Your wedding day is probably the most expensive event you’ll ever pay for: the average wedding in 2016 cost more than $35,000 – and that’s without counting the honeymoon. Between the venue, catering, the dress, and all the extras that make it special, you’ll probably be spending tens of thousands of dollars; even if you look for savings.
Many couples pay the asking price for these items, missing out on the significant discounts that may be available if they had only reached out and asked. The bottom line is this: couples who don’t negotiate are leaving money on the table. Money that could have been used to improve their big day, or even simply help them start off marriage on the right financial foot.
Let’s say you want to negotiate a discount with your chosen wedding venue. How do you go about it? Let’s take a look at eight simple steps you can take to get the best deal possible:
Step 1: Do Your Research
When you’re negotiating for a discount, the more information you have, the better. If you’re only talking to one wedding venue, you’re in a poor negotiating position because they know that they’re your only real option.
Instead, talk to several venues in the area and find out their prices – even if you don’t want them. This allows you to go into a negotiation with a bit of leverage, and helps reinforce the message that you have other options. Assemble a list of backup venues with better pricing, and use these numbers to encourage your top choice to reduce their fees.
Step 2: Ask With Confidence
It’s natural to feel nervous if you aren’t experienced at negotiating, but you don’t want to show it. If you come off as timid, they will know they can refuse your request without risking your business. The ideal attitude is to not attach any emotion to the outcome of the negotiation, although achieving this when planning your wedding is understandably difficult!
If you want practice, try visiting a market where negotiating is common. Have fun and give it a shot to build your confidence.
Step 3: Start Low
In a negotiation, the first offer is rarely accepted; you’re likely to end up at a point somewhere between your first offer and the standard price. For this reason, you want to start low; if you start too high, you might end up with very little in the way of a discount. If you’re not sure where to start, ask for a 20 percent discount - it’s low, without being insulting.
Step 4: Be Prepared to Haggle
Once you’ve made your first offer, you’ll get one of three responses: an acceptance (unlikely), a flat refusal to negotiate, or (most likely) a counter offer below the original asking price but above your offer.
Because negotiations are uncomfortable, it’s natural to want to take the first half-decent counter-offer that comes along. Swallow this feeling and make another offer; you’ll get a better deal if you are willing to haggle.
Step 5: Wedding Venue Won’t Budge? Try Asking for More
Some wedding venues will refuse any request for a discount, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t savings to be found. Instead of asking for a reduced price, ask them to throw in some free upgrades. You could request better champagne, decorations, or even food.
Effectively, you are receiving a discount – just on a more expensive product. For some venues, this is preferable to offering a true discount.
There are many ways to budget your wedding effectively and cut costs — with a little preparation you can save a lot!
Step 6: Off-Peak Times Will Increase Your Negotiating Power
To get the best deals, you might need to be flexible about the date of your booking. Weekday or winter bookings significantly increase your negotiating power because there is much less competition for a venue’s services.
During the summer, wedding venues are more likely to refuse to negotiate because they know if you walk away they can find another client on that date. During off-peak times, you might be their only opportunity to make money. This means they’ll be more willing to provide a nice discount to ensure your business.
According to The Knot’s 2016 Real Weddings Study, the most popular months are September and October, each attracting 16% of total weddings respectively (June is just behind them at 13%). Only 4% of weddings took place between Monday and Thursday — with Saturday making up 70%. If you’re willing to get married on a weekday or an off-month, you’ll be in much better position to save some money.
Step 7: Consider Asking for Reduced Service
Many wedding venues include services such as catering in their price-tag. It might not always be possible, but often these venues are willing to reduce their bottom-line if you handle the catering needs yourself. At this point, you can go find a cheaper caterer who is easier on your pocketbook (and provides better food too!). The same goes for alcohol — if you’re allowed to provide your own spirits and adult beverages, you can save big.
Step 8: Be Prepared to Walk Away
Achieving the best result requires leverage, and you don’t have that if you have your heart set on one choice. If you aren’t ready to walk away from a venue or vendor who refuses to budge, you’re not going to save much (or any) money.
If your negotiation wasn’t successful, you can try again in a week or two. It’s unlikely that a venue will refuse to deal with you just for trying to negotiate (although you should be careful to not lowball them too much). After a couple of weeks they may be more willing to move the price tag lower. If not, you always have the option of accepting their original price.
You have very little to lose by asking for a better deal, but plenty to gain. Not negotiating and accepting everything at face value are both common wedding planning mistakes — avoid them and your wallet will be happier!