Graciously Negotiating With Your Event Supply Partners (Vendors)

Photo: Justine Ungaro

It has always been said that if you ask nicely, folks are likely to give you almost anything, and triply so if you’re appreciative of them.  While a professional wedding planner actually has already-established contacts who work with them and often offer considerably lower rates if a client is working with a planner because they know it will be much easier, sometimes wedding couples find themselves doing some of the initial legwork themselves. 

Contrary to some popular myths or propaganda out there, no reputable, well-established wedding service provider is seeking to gauge you.   The fact is, weddings, unlike a dinner party or corporate event, are a full-scaled production with many moving parts, and all event partner’s services , logistics and timings affecting the other’s.  It is a long day , where the services must last all day and involve not just hours of actual work the day of, but also preparing for it in planning sessions, travel, and in the case of photographers, a lot of work after the wedding to prepare the product of their service.  The price tag you see is for so much more than you could ever imagine.  Most event suppliers work 7 days a week and long hours.  Knowing how to negotiate with them will not only save you time , but also possibly some money. But more than anything, it will ingratiate them to you, making them want to possibly step up their game and give you even more than you contracted for.

Here are top three tips for negotiating with event partners:

  • Be flexible on your date , season and day of the week, if you can.  Truly, many offer significant discounts still for off-peak-season weddings and weddings on weekdays (yes, they are more common than you think)
  • Know your budget up front (this is where a professional wedding consultant can help you by breaking down your overall budget into respective categories and helping you determine how much should be allocated for each supplier category).  When you contact your prospective supplier for a quote, tell them your budget and if they refer you to their packages, which appear far out of your range, ask them if they can customize something for your particular budget.  Be prepared to make some sacrifices, but don’t be afraid to ask for a customized proposal.  Rather than “beat them down” and insult them that their packages are too pricey, ask if they can customize something more pared down and suitable for your budget.  It honors them and their professionalism and also your unique needs.
  • Make sure you are comparing apples with apples.  For example, when comparing catering bids, and menus are similar, but pricing significantly different, check out how they have staffed it (do they include roughly the same labor, chefs, etc) and check out what equipment or rentals may already be included in one and not the other.  It is ok to go to one that you really like and say gently, “we would really like to go with you, but this service provider (you don’t need to mention names) provided us with ‘x,y,& z’ , would you be willing to come a bit closer to this?”

About the author: Susie Tell

CEO and Founder of Tahoe Inspired Susie Tell brings a wealth of education, travel , life experience as well as years of professional expertise producing weddings, private events, fundraisers, galas, golf tournaments and more. Her passion for life is evident when one meets Susie and this enthusiasm and joy translates to events that are alive with soulful detail and energy.

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