Published: Feb 06, 2013 5:45 PM EST
Updated: Feb 06, 2013 6:43 PM EST

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Valentine's Day is almost here but if you haven't thought about it yet, you're not alone! However, if you're planning on getting flowers for someone you know, you need to order early and you need to do some research first.

We bought three arrangements through popular online flower services. Two were advertised for nearly $40 and the third for just under $30. But when we went to check out, the prices jumped to between $50 and $60. Two services tacked on a service fee,  the third added in a standard delivery fee, plus a care handling fee.

Fort Myers Florist General Manager Bill Hammond says that's not unusual. Your best bet? Skip wire services and go local.

"I always tell everybody that the best thing to do is order locally. You're not giving your money to a distributor or somebody who's going to pass your order off.... you're either going to save money or get a better product," he explained.

Also, if you order through online services like FTD, Teleflora, or ProFlowers, like we did, be prepared for what you get to look a little different than what you thought you were buying.

"Most wire services, most websites will tell you certain substitutions may apply, which you know, nobody has the exact same stuff, and substitutions are pretty normal," explained Bill.

And online on all three sites, it did say that substitutions can happen. The two flower arrangements we ordered from Teleflora and FTD were delivered in a nice vase and were arranged nicely, but both look different from the picture.

We had to put together our arrangement from ProFlowers. The order came in a box, assembly required. Besides making a big mess, our producer fully admits that she does not have a designer's eye.

All three arrangements look different, so make sure you read up on what you may be getting when you click on order.

"Very rarely will it be exact. I mean unless you order a dozen roses. A dozen roses is a dozen roses," said Bill.

But if you do go local, Bill says you probably will get exactly what you're expecting.

"If we're going to change something, I'm going to call my customer and tell them," he told us.

One more tip? Bill says don't wait until last minute.

"That is one thing I cannot say enough: order early. Almost everyone in town will stop taking orders early that day. We try our best to not turn away an order, guys are last minute, so it happens," he said.

Also, ask for early order deals. Some florists may be giving away things like free delivery if you put in your order early and get it delivered a day or two before Valentine's day. And if you're really trying to save money and your loved one lives in the same town, take a look at your grocery store selection. We were able to pick up a couple of bouquets at our local store for $12.