For all flowers, there is the cost of labor and resources required to grow and transport them, which can fluctuate based on things like weather and the cost of gas. And of course some flowers are easier to grow and/or transport, while others are more difficult and delicate.
Just like with fruits and vegetables, seasonality affects both the quality and cost of flowers. If you want peonies at the tail end of the season, they won’t be as full or lush as their peak-season counterparts, so you’ll need more stems to get the same effect. You might be able to get peonies in November, but they have to be shipped from around the world, meaning you pay extra transportation cost.
And similarly to how the slow food movement has become meaningful for a lot of people, the slow flower movement is taking off. You know how these days lots of us like to know where, how and by who our meat is reared? Well, florists (and increasingly, their clients!) like to know that the flower farmers are getting paid a fair wage, and growing flowers without lots of harmful chemicals. Some specialty farms even grow specific varieties of flowers in certain palettes so the florists they work with can source exactly what the client wants, while sticking to their principles. Of course, all of this doesn’t come cheaply, and raises the overall cost of each stem you’re working with.
The type of florist you hire will play a role in what you invest in floral design. The more experienced, skilled, and in-demand the florist, the more they may charge for their work.
In addition to their time and talent, and the retail mark-up on materials, florists have overhead expenses you might not expect, and that gets factored into what they charge: rent and utilities (retail space or work space), transportation costs (to and from market, to and from venue), and supplies (tape, foam, tools, buckets), to name a few. And as with everything else, their costs depend on location (overhead will be higher in New York than in Milwaukee), which results in a higher or lower mark-up on their product.
Florists also have to purchase more flowers than they’ll actually end up using in your bouquet to account for a 10% damaged/death rate. Even if a bouquet will only include six tulips, the florist might need to buy twice that many to guarantee they have enough stems open the right amount at the right time, and can discard any that are damaged or bruised.
While it’s good to have a sense of what’s available for your budget, a smaller budget doesn’t have to mean lower expectations; it just means having to be more flexible and open to compromise. A good florist should be able to listen to your ideas and then work within your budget, (assuming it’s realistic) to create something that you’ll love – even if it’s not an exact replica of what you originally had in mind.