Say "I Do" to Weddings
by Monica Humbard
Supermarket departments find nuptial florals can be a profitable
One of the most underestimated services at some of today’s
supermarkets is wedding floral. However, more and more bridal
couples are discovering that their local supermarket florists
can accommodate their needs. As a result, these satisfied
customers are sharing their experiences with others.
Super Floral Retailing talked to several floral managers to
discover how they’ve found success in the wedding business.
Whether you already offer wedding services or are considering
adding them, you can learn from the wisdom these floral experts
have shared on staffing, equipment, pricing and getting the word
Joyce Good, an FTD master florist and the wedding consultant at
Kroger Store 430 in Memphis, Tenn., says 70 percent of her
wedding business is from word of mouth. She estimates that her
store, which is the design center for her division, does about
15 to 20 full-scale delivery weddings a year that average $2,000
each. Another 40 to 50 each year are smaller weddings where
items such as bouquets and boutonnieres are picked up at the
store. Although weddings are less than 5 percent of her
department’s business, she finds
them to be a profitable
Diana Smith, an FTD master designer and the lead floral manager
at Kroger Store 616 in Little Rock, Ark.—another store in Ms.
Good’s division—does about 12 weddings a year that average $300
each. Her floral department doesn’t usually deliver or set up
because its staff isn’t large enough. In fact, Ms. Smith is the
only designer on staff. Although wedding floral can be time
consuming for her, she, too, considers it profitable.
Joyce Maffeo, floral training specialist for Victory/Hannaford
Bros. Co., says 12 of the 20 original Victory stores handle
wedding work. (Victory, based in Leominster, Mass., was
purchased by Hannaford Bros. Co., a subsidiary of Delhaize
America, at the end of last year and is now part of a 142-store
chain.) The busiest Victory location does about 145 weddings a
year. The average cost of the weddings Ms. Maffeo oversees is
$600 to $800. However, the chain has done weddings that cost
more than $3,000, with some wedding bouquets costing as much as
$300. Ms. Maffeo says weddings are definitely profitable for the
chain. At one store, which sometimes handles 12 weddings in one
weekend, 15 percent of sales for the department comes from
TRAINING YOUR STAFF
The largest Victory/Hannaford Bros. store has five designers on
staff, but no one specializes in weddings. In fact, no new
staffers start out doing wedding work. New designers work on
everyday floral orders first and are gradually trained to do
wedding work. At first, new designers shadow experienced
designers working on bouquets. Next, they work solo on
bridesmaid bouquets. Later, they move up to bridal bouquets.
Eventually, they start handling consultations. Ms. Maffeo says
the stores need several designers trained to do consultations
because they have many appointments following bridal expos.
Not all Kroger stores handle weddings. Ms. Good’s division (the
region including Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky)
has 120 flower shops with 20 master florists on staff. At each
flower shop, the number of designers varies. Ms. Good’s floral
department in Memphis has four full-time designers, and her
store does the largest amount of wedding business in her
division. But like the Victory/Hannaford Bros. stores, no one is
assigned to do just weddings. Ms. Good, however, does handle all
the consultations at her store and personally creates each
Because Ms. Good’s store has a larger floral staff than others
in her division, her staff sometimes helps out smaller
departments at other stores, such as Ms. Smith’s and another in
Jackson, Tenn., when they have large weddings.
THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT
Ms. Good’s store in Memphis has owned its equipment, such as
candelabra, since it started doing weddings. Over time, it has
added to the selection. Ms. Good stresses that she does not rent
individual pieces out. The store uses the equipment only if it
handles the entire wedding.
Not all Kroger stores have their own wedding equipment, so
sometimes, when it is not in use, Ms. Good loans hers to other
floral departments in her division. She considers having the
equipment a good investment for her store, because it does not
have to rent items. Ms. Good estimates the value of the
equipment available to stores in her division at about $10,000.
Victory/Hannaford Bros., on the other hand, does not own its own
equipment. Instead, it rents from The Boston Flower Exchange.
Ms. Maffeo considers this more cost effective for her company
because it has access to a large variety of equipment without
having to use its own financial resources to purchase it all.
Brides at Ms. Maffeo’s stores can choose the equipment they want
from the photo albums of previously done weddings, which are
available at each store.
When meeting with bridal couples for the first time, both Ms.
Maffeo and Ms. Good utilize their stores’ cafes or restaurants.
However, Ms. Good also will go to her clients’ offices upon
To help brides make floral decisions, both stores offer wedding
design books from The John Henry Company. Ms. Maffeo also has
Teleflora books as well as her own albums of photos from
previous weddings. She has different ones for bouquets,
centerpieces and boutonnieres. She believes the photo albums are
especially useful. “They give them [brides] a higher comfort
level with our ability,” she says.
Each store in the Victory/Hannaford Bros. chain creates its own
photo albums from past weddings, but Ms. Maffeo says the chain
has discussed making them more uniform from store to store.
