#007 How to find an amazing wedding florist, with Christina Droumtsekas of Pink Poppi

In this episode of the Wedding Insider Podcast, I speak with Christina Droumtsekas of Pink Poppi. She’s an amazing florist who takes her design knowledge and uses flowers as her medium. Her arangements are amazing and she shared some super helpful tips.

In this interview, Christina answers these questions and more:

  • Where should you start when looking for a florist for your wedding?
  • What’s the key word that shows you that a florist will be able to understand and provide extra value for your wedding?
  • What do you need to bring to a florist to get the flower process started?

Audio only:


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In this episode, we mentioned:
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Transcript

Justin Jacques: All right, hey there, everyone. It’s Justin here from the Wedding Insider Podcast. Today I have Christina Droumstsekas. Is that right, Christina?

Christina Droumtsekas: Yes, it is.

Justin Jacques: Of Pink Poppi, and she’s going to share with us a whole bunch of information and knowledge that she has about wedding flowers. I personally know nothing about this, so I’m excited to learn. So I’m excited to have you on, thank you so much, Christina, and the first thing we’re going to start off is can you just kind of let me know and let everyone else know how long you’ve been in the wedding industry and how you kind of got into making flowers for people, or I guess you don’t make the flowers, you arrange the flowers, right?

Christina Droumtsekas: Yeah. Well, when I started, this is going into Year 4, and I started working with the flower shop after planning my own wedding and dealing with various vendors and stuff. So I found that there was a lack in doing it. I’m a graphic artist by trade.

Justin Jacques: Oh cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: So yeah, getting into the flowers was just like another extension of being creative. I look at flowers as if they’re colors, the shapes, the textures, and so not necessarily what flower, it’s not like I’m crazy about X amount of flowers or roses or peonies. I love all flowers because each flower has its own unique coloring and shape and texture.

So when I started the business, it was four years ago, I had worked with my designer who’s working with me now. He had designed my centerpieces and stuff, and we worked well together, and it’s something I really enjoyed doing, and a few years later, I decided that there was definitely a niche for it in our area which is Kitchener-Waterloo, and I just decided to start up a shop and then become a florist, and we do everyday flowers as well, but primarily focusing on weddings and events.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Christina Droumtsekas: And I haven’t looked back since. I love it.

Justin Jacques: Cool, yeah. That’s really awesome. I’ve been doing this for about four years now too, so we started around the same time.

Christina Droumtsekas: This is the fourth year.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: So I’m flying.

Justin Jacques: So to kind of get into it, what can couples do to find, like obviously you had problems. Maybe you did end up finding a good vendor, but obviously you were looking for a flower vendor, and obviously you noticed that there was some lacking, like how can brides and grooms find good florist for their wedding. Where would you suggest they look?

Christina Droumtsekas: I think when you’re looking online and you’re getting ideas and you meet with the people, the one piece of advice I give to all my couples is book vendors that you like and you have a connection with, because these are the vendors that are going to work for you and not against you. I find that in this industry, some people out there, it’s not important. It’s not that it’s not important to them, but they don’t put their heart and soul into it, and I find the people have a connection.

Weddings are very stressful and especially as you’re getting closer to the day you find that the stresses are running higher. They bring out the best and the worst in people, and if you’re relying on a vendor that you didn’t have a nice connection with, you’re going to find that you’re fighting against that.

So that’s the only piece of recommendation, not necessarily just for a florist, but for everybody. If you sit down and you meet this person and you feel like you’ve got a great connection with them, you should go with them because you know they’re going to work their hardest for you, and so when I tell my couples when I meet them, I would say, “If you feel great, I’m going to put a 120% into my work for you.”

Justin Jacques: Cool, yeah.

Christina Droumtsekas: So finding the vendors and meeting them and having that connection.

Justin Jacques: I totally agree. I think it’s something that’s really important for such a stressful and important and day that you’re spending a lot of time and money organizing and planning, like work with people that you like and that you get along with.

