I think @Zaylee s metric for calculating what is a resonable quote is a pretty good starting place… I’m actually writing a blog entry for http://www.floretcadet.com right now on the issue of DIY wedding flowers vs hiring a florist and things people might not automatically factor into the decision. I’d suggest picking a look or an inspiration picture of a centerpiece comprised of no more than three different types of flowers (there are GORGEOUS centerpieces using just a single type of flower, very trendy right now luckily and makes the calculation so much easier) and trying to source the flowers and vases used to figure out how much it would be to DIY, then approaching several florists with the pic and seeing what they quote you.
Approaching with a very specific concept (25 sunflowers in each mason jar style vase or 25 roses on a small topiary ball anchored in a ceramic vase) vs asking florists for a proposal based on $50 a table will make this comparison much more apples to apples and more clearly show up price differences between different florists, since they’re quoting for the same thing. I think that if you’re on a budget and flowers are a priority for you, you need to do lots of research whether you’re hiring a florist or doing it yourself and decide first what you really want and then decide the best way to get it.
If you’re even considering DIY, subtract the DIY price from the florists price, and then try to wrap your head around what’s actually involved in DIY flowers -a large scale DIY floral operation (i.e. making 10+ centerpieces) will really take over your house for several days, require investing in supplies that you won’t really use again, and eat up hours and hours of time, even with a group working together on it. If you haven’t carefully planned out the quantity of flowers you need and done a trial run to arrange them and make sure you’re happy with the look, it can cause a lot of stress and disappointment as well. But you can definitely get a lot more for your money if it’s something you want to take on.
It’s really important for brides to understand that in addition to artistic eye and experience it is labor, and a lot of it, that you’re paying florists for. Even for seemingly simple garden style arrangements, you’re conditioning the flowers, cleaning and recutting each stem, and just putting together even the simplest loose vase arrangements takes a lot of time. It’s also messy! You’re either paying someone else by the hour to do it, or paying yourself to do it, but it’s intensive either way.
$50 a table is kind of a starting point for creative/upscale floral designer type of florists to be able & willing to work with, or a nice comfortable price point for more “standard issue” florists that they’re used to working within. Varies depending on where you are in the country too, of course. The big opulent tall centerpieces you see in the upscale wedding magazines are $200+, so work backwards from there to imagine what $50 usually gets you, comparitively. Still nice, but not showstopping normally unless you or your florist gets creative!
I think that $50 a table is a really solid workable budget- you could either make gorgeous abundant garden style centerpieces yourself with some careful planning and your sweat equity, get somewhat standard issue centerpieces from most florists, or a statement-making centerpiece from a talented florist who is willing to think out of the box and suggest alternatives that are either less labor intensive for them or involve fewer or less expensive flowers for you to buy.
And no i don’t think your bouquet needs to match your centerpieces. It would go totally un noticed on the day itself, where it might come into play is in photos, if you wanted those photos near each other in an album or if you care about all of the pictures looking totally coordinated.
Hope this helps! The issue is so on my mind right now!