Larry James' CelebrateIntimateWeddings BLOG

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

When Looking for Wedding Vendors… Is Negotiation a No-No?

Filed under: Negotiation,Wedding Tips — Larry James @ 7:30 am
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Every bride wants to feel as if she is getting a good deal on the products and services that she needs for her wedding day. Let’s face it. You can spend a lot of money on a fancy wedding with lots of extras. Not every wedding vendor is going to be a match for you.

NegotiateThere are so many aspects of a wedding. So many, that they can cloud your thinking and be very confusing. It’s important to know what aspects of your wedding are the most important because, we’re sorry to say, you can’t have it all. The perfect solution is to hire a Wedding Consultant and take advantage of their vast knowledge of the wedding business. They know where the good deals are.

If you don’t hire a Wedding Consultant, be curious. Do your due diligence. Shop around, however there are several things to keep in mind when you are talking price. There are many vendors from which to choose. Please keep in mind that not all vendors – even in the same genre – provide the same services. A vendor who charges $2,000.00 for something is not going to give it to you for $1,000.00, so don’t insult them by asking. Don’t make your first question be, “How much do you charge?” because, like I said, they are all different.

You are wise to ask lots of questions… and listen to the answers… then compare. Never be afraid to ask the tough questions and let them know you are seriously interested in working with them. Do your homework. Professional wedding vendors will more eagerly answer your questions, explain things and spend time with you. Ask for references. If the fee is in your budget and you feel that they are a good fit, hire them. Once you’ve negotiated a price with a vendor and the terms have been accepted, you should be ready to sign an agreement. I might add… don’t wait. The really great vendors keep very busy. A deposit to secure the date will demonstrate your sincere desire to use their services.

If their fee is more than your budget allows, consider making cuts to something else in your budget that you feel is less important to you. You can’t begin to think about negotiating if you’re even slightly unsure of how much you want to spend. You do have a budget, right? Either stick to your wedding budget or you will need to make huge compromises on other important elements of your wedding. Some couples – without budgets – often get their marriage off on the wrong foot by going head-over-heels in debt. Not a good idea.

Don’t make your budget a secret. Discuss it with your vendors. When you make your budget a secret, a vendor may propose something to you that is way out of your price range. This can be aggravating to you and a waste of time for them. A good wedding vendor will give you suggestions on how you can use their services while staying within your budget, or they may simply tell you that the two of you aren’t a good match.

“Aggressive negotiation devalues the offering of the supplier and, ultimately, of the category. If that’s your tactic you know that in the end you will find the supplier that is desperate for work and will lower the price. This means that other suppliers, who may be much more professional but who really can’t lower their prices because they are costing their services as honestly as they can, won’t stand a chance. This is a recipe for disaster and it is what sends many people out of business.” ~ Elisabetta @ Linen and Silk Blog

Treat your vendors nice and you will get the same treatment. Vendors depend heavily on word-of-mouth referrals. Be reasonable. They want your business and if you want their services you are most likely to work better together if you treat each other with respect.

“When it comes to negotiating, you need to remember the old adage; ‘You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.’ Most wedding vendors will go out of their way to work with a sweet, well-mannered bride. Transforming into “Bridezilla” will more than likely get you an extra nuisance fee, or an invitation to hire someone else.” ~ Susan Southerland, President, Just Marry!

More than likely you’ll have some number in your budget that you need to stick to and no matter what the number is – be true to it. When evaluating which vendors to book for your wedding day, you may be tempted to hire a vendor that may be more than your budget allows. If they are way out of your budget, move on.

“If you can’t necessarily afford the vendor, instead of negotiating and asking them to discount their services – “ask if you can make payments.” This may allow you to afford their services if you have to shell out a big chunk of money all at once. See if they will allow you to make smaller payments along the way. A vendor might be more willing to work with you on this so you can afford to book their services as opposed to belittling a vendors experience and services by asking to pay them less. Vendors usually charge what they feel their service is worth.” ~ Erica Bull is owner of Colorado Occasions.

Vendors can sometimes be accommodating when it comes to payment plans. “There are certain contractual things that we can be flexible about – deposits, how much money is paid when, when the final payment should be,” says Chad Michael Peters. “If quarterly payments suit your financial situation better, that’s fine. Ask questions to make it work for you.” Some vendors may even provide discounts to couples who pay with cash.

Negotiate2Be aware that vendors who know what there services are worth will seldom cut their fee. They may not drop the price, but they may throw in extras. They may add something or talk away something that will make it more worthwhile to you. On the other hand, vendors who are much too anxious to give you a large discount are the ones that should raise a red flag. Too anxious could signal a less than professional service. Be careful. Remember, a deal that is “too good to be true,” usually is!

“This isn’t like buying a car,” says Frank J. Andonoplas, MBC, of Frank Event Design, in Chicago. “If you want the price to come down, you have to take something out of the equation.” Of course, by far the most effective way to bring prices down is to put the ball in your vendor’s court. State the ideal amount you want to spend, and let them use their creativity, knowledge, and expertise to make it happen. You’ll have to be flexible, but the good news is that most vendors are willing to accommodate smaller wallets by adding, subtracting, or juggling items in packages.

When dealing with wedding vendors, remember – this is their livelihood. It’s how they pay bills and feed their family, just like you do with the money you make from your work. Put yourself in their shoes before you ask for a discount or something for free. It’s important to maintain a good relationship with your vendors – you want them to be as excited to work with you as you are with them. So be sure that your negotiations are handled as calmly and politely as possible.

Time pressure is a marketing strategy that sales people often employ and a bride and groom can easily fall for this trap. A bride should be on the lookout for such pitfalls. Also, beware of extra charges that wedding vendors might tack on. Get everything in writing.

They say the best always costs more. Most often this is true. When you are listening to what they offer, listen for extras that may make the difference between someone else who offered the same services for less.

If you are only interested in price… then hiring any vendor will do. However, if you want your ceremony and reception to be memorable hire the vendor that best fits what you want for your wedding.

One last thought: For me… I want to be considered for the excellent quality of my work as a Wedding Officiant, not just the fee!

Bonus Article: Interviewing a Wedding Officiant? – Bring Lots of Questions!
How Much Will Your Wedding Cost? + Ways to Save!

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Copyright © 2013 – Larry James. Larry James is an award winning, non-denominational wedding officiant and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-998-9411 or Cell: 480-205-3694. Pre-maritial relationship coaching is available and not required. You will find more than 475 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (96 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Something NEW about weddings is posted every 4th day on this Wedding BLOG. Check Larry’s availability.

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