With only two more weddings in this year’s calendar I thought it would be a good time to look back and see if my commitment to doing fewer weddings has paid off.
Last year we did the flowers for one hundred and twenty weddings!
Can you believe that? I can’t. That’s over two weddings a week, often two on the same day and another mid-week.
In our first year of opening, I said a big fat ‘Yes” to every wedding I was asked to do. We were new and I was desperate to make a success of the shop, so John and I spent every weekend flying around the whole Sussex and occasionally venturing into Surrey or Hampshire. Not only did it mean setting up the church or venue on the morning of the wedding, sometimes the day before, but it often meant returning to the venue on Sunday morning to take everything down and this was every week, week in, week out.
As each year passed, I found us doing more and more weddings, until last year when I decided this was far too many and pledged to cut this by seventy percent at least.
I love a wedding and love doing wedding flowers, but not only was the number of weddings threatening my sanity, by having no time off at all but it threatened the very reason why I set up the Flower Shop in the first place.
The biggest reason for setting up a florist in the small village of Pulborough, was the community; being part of that community and even being the centre of the community has always been important to me. But for half of the week we were up to our eyes in wedding flowers. Literally, up to our eyes. There were days when there was so much flower, that anyone coming through the door couldn’t tell if there was a florist available (unless it was Annemarie, who is the only one of us over 5’5) and even if they managed to spot one of us beneath a heap of eucalyptus, most of the flower was not for sale. I had no time to chat and I simply wasn’t in the shop on a Friday or Saturday.
At the end of last year I decided that from then on, I would only do weddings at three local venues; Amberley Castle, Two Woods and Fitzleroi Barn and we would only work with local brides or brides we knew would absolutely love the work we do. There’s a saying that people do business with people they like and that works both ways. We occasionally do weddings at other venues but this year we have only done wedding flowers for thirty six weddings.
Just thirty six.
You may now be wondering how much money we have lost, by turning down so many weddings. Well, believe it or not, it has not affected our bottom line at all!
How can this be?
If you take the cost of flower, the staffing cost, the time, the travel cost and the dreaded VAT, then quite often we barely break-even. And while we were busy creating the most beautiful array of wedding flowers and frantically running around, we were losing our regular and most important customers; villagers who wanted a bouquet to cheer themselves or a loved one, local people who would pop in for a chat or a laugh and leave with more than a smile.
Despite doing so few weddings this year, our little business has grown and I have been able to spend more time in the shop, with the people I love.
Cover image by Justine Clare Photography