(Feature picture by Johanna Kempf)
GOOD DAYYYY! Do you know anyone who is getting married in Finland soon?
Today we have the huge privilege of interviewing Maria, the founder of Kukka- ja juhlapalvelu Freesi. It’s always such a happy thing to listen to an expert talking about floral + bridal: two of my favourite topics! Enjoy the interview!~
TH: Hello Maria! Can you tell us more about yourself and your company?
Maria: My name is Maria Rissanen and i am an entrepreneur in my own company Kukka- ja juhlapalvelu Freesi. I have worked in the flower business for 15 years out of which eight years i have been running my own company.
My best personal qualities are being well organised, i have a lot of ideas and i am easy to approach. I want to offer for the wedding couples the possibility to enjoy their ceremony without carrying worry about decorating, logistics involved or material acquisition.
Freesi offers professionally produced wedding flowers, rental vases, decorations and various other embellishments.
Freesi does the work on all levels between planning and executing the order.
TH: Do you have any tips for wedding couples when it comes to choosing a wedding florist?
Maria: The best way is to go through the pictures and other visual material what the company has published on its own website and on its chosen social media channels.
That way you can get a good idea what kind of work you can expect to get from any given company or florist you are considering to hire.
I recommend to order the flowers from a florist who truly makes the work personally her or himself.
If the order is given to a large company, you really can not be sure who at the end will work on your flowers and what you will be receiving as a result.
TH: What is the difference between wedding flowers and normal flowers?
Maria: Most distinctive differences is that wedding flowers are always designed and planned to fit into the theme and overall look of that one unique ceremony.
Also the plans for the wedding flowers have been considered very carefully between the wedding couple and the florist before the actual offer is been made. Many times the wedding flowers will be the most important flowers especially in the bride’s lifetime. It can take great patience from the florist to plan the wedding flowers, because often the original plans will be changing from behalf of the wedding couple before the ceremony.
Money is being invested in wedding flowers usually in much larger quantities than to any other flowers in other occasions.
TH: What percentage of a couple’s budget would you recommend for them to spend on flowers?
Maria: Generally in Europe and in USA, it is recommended to use 10% of the wedding budget to flowers. In Finland it is realistic to expect the percentage to be closer to 5%. We, the professionals who work in the flower business in Finland of course hope that wedding couples would prefer real flowers instead of plastic flowers.
TH: How do couples decide the kind of designs or types of flowers to use for their wedding?
Maria: Today’s brides are very aware of the latest trends. They read and gain lots of information from wedding related forums and social media channels.
Even before arriving to the planning event with the florist, most of the customers know quite well what do they want or at least have a strong view of their own.
Nevertheless, planning event with the florist has very often big impact to the look what will eventually take place in the ceremony.
TH: What background information should a couple think about prior to contacting a wedding florist in Finland? How does a couple know if the florist is reliable?
Maria: Best way to find a good florist is to gain a recommendation from another customer who has used that florist before you.
In that way it is safe to expect your flowers also to be professionally executed and well made to fit your needs.
If the florist or company what the customer is considering to hire has caused lots of negative opinions, my recommendation is to keep looking for someone else to plan your flowers.
When customer contacts the florist first time, it becomes quickly clear is it easy to find common ground and can you see eye to eye about the plans at hand.
When you contact a florist or a company and you will not be getting reply inside couple of days, it is usually a sign that they will not most likely be able to work on the level which will get your ceremony and flowers properly executed.
TH: What is the price range for wedding flowers in Finland?
Maria: In Finland the prices for flowers are considerably higher than in Middle Europe. Biggest factors which do have effect to cause the higher price levels are freight costs and finnish taxing policy.
TH: What are the pet peeves of vendors like yourself in your trade? i.e. what do you highly do not recommend couples to ask for or do?
Maria: I do not have much negative experiences of customers.
Of course, there are occasionally customers who want to bargain a little but after explaining the structure and formation of the costs, we always have come into terms.
In wedding flowers, major part of the costs come from the actual work and time spent to achieve the wanted result. This is important for the clients to take into account.
TH: What are common mistakes that couples make when choosing flowers? Can you give some examples?
Maria: One of the most common and also biggest mistakes is to insist having some certain flower outside of the season when it is not available in sensible delivery time and/or price.
In Finland seasons for the available flowers affect greatly to the available flowers but we do our very best to make sure that the customers get just the right flowers for them. When customer comes with an open mind to a planning event, professional can recommend many different choices which will fit well for the customers needs. Seasons for flowers might also vary annually.
