Post # 1
So in all my sea of vendor emails and pricing requests, I began to wonder- do vendors negotiate for weddings? I guess my thought came from the fact that usually anything with the word wedding stamped on it triples in price!! I saw mention from one post saying that most bridal boutiques give a 15% discount… is this true?? What other vendors did you have luck negotiating with? Gown, Floral, Photography?? I’m just wondering where to push and where to not bother pushing my luck… Thoughts?
Post # 3
We’ve only booked the reception location/ceremony location. No luck negotiating with us. It got absolutely no where. They book way over a year out, some brides even having Sunday and Friday weddings (at full cost) so they can get married here on shorter notice. Boo for us. So the moral of my story, depends on if they need to negotiate to secure business from my experience.
Post # 4
Negotiating? Pffttt… when it came to anything "wedding" related, no one gave us a discount for anything at all. They looked at me like I was crazy for even mentioning it. I even took my Bridesmaid or Best Man dresses to a woman who did alterations out of her home because the bridal shop we purchased them at wanted just about 1/2 the cost of the dress in just alterations! You would think you would get some sort of discount for purchasing 6 dresses in one shop! Yet, when I went to buy a new washer and dryer for our apartment, I got them for 1/3 off at Lowes.
Good thing I didn’t say "oh they’re white, they’ll match with my wedding!" or they probably would have CHARGED me twice as much! *giggle*
Post # 5
My dream photographer’s prices started at almost twice what we’d budgeted for photography. I sent her an email telling her I loved her work and why (yes, flattery is always appreciated), as well as what we were looking for in a photographer and just asked if there was anything we could do to be able to get on the same page. Just so you have an idea, I told her I needed a photographer who had a photojournalistic style, a CD with high res images & digital rights to the images, and told her what my budget was, how many guests we were expecting, and the particulars of the wedding – place, date, etc.
Imagine my surprise and delight when I received an email from her saying it was completely do-able. She could shoot our wedding for the price we needed! Her original package was for two photographers and included an album. Since we are having fewer guests, she felt confident that one photographer could handle it, and we just traded off an album we would have soon after our wedding for the luxury of having digital rights to our images so we can make our own album when we are able to afford it.
Post # 6
it rarely hurts to ask. if the vendor is very popular, you may not have any luck, but especially in this economy, there may be wiggle room for vendors that aren’t swarmed by hoards of eager customers.
Post # 7
You will probably have more luck with coordinators, photographers and videographers who have more leeway on their services.
Caterers, bridal shops, places that sell inventory probably are working on a much smaller margin and can’t afford to negotiate as much.
Post # 8
It never hurts to ask, just don’t be insulting when you do
The best route is to do what Lourile did. Email the vendor and tell them you love their work. Let them know your date and BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR BUDGET. Nothing pisses a vendor off more then people that do the money dance (yeah the ones at weddings suck too). But seriously, just be honest, tell them where you are at, and if they can take you on as a client, they will!
You have to also look at it as what are you providing for them? Asking for a discount of services on a holiday weekend? not so much. But if your wedding is on a thursday, you bet. Are you doing some sort of unique cultural tradition that might add to the portfolio of an up and coming vendor? Are you getting married at a great destination location? These are all INCENTIVES. Figure out what yours are and pitch away.
btw… I’m saying this as 35 day old bride who DID NEGOTIATE and as a vendor that works in the crazy world of big budget weddings.
Post # 9
Like most of the posters have said, there’s no hard and fast rule to this. We had zero luck negotiating with our venue — it is a facility managed by a conservancy and any changes to the contract had to be approved by literally 4 different people, so they weren’t really willing to budge on what was printed.
Our photographer, however, was much more willing to work with us. When I spoke with her about a potential discount, in addition to all the reasons that we really wanted to work with her, I went armed with knowledge of comparable photographers and what they were charging. Our photographer was several hundred dollars more expensive than the comps — mostly b/c the others offered off-peak discounts and ours didn’t. Asking for the discount with our photographer was easier b/c it was clear that we weren’t comparing her to subpar photographes who just charged a lot less at the outset.
