Consulting the Experts
For a partially or entirely preplanned resort wedding, you may be presented with various options from which to choose from. This makes your life easier, but it also limits you to the offerings you're presented with. If you're choosing vendors on your own, however, the ball is completely in your court. The downside is that you have to search for and interview florists on your own, which can be a time-consuming process.
If you're planning a wedding at a resort, the wedding coordinator on-site will give you several options, which will almost certainly include local flowers. If you just have to have something that isn't presented to you in her brochure, it can't hurt to ask. However, in the event that you don't find what you're looking for, you probably will not be allowed to import your own flowers. The resort very likely has a florist under contract, which means you're limited to what this florist can offer. It's always possible that she can special-order what you're looking for, but it's never a foregone conclusion.
Is there any way to find out about the floral options at destination wedding sites before actually visiting in person?
When checking out destination wedding sites, do some digging on each resort's Web site. Most have pictures of their floral options, along with package details and pricing. While flowers shouldn't be the only factor in your wedding site decision, especially lovely floral packages might help narrow down your choices.
Rest assured, most resorts offer stunning floral arrangements as options for their weddings. Remember, this is one of the perks of having a destination wedding: Most of the planning is cut back to manageable choices.
Digging Up a Florist
If you're planning an à la carte destination wedding (that is, you're marrying outside of your hometown but you have to find each vendor on your own), you need to start looking for a florist at least six months prior to the wedding, if you have that kind of time. (If you're short on time, then start looking now.) This is not a task that you should shrug your shoulders about, thinking “Hey, I'll go out and pick flowers myself if I have to. No big deal.” It
Normally, the way to find a great florist would be to ask people you know for recommendations and to check out functions where the florist's work is on display. So how do you track down this perfect florist when you don't know anyone in the area? Assuming you've chosen a site for your wedding (which is really the best place to start — if you haven't booked a site, you can't very well book any other vendors), ask whomever you've been dealing with there to recommend someone. Chances are, that person will be able to lead you in the right direction.
Even with a stellar recommendation from another vendor, ask your florist for the names and numbers of other clients (brides who have gone before you, or churches or businesses she regularly creates arrangements for). Take the time to make a few phone calls to ask if these people have been consistently happy with the florist's work.
If by some chance you aren't able to get a recommendation for a florist from your contact at the ceremony site, ask one of your other vendors. Caterers, musicians, and florists often work the same party and wedding circuits, so your other vendors should be able to recommend (or steer you away from) a particular person or business.
Along with checking a florist's references, make sure you see her work — either in person or in photos — before you sign a contract. Digital photography has made sending pictures so easy that there's just no excuse for not doing this.