After all of the planning you’ve done so far, you probably have a fairly good idea of what you want your big day to look like. It’s coming together! Initial plans, budget, and guest list are surprisingly working themselves out! Before you know it, it’ll be the big day itself.
Hold tightly to those big ideas and visions you have for your wedding. Don’t let vendors and venues knock your enthusiasm down and don’t be scared to talk to them about their services! At the end of the day, both you and the wedding vendor have a common goal: you want to work together. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know what you can get. If you do ask, the worst thing that can happen is they say no. And if they do say no, either a compromise is struck or you take your business elsewhere. And that’s not the end of the world by any means. Likely it means you’ll end up working with someone you’re going to vibe better with anyways.
But vendors want to make sales and their prices are not set in stone. So if you have a big reservation about some aspect of a package that they offer, tell them! They’re usually flexible!
So let’s get into it. I break down the nitty-gritty of how to best negotiate with your vendors in the six sections below. Check ‘em out!
1) Okay, first off. You NEED to make a budget.
That doesn't mean coming up with a random number that you think sounds good as you're driving to check out your top venue location. Instead, be methodical about it and really prioritize what comes first in terms of your wants and needs for the day (if you still need help with this step, check out my blog about how to start planning your wedding). After you've ranked what's most important and how much you can allot to each part without breaking the bank, you can start reaching out to vendors. Without coming up with a budget first you are much more likely to get taken advantage of. And more so - if you come prepared both parties are just better equipped to get a hard deal down on the table.
2) Second, do your homework!
Check out a bunch of vendors and do your research on how much a cake should cost before you get to the bakery! If you come unprepared, the baker is going to try to sell you the $500 cake, and if you don't know better, you're likely to pay for that glorious treat.
3) Third, DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK.
It's frightening and scary and anxiety-inducing. But it's also the only way to start the process of negotiating. Like your mother always told you: "If you don't ask, you'll never know". The vendors themselves aren't unwilling to give you deals or offer extra services, but if you don’t ask, 99% of the time, they won't offer - why would they? It means more work and less money for them.
If you’re presented with packages that do fit within your budget, but that you want to mix and match, it's always better to speak up. Most vendors are willing to create something that works for your budget + needs - and if they’re not that's probably a red flag
4) Fourth, and here's the kicker. Ask for more than a discount.
Offering a 50% discount is almost offensive to vendors. It's their business and livelihood, so be careful not to take that for granted. However, with that being said, it doesn’t mean they are unwilling or unable to offer you some kind of discount. But instead of asking for a generic percentage decrease in the total price, try seeing if they’d be willing to offer an extra appetizer or a discount for extra hours of service you may require later on.
5) Fifth. Read the dang contracts thoroughly.
Yeah, of course, they're boring and long, but vendors do sometimes hide some pretty tricky stuff in them. Like if you’re looking at a cake contract, make sure they don’t sneak in an extra “cake-cutting” charge... And if you do find something unsavory in the contract, don't start unleashing hell and think the vendor is out to get you. Instead, just be upfront with them about what you want - they want to serve you.
6) The sixth and final way to rock the negotiation process is to just mind your P's and Q's.
When going through the process, be assertive, but remember that firm is not always better. Ensure that you are treating the vendors respectfully so they return the same respect back to you. If you do, everyone involved wins.