7 rules for negotiating with wedding vendors - save thousands! (UPDATED FOR 2018)
I have to admit that the timing when we had to negotiate with wedding vendors in the area could not have been better for us. Having just completed a full year of professional-level negotiation training as part of our graduate school curriculum, we had a wide range of negotiation tactics fresh in our minds. Hunting for wedding vendors provided the perfect opportunity to practice our newfound skills. We were trained by the best of the best, so perhaps these notes will help you get the most oomph out of your own negotiations. Let us know how these work for you!
Below are the top 5 techniques we employed (that were most successful) together with some specific examples. These are basic principles - if you want more details, check out our advanced negotiating tactics article. We also recommend some reading. We found these negotiations books most valuable:
- Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, around $24
- Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People, ~$16
Think of it this way - if you save, say, 10% on average on most things, on a wedding that costs $28,000 (average total cost of wedding), the savings of almost $3,000 could give you a pretty good boost to your honeymoon budget!
Most people hear the "don't judge the book by its cover" idiom since early childhood, yet very few actually heed the wisdom of those words. This is especially true for wedding vendors who actually often use the appearance of their prospective clients to set the initial price for their services. Yes, different people walking through the door of, say, the same photographer will get a completely different quote for the same services provided. Our finance and micro-economics professor in the grad school called this same principle the "price-elasticity jacket" implying that the more modest your jacket looked when you walked through the door of any given salesman, the more flexible, or elastic, the price would become and the lower you could push it.
As you would negotiate when buying a car in two steps, you negotiate with anyone in this world in two steps.
First step is to make sure they want to do business with you. Dress well, be on time, have an expensive leather binder with you. Vendors want to remember you as someone they want to do business with. They will more eagerly answer your questions, explain things and spend time with you. You will make an impression of a "payable" client.