Wedding insiders reveal the secrets to haggling your way to a perfectly priced day
It’s a moment familiar to every bride-to-be, you step inside that gorgeous venue or slip on that dream dress, only to realise the price tag is beyond your reach. You could struggle to find the extra money or simply walk away. But there is a third option — negotiate.
For most of us the very idea brings on a cold sweat. But there are strategies that even the most hesitant bride-to-be can try. Here industry insiders share their secrets to securing the very best deal.
First, think hard about dates, and then use them to your advantage. October to March and Monday to Thursday put you in the strongest position to negotiate, offering an average saving of between £1,000 and £5,000 off the venue price says Caroline Hale from wedding planners Pomp and Ceremony. Raise the issue of budget early, she advises, when venues are looking to secure your business. “Ask at the initial visit as this will probably ensure a greater reaction from the venue who will most want to impress.”
“Keep track with a negotiating diary, it can help you secure the supplier you want at a price you like”
Vicki Hughes from caterers Taste and Savour agrees that dates matter. “Winter weddings are the most economical, as this is catering off-season.” Last minute weddings also mean discounts, if you are prepared to ask for them. “Decide on your menu, put it in an email with your budget and fire it off to as many caterers as you can. Decide on a short list and then use the cheapest of the quotes to try to get the price down with your preferred caterer.”
Another tip is to keep track of your conversations with a negotiating diary, “Use it to note down all the caterers and their proposals, and weigh up who is offering you the best value for money.”
London based wedding planner Siobhan Craven Robins advises telling the venue the total amount that you are looking to spend with them. Stating the big figure can put you in a good position to reduce the room hire or perhaps a pound or two off the wine.
When dealing with creative suppliers says photographer Jane Murray, a few compliments go a very long way. “Photographers are talented people selling themselves as well as a business. People have said to me ‘I really like you and your work’ and that builds a rapport. Then when they give you their budget you really try and fit in with them.”
“Think about what a supplier can add on, not just what they can take off”
And it isn’t just about trying to lower the price, good negotiation is also about securing extras. If a photographer really can’t drop the price, ask for a free parent’s album, a presentation canvas or copyright. “Or if those packages include those items you can say ‘I really like you as a photographer, but we need to cut down the price, is it okay if we don’t have the album?’ That’s a great way of paying less or getting more for your money.”
Finally says Jane, remember the power of early payment. “With any small business, if you offer to pay upfront you will get a good deal. Cash upfront is a big incentive.”
The key to negotiating with musicians says Harriette Hale from Chocolate Box Music is to show you are making life as easy for them as possible. “Schedule the reception so they only need to be there one hour before to set up and can leave as soon as they’re finished. A stressful gig is usually an expensive one, so do a little bit of extra work for them before hand and expect to pay much less.”
A few final negotiating words of wisdom from Chris Marsh from Broadoaks Country House. “Do keep your word, if you say you are willing to confirm at a price and then try to haggle further, venues will lose their patience. Stay nice but firm about things, this will go a long way. Finally, be as adaptable as possible. The more flexible you are on dates, times and months then the easier it is to grab a bargain.”