A Guide to Event Staffing for Florists

Bows + Arrows

When we first started Bows + Arrows Flowers, we took help wherever we could find it.  A willing attitude was our only requirement…we were pretty desperate for assistance! We even went as far as to have our parents come set up a wedding once or twice. No joke.

As sweet as that was, it’s definitely preferential to have a team with floral knowledge.

Beside one full-time florist who works with us on every job, we’ve realized over time that it’s best to hire staff on a freelance basis. Some of our freelance designers own their own businesses and simply help us out on the side. Others are are content to stick with freelance work alone. It’s a pretty beautiful mix of energy and artistry.

In addition to our team of floral designers, we hire muscle-men. That’s not to be sexist—of course they don’t have to be guys—they just usually are. We hire these strong folks so our designers can focus on the work of making things look great, rather than expending their energy on grunt work. We kind of can’t believe we didn’t think of it sooner. It really saves our designers

Designers do their best work when they are fresh—not fatigued.

To decide exactly how many designers we need for each event, we look at the bride’s floral budget.

We could break it down like this, based on our experiences:

  • For a $5,000 wedding we need about three people
  • For a $10,000 wedding we need about six people
  • For a $20,000 wedding we need twelve people or more

There will, of course, be exceptions to the rule. We’ll go into those in a minute. But we can assure you from our ten years of experience that the above budget-to-staff breakdown is pretty trusty.

As a sidenote, we know that some designers assume they should book their staff in proportion to the size of the wedding, but this isn’t a smart move in our opinion. Guest count doesn’t have anything to do with how many floral elements you’ll be working with—the amount of help should be based on the volume and intensity of the pieces you’re designing. Let the dollars paint the picture.

Because each wedding is different, we use the above guidelines to set us on the right track, but to make sure we’re hiring the exact right number of designers, we also make an event timeline and map out who will be working what job.

This means mapping out everything. For each task that needs to get done, ask yourself, “Who’s doing it?” Otherwise, you’ll be swamped with all the little things you didn’t consider beforehand, and you run the risk of overworking yourself and your staff. Here’s a list of things to consider:

  • Foraging
  • Vase prep
  • Floral conditioning
  • Delivery/drop-off/pick-up
  • Coffee and lunch runs (We’re serious!)
  • Building the installation mechanics
  • Hardware store runs/flower market runs
  • On-site set up for:
  •     Ceremony space
  •     Reception space
  •     Installations/other
  • Installation design
  • Centerpiece design and personal flowers
  • On-site foraging
  • Break-down/loading up to go home

The More The Merrier

We strongly recommend bringing on more than enough people (just a few more—nothing too over the top). If you’re stuck between knowing whether you need ten designers or twelve, shoot for twelve. Even if you come up a little short financially, it’s ok. It really is! Trust us, the extra help and accompanying peace of mind is worth it, and next time—you’ll have a better idea of how to staff for your needs.

There’s a learning curve to staffing, and the one thing you never want to do is come up short in terms of manpower. Being shorthanded is the worst. (Our beginning years were rife with sleep deprivation, working too much, and feeling like we were running in circles, due in large part to not staffing correctly.) Since you’re dealing with a perishable item in a time crunch, you need as many hands as you can have (at least on the day of).

Something else to consider is how being shorthanded might affect the designers who come along for the job. Being in a constant state of stress may do your freelancers in. If that’s the atmosphere you’re creating, they may not agree to come to the next one. Give everyone the support they need—having a good team with enough people is what everyone wants.

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