Learn how to negotiate with your suppliers for your wedding. It's really important and can save you a lot of money or help you get more bang for your buck.
- Do your homework
- Gather a range of quotes
- Don’t quarrel
- Compare packages
- Be positive
- Work with people who are talented in what they do
- Opt out of package deals
- Look and act the part
- Cut a deal
- Be indifferent
- Be prepared for mistakes
- Be happy to share
Do Your Homework
Research the company you are speaking with. Look through their online portfolio, read reviews and make notes of things that you like and don’t like about their work. Put this information into a portfolio ready for your meeting. That way when you meet, you a) don’t waste your time and b) you can negotiate prices based on looks they already have that you like rather than talking only conceptually.
Gather A Range Of Quotes
Contact at least 3-4 other suppliers you like and get some comparative quotes. You can use these as bargaining tools. If a supplier really wants you as a client, they may be prepared to drop their prices to match another supplier. If they won’t drop their prices they may throw in some extras such as free deliver, better bump in/bump out times or longer hire. It may not always be saving you a buck, but you might get more bang for it!!
Whilst you might be trying to get great value and added extras it is very important you respect their work and what it might cost. They can just as easily leave you as you can them. Don't sweat the small stuff and create a nice relationship with your supplier.
Ask your supplier to provide you with a range of costing’s for various items or packages and then see what is common about each package. Is there really only ‘one extra bunch of flowers’ included in the “supreme” package? If so, go back to your supplier and ask what else they can include to entice you to use pick the best package. Is that extra bunch really worth that much more?
The more compliments and excitement you show them (and the nicer you are through the process) may lead them to be more eager to please you. They are more likely to give you a wonderful experience working with them if they like you! They may even go above and beyond to throw in some extras if they think you love their work and appreciate what they are doing. There is a subtle balance here though so don’t sound fake or cheesy. You should be working with people you genuinely love anyway so this should come naturally. You may not realise it but on the day instead of having just flowers on the tables, you have them all over the signing table as well...
Work With People Who Are Talented In What They Do
If you work with amazing suppliers who specialise in what they do they are more likely to be able to offer a wide range of services. You are also more likely to be able to trust them completely with all the work.
Although they may look more expensive on the outset you may end up better off financially at the end of the day as they would have access to more options of products or services. For example, you also may end up spending more on ‘filler items’ to compensate for not so nice flowers just because you opted to go with a rookie florist! They may be harder to negotiate with as far as price is concerned, but you can be sure on quality.
And, if you work with amazing suppliers then tell the other suppliers you are looking to hire. From our experience great suppliers love to work with other amazing suppliers. It makes their lives easier and their work look even better on the day as they have incredible work all around them. For example, a florist would prefer to work with a beautiful bonbonniere company, as they would compliment their arrangements. Similarly, a photographer would prefer to work with an talented videographer so they can feed off each other and work together to get the best couple shots. We’ve heard suppliers refer to this as working in the “dream team”.
Opt Out Of Package Deals
Whilst some people think it is cheaper getting package deals, it isn’t always. This is why you sometimes need to be careful of venues that offer an all-encompassing package. It can end up costing a fortune! In our experience you are better asking your venue to get out of the styling package and looking for your own stylist/florists etc. Some venues have run of the mill packages and their stylists/designers may not be the best for you or represent your style.
It's important that you negotiate not only to get out of packages but with the suppliers you are dealing with and make them want your job. Explain all the wonderful things you have in mind for your wedding and how much work you are putting into it yourself.
If you are budget conscious you may be better off, say, hiring your Tiffany chairs from one company but your outdoor furniture from another. You can go back to both the companies and see if one or the other can do a better deal if they were to provide all the items rather than you using two companies. If they are already doing some work for you, it is in their interest to get as many items to you as possible. It is generally the admin that takes the line share of the work.
Look & Act The Part
Be organised, firm and friendly. Go equipped to all your meetings looking and acting professional. Wear neat clothing and fix yourself up as if you were going to a casual business meeting. Don't take 5 family members. Limit your meetings to a max of 4 people to avoid chaos and confrontation.
Take your storyboards, talk about the things you understand about the process and ask questions about what you don't know. Explain to the suppliers that you would like to share your storyboards boards, timelines, run sheets and floor plans with them in a shared folder and that you’d keep it updated. If they believe you are on top of everything they are less likely to pull the wool over your eyes. Explain what you’ve learnt about other suppliers and ask them how they can help match the deal. Don’t settle for second best.
Cut A Deal
You may find a supplier who is happy to cut you a deal. A photographer may agree to reduce the price but only if they can say work less hours on the day or only provide you 500 instead of 700 final images. They may be happy to stagger their hours differently (say start earlier and finish earlier if you want the pre-photos to be taken but it comes with an extra charge). This is up to you to decide what you are prepared to give up.
If your favourite supplier cannot come to the party and meet your budget then be prepared to walk away. You could always employ the good cop, bad cop routine with your fiancee.
Be Prepared For Mistakes
Mistakes happen. If something ends up double-booked or the quality is not up to scratch then you could always use this as a tool to negotiate with your supplier and see if they can “make it up to you”. That may be that they give you a bigger marquee for the same price or throw in some place cards for free if the invitations were smudged. It is all how you deal with the tricky situations. You may not get your money back, but you might get a little something to make up for the error.
Be Happy To Share
Speak with your photographer first, of course, and get approval, but wedding suppliers love being able to share their client's work. If they are going to be able to promote themselves using the pictures, they will most likely be putting in a little extra effort to make it look incredible. As we talked about before, you can also suggest putting out their business cards or promoting products for a discounted price.
You may also be able to share a bespoke design with another bride. For example, we had a client who was able to share a customised wedding backdrop with another couple getting married at the same venue the day prior. They both chipped in for the cost and had the most incredible backdrop for half the price each! The guests were none the wiser.
If you are nervous or don’t have much experience in the art of negotiation, try a role play practice session with your partner or pop out to your local markets and have a go at it there.
Good luck negotiating!
Please note: We obviously make no guarantees as it is up to the individual as to whether this is effective for them. In our experience these techniques are very effective. It obviously varies from supplier to supplier but it is worth considering.