Post # 1
So, I am in the early stages of picking vendors and locations. My wedding is a ways off, but I am a little anal and want to have some concrete details as soon as possible.
My basic question is how hard can I negotiate with vendors, particularly the reception site/caterer (they are the same for my favorite place) before I start to make it too hard to get good service? I am not a bridezilla (yet, fingers crossed), I’m just a lawyer, and my gut reaction is to negotiate everything.
So, for example, I am a little miffed that the location cite fee is roughly $30 a head (flat fee, but that is based on my projected head count), whle food STARTS at $30 a head, plus 20% gratuity, plus taxes. I’ll happily pay that, but they won’t be serving rubber chicken and an iceberg lettuce salad, if I have anything to do with it. My instinct is to go in pretty hard.
But what is too hard? Do you guys have any experience negotiating with wedding people? Is it a common practice? Will they be wildly offended if I question the normal prices? Not to be a total witch, but I do feel like its a buyers market right now, with the economic downturn.
As I seem to end all new posts, am I crazy?
Post # 3
You are correct in that it certainly is a buyer’s market. Corporations and charities are cutting back on events, and many brides are scaling back their weddings. You have also chosen an excellent wedding date in terms of negotiating power with vendors, since it is not in the height of the traditional wedding season. The only obstacle you may face is that since you are planning so early, vendors may not be willing to negotiate so much yet since they can wait and see if they can fill the date at a higher price.
It is quite common to negotiate with wedding vendors, especially in this economy. If they seem reluctant to lower their costs directly, it is sometimes easier to get an upgrade in terms of service rather than a reduction in price (if you are willing to pay $60 a head, then you can ask for extra food or higher quality food at that price, and the vendor may be more willing to negotiate that than a price reduction). Good luck!
Post # 4
Thanks for the advice.
I am thinking that the best approach is not necessarily to seek a discount, but an upgrade. For example, I am going to ask for an extra hour from the DJ, bartender and reception site, without charges.
One thing I would like to do, though, is be really careful about contract terms. I don’t know if anyone say this post, but one bee had her entrees changed and prices hiked on her, after she sent out her invites with entree choice on the reply cards. The contract actually said that they had the right to make any changes, including raising prices, at any time for any reason.
Any of you negotiate contract terms, not just price and services?
Post # 5
like buying a house, i would set a $ amt. that you want to spend and communicate to your vendors, and then ask them if they can work with it. most often then not, a vendor will reduce it’s price. 🙂 good luck and congrats!
Post # 6
I literally negotiated everything. If I wanted it and couldn’t afford it, I would talk with them. Most of my vendors were great and it was/is a tough time in the economy, so they were happy with any business.
But to negotiate, you have to be willing to change your plans. I was set on a Saturday at first, but realized that if I go Friday I would get a GREAT deal at my location… and it was around holiday time so that really helped! my advice is get a feel for the person, talk it through and say that you’d really love to use them but are curious if there are any discounts or upgrades that can be given. Sometimes, just negotiating the menu or what is included can help. I knocked off a lot from the price of my photog pacakge because I didn’t want half the stuff offered.
Post # 7
I have very little personal experience with this, Monitajb, but a contract is a mutual agreement. You have every right to read through it before you sign and take issue with any point that seems unreasonable. Of course, both parties have the right to sign. In what experience i do have, most vendors will work with you if you are polite and reasonable. And it helps if you can let them know that you have other options.
Post # 8
I love negotiating, so we did it with pretty much everything. Just keep in mind that the old saying "you catch more flies with honey…." is just as true in this context. I have had a number of vendors toss in "extras" and tell me its because it was a pleasure to work with us and our families and that so many of the brides they deal with are difficult. The point is, you don’t have to be nasty or pushy to be an effective negotiator. You just have to know what you want, be willing to ask for it and also willing to bend.
Post # 9
one thing i found helpful is the attitude of "i’m not saying you aren’t worth X dollars for whatever, but my budget is this. Could we work out a way to do business since our wedding is inthe off season?"
Post # 10
You can negotiate everything, but if you are using A- List people, they are not open to budge very much and may get so upset that they will not take your job at all!
I’ve negotiated, but I know when to draw the line. I want to make sure that my band is getting paid, all the members- there’s 7 and they all must get paid, so I cannot ask that they work at cost … ya know. The venue, once they say that is is non-negotiable, price wise, that’s when you start telling them if they can throw this and that in. …
Post # 11
Yes, definitely negotiate. Almost everyone starts with somewhat inflated prices b/c they know that people get all emotional about weddings and are less willing to "taint" it by negotiating very hard. But I’m getting my Indian wedding dress made from a really well known designer, and even he was willing to negotiate. In that case his starting price was pretty far out of our budget so we really had to negotiate or walk away, and I’m sure that was clear to him. FYI, the "flies and honey" thing really is true b/c he said that he was just so excited to work with us etc which is why he came down (dunno if that was actually true or not, but what he said).
What I’ve found, though, is that the best way is to get an itemized estimate of all the services you want and then make a lump sum offer. Especially for catering, that lump sum will still be pretty large. For example if you think $50/head if a more fair price than $60 and you have 100 guests, get an estimate and offer $5K (or whatever) and an immediate deposit. Your negotiating position is a lot stronger if you’re pulling out your checkbook as you talk to them. That way they have to choose between cash in hand, and the possibility that they won’t get your business. Otherwise they may be thinking, "hmmm what if I come down and still have to wait for her decision? Or what if I say yes, she still decides against using me but tells her friends I give discounts?" It won’t work with everyone, but it seems the best place to start. I’ve found that it works for some people, and for others they end up meeting you half way and throwing in a few extras (that probably won’t cost them much anyway). So maybe you end up paying $5.5K with better food or a champagne toast thrown in for free or whatever. Occasionally, of course, people won’t budge at all…then you have to decide.
It’s also important, I think, to have at least some ballpark concept of reasonable pricing. If you way lowball they’ll probably just get offended and it’ll be a nonstarter. Negotiating is a good idea, but ultimately business owners do have their own costs they need to cover as well.