Working With Vendors

How to Negotiate with Your Wedding Vendors

Continued (page 2 of 4)

How to Lower Your Costs Dramatically: Yes, You May Have to Compromise

Wait to schedule an in-person meeting until you're sure that the vendor's services are within your general price range. Negotiating a lower price may be an option, but don't expect any vendor to drop his or her rates by thousands of dollars. There are, however, a few circumstances that would make significant discounts a possibility. But be warned, these big discounts might require some risk-taking on your part.

"If space is available, we want to fill it," says Will Krupp of the Westin Copley Place, in Boston. "There isn't a lot of wiggle room if you book for a date two years from now. But if the date is coming up in the next few months, the chances of us filling it are reduced and we will be able to work with you."

"If a couple has a tight budget they should figure out a theme or a color scheme and be open-minded. We can create beautiful, seasonal arrangements with flowers that aren't 'namebrands' like expensive speciality tulips or peonies."

Bartering is also worth a try. If you're a personal trainer, for example, you can find out if your baker or florist might want to reduce their fee in exchange for training sessions. "What is key here is to approach this delicately, perhaps mentioning your profession to see if it garners any interest from the vendor," says Amy. "If you do go down this path, put the agreement in writing and stipulate the value of what you're providing and what they're providing. Also include the timing/deadline for exchanging the services, e.g., in the next year or six months."

"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.

"Rather than do handmade rolled-chocolate roses, we can use buttercream and save money," says Rebecca Moesinger, co-owner of Konditor Meister, a bakery in Braintree, MA. "If a bride loves a design, we can make something very similar that's less expensive."

If a couple has a tight budget," says Clover Chadwick of Dandelion Ranch, a florist in Los Angeles, "they should figure out a theme or a color scheme and be open-minded. We can create beautiful, seasonal arrangements with flowers that aren't 'namebrands' like expensive speciality tulips or peonies."

Most vendors agree it's critical for you to identify what aspects of your wedding are important because, we're sorry to say, you can't have it all. "If a photographer has a package that is $8,000 for six hours of coverage and you need eight hours of coverage, ask if you can eliminate certain things (such as an engagement photo session, or prints or albums that might come with the package) in exchange for extra hours of coverage," says Amy. If you're still having trouble, you may need to consider more impactful cuts. "Look at the big picture," says Anna Lathrop of Gourmet Galley Catering, in Connecticut. "Changing an hors d'oeuvre from a scallop wrapped in bacon to a vegetable dumpling isn't going to make a big impact. You may need to invite fewer guests, or change your entrée from a filet to chicken."

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