A homegrown wedding

Departments - Retail Revival | Store improvement tips from the Garden Lady

Poise yourself for profits by consulting for DIY décor.

March 5, 2020

Balanced landscapes have a mix of foliage colors, textures and evergreens so that the garden still looks beautiful even when plants are not flowering or dormant.

A quick search for “DIY weddings” proves how many brides are interested in creating lovely but inexpensive marriage ceremonies and receptions. Pinterest and Instagram are filled with ideas and naturally, many of those inspiring photos are connected with plants and gardens. Garden centers are clearly poised to profit from this trend with plants, products and services.

Pre-wedding consultations

Many brides and their families are planning to hold a wedding or rehearsal dinner in their backyard, and these folks start planning well in advance. Be sure that your IGC website lists consultation services for such events. Our customers need advice about adding plants that will be in bloom for the wedding, growing their own cutting flowers and dressing up their landscape in advance of the big day.

Some of these clients need to hear an experienced voice tell them that counting on perennial plants or shrubs to flower by a particular date can be risky. They need to know that weather conditions can substantially change flowering times, so planning for last minute additions of annuals might be a better plan. Once the wedding date is decided, you can share what annuals are likely to be available and make plans to order them for that period.

Customers also need ideas for air conditioning and utility screening, bar placement and ceremony seating orientation, so come prepared to talk through the entire event. For example, many of our clients aren’t aware of where the sun rises and sets in relation to their gardens, so it’s understandable that they haven’t considered this when it comes to the wedding or rehearsal dinner.

They need our experienced eyes to point out that for an evening wedding, it is not ideal for the guests or happy couple to be squinting into a setting sun.

Be prepared to discuss topics such as backgrounds for wedding photos, possible sources of unwanted noise and turning off lawn irrigation two or three days before the event. Write a plan-ahead checklist for DIY brides and their families and include your IGC’s list of services on that worksheet.

Make-and-take decorations

From punching their own confetti out of ecologically responsible, multi-colored leaves to making their own handheld bouquets, DIY brides want to create many of their own decorations. Offer a list of the ways your business can assist with such flowers and other décor. If you normally offer workshops, you’re probably already used to setting up tables for creative make-and-take plant projects. Be sure to list those that are appropriate for weddings and other special events.

Living table arrangements are popular since they can be taken home and grown on as container gardens or houseplants. Be they low pots of succulents, bonsai trees, or bowls planted with flowering annuals, there is a planter style for every wedding reception.

Succulents are also popular for boutonnieres and bouquets, either alone or combined with flowers. Invite wedding parties to come and create their own with your instructions. They can also learn how to pot the plants and grow them on or after the big day.

Got pallets?

Most IGCs have stacks of pallets on hand, and these are currently popular for a variety of uses.

Search on Pinterest to see how pallets can be painted with a schedule of the wedding day’s events, used for holding table assignments, or even made into a rustic bar for pre-wedding beverages.

If you’ve got the resources, time and artistically talented employees, your IGC might offer to customize pallets with text or designs.

Pallets can be attached together with door hinges to create screening or signage for outdoor weddings. Since newer and stronger pallets will be useful in the future, have your staff separate the best ones for storage under cover.

Arches and chuppahs

IGC’s can offer arbors and arches for wedding rentals or supply the branches and poles for a couple to construct their own. Some IGCs keep take-apart structures made of bamboo poles or copper/PVC pipes on hand for outdoor weddings, and they will set these up onsite for a fee.

Renting plants

Most IGCs get calls about borrowing or renting plants, so it’s smart to have a policy about this well in advance of inquiries. Decide in advance what the fee per day will be. It’s prudent to ask for a credit card and ring up a suspended sale for the retail price of the plants; that can be processed should the plants not be returned or come back damaged.

Since plants often get injured while in transport, think about making your delivery and pickup a requirement when plants are loaned. Knowing what makes a saleable plant, your staff is much more likely to be careful with the stock when it’s in transit. Put all this in writing so that it can be handed to those who inquire about plant rentals or downloaded from your website.

Just as weddings are usually planned months in advance, IGCs too, should plan ahead about what they can offer for these events. Make a list of your services and pricing. When you assist in a wedding or rehearsal dinner, be sure to take photos of the plants, projects and planning that you’ve provided.

Post these pictures on your own website and social media pages. Make your IGC the go-to location for DIY wedding assistance.

C.L. Fornari is a speaker, writer and radio/podcast host who has worked at Hyannis Country Garden, an IGC on Cape Cod, for more than 20 years. She has her audiences convinced that C.L. stands for “Compost Lover.” Learn more at www.gardenlady.com