Top Tips for Negotiating With Wedding Vendors
Negotiating with vendors: kind of an intimidating concept, right? Discussing and compromising on costs and services isn't everyone's forte or cup of tea, but it's a super-helpful skill to have going into wedding planning. The bottom line is you'll never know what you can get unless you ask. Keep in mind that both parties, not just you, will benefit from your business. The worst thing that could happen is they say no, and even in an uncommon case like that, you still have the leverage (they want to make a sale). Here are a few key pointers to help you feel comfortable and confident while talking money with wedding vendors.
1. Know the Market
Spend time educating yourself on what the market is for a particular service (you can peruse tons of amazing vendors at The Knot Marketplace). This will give you good context and get you to start thinking about what works for your budget, what a fair quote looks like and what you might be able to negotiate. When you're doing price comparisons, just make sure you're comparing similar things (a Michelin-starred restaurant and a local, family-owned catering company are just different). Knowing the market can give you good leverage when negotiating with a venue or other pro you love. It allows you to say (politely), "We're in love with this space, but unfortunately our budget won't cover it. There's another venue we're considering that costs X amount of money, but this one really is our number one. Would you be able to match it or at least compromise?" Your first choice will typically be willing to offer you discounts of some kind or compromise in other areas in order to secure your business (and they want you to be happy!).
2. Ask for an Itemized Quote
This is a fancy way of saying you should ask to see a list of every single thing included in your package. First and foremost this will show you exactly what you would be paying for and what you'd need to pay extra for. From there, you can see which items, services and extras you may not need, as well as others you may have never known you'd need (think: valet, delivery fees, cleanup crew and coat check staff). It's always a good idea to find out in advance what extras are going to cost—you don't want to be blindsided later on with hidden fees you've never seen before (like rental company tranpsortation or extra electrical equipment for the band).
3. Stick to Your Limit
A vendor may be willing to negotiate as long as you agree to compromise something on your end. For example, a photographer candidate might consent to give you an extra hour of shooting, but only if you have them take your engagement photos. But remember, if you ask for less, expect to get a bit less. If it gets to the point where they're asking you to sacrifice more than you're willing to in order to get a better deal, you might consider heading in another direction for a more suitable option. It might not be meant to be, and that's okay.
4. Strike a Good Balance
There's really no harm in politely asking for a deal or extras. (Your car rental service might not mention it at first, but why not ask if they offer complementary champagne for weddings?) If vendors are excited to work with you, they may be more willing to come up with creative solutions. The important etiquette advice to remember is to find the sweet spot between being a self advocate and being a pushover. Don't be shy about asking if there's any wiggle room or sticking up for yourself if something feels unfair—trust us, pros aren't unfamiliar with it or offended by it, but don't be unreasonable, obnoxious or aggressive. You're not haggling with a street vendor—you're talking to a business owner about an important event and a solid chunk of money.