Wedding Vendor Negotiation – Secrets No One Tells You

Wedding Vendor Negotiation Intro

Wedding vendor negotiation – what, why and how?

Your wedding is likely to be one of the largest expenses of your adult life. The majority of couples make the mistake of assuming that quotes given to them by vendors are set in stone. But it doesn’t matter whether you are talking about the venue, photographer, DJ, band, florist, wedding planner or anyone else. The truth is that most prices are up for negotiation. Sadly most couples who try to negotiate hit a wall and give up quickly. They may feel guilty, or cheap for asking for a discount. But if you know how to negotiate properly you will not have these feelings. It’s important to understand some basics about negotiation, and how it applies to the world of wedding vendor negotiation. Weddings tend to be a time where emotions are at their highest, and vendors love this because the lack of rationality allows them to raise prices. They frequently won’t tell you a price until you’ve sampled it, and fallen in love with it, such that when they say the price (which is above your expectation) you feel like you’ve already committed.

To help our readers, we are putting together a guide on wedding vendor negotiation to help reach a better price with vendors. Negotiating is all about how much you know about the topic, fair comparable pricing, your needs, what value you are providing. The most common example you’ve probably heard of negotiation is with a car repair shop. If you walk in knowing barely anything about cars, little about car repair, and little about average costs of labor and parts, it is very likely you will get overcharged unless you are lucky and deal with someone incredibly honest.  The same truth applies to the wedding industry, though luckily wedding vendor knowledge can be learned much more quickly than car repair expertise. Our guide will show you how to easily prepare for a wedding vendor negotiation to level the playing field with the vendor. We will also show you what tools and levers you can use to argue for discounts / lower prices where it is a win-win situation for both you and the vendor.

Understand what you want/need and what you are flexible on

Let’s use a wedding photographer as an example.

How many hours do you want them? You might like to have some pictures getting ready, some pictures outside, some of the first dance, some of the group dancing, some of the toast, some of father/daughter and mother/son dances. But maybe you can plan out your schedule such that all your critical events happen during a shorter period of time and therefore reduce the hours needed. Do you need a videographer and for how many hours?

Similar to the above point, you might be able to cut down the videographer hours. Do you really need a video of you getting ready, and taking pictures at the park? Maybe you can limit video to the ceremony, and major dances, toasts, events at the reception, and a little bit of guests dancing and having fun.

When do you need their services? Do you need them in summer (peak season)? Do you need them on a Saturday? Do you have any flexibility in when you need their services? Could you have your wedding a week or two after the busy season where the weather is about the same? Could you have your wedding on a Thursday, Friday or Sunday?

Do you need them to put together a physical photo album for you? Or could you live with just getting the photos on a USB stick and print them later yourself? These are just some examples of what you want/need, but you should try to think of more on your own.

Takeaway (These will be used later):
Write down your range of what you’d prefer in an ideal world, and your maximum flexibility if needed to reduce cost.

Know the average price for comparable vendors in your area

A valuable resource we have found is The Wedding Report (no affiliation). They give you access to very useful pricing statistics specific to your county/metro area with a free account registration, which likely is all you may need. If you are looking for a photographer, for example, look up their statistics for average photographer pricing. Look for approximately three photographers that you like, and ask for a quote based on what services you need from each one.

Takeaway (These will be used later):
Write down the average cost.
Write down the lowest photographer cost.

Understand what benefits you are offering the vendor besides price

You are providing multiple benefits to the vendor. The price you pay for their service is one of the benefits, but it is not the only benefit you provide them.Here are some examples of the perks you bring to the table:

  1. The price you are paying him.
  2. Increase to his portfolio.
  3. Recommendation to friends and family.
  4. Review him on Yelp / other review sites.
  5. Recommendation on your blog (if you have one).
  6. Make a toast near the end to thank them by name at your wedding and mention how amazing they have been and how comfortable they have made you feel and that they have business cards available on a table if anyone is interested.
  7. Experience gained, and familiarity working with your venue, picture location, reception location. This may help convince future clients who are wedding at the same venue to choose your vendor over others.
  8. Potential for you to not waste their time. Vendors may have to give quotes and meet with five people before they get one person who accepts them. If you don’t drain their time and know what you want and make it clear you already like their style and personality, and the only issue is the price it is cheaper to give you a $100 discount than to meet with five other candidates before they find one that commits.

Takeaway (These will be used later):
Write down what benefit you are providing them other than paying their price

Appeal to their human side

If you are broke and not getting any help from parents, tell them. Vendors are not pure evil, but they are running a business and trying to maximize profits. If a portion of their price is purely price gauging, they may offer a reduction for you to a level where it is still profitable for them, but more affordable for you.

Takeaway (These will be used later):
Write down any conditions you have that make it harder for you to afford prices that more affluent couples can afford.

We hope this article on wedding vendor negotiation helped you realize that you shouldn’t feel guilty about negotiating for a better price. Now you should be prepared with confidence and the information you will need in your wedding vendor negotiation.  We will be adding an article in the next few days on how to use this all of this for the actual negotiation. If you are interested in receiving an update when the article is published please subscribe to our email list. Let us know if you have any other questions regarding your upcoming wedding vendor negotiation.

Update: Our final wedding vendor negotiation article is available.

If you liked this post, share it via:

Leave a Reply