Are you having an outdoor garden reception and therefore will only need minimal floral accents, or is your reception being held in a large empty space that will need lots of décor? Bring along a photo (a press kit or picture you took at your site visit) in case your florist has never worked a wedding at your venue before.

5. Create a color concept - There's really no point in visiting a florist without knowing the colours you want to incorporate in your décor and if your wedding party will be wearing these colours as well. You can't pick your flowers if you don't know what colours will work.

6. It's all about the dress - Florists base many decisions on the bride's gown. Whether it's white or cream, classic or contemporary, etc. Most florists think of the wedding dress as the centerpiece of the day so make sure you bring a picture of your gown with you.

7. What's your wedding style - Are you looking to carry a very dramatic, long bunch of flowers or a tight, neat bouquet? Style will not only determine which flowers will work best for your wedding but will also affect the price.

8. Size matters - What's your head count? That number will determine how many tables and, consequently, how many centerpieces you'll need. How many attendants will you have to get flowers for - bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls, ring bearer, your parents? This will also dramatically impact the price.

9. Get it in writing - Make sure your florist drafts a contract, specifically stating the flowers you're going to have, the arrangements you need, the price, and what time you can expect them to arrive on your wedding day. Don't hesitate to include the things you absolutely don't want as well.

10. Ready to get started? We're so fortunate to have some great florists in the Ottawa area! Here are a few you should check out... Flowers Talk, Mood Moss Flowers and Bel Fiore.

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