Not only is the vendor going to be able to take charge of the conversation, you are also going to end up paying for things you don’t need.
Here are 10 negotiating tips to get you started in the right direction.
Tip # 1: Win Win
Most negotiations are thought of as adversarial with people on both sides trying to one up the other. However, research has shown that the best negotiations are the kind that are a win-win for both parties.
For example, plated meals cost less to prepare than a buffet. If your rehearsal dinner package has a buffet included, then ask the caterer to switch it to a plated meal for a 5% discount. They will do so happily knowing that they will save on food costs. It’s a win for you and a win for them.
Not only does this type of negotiation result in better service on the part of your vendor, it also fosters a great working relationship.
Tip # 2: Get competitive bids
Want to know what most brides fail to do? They don’t get competitive bids and end up paying far more than they should have.
Brides should be calling at least five or six vendors that offer similar services so they can get an idea of what everyone has to offer. Once you know what each competitor charges, it’s a lot easier to negotiate better pricing.
And getting quotes from multiple vendors is not as difficult as you may think.
For example, blocking hotel rooms for destination wedding guests was a big hassle because you had to call a dozen hotels just to get group rates. However, this is no longer the case. You can now fill out a simple form and get group rates for free from all the hotels in any city.
You can do the same for photographers, caterers, florists and bakers too.
Tip # 3: Remove the fat
When planning a destination wedding, you’re going to be presented with lots of different packages. Every vendor you come across will have a package of some kind. From florists to photographers, you are going to be inundated with lots of frills you don’t necessarily need, but are included in the package anyways.
When negotiating with vendors, request that the items you don’t need in the package be removed and the price lowered. For example, a photographer may have an eight hour wedding package. If you only need the photographer to come in for four hours, then ask for a concession on price.
Tip # 4: Negotiate higher ticket items
If you are going to negotiate, then do so for the costliest item first. Getting 20% knocked off thirty floral arrangements for your reception will save you far more money than getting the same percentage off the bridal party bouquets.
Tip # 5: Take detailed notes
When speaking to a vendor, you’ll notice them making lots of “soft” promises. For example, if you are talking to a hotel salesperson about shuttling guests to the wedding venue, they may say that it is included in the price of the room.
However, unless you have this included in the contract with the hotel, it does not mean anything. After all, the salesperson that made the promises may no longer be employed when your wedding date arrives.
Take detailed notes when speaking to a vendor and send a follow-up email (with your notes) so you both have the same understanding. Then make sure it is included in the contract.
Tip # 6: Be flexible
Hotels will charge less for a Friday wedding. Catering halls charge less for house linen. And bakers will charge less for a smaller wedding cake (with a larger sheet cake to serve guests). Be flexible about your needs and vendors will be able to lower their prices too.
Tip # 7: Show hesitation
As part of your research, you’ll see lots of vendors for each service. You’ll meet photographers, caterers, florists, and you’ll visit wedding venues. In all your meetings, never show excitement or tell the vendor that what they are offering is exactly what you want.
Remember to show restraint and hesitation, especially when talking about price. Use long silent pauses to make the vendor feel as though you are not happy about what they have to offer. In many cases, they will begin to knock down their prices without you having to ask.
Tip # 8: Walk away
Be ready to walk away. If you have done your competitive research, then you will know what the competition will charge so you should have no problems walking away from a vendor unless you feel you are getting a good deal.
And if you do walk away, don’t be surprised if the original vendor calls you back and agrees to your terms.
Tip # 9: You could be sneaky
While we definitely don’t condone this practice, it is used widely by many when negotiating with vendors for a destination wedding.
Once a bride gets a contract in hand from the first vendor, she promptly goes over to a competitor and asks them to beat the price while providing all the services outlined in the contract.
Warning: this strategy is bad for karma
Tip # 10: Can you do better than that?
This one is short but sweet. Anytime a vendor presents a price, be it for a single item or a package, ask if they can do better than that, and then hold silent till they respond. In most cases, they will either concede a bit on price, or present you with a lower priced option.
Most brides hate negotiating with vendors because they don’t even know where to begin. Hopefully, the tips above will provide you some direction on what to look for and what to ask during your next negotiation with a destination wedding vendor.
What should you do next?
Read our tips on negotiating with hotels when you need a block of rooms.