Unless you're a professional arbitrator, chances are you're not comfortable negotiating. Having a well-thought-out strategy when planning your wedding will make it easier. Review these five steps from BRIDES magazine before having the talk:
- Know your budget. "It may sound obvious, but figure out what you can spend before bargaining," says Jean Chatzky, author of The Difference: How Anyone Can Prosper Even in the Toughest Times (Crown Business). Knowing your numbers will boost your confidence.
- Get an itemized cost list from each vendor. This way, you'll know where every dollar is allocated. "Don't start discussing discounts until you've taken time to review the list on your own and can suggest tweaks," says Chatzky.
- Always ask (nicely). Approach the planning process with the mind-set that all prices are flexible. If you don't ask for a discount, you'll never get one.
- Be flexible. Negotiating requires give-and-take; the most successful deals happen when both parties are willing to find a sweet spot that works for them. Maybe it's having a shorter reception or marrying on a Friday. Compromising may get you closer to the right price.
- Know your value. Joyce Scardina Becker, president of the Wedding Industry Professionals Association, says that a couple that has blocked guest rooms and planned multiple events (rehearsal dinner, reception, brunch) at a single hotel will have more bargaining power than a couple that is hosting just one event. Consider this when planning, and don't be afraid to remind the vendor of what Becker, who's also a wedding planner, calls "the total impact of your business."
—Lexi Dwyer, BRIDES magazine