For Brides: “The Dos and Don’ts of Wedding Vendor Negotiations”

Wedding season is nearly upon us, and Brides are putting the final touches on their special day.  Many of them are probably still deciding on a few of their vendors, such as their DJ, their hair & make-up, or their videographer.  Here is a list of a few “dos & dont’s” for you brides-to-be to keep in mind when negotiating with any of your vendors. Note, a few of these might sound a little redundant, but that just means it’s important!

DO: Ask questions!  If you don’t understand something about the service, ask!  If you don’t understand why the cost of their service is what it is, ask!  Most vendors are more than happy to answer any questions you have.  They want you to feel comfortable with you decision to hire them.

DON’T: Make requests for their service that are not in line with their pricing.  It’s give and take.  In other words, if the vendor is out of your budget, talk to them about your budget and how they can work to get their service in line with it.  They will be happy to work with you!  However, do NOT expect to get the “Platinum Package” at the “Bronze Package” pricing.  If you want to pay less, you should be prepared to give up something on their end.  Whether it be hours they are there, special add-ons, or something else.  But remember, they WILL work with you!

DO: Make sure there are no hidden fees, such as mileage.  When you get the final price, make sure it is really the FINAL price.  Of course, be nice about it, but ask them if their price includes everything, such as mileage.

DON’T: Believe everything you read on the internet when it comes to negotiating prices.  Some of the common “tricks & tips” to getting cheaper vendors, such as Weekday or off-season weddings being cheaper, are not always true.  This would more likely apply to the venue.  They likely really do have seasonal rates, and rates that change during the week, but when it comes to photographers, DJ, videographers, florists, hair & make-up, catering, and others, I don’t know many that change their prices in this way.  You can always ask them, but just don’t expect that they are going to lower the price for a Friday wedding.

DO: Treat your vendors with respect.  They will do the same for you. Charleston Wedding

DON’T: Insult your vendors.  They are people too!

DO: IF you are on a very tight budget, but still really want some photos or video of your event, scour the internet for people just starting out in that business, or a college student that likes to do it part time for a little extra spending money.  If the student is taking film classes there is a possibility they might be able to get class credit for shooting your wedding. In this case, I would probably contact your local colleges and ask the photography professor if this is the case.  From there you could put an ad on the college bulletin boards seeking film talent.

DON’T: If you are on that same tight budget mentioned above, don’t contact a professional vendor who is charging 4x your budget and ask them to bring it down to your level. It’s just insulting.  As mentioned above, vendors will work with you and your budget to offer you something you can afford, but just don’t expect to get the prime rib for the cost of the ham & cheese.

DO: Find out everything that is included in the wedding package you are interested in buying.  If there are parts of it that you don’t need, like video of the rehearsal dinner, tell your vendor and use that as a price negotiation.

DON’T: Say to your photographer or videographer, “You’ll only spend a few hours shooting.  Can’t you do it for less?”  Refer to the story below.

Picasso is sketching at a park. A woman walks by, recognizes him, and begs for her portrait. Somehow, he agrees. A few minutes later, he hands her the sketch. She is elated, excited about how wonderfully it captures the very essence of her character, what beautiful work it is, and asks how much she owes him. “5000 francs, madam,” says Picasso. The woman is incredulous, outraged, and asks how that’s even possible given it only took him 5 minutes. Picasso looks up and, without missing a beat, says: “No, madam, it took me my whole life.”

A good vendor will value their work and not want to cheapen it by slashing prices. Remember, it’s give and take.  Your vendors understand you’re on a budget.  If you want lower prices, that’s fine and totally understandable.  However, you must be flexible when it comes to the service you get from that vendor.  If you want X, Y, & Z for $500 and they normally charge $1,000, you can still get within your budget, just keep in mind you might only get X & half of Y.

DO: Feel free to ask if the vendor is running any promotions or military discounts, but

DON’T: Get mad if they are not.Ben & Tiffany pic01 - web

DO: Ask

DON’T: Demand

DO: Trust your gut.  If a vendor sounds too good to be true, or something seems ‘off’ about them, look elsewhere for someone who makes you feel more comfortable.  Not all vendors are precious gems!

DON’T: Use the tactic of how working your event will lead to more business for the vendor, thus they should do it for a fraction of the price.  Unless they are just starting out, this is not really the case.

DO: Be grateful and appreciative to your vendor.  One photographer was quoted saying, “When I know someone appreciates my work and understands why I charge what I charge, I almost always throw in a few extra prints, a wall portrait that didn’t come with their package…”  The moral of this story – being nice pays off.

DON’T: Pit vendors against each other.  Some couples try this as a means to have them fight for your business.  Changes are you will lose out on a good vendor because they won’t be interested in the games or drama it creates.

DO: Comparison shop!  Look over the internet very carefully.  Compare prices, as well as their samples.  Then contact a few of your favorites, maybe even meet with a few.  See what you think of them in person, and then pick your favorite!

DON’T: Stop looking after the first 2 or 3 pages on your Google search.  There are good vendors out there that just haven’t gotten the best rankings in the browser searching world.  Go another 10-15 pages in or until you are fully convinced you have seen everyone there is to see.  There also might be a hidden vendor on page 11 that is still very qualified and within your budget!McNair Snapshot-web

DO: Be upfront with your vendors.  Explain to them about your “Must Haves”.  Put all your cards on the table in the beginning and that open communication will help keep things running smoothly into and throughout your wedding day.

FINAL TIP: If you’re on a tight budget and still want everything the vendor has to offer, see if they will give you a referral discount.  If you’re getting married, chances are, you might know other engaged couples getting married soon as well.  Personally, I would be willing to give a modest rebate to a couple who gets me more business.

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