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Tipsheet: Picking a Florist

Book a floral designer six months before the wedding. Call any florists you might be interested in and find out a little about their style and how they work (this varies). Meet a few that you like, preferably at your venue, and ask to see their books and references.

Describe a mood and the florist should be able to guess what you want. "If someone says, 'A garden in Provence,' I think, Blue-painted pots with orange wild flowers," says designer Karen Bussen. Be sure you'll feel comfortable making requests.

Get proposals from three designers. These should include style concepts for the spaces (church, cocktail area, tables, and so on) and bouquets, with estimates for each. They should also specify the delivery and setup fees, and a list of exactly what you'll get-some just do flowers; others handle all aesthetics down to the party favors. Find out what props or linens the florist provides, in order to avoid duplication with the caterer.

Set up a meeting with the florist you like best to discuss any changes and draft up a contract. Visit the flower market to talk about what you like. "One bride said, 'I want deep, dark passionate flowers,' " Bussen remembers. "And the first thing she goes for is pastel pink."

Restrain yourself. You don't need oodles of flowers in a synagogue or church-these look grand enough. Getting hitched in a park? Just mark your sacred space with a few vases of blooms that you can transport to the tent for dinner.

From the 2003 New York Wedding Guide

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