Field Notes: How to Save on Wedding Flowers


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The founders of Bloomerent, Julia Capalino, left, and Danit Zamir, right, with the florist Carly Ragosta, demonstrating how flowers are reused from the first wedding to the next.

When Nathalie Guedes and her husband, Christopher Zardoya, were planning their wedding at 501 Union in Brooklyn, N.Y., they knew they wanted flowers — and lots of them. “We’re both from Miami, so we’re used to tropical plants and flowers everywhere,” she said. Still, they didn’t want to spend too much money. Centerpieces and bouquets are often thrown away after the night ends, and as architects, they believe strongly in sustainability.

“Weddings can be so wasteful, so we tried to reuse as much as we could,” said Ms. Guedes, who budgeted $2,000 for florals. She and her husband used discarded squares of marble from finished architectural projects to make decorative table number plaques and seating number assignments. Then Ms. Guedes discovered Bloomerent, a company that finds ways for brides and grooms to share wedding flowers. “We loved that our flowers would have a second life,” she said. And, of course, they saved cash.

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Couples can save thousands of dollars in these rent-back arrangements.

My Flowers Are Now Your Flowers

Here’s how it works: If you sign up with one of 60 participating Bloomerent florists, brides and grooms can rent back their wedding flowers to another couple locally, with florists picking up the designs at the completion of one wedding and delivering it to another wedding for use the following day. (Currently, the company works with florists in 26 states and the District of Columbia.) The reward: big savings on flowers for both brides. The first bride receives a 10 percent refund on the total cost of her flowers, while the second bride pays 40 to 60 percent of the original cost. (So if the flowers originally cost $10,000, the second bride is paying only $4,000 to $6,000, and the first bride gets $1,000 back.)

When Ms. Guedes’s industrial modern affair wrapped one Friday night in November, the long strands of greenery that lined the extra long communal tables at her wedding were set up at Patty Lee’s wedding — a complete stranger to Ms. Guedes — the next day at the Brooklyn Winery. Here, the same strands of floral garland were also used to decorate long communal tables. “You couldn’t tell — our florist did such a good job refreshing them,” said Ms. Lee, a freelance food writer.

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Nathalie Guedes and Christopher Zardoya opted to have their floral arrangements recycled for another couple.

Everyone wants their wedding to be beautiful, and florals are often considered crucial when completing the look and feel of a ceremony and reception space. But couples get sticker shock when they realize just how much those overflowing centerpieces they saw on Pinterest actually cost. They begin to wonder if there is any way to get the costs down, and the good news is, even beyond Bloomerent, there are.

Picky, Picky, Picky. Don’t Be.

Erica Jones, the creative director of O Luxe Designs, a Boston-based wedding design company that caters to high-end clients around the world, says that floral budgets climb when couples meet with a florist with very specific ideas, often gleaned from a glossy social media post or swoon-worthy magazine spread. “You’ll save money by going in with an open mind,” she said. You should still bring the photo, but ask how you can realistically achieve the look within your budget. Maybe the floral designer can suggest a similar color scheme using less expensive flowers, or maybe the flowers in the photo are particularly expensive at that time of year, but a similar flower is less at the same time.

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The ultimate way to save money is to do the flowers yourself, but wedding planners discourage this option.

Sometimes a simple adjustment can save hundreds or thousands of dollars. Ranunculus flowers, which are often considered timeless and ephemeral, are readily available most of the year, but one popular variety, the Clooney, is available only for a few weeks, making them extra expensive. South American hydrangeas, which are white, light blue and pale green, are significantly less expensive than hydrangeas from Holland, which come in more vibrant shades of blue, pink and purple.

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New York Envisions a State-Run Retirement Plan for Private Workers


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The state budget that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is expected to sign includes a program to create a state retirement option for private sector employees without 401(k)-like programs at work.

Credit
Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

New York is close to joining a growing list of states that are creating a retirement plan option for private sector employees who do not have access to 401(k)-like programs at work.

The New York program was included in Friday’s budget deal, which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is expected to sign. The plan would enable businesses to provide workers with access to Roth individual retirement accounts overseen by the state. An estimated 3.5 million private sector employees in New York work for employers that do not offer a pension, a 401(k) plan or another savings option, according to AARP, which has lobbied in support of the plans.

“For years, we have been working to develop and pass a retirement program that would give millions of New Yorkers the opportunity to save for their futures,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement. “In this year’s budget, we proposed and passed a common-sense, progressive reform that will strengthen our work force.”

Ten states, including New York, are on the verge of enacting such plans or already have them. The plans have been moving ahead even though Congress rolled back Obama-era rules meant to encourage states to create retirement programs for people without workplace savings accounts.

Oregon was the first state to begin rolling out its program last summer, and several other states are in varying stages of progress. Besides New York, they are California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia and Washington, according to the Center for Retirement Initiatives at Georgetown University.

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Albany Strikes Deal on a Budget That Sidesteps Trump’s Tax Plan


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Many of the elements in the massive $168 billion budget deal were scaled-back versions of promises Mr. Cuomo had laid out, as discussions on more divisive political issues were pushed back.

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Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

ALBANY — After months of promises to defy Washington and blaze a progressive trail, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday announced a deal on a new state budget that would grant New Yorkers some protection from the Republican-steered federal tax plan, pour a quarter-billion dollars into public housing projects and enact a raft of new sexual harassment policies.

The agreement, coming after several days of negotiations with little noticeable progress, was a victory for Mr. Cuomo, who is rumored to have presidential aspirations, and who made his scorn for President Trump’s policies — particularly the federal tax plan — a centerpiece of his State of the State and budget addresses in January, and in speeches ever since.

“We’re under attack by the federal government,” Mr. Cuomo said on Friday night, sitting in the ceremonial Red Room in the State Capitol.

As he had done for months, the governor singled out a cap on deductibility of state, local and property taxes, a major issue in his high-tax state, and something he referred to as “an arrow aimed at the economic heart of New York.”

Mr. Cuomo’s vivid rhetoric belied the more muted reality of the budget language, which provided for an optional employer-side payroll tax to replace an employee-side state income tax, and the ability for localities to establish charities to funnel property tax payments to schools, allowing such payments to be deductible on residents’ federal returns.

Mr. Cuomo seemed to acknowledge that his maneuvers could only do so much, saying his priority going forward would be to overturn that part of the new federal tax law.

“This provision hurts every New Yorker, period,” he said. “The ultimate solution is repeal.”

Many of the elements in the massive $168 billion budget deal were scaled-back versions of promises Mr. Cuomo had laid out over the past few months. Indeed, as budget negotiations — which are conducted behind closed doors between the governor and three top legislative leaders, out of sight of even other lawmakers — unfolded over the past week, it became increasingly clear that the Legislature would punt policy issues such as gun control or criminal justice reform to after the budget’s April 1 deadline, in favor of financial considerations. Republicans in the State Senate, control of which is expected to hotly contested this fall, had fought hard against any new taxes and fees and were able to claim a win on that account, as well as many deferred social policies.

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