Christina Droumtsekas: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: It’s like the top advice. I’ve had other people say that too, and I totally agree. It think it’s really important. Is there anything? Like where do the bride and groom even start their search to get to those interviews with people, with florist that they might work with?

Christina Droumtsekas: Well, a great place to start too is, I mean, brides and groom, like couples will always book their venues first because they want to make sure that they get the gig that they’re looking for, and a lot of the venues that you work with have a select vendor list, and there’s a reason for it. The venues have been in business for an X amount of years and they work well with these vendors that they’re recommending, and they have a chance to see their work time and time again and different. So if a venue recommends somebody, it’s fantastic. That’s a great place to start, and then usually people know somebody or they have happen to know them when they were at that wedding.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Christina Droumtsekas: So always go by a recommendation, I find, versus just cold calling sometimes, because then at least you know that person has a firsthand experience, and whether you were at a friend’s wedding and you saw the flowers there and you absolutely loved them, then you contact them because you’ve seen their work firsthand.

A lot of times, you go and meet somebody, and it’s hard to say, but some people will take work from the internet and claim it as their own and say, “Well, this is what I’ve done.”

But when it comes time to your wedding, you’re like, “Well, it’s not what you showed me.”

So getting a recommendation or a referral from venues, friends and other vendors I think is really important and a great start for a couple.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s pretty sketchy 00:05:30. Oh, not good enough?

Christina Droumtsekas: Sketchy. Yeah, I mean, it’s great that when you work with a venue, that you go in there and those people that work at this venue have seen your work, and they can attest to it firsthand and could say, “Yes, we’ve never had a complaint about this vendor or anything.”

Justin Jacques: Yes, for sure.

Christina Droumtsekas: And so I think that’s really a great starting point for our couple.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, definitely, cool. So also, the other thing I really honestly know nothing about is how much it cost to have flowers at your wedding. Like I know there’s probably such a giant range that that’s such a difficult question to answer, but like if somebody is just starting out and trying to create a budget and trying to start out with how much they should spend, like what’s a good starting range at least for what a wedding would be?

Christina Droumtsekas: Well, if you’re looking at, like there are tons of blogs out there and advice columns that say how to budget for flowers, and they usually 10% of your budget is a great start.

Justin Jacques: Okay.

Christina Droumtsekas: So if you’re planning up to $60,000 wedding, then $3,000 tends to be a nice starting point for a budget. Flowers are many, so I mean, we have your everyday flowers like your carnations, which are beautiful flowers, but they are less expensive flower versus going into a unique orchid or a calla lily that are like three times the amount.

So I think realistically when people walk in, they need to set their expectations realistically. You can’t walk in there and show a picture off a Pinterest that’s a whole bouquet and then tell your florist that, “I want this. I want all the flowers in it,” and say, “Well, I’m only willing to pay $20.”

When you go to a grocery store and you see those little bouquets at $20, well, that’s what you’re getting at a grocery store. At a florist that’s bringing in a higher quality of flowers, they are going to be a bit more pricey than that.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Christina Droumtsekas: So we kind of put the perspective that way.

Justin Jacques: Cool. When somebody comes in and they say they have a budget, do you try to pick, like if somebody is less expensive or like how does that work? Like how does the process work of you trying to work within somebody’s budget? I guess that’s what I’m trying to get out of my mouth.

Christina Droumtsekas: It’s not the first question out of my mouth with the couple. I find that I really want to get to know what they’re looking for in their vision.

Justin Jacques: Okay.

Christina Droumtsekas: And so I’ll spend my time, and that’s the very end of my consultation with somebody is then I’ll say, “Well, what’s your budget?” Then how I approach it when I give them their quote is that I let them know that I am going to quote them for everything that we’ve talked about because with budgets sometimes, again, you don’t know. You don’t know if your budget is realistic or if it’s over budget or whatnot.

With me, because I offer some rentals with candles and such things, there are different things that we incorporate with the quote. So I let them all know that I will do my best to keep within their budget, but I’m going to show them exactly what they wanted and we go back and then we can make adjustments. So we can say yes, the centerpiece, that was this big, and now it will go down to something a bit smaller and that price fits within their budget.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: But sometimes, perhaps, if they don’t know, that will be like, “Now, if that’s what you’d asked for, then we’ll see if we can make it work.” And so that’s kind of how I am approaching to my couples.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that sounds great.

