A Major Eye Opener

I am a huge fan of San Francisco based floral designer Nancy Liu Chin’s blog because it is a completely honest, transparent look into the realities of professional floral design.  She kicks the covers off of the wedding floral profession, tackling every topic from why flowers are so marked up to the ethics of portfolio photos, all the while sharing beautiful, inspiring images from her own events.

She posted an excellent series of two posts called “The Real Cost,” where she did the cold, hard math on the costs of rentals and florals used to create two inspiration tablescapes for wedding magazines.  The full posts (here and here) are more than worth a read.

For this beautiful table, costs totaled $587 per table of 6 BEFORE tax or delivery.  And I believe that some of her estimates are on the low side- she has Chivari chairs at $8.50 each for example and I’ve more often seem them just over $10 each to rent in my own research.  For a wedding of 150, you’re looking at $14,675 for reception tables alone (and surely there would be some other decor involved in the wedding, like the ceremony site decor, perhaps lighting, etc)!  I think this image is gorgeous and I wouldn’t ever associate it with a modestly budgeted wedding – it’s clearly professionally designed to the tee and involves specialty rentals- but it doesn’t have that over the top “Platinum Weddings” look and I would have NEVER in a million years thought without seeing the breakdown right in front of me that it clocked in at well over $500 per small table!

Wedding Table Linen Rentals Prices Chivari Chairs

Image of Nancy Liu Chin's florals by Kevin Chin

Her second post on the topic is even more astonishing to me because though designed impeccably the effect is more casual, and the price is almost double. This beautiful modern oasis type style table for 8 that she designed for Bride & Bloom magazine tallies in at $926.85!  For an event of 150, that would total $17,610 before tax and delivery for the tables and table decor alone.
Nancy Liu Chin Tablescape

Photo of design by Nancy Liu Chin by Kevin Chin

I guess the moral of the story is that in the same way as magazine images of pin thin models give us all complexes and unrealistic standards about our bodies, magazine images of decor can set us up for disappointment if we expect to be able to replicate them on real world budgets.  I think it’s so important to understand them as fantasy and inspiration – wish fulfillment, just like the magazine ads- so we can preserve our own sanity!
Having them demystified is a great comfort  and I thank Nancy for bringing it!  You can say “no wonder my wedding looks nothing like that, who has more than 10,000 to spend on table decor alone,?!”  just like seeing before and after retouching photos of models lets us realize that we could look like that too if we had a full time glam squad and photoshop wizardry for every photo!
It really makes you appreciate it when you’ve found a venue whose tables, chairs, linens and china you actually like and are proud to use as well.
October 6, 2010 - 8:05 am

Jim - Great post! I can’t tell how many times brides come into the shop with an unrealistic expectation on the cost of the florals they want vs. their actual budget. Our number one job besides provided a quality product is managing expectations. Our shop has an excellent reputation as one of the best floral companies in San Diego, but it also has the reputation of being expensive. Unfairly, I think. I wrote about on our blog a couple of years ago, while it doesn’t go into the details about our pricing, it does talk about our approach. You can read it here: http://houseoflove.chebellafiori.com/2008/02/23/is-che-bella-expensive/

One question I had while reading the Nancy’s blog is the cost her cost or retail to the client?

October 6, 2010 - 10:08 am

admin - Yeah, I’m pretty sure those are meant to be retail prices to the consumer- either way, it’s astounding how it all adds up!

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