Ordering Flowers on a Tight Budget

While flowers make a lovely gift or table accent, they can be quite expensive. More irritating yet, the "expected" floral arrangement, such as the traditional Valentine's Day red roses, are the most expensive of all. Fortunately, with the advent of internet florists, there are a number of ways to cut costs and still get premium blooms, whether you are buying a first date bouquet or planning wedding flower arrangements.

1. Online Comparisons

There are a number of reasonably priced online mega-florists. There are even more local florists with web pages. By price shopping and comparing, you can get a sense of what you should be paying for your bouquet. Check the giant national florist sites, such as 1800Flowers.com and FTD.com, first. This will give you a basis for comparison. Find the type of bouquet you want and see how much it costs. Remember to factor in shipping costs when you note the price.

Now, do a search for local florists with websites. Try typing in your town name and keywords such as "florist." Check their prices on similar bouquets. Pay attention to the quality and size of the blooms, as well. Compare prices; is it cheaper to order online and pay shipping, or to go to a local store?

2. Bulk Florists Online

If you are looking for a large bouquet or are planning to buy a number of flowers for an event, look into online bulk flower sites. These sites typically sell at a per stem rate in lots of 15 - 40 stems. This means you need to order more flowers at a time, but will pay less per stem than for a typical bouquet. However, you will need to assemble the bouquet yourself and purchase filler flowers (such as baby's breath) and greenery, such as ferns.

3. Florist Warehouses

It is worth doing an internet search for local florist warehouses that are open to the public. Local freelance florists need to get their flowers on the cheap, so if you can find their suppliers, you can get great discounts. Like the online bulk sites, these will be sold in lots at a per stem rate. Some warehouses require a membership fee to shop, but for a large occasion (such as a wedding), the price of membership may be worth it.

4. Alternative Bouquets

One of the top reasons that a bouquet of red roses is so horrendously expensive is that it has become to go-to bouquet for people who do not know what else to buy. Very few people have extreme sentimental attachment to red roses; they like receiving roses because the flowers are pretty and the bouquet shows that someone cares about making the recipient happy. However, there are a lot of pretty flowers in the world and plenty of ways to get that same reaction.

Try finding a bouquet you like that is within your price range. Pick colors the recipient will like. Write a card throwing in one sentence explaining why you picked this bouquet -- "The irises and lilies reminded me of our picnic by the lake and how much fun we had feeding the ducks." By showing that you put thought into the gift and, more importantly, are thinking of the recipient, the bouquet has become more meaningful than the tradition and overpriced roses. (More importantly, next time you buy a bouquet, the recipient will not expect roses!)