Christina Droumtsekas: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: Because like that’s exactly I kind of came in. I had no idea where or what would even be reasonable to plan.

Christina Droumtsekas: Yeah, it’s sticky. It’s an educational process and stuff.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Christina Droumtsekas: Because you’re right, you don’t go out and buy flowers on a daily basis, and when you’re looking at flowers en masse, you’re ordering 25 centerpieces for some of these weddings, you really don’t have a guideline to where you’re going to start. So that’s where pictures are great like a portfolio, so you want a vendor that’s able to show you their own work, not pictures off the internet and say, “Yes, we can do that.” Because then in their portfolio, they’ll show you, “Yes, this is a $50 centerpiece. This is a $100 centerpiece.” It gives them a good frame of reference to have comparison like that.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: And most guys don’t, it’s the brides.

Justin Jacques: Well, yeah. I’m generally going to guess most guys are not the people that are picking out the flowers, but it’s definitely possible.

Christina Droumtsekas: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: And anyways, yeah, I mean, either way they are somewhat involved in all parts of the wedding planning, it seems like.

Christina Droumtsekas: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: So I looked up a few questions that kind of people were asking about wedding flowers, and one of the things that I had noticed was that somebody was asking about silk wedding flowers. Is that something that anyone does, or is that like…

Christina Droumtsekas: Speak now, which flowers?

Justin Jacques: Silk.

Christina Droumtsekas: Silk. Oh, well, I don’t offer it.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Christina Droumtsekas: So with me, I kind of have a little bit of a rule of thumb with my studio. I mean, I don’t spray paint my flowers. I don’t like coloring them. I don’t like working with dye. That it’s the way that the flowers are grown, that’s what I like working with.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: If somebody wants silk flowers, there is a lot of great florists out there that do like to work with them, and I may not be the right fit for them so I would suggest somebody else just because for me it’s fresh flowers, because that’s the way I like looking at things. There are silk flowers that are more expensive than a regular flower, than real flower.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, for sure. Okay, cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: So it does look crazy.

Justin Jacques: Yeah. What about 2014 flower trends, do you any of those? Do you try and stay out of it? I mean, I’m sure it’s impossible to stay totally outside of the trends, but like is there any trend that brides should be aware of otherwise? Like what do you suggest?

Christina Droumtsekas: Well, you know what, everyone is unique. So people when they’re planning their day they want a unique day so I find most of the brides that come to me don’t look at the trends. They’ll say like they’ll ask you that. They’ll say, “Oh, I want a great Gatsby thing, but I don’t want it to be that. I want to make it unique to us.”

I’ve had couples that it’s personal. It’s a personalized thing. Like I had a couple who’s groom with a Hunter and so we wanted to incorporate feathers from the birds that he hunted. So that was one of the themes for it. I mean, we can go by Pantone Color of the Year which is radiant orchid, and people love this sort of color more so than a style.

So I think the styles and things on what weddings are, they are really personal to the couple on what reflect them. If the couples are all about travels and they want to incorporate travel into their weddings, so there’s not necessarily a trend with that, it’s just more being more natural.

The more true to who you are in representing your couple versus if I want to make a big circus theme and that kind of a dated theme for them, but if it’s unique, and I’ve had people incorporate scrabble because they like to sit at home and play scrabble. So it’s making it more personal versus following the trend.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, yeah. I think that is huge. I think it’s just because of the internet and you just have so many options, but I mean, every wedding I go to, it’s just seems to be very personalized, at least the ones that I work.
Christina Droumtsekas: Yes.

Justin Jacques: I know that I kind of have a bit of a different clientele myself that isn’t just looking for the standard thing, but there’s always some sort of personalization, so I think that’s cool. That’s a good answer, yeah.