Some flowers can be available a week before the ceremony but not anymore when the flowers should be ordered few days later.
Therefore it is possible that the final flowers might be changing to a different variety under circumstances, and this is something what is good to be prepared for by the customer.
Sometimes it is clear that the flower design for the wedding bouquet chosen by the bride does not fit well together with the wedding gown. In this case I would guide her to choose another design.
TH: What are common requests that couples make that doesn’t make sense/definitely be rejected?
Maria: I would not my self go and pick flowers from the nature unless they would be professionally processed to last the entire length of the ceremony.
It is something off from the event of celebration if the flowers will be nodding and shedding their leafs already during the ceremony.
In other words we professionals do have our professional pride which prevents us from offering flowers which the customer can not enjoy the entire length of the celebration not mentioning the following couple of days.
TH: What are some common misconceptions couples have?
Maria: One of the biggest misconceptions is to order a fortune bouquet which is planned to be used as a wedding bouquet.
The price for the bouquet is not formed by the name of the bouquet, but by the variety of used flowers, amount of the flowers, quality of the flowers and the spent working time.
In Finland it is not rare that the cost for the flowers will become as a surprise for the customers who do not usually buy flowers from a flower shop but does their flower shopping in Supermarkets.
Prices in Supermarkets are considerably lower than in professionally serving flower shops. Naturally the quality of the flowers is generally superior when buying the flowers from a flower specialised professional.
Sometimes customers have been balancing between making the flower decorations by themselves and ordering the flowers from a professional.
It is more as a rule than an exception that the unprofessionally made flowers will look just that. Unprofessional– and not giving the ceremony the beauty and glamour what it deserves.
TH: Can you give some examples of unforgettable experiences of couples and flowers?
Maria: During the years Freesi has done and delivered flowers to numerous unforgettable locations and events.
Freesi delivers flowers in the area of Uusimaa, including the near coastal islands.
Often the deliveries which include boat or ferry rides can be somewhat exciting. Suspension can be caused for example high winds or incoming storm-front.
One of the most memorable experiences from 2016 summer season was a construction of 2 by 2 meters flower arc to the wedding destination. Three people were making the construction for 5 hours without any breaks.
That adds up to 15 hours of continuous working. The end result was amazingly beautiful.
I have met lots of magnificent people and couples during my career. I have found myself often thinking “how is that and that couple doing nowadays?”.
After working and planning intensely with someone to achieve the wanted result it often leads to emotional bond into some degree. Many times customers have turned out to be regular customers, and I have been working again with them for example planning flowers for their children`s christening event.
TH: Awww that’s so sweet!~ Do you have any examples of how you helped to solve a couple’s problems? It could be a last minute problem or an unexpected situation.
Maria: Because I have years of experience from this line of work, I have comprehensive understanding where to acquire and how to acquire necessary supplies and material.
If there is some material what Freesi can not provide, I will turn to my affiliates. After that i will acquire the needed material or sometimes guide the customer where to get the needed materials.
As an example, just recently I helped a bride to find a very special set of tablecloth for her wedding.
TH: Do you have any tips for couples on how they can best enjoy flowers on their wedding day?
Maria: Flowers which have been originally used and located to decorate the church surroundings during the wedding can be most definitely moved to be used as decorations when moving forward to the celebration-event location.
Because in Finland it is common to think that the flowers do cost so much, i will grant a good piece of advice; forget the plastic pearl strings as a decorative elements and instead invest in real flowers and natural materials.
It is easy to spend un-noticingly just the equivalent amount of money to miscellaneous decorative materials as it would be to invest in well-planned, real flowers.
Also do not go and buy tens of different kinds of vases from Ikea or eat yourself sick of conserved food in hopes of emptying enough glass jars for decorative purposes.
Rent the needed material. Especially vases and such. Otherwise you are stuck with the material you needed only during the wedding and never again after that.
The disposal, either selling or recycling will take time and effort.
Do ask and get help with you when planning and executing your festivities. You will not regret it.
If you are going on the honeymoon right after the wedding and do not have use for the flowers to your self, it is a great idea to give the flowers to the quests who has participated your ceremony and celebration. Quests will definitely be delighted! 🙂
We hope you have enjoyed this interview with Maria! Photographs courtesy of Maria, Johanna Kempf Photography and DMK Photography. Feel free to visit Maria’s website, and don’t forget to like Kukka- ja juhlapalvelu Freesi on FB and instagram!