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As the coordinator of the flower track for the Great Plains Growers Conference, I wanted to present something new and unusual for the many experienced flower growers who attend. I was thrilled when Erin Benzakein, GFM’s flower columnist this past year, agreed to be our main speaker.
Erin is a certified organic flower grower in Mt. Vernon, Washington. She sells to florists, wholesalers, supermarkets, by subscription. And she does weddings, lots of weddings, including some very high-dollar weddings. Erin has written about her wedding business in GFM recently, and her presentation at the conference emphasized what she has been saying in print — that there’s good money to be made in the wedding business.
Erin advised growers to meet prospective brides in a neutral place (she uses a Starbucks), rather than at the farm so the preliminary meeting doesn’t drag on too long. It’s important to set competitive prices and present the bride with a price list, to avoid any expectation that your flowers will be cheap just because you grew them. Be clear about what services you can offer, too. Erin presents three options:
Bulb blooms, with a $250 minimum, delivered to the bride on Thursday for her to make into arrangements, bouquets, etc.
A la carte, in which brides have Erin make the more difficult “wear and carry” items such as bouquets and corsages. This is often combined with bulk blooms.
Full-service weddings, with a minimum of $1,500, which includes all design work and setup.
Erin keeps up with wedding trends and emulates the most popular styles she sees from top designers in New York and San Francisco. She recommends three sites for inspiration: stylemepretty.com; thebridscafe.com; and snippetandink.com.
As her finale, Erin led a group bridal bouquet making session. Floral wholesale company Baisch and Skinner had donated eight buckets of flowers, including some nice garden roses, and I purchased several more buckets of blooms to ensure enough loveliness to go around. About 35 people tried their hands at making bouquets and boutonnieres. It was a fun afternoon, and definitely a departure from the normal conference workshop. Thanks, Erin!
Photos below show the workshop participants creating bridal bouquets. At right, Gretel Adams with the finished product.