Christina Droumtsekas: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: This is a quick note, I also saw some brides complaining about their bouquets getting mold on them after they’re trying to preserve them. Do you have any suggestions on how if they want to keep their bouquet like what brides can do?

Christina Droumtsekas: No. I’ve never tried preserving a bouquet personally. With flowers, they have a life span. Some flowers do attract more mold than another one.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Christina Droumtsekas: I mean, there’s an old trick where people say spray your flowers with hair spray and put them in a dark closet, hang them upside down. Well, that works for roses, but I’ve never tried it with anything else. So for me, I don’t know. I wouldn’t even know what to suggest on that one.

Justin Jacques: Okay.

Christina Droumtsekas: Just because flowers wilt.

Justin Jacques: No, I think that an honest answer is a good answer.

Christina Droumtsekas: I mean..

Justin Jacques: I think it’s actually…

Christina Droumtsekas: Preserving it, unless you’re dry freezing it or spending a large amount of money on something, a flower is not going to look fantastic when it’s dried.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Christina Droumtsekas: Eventually, it’s going to turn brown. You’re going to lose all that luster out of it, and my suggestion is always make sure your photographer gets a fantastic photo of just your bouquet and that’s way of looking back at it and saying it’s beautiful.

Justin Jacques: Yeah. Now, that’s awesome. I like that answer for sure. Then, I mean, you’ve kind of answered this question, but what are some different like style options. So you’ve kind of have said like the trend is to be very personalized and that you and personalize everything for each couple. Is there some general trends, or not trends, sorry, is there some general styling that maybe that you don’t even do yourself, but that brides can even do we can talk a little bit in wedding?

Christina Droumtsekas: I mean, that kind of goes with the overall look. So if you’re booking a wedding planner as well, wedding planners kind of gets in stuff that is involved in that. With me, I’m more about like how can we make your table look beautiful, so it’s becoming a beautiful tablescape.

One other thing that I like to do is any extra flowers that I have when I bring it in for a wedding and I haven’t used them for their centerpieces, they come on sight with me if I find it. Especially if it’s orchids or whatnot, I’ll place them on the head table in individual plate settings and it just gives it that little bit of extra or we put rose petals somewhere, or we put extra blues around the centerpiece, and that just adds more to what they’re looking for. It may not even be in their budget, but because we have the extra flowers, we use it.

I’ve had couples that personalized, they bring in their own menus and I may use a flower to tie around it or some kind of green grass and we tie that around. So there are things that you can incorporate like a natural element to elements that the bride and groom bring in themselves.

Justin Jacques: Cool. Sorry, I wasn’t…

Christina Droumtsekas: That’s okay.

Justin Jacques: I wasn’t ready for the next questionnaire.

Christina Droumtsekas: Oh.

Justin Jacques: I’m still getting used to this small interviewing thing. Okay, so you had mentioned that you also do some at least candle rentals.

Christina Droumtsekas: [Agrees]

Justin Jacques: Are there any other services that you offer, and are there any other services that if people are watching this in their Kitchener-Waterloo or the GTA area that they can be asking that other florist typically kind of offer as well outside of just doing the centerpieces and other flowers for their wedding?

Christina Droumtsekas: Well, of course, I mean, so there’s kind of school of thought with florists. You have your regular florists that has their everyday flower shop and you have an event florists.

So if you tend to go to like an everyday flower shop and you’re asking them to do your wedding bouquet, your centerpieces, the likelihood of them doing that little bit of extra for the set up or offering the candle rentals are really slim versus if you go to somebody who calls themselves an event florist, they double as a decorator/florist. They may not do your piping and draping, but they will rent pedestals. They can bring in linens for you. They can bring in the chargers, and all that extra details, so they become that one-stop shop.

Two of the venues that I work with on site, the Hacienda Sarria and Langdon Hall, they’re both beautiful venues that you don’t need a lot of décor, like you walk into a space and the first thing you do, people’s eyes pop out, “Wow, it looks like a castle, or it’s an 00:17:44 olden regent inn.” And then at that point, you want to know that if you want rent linens that the venue themselves don’t offer it, that whoever you’re working with, it kind of eliminates the steps.

