How to Negotiate with Wedding Vendors (Bridezilla Style)

Posted by on 06 Nov, 2009

bridezilla-how-to-negotiate.jpgMost of us would spare no expense when it comes to the elusive perfect wedding. We want it all: the Vera Wang gown spun from flawless organza, a band that sounds just like Journey, a burgeoning Annie Leibovitz to snap a million pictures….
Some of us have been dreaming of this perfect wedding since we were twelve and Ken married Barbie in a ceremony surrounded by stuffed animals, Lego people, and a G.I. Joe.
Then why are we afraid to negotiate for our dream wedding? Because we don’t want the vendor to walk away; because as women, we are preened to be sugar and spice and scared to state what we really want?
It doesn’t matter why you’ve never negotiated. Learn with us as we navigate the unruly waters of wedding vendor negotiation.

Bridezilla Navigates Negotiation

Practice first. To put your negotiation skills to the test, visit your local flea market. Or haggle with the guys who sell fake Fendis out of their trunks.
When you’re ready to buy that fabulous bag, ask the merchant how much it costs. If they say it’s $35 eye it carefully. Calmly state that you don’t have that much to spend and begin walking away. Magically, the $35 bag becomes $29.
Bridezilla bonus tip: Now is not the time to insult the bag designer. “What? You want me to spend $35 on a poorly made purse that I could make myself with a glue-gun and sequins?” This immediately turns the vendor on the defensive. Be tactful and direct. A simple “I like the bag but I only have $25 to spend,” will do.
Once you’ve mastered the fine art of flea market negotiation, it’s time to test out your skills on wedding vendors. Before you go to the first reception hall, (i.e. the shark tank) start with a budget. Write down what you can spend (your absolute highest) and what you want to spend on each service.
Also note your bargaining power — what you have that will make vendors bend over backwards to work with you.
Disposable income and a crazy-high budget isn’t a bargaining power. You’re better off not saying that your husband-to-be is a Surgeon and you drive a BMW. But having a wedding during the off-season (September – April) or guaranteeing 300 guests puts the bouquet in your court.
Always negotiate with your reception hall. When they state their fees, assume there is room for negotiation. Don’t waltz in, get wooed by the fancy decorations and sign without trying to get them to come down. Don’t buy into the whole “well, we have so many brides that want to get married on your January 15 date, you should act fast.” Don’t go into a bridezilla rage, stomp your heeled hoof and start making demands.
Put on your poker face.
Convince yourself that you hate this hall, even if you’re already picturing your place settings. Wrinkle your nose like it has a bad smell. Examine everything with a discerning eye, even if you’re jumping up and down inside.
Let them state their price first. When they do, wince. Directly and confidentially say, “I really like your work and think that you would be a good fit for my wedding, but your price is over our budget. We would really like to allocate this [insert your low-ball offer here].”
Or “We are looking at lots of reception sites and want to find the right site for our budget. We love your work and will be in contact.”
You’ve started the negotiation. Suddenly, those corkage and ceremony “fees” vanish and sometimes, they’ll even throw in extras, like a free round of champagne. Mention that you’re shopping around. You’re not going to hurt anyone’s feelings or get booted to the curb.
Remember, wedding vendors want your business, but negotiations have to be reasonable. You can’t go into the Plaza and tell them you want a wedding at $35 a plate. You can’t ask for 1,000 free pictures in your package.
Go into the negotiation armed with information. This is where your bridezilla binder comes in handy! Comment below and let us know your success with vendor negotiation.

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  1. On 16 Dec, 2009, Jenna said:

    For someone who is not quite comfortable with face-to-face negotiating getting vendors to compete for your wedding business online where you can use your bridal buying power to your advantage can be a welcome relief:)
    Jenna

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