And on that note, I just looked at your bio and saw you are having an Oct. wedding. In most places that would be considered off-peak, which really opens up the door to a lot more negotiating. Good luck!
Post # 10
Great article on negotiating from Esquire:
The main gist is that people will not move on the price unless there is something in it for them. Weddings are usually a one-off deal and so vendors do not believe they’ll get repeat business or volume or anything like that by giving you a discount. So you need to sell them on the personal relationship and how it benefits them. Stuff like "I work at a University and so many of my girlfriends are getting married do you think I could get a deal and I’ll be your word of mouth, your own personal floral arrangement promoter. I’m talking weddings funerals, bouquets for secretaries all for a little good-will discount."
Even a simple "Is that the best price you can give me?" can work wonders, but make it a win-win scenario make it worthwhile for them to cut you a break.
Post # 11
Knock yourself out! Try as much as you can (we did) but I found with people who must be creative (like a photographer) we couldnt very well negotiate to the Nth degree and expect good photos, for hard goods ABSOLUTELY – if you have the stomach for it. Without even trying we are negotiating the hell out of several contracts because so many vendors dont know a damn thing about the law and they put all these rather onerous terms in, that we cant possibly agree to…like if a hurricane comes and cancels our wedding we still have to pay the photographer! No thanks. Most of these people are independent contractors so they can do what they want. Hotels have more flexibility than they let on–that is not to say I had any luck negotiating mine down though!
Post # 12
This is a very common issue that runs rampant with weddings. As a professional event planner – aka contract negotiator (I was in Corporate Events departments for years) it certainly makes a huge difference when you have someone who knows the ins and outs of the events/hospitality industry on your side.
My best advice is to research coordinators/event planners in your area and work with one you feel confident with. 90% of the time they pay for themselves and then some by the amount they can save you with their negotiating power alone 🙂
au revior mon cheries,
Post # 13
We negotiated the price of our DJ and our photographer. With the DJ, we had liked 2 of them, and the 3 we liked, but not as much, but the price was better. So I e-mailed the other 2 and told them we had recieved a better quote (I didn’t tell them how much) and asked if they would like to re-quote me. Both of them said they would love the opportunity to re-quote, and asked me what the other quote was. I told them, and one matched the lower quote, and the other just discounted his price. At any rate we recieved an extra $150 off the DJ.
It never hurts to ask, all they can say is no.
Post # 14
I am still mystified by the whole "mention wedding and the price goes way up" idea. That was not my experience at all. Our prices for the venue, the catering, the flowers, the band – were comparable to what I would have paid for the same services for any large event – and having been involved with planning conferences before, I know what I’m talking about. And in some cases – as with the florist – the price per centerpiece or bout or corsage was significantly less then it would have been if I was just ordering one.
RyanT has a good point – and it appears to be true from reading these boards – in that your photographer or DJ or florist is generally someone you have never met before and are unlikely to ever hire again. So the philosophy of giving you a deal so that you’ll come back again and again really isn’t applicable. We purposely worked with vendors that we already knew, just to avoid that. I could have gone out and interviewed every florist in town, but why wouldn’t I just have gone to the corner shop where I’ve ordered arrangements for years? Same with the cake – we order so much from the same bakery that they already knew what flavors we would want. Our photographer’s father took the photos for my mom’s wedding, and we have had multiple family portraits done by him over the years.
The main negotiating we did was with our venue – whom we also already knew as it was our country club. They also did the catering, and we didn’t bother to try to negotiate on that, but after it was clear that we were already commiting to spend quite a bit, we were successful in getting them to throw in some extras (nicer chairs, colored table linens) for NO additional cost.
Post # 15
we negotiated with a lot of vendors – photographer, florist, venue, band – and if you do it in the right way and in the right spirit, then it should go well. There was a similar thread earlier
Post # 16
Suzanno makes a really good point. I’ve used certain vendors for parties over and over again and the deal gets better each party I have. It’s worth it to find somebody you like and stick with them. Use the same florist for all your pre-wedding events and you might score a deal.