Navigating through the wedding planning process can be confusing enough, let alone adding a global pandemic such as COVID-19 into the mix! Now that we’re many months into this global pandemic, and living a “new normal”, we’ve also seen the impact of COVID on the cost of wedding flowers. This isn’t something we could have predicted early on, and it has taken weeks for the industry and its stakeholders to discuss, process and understand what this means for us all involved in the wedding flower industry.
Imported flowers now cost more
The flower industry worldwide relies significantly on imported flowers, no matter where you’re located. There’s not enough local produce to supply entire wedding and event industries where flowers are the norm. Imported flowers are flown into a country, like Australia, via passenger planes as cargo. This was a great importation method for a few reasons: there were multiple flights scheduled in, international passenger flights generally run on time, and cargo was seen as a bonus to airlines which made rates more competitive.
When COVID-19 hit and Australia’s borders closed, all freight was cut off. Instead of passenger planes, freighter aircraft has increased as a means for imported goods. There is still a schedule, but it’s very limited and less frequent than previous passenger airline timings. Freight costs operate on a highest bidder basis on top of the already increased pricing. This is because of the limited space on each aircraft overloaded with other industry goods like medical equipment and big courier companies like DHL & Amazon who can cope with paying a higher shipping price. This pushes the flower industry to either pay the higher freight cost, or we wait until there’s enough space which lowers delivery chances to the consumer.
Australia’s wedding and events industry relies heavily on imported flowers - they’re available for the most part, all year round and we usually gain access to high quantities of premium, long lasting flowers that many clientele want. Colombian roses, orchids & tropical foliage from South East Asia to name just a few.
Locally grown flowers now cost more too
To rely solely on our local growers would be unsustainable for our industry as we become limited to the varieties of flowers made available to us. This impart, is due to the seasons and the Australian climate. Whilst we have an array of climates to grow flowers in, ranging from tropical Queensland and chilly Victoria, what we can grow and produce is limited by the seasons compared to say South America where it’s warm throughout most of the year, amongst other factors that make growing stronger, longer lasting roses year round a perfect environment.
At Lime Tree Bower, we frequently use a combination of imported flowers and locally grown produce, as it’s not enough to just rely on our local growers, from a quantity and aesthetic perspective. At the current moment where imported flowers are limited, our local growers are struggling to supply the demand of our entire industry. With demand rising for locally grown flowers due to the increase in price of imported flowers, and local supply being limited, the cost of local flowers has risen too, with many being double their usual wholesale cost.
What this means for florists
As with any other industry affected by COVID-19, all florists whether they’re events-only and/or retail-based will need to raise their prices to some extent, in order to sustain a financially viable business.
We’ve been advised by industry wholesalers and leaders that this rise in pricing will stay at a premium for at least the next 12 months (bringing us to mid-2021). Even though international travel will eventually open up (and it will likely be the last thing that opens up in terms of restrictions), it doesn’t mean prices will snap back overnight and we forecast that it will be a gradual process of prices returning to normal.
What this means for couples and weddings
When you’re looking at quotes for your wedding florals, you should expect to see some Covid-related price increase / surcharge, and understand that pricing across the board will have increased. If your florist hasn’t mention anything, we recommend asking them about this.
What you’re expecting a design to cost a year ago compared to today will be different. It’s a difficult time for many and we understand money isn’t magic, and there’s some compromise that might need to be considered if your spend can’t accommodate for the increase in pricing. However, this isn’t the end of the world - talk to your florist and be open to new ideas. With extensive knowledge and experience, we often consider and dream up different ways to design and creative ways using less flowers, whilst still being relatively impactful.
However if your dream florals are still out of your price range, you might want to consider other decorative options - for example we can style a table without using flowers - think fabric, candles, props, etc. Flowers are a classic, beautiful way to liven up a room, but it’s not the only way.
Be aware that your wedding may not look like what you had originally envisioned, but nonetheless it will still look beautiful!