After each consultation, Ms. Good checks costs, figures the
amount of the order and faxes the quote to the bride. Ms. Maffeo,
on the other hand, gives brides cost estimates before they leave
the consultations based on a formula she designed that allows
her to determine costs quickly. For example, with bouquets, she
starts with a base price. Each bouquet holder is priced with
greens and ribbon. All flowers are categorized into a price
structure. All her costs, including labor, are added into the
cost of each flower. For example, to add a single sunflower is
Ms. Maffeo and her associates do a lot of mock hand-tied
bouquets. The most popular is an 18-stem rose bouquet with a
base price of $125. If the bride wants to include other flowers,
Ms. Maffeo adds on the price of each based on her chart. If the
bride wants a mixed bouquet, Ms. Maffeo figures the cost for
each flower. “This unifies the pricing and allows consultants to
give pricing on the spot,” she says.
Ms. Maffeo does not give out the pricing structure to her
clients because she is afraid someone might take it to a
competitor who would try to undercut her prices.
GET IT IN WRITING
Pulling off a dream wedding means having everything worked out
down to the finest detail—whether it is the date that the final
payment is due or the time that the flowers must arrive at the
wedding site. Because there are so many issues to cover in a
consultation, Ms. Maffeo asks wedding clients to sign a
contract. Last year, she worked with Diane Trainor, the chain’s
bakery training specialist, to develop a wedding contract so
that the correct procedures would be clear to customers, whether
or not everything was discussed in the consultation.
The contract defines when deposits and final payments are due.
Ms. Maffeo stresses the importance of collecting the final
payment at least two weeks before the wedding date. If it is
collected the week of the wedding, she says, you run the risk of
having a check bounce after the wedding. The contract also
explains that the bridal couple does not receive a refund if the
wedding is canceled three days or fewer before the wedding.
Ms. Maffeo stresses the importance of making everything clear.
The chain even has a delivery contract to clarify the exact
times items are delivered to the home, church or reception
location. She says this is especially important when a store has
12 weddings in one weekend, and each may have several different
delivery times. Victory/Hannaford Bros. will deliver wherever
necessary. Ms. Maffeo says stores have delivered flowers two
GO TO BRIDAL FAIRS
Because many bridal couples still don’t realize that supermarket
florists can handle weddings, it is important to promote
yourself. One of the ways Victory/Hannaford Bros. stores get the
word out about their wedding capabilities is by participating in
bridal fairs/expos. Last year, the chain won “Best of Show” at
the Original Wedding Expo in Shrewsbury, Mass.
At large shows, such as the Original Wedding Expo,
Victory/Hannaford Bros. presents an enormous booth with 50 to 60
bouquet samples. The chain also supplies bouquets for the bridal
fashion show. At smaller fairs, the chain is sometimes the
exclusive bouquet designer for the fashion show.
Ms. Maffeo, who always attends, takes her top designers along
with a few of the newer ones who need experience. “On the show
day, I want the best people there,” she says.
She admits that clients tend to gravitate to the stores with
larger floral departments because most of the designers at the
shows are from those stores. The brides build a rapport with
them and will drive long distances to work with a particular
person. All the original Victory stores are within 100 miles of
each other. (Hannaford Bros. floral departments did not handle
wedding business when it purchased the Victory stores.)
GETTING THE WORD OUT
Another way Victory/Hannaford Bros. stores reach potential
clients is through a full-page advertisement in the bridal
magazine published by the Original Wedding Expo. The chain also
has wedding images on the sides of its floral vans.
In addition, Victory/Hannaford Bros. publishes a brochure that
covers both wedding floral and cakes. The floral and bakery
departments promote their wedding business together, which Ms.
Maffeo says helps increase business.
The wedding brochure covers packages for every season. To give
potential customers an idea of the cost, Victory/Hannaford Bros.
gives a set price for flowers, a cake and centerpieces for a
certain size wedding. Ms. Maffeo says this at least gives
customers a good “starting point.”
Ms. Good admits that advertising isn’t a priority for her
because word of mouth brings in so much business. However,
Kroger’s advertising department handles all formal promotion of
the wedding business. Ms. Good says her department also passes
out FTD pamphlets to potential clients and cross-merchandises
with the store’s catering department (not part of the deli),
which does party trays and cakes. The two departments do not
offer packages, however.
Although these florists acknowledge that pulling off customers’
dream weddings is not an easy task, they say wedding business
has great profit potential for supermarket floral departments if
they handle it professionally and meet customers’ expectations.
TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS
Here are some ways supermarket florists ensure they best serve
their wedding clientele.
• Clearly outline procedures, requirements and delivery times in
• Meet with bridal couples at their workplaces if it is more
• Define pricing formulas that allow consultants to give couples
cost estimates before they leave their consultations.
• Determine what the bridal couples want by using some type of
sample books or albums.
• Showcase your designers’ talents in photo albums of previous
• Participate in bridal fairs/ expos to ensure bridal couples
are aware of your services.
• Gradually train new designers to handle wedding work. Start
them by shadowing experienced designers and working up to
You can reach Monica Humbard at
or by phone at (800) 355-8086.
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