Like for us, we do weddings up north. We did a wedding a couple of weeks ago in King City, and I helped the bride pick her linens and her chairs and everything like that, and did the centerpieces. We rented candelabras, like I have them and I offered them. So there’s a lot that florists will do, and a lot of them will travel, so even necessarily you have a wedding in Muskoka, don’t be afraid to get a florist that’s out of Niagara on the Lake or out of Kitchener-Waterloo, they will travel.

Justin Jacques: Okay, cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: Because it’s just something that they do.

Justin Jacques: For those of you that are watching in Ontario, that would be about, I don’t know, 300 kilometers away.

Christina Droumtsekas: Yeah. I mean, King City was what? That was a two-hour drive for me from where I am.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Christina Droumtsekas: We took it, we loaded it up, and we did the whole wedding.

Justin Jacques: Cool, awesome. Okay, so I think this has been super good. If I was planning a wedding, which I’m not quite yet, but I at least know where to start related to wedding flowers so this has been awesome. I have one last question that I’ve been asking everyone of my guest except for I forgot during my first interview, but that’s okay. So basically, can you share like three insider tips, so since you’ve been working in the wedding industry for four years, on how to make a couple’s wedding awesome, and it doesn’t necessarily at all need to be about flowers. They can all be about flowers. They can just be not about flowers. You can have a mix. Just like what can a couple do to make their wedding as good as it can be?

Christina Droumtsekas: Well, I’d say the first one is make sure it’s personal to both you and them, to either you and your fiancée or your, you know, so that you’d be true to yourselves.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: Book vendors that you like. I mean, that, I cannot stress that enough, that book them based on the referrals and how you feel when you’ve met them, and a third one with your flowers is be realistic when you meet with your vendors or your florist. Know that you have realistic expectations, and that they’re not going to let you down and you won’t be disappointed on the day of.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: I don’t know if there’s any other tips I could give. I mean, just go with your gut.

Justin Jacques: So I’m just noting these down so I have them for later. Okay, cool. Awesome, thank you so much. Are we going to do the rose shower now? I’m just kidding.

Christina Droumtsekas: The rose petals, it is with the dog. He is working on it now. 00:20:39

Justin Jacques: Okay. Yeah, we were just talking before that Christina was maybe going to have some rose petals falling in front of her, but it was kind of a…

Christina Droumtsekas: I can give you a scan of the cooler.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, let’s do it.

Christina Droumtsekas: You can see the flowers in the cooler.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, yeah. Let’s see.

Christina Droumtsekas: Let’s see it. I don’t know, do you have a good shot of that?

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s great.

Christina Droumtsekas: One without the glare.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: So that’s a full cooler.

Justin Jacques: Ready for the weekend?

Christina Droumtsekas: Ready for the weekend.

Justin Jacques: Cool. Okay, so yeah, just to wrap up, I guess. Is there anywhere or where can people go to find you if they want thank you for giving them this information or check you out and see if maybe you can do their flowers for their wedding?

Christina Droumtsekas: So my website is www.pinkpoppi.ca. They can find me on the website and I have a Facebook page. I’ve got a Twitter account, and I have Instagram.

Justin Jacques: Are those all Pink Poppi?

Christina Droumtsekas: Pink Poppi or Pink Poppi Designs.

Justin Jacques: Okay, cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: They are two that it would go under. So Twitter it’s @poppidesign. Instagram, I believe it’s under @pinkpoppi, and Twitter is the same thing.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: And then the Facebook, it’s just Pink Poppi.

Justin Jacques: Awesome.

Christina Droumtsekas: That’s how I can be found.

Justin Jacques: I’m going to put up just some show notes and the transcript and the video and everything at indieweddingdj.com/pinkpoppi, so if anyone wants to check those out, you can find them there. And Christina, thank you so much for sharing all of your knowledge. I really appreciate it.

Christina Droumtsekas: Thanks Justin, it’s been great.

Justin Jacques: Okay. Talk to you later.

Christina Droumtsekas: Okay, bye.

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