Bridal Bartering

Continued (page 4 of 4)

2. Get referrals. As with any wedding vendor, make sure you are bartering with someone who is professional and reliable. If you have a nagging feeling that this person or company is not for you, listen to your gut and don’t do business with them. You should also thoroughly vet any barter company you are considering, by checking with your state's attorney general or the Better Business Bureau. To get a list of barter companies across the nation, check out the Web site of the National Association of Trade Exchange, at nate.org.

3. Meet in person. A successful barter is built on trust, which can be hard to develop through e-mail. Keep in regular contact throughout the process.

4. Sign a contract. A handshake will not guarantee that you will be compensated should your bartered flowers not arrive on time. Make sure both parties have a signed contract outlining in detail what’s being exchanged. You should also include a timeline for when the services will be delivered.

5. Pay your taxes. Bartering is a perfectly legal way to do business if you report the fair market value of your trade on your taxes. If you are a yoga instructor, for instance, and barter classes for the justice of the peace's fee, you need to report the "income" you received and pay the taxes on that income. The benefit to you: You still end up getting a substantial discount and connect with someone who could become a regular client. If you trade an actual item—such as a refrigerator or a bike—in exchange for the justice of the peace's fee, it's treated like a cash exchange, and you owe no taxes. For more information about the legalities of bartering, see the Internal Revenue Service guidelines at irs.fov/taxtopics/tc420.html or u-exchange.com/bartering-legalities.

6. Avoid peak wedding periods. Vendors are more likely to barter if they know they won’t make a cash sale on that day. Choosing to get married on a Saturday in June will give you less leverage than a Friday in March.

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