Negotiating with wedding vendors: Is it appropriate?
Ah, the wedding budget. After the excitement of becoming engaged wanes a little, the reality of creating a budget sets in. This is where expectations can change and it can be difficult having your heart set on particular components. Every wedding budget is valid. I repeat, weddings happen in all sorts of budget ranges and compromise is a key part of planning any wedding day.
There is a plethora of wedding planning information online and it can be daunting. We often see articles on “how to ask for a discount” or “haggling tips” and it can set an unfortunate precedent. We’ll sum it up right at the start.
You shouldn’t negotiate with your wedding vendors.
Discussing your budget with your vendors is an absolutely okay and encouraged. This helps you to determine who is and isn’t in your budget range. We always recommend chatting with your planner before hand to narrow down your vendor options prior to meeting with them. It’s kind of like Say Yes to the Dress. Don’t try on the dress that is 10K when your budget is 2K. It sets an expectation and can create unnecessary stress and heartache. Asking a vendor to adjust their services or offerings to accommodate your budget is okay, but asking them to devalue themselves and their service is not.
It’s a difficult time for many people right now, particularly creatives and freelancers who have had the majority of their weddings (and income) wiped out in an instant. Wedding vendors typically aren’t rolling up in Jaguars and owning mansions. We’re just like everyone else with kids to feed and mortgages to pay. When you invest with us, you’re paying for expertise and experience. Asking us to work for less is like your boss asking you to come in and work for free.
We want everyone to be able to afford the wedding experience of their dreams and that’s where a healthy dose of realism comes in as well as planning in advance and adjusting expectations comes into play.
Here are some tips before you meet or secure your vendors:
There’s options for every couple in every budget range. Doing your research will help you to understand the variety of experience, expertise and options there are. Try google, review, and vendor directories.
Make your must have wish list.
Plan and decide on the things that are most important to each of you ahead of making your budget so that you can be prepared.
Make that budget early!
Plan your budget either on your own or with your planner to understand your must have list and your expectations prior to getting your heart set on anything.
Professional Vendors Vs. Newcomers
Wanting the best experience is understandable. Realistically, your budget may not accommodate some vendors who are as professional or experienced as a newcomer (in certain areas). Be flexible and ask yourselves where you are willing to compromise quality and experience and where are you not. Would you rather have an ultra experienced photographer and have a more low-key dinner or adjust your decor budget? Or are there other areas you can be flexible with?
When making these decisions we urge you to remember your vendors are people. Your investment keeps a small business going, keeps a roof over their heads and allows them to serve you with the utmost care and professionalism. When thinking about negotiating prices try thinking about the following:
- It’s your pay day. Your company asks if they can pay you less this month because they’ve run out of money. They really like you and hope you’ll keep working for them regardless of your pay amount.
- Your boss says you’ve done a really good job on a project but they can’t pay you your full pay check. Instead, they’ll let all their friends know about how good of a job you did and that exposure will maybe lead to some side work.
- You’d really like to try a brand new gastro pub but can’t afford to eat there. You ask for a discount because you’d like to try their food.
If you want to invest in a vendor who will understand your wedding dreams, you need to be prepared to invest for their time and expertise to make your vision come to life.
Relationships are Key
You inherently spend more time during your wedding day with certain vendors. Some examples include your planner, videographer and photographer. We like to advise placing more emphasis on finding the right vendors from the start who you can form a good relationship with. This will give you an amazing experience on your special day.
The best way to kick off that relationship is by respecting their investment options. When you try to negotiate, it sets the tone of the relationship and can send a message that you believe their service is worth less than you think it is. Yikes.
Discussing your budget when you meet is awesome
If you’re really in love with a particular vendor’s work let them know you’re budget right away and be understanding that what they may be able to offer you will be less time/offerings etc. to accommodate. Or, allocate more of your budget to that particular area. If they cannot accommodate, check out another vendor in a similar style but with perhaps less experience.
Instead of Negotiating with Wedding Vendors, Balance Your Budget
Remember to revisit your list of priorities often. If there’s a certain vendor who is the vendor of your dreams, you might only need to rearrange your budget a little.
If you’ve been dreaming of a Vera Wang gown since you were a little girl that’s pretty special. However, a Vera Gown may not be in your original budget plan. Now is when you want to visit your budget and expectations to see if you can make it work or find an alternative.
For example, if lush, enormous floral arrangements overflowing with the world’s most stunning blooms have been something you dreamed of since you were 12—we want you to have those super stunning floral creations. However, the right florist for the job might fall outside of your original budget. Perhaps there are certain areas like luxury linens or chivari chairs that you can change to other options to accommodate other vendors. It’s okay to get creative if it means what you want will be something you remember most about your wedding day 30 years down the road!
We hope you’ve enjoyed these tips and advice. Is there anything we might have missed that you’d like to add? Send us a note as we’d like to keep this current.
Nicole Sarah Photography Studio
While you are here check out our latest post on “No children please” wedding invitation etiquette!
Interested in more wedding planning advice? Check out our post on Hiring a Cheap Wedding Photographer.