(Closed) bargaining? rude?

posted 9 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
606 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

When I was talking to the coordinator/planner at the venue we are about to book, she said that there are usually some things a venue can do to bring down their ‘per head’ price. I would suggest saying to them (in a sticky sweet nice way – you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar), “I am working with a budget, and X number per head is in my budget. What can we do to work with that number?” (mind you this is exactly what I said to her). My coordinator said that a lot of times you can go with a cheaper salad (a regular garden salad instead of a caeser or another elaborate salad, serve a pasta or chicken/fish as opposed to beef, perhaps do plated instead of buffet because they have to keep refilling the buffet to make it look full all the time, etc). Our venue also does ‘packages’ that include things that we may not necessarily need/want like a champagne toast for us (my Fiance HATES champagne and not to be a champagne snob, but what they would serve is not worth the extra cost to me), take out the hor’deurves if we didn’t want them, etc. You may also be able to talk to them about preparing other dishes than what they have provided you with as far as a menu goes. Again, our coordinator said if you want something that isn’t on the menu, let us know and we can price it out for you (and it may end up being cheaper if it’s something more simple and/or uses in season products). Just a few thoughts 🙂 In this economy, venues are looking to draw in as much business as possible so they are usually willing to work with you. Also, if they won’t be able to adjust the price based on changing food/drink, ask them to throw in some extras for the same price. 🙂 Just my 2 cents!!!

Bon Chance,


Post # 4
672 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2009

I found that we had the best luck being as absolutely nice as possible.  Like Bella Luna said – honey over vinegar!  But honestly, we were in a pretty easy position because November is one of the least popular wedding months in MN and we knew that everyplace we checked was still open, 6 months out, and just really wanted to fill it.  So we always just asked what could be changed in a package to bring the cost down and make it clear we were on a strict budget.

Post # 5
355 posts
Helper bee

i’m a media planner, so bargaining is really my thing. i think i’ve negotiated with just about everyone but the caterer. the key is: don’t be nit picky and be flexible! you have to itemize what the vendor is offering and what you really need. then you can tell them that you don’t really need xyz and ask how could they bring down the price to accomodate what you need. look for when vendors tell you they can “cutomize” packages- this means they will be more likely to be flexible with you. another thing that has worked for me if i really like the vendor, but know they are a little pricey for me is to tell them the budget you need to stay within (add about a $100 cushion) and see what they can do for you in that budget. i did this with the photographer and got an extra hour free. i’m always very pleasant to the vendors, and never ask for a discount for something that already is priced very reasonably.

good luck!

Post # 6
6661 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: May 2010

If I were you, I would ask why the wedding menu is twice the price of the dinner menu. Tell them that you’re very interested in using their venue, but your budget is X per head, so how can you get it down to the dinner menu price. One reason might be the length of time you’re using the space and the amount of people they employ for weddings vs. dinners. But, it could also be fancier food, etc. that could be watered down a bit.

I definitely negotiated with almost every vendor, but I didn’t negotiate the ‘per price’ cost, I just got a copy of their catering menu and negotiated the minimum price on the contract way down. That way, I don’t have to have a huge guest list or choose the most expensive options. Since you have a huge guest list, I would definitely try to negotiate the per-head price.

Post # 8
3576 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

I agree with Bella Luna and everyone else for that matter.  Definitely ask, ‘what can you do for me at $xx.xx per person?  There is nothing wrong with bargaining, especially in this economy. Stick to your guns and remember the worst thing they can say is no.

Post # 9
49 posts
  • Wedding: December 2009 - Phoenix Art Museum

agree – as long as you are really respectful and not overly aggressive, i think they would be able to work something out. the economy is working in our favor for bargaining!

Post # 10
2695 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: February 2008

I would suggest not going the route of breaking down their costs and challenging them on why things are so expensive – this will just make them defensive.  I personally think the “we are on a budget, can you help us get the costs to X” is far more productive because you want to work together and have them feel like they are helping.  Also flattery helps “we love your work, and would really like you to photograph your wedding.  However, our budget is X – is there any way we can make that work?”  We negotiated while the economy was still strong and got discounts from nearly every vendor….

Post # 11
95 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: October 2009

Oh, the dreaded “wedding mark-up.” A local TV news crew once did a test: They called several caterers, event venues and florists to ask for quotes. In one case, they said it was a wedding. In another, they asked for the exact same things, but said it was a “family party.” Guess which one came out way cheaper? Yep, the family party!

The problem with much of the wedding industry is that they assume that couples are willing to shell out big bucks, no questions asked, in order to have their “most special-est day ever.” Or they just figure the parents are paying, and that those parents have deep pockets. 

I don’t see a thing wrong with negotiating. I wish I had done it more through my planning process, but I’m too timid. Respect is key, though. Fiance is really, really good about bargaining when it comes to stuff like buying furniture or a car, but I was really hesitant about turning him loose on wedding vendors, because I feel like while his technique is fine for car shopping, I really didn’t want to p*ss off any of our vendors. He’s not outright disrespectful, but I feel like he walks a fine line sometimes. But I don’t see anything wrong with saying, “I notice your dinner menu is significantly less expensive than your reception menu; can we work out something?”

And I second what the others said about a weaker economy working in your favor.

Good luck!

Post # 12
168 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2011

My job is to negotiate and to save my company the most money possible on every proposal!  There’s a stat that 78% of sales reps will lower their prices the first time they are asked.  All you have to do is PAUSE, say, “HMM”  Pause again, and say, “Is that the best you can do?”  Trust me, it works just about every time. 

And if they say that’s the best you can do and you still want to work with them- hey, no harm done, at least you know you got the best price you could AND you look like an intelligent buyer.

Good luck and PM me if you want any other tips- I live for this kind of stuff.  😀

Post # 13
666 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2010

I negotiated with nearly every vendor.  Blame the economy and act really nice, compliment their services/product, then ask if it can be offered at x amount.  For example, I negotiated our rehearsal dinner price from $35 to $30 per person by saying, “Your food is great, and worth every penny I’m sure, but is there anything I can do to get the price closer to $30?  We are on a really tight budget.”  The vendor then (easily) said she would offer the exact same meal at the price I requested. 

Good luck!

Post # 14
610 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2009

Example, “I love your food, your decor, your location, everything is really perfect however, i just cannot bring myself to pay double the price of your regular menu. I’m not a wealthy person. I just a noob/poor ___ (insert your profession, if it helps). I have been to this other vendor and his price is definitely in the ballpark of what I’m looking for. However, his venue is just not as nice as yours. If you could just help me out here, and adjust the package, maybe both of us would be happy signing this deal?”

Post # 15
83 posts
Worker bee

If you haven’t already, check to see if they can deduct a certain portion per head for guests under 21 (the alcohol portion of the cost), or give reduced prices for kids. I’m sure you’ve already thought of that, but I figured I would post it just in case. Otherwise, I agree with the other posters, just give them your budget and see what they can do with it (just be aware of any minimums that you may have to meet). We gave our photographer our budget and we were able to negotiate coverage we were happy with for a price in our budget. It does pay to be friendly (and some compliments never hurt!)

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