Tuesday, November 6, 2012

How to Bargain for Your Wedding

After a summer full of friends, gaining the sophisticated title of "fiancé" and the shiny new ring to prove it, the initial excitement is settling down and it is time to get to work! By "get to work," I do not mean, "get in a Pinterest-coma and re-pin everything that sparkles." The work I'm talking about is, learning how to get the biggest bang for your buck and how to bargain with vendors - Rosie knows what I'm talkin' bout! Oh yea and grab your man for this one, because this is where he will want to get involved! 

Still not convinced your fiancé would be interested in reading a blog about wedding planning? Make him a sandwich because food (aka beer) opens up all sorts of realms with men – marriage advice #1. 

The obvious first step, is to set your wedding date. In reality, this seemingly easy task was actually the most stressful part of my entire wedding planning process. Why? Because there are crazy, single chicks out there booking their wedding years before they're engaged and steal all of the dates you wanted. Just kidding…..but seriously. Therefore, you're left with all of these random dates to choose from, but guess what? No matter what day you pick – your wedding day will be perfect AND I know how to make the date work to your advantage

All venues have different policies, whether they have a rental fee, minimum charge, both or none. A minimum is the lowest amount that you must have charged to your bill for an event, for example a Saturday night minimum may be $15,000. If you do not reach 15K, you will be charged a fee/rental fee. These costs will let you know right off the bat, whether you can afford the venue or not. Saturdays usually have the highest rates and are booked earlier, since it's the most convenient time. Convenient doesn't translate to most affordable though. Weekday weddings (HELLO Friday!), Sundays and holidays usually have cheaper rates! If not, you need to negotiate a lower price with the vendor before you sign the contract. 

Rentals, such as a Photo Booth, may also have fluctuating daily or seasonal rates, ask for a specific discount if they don't have any listed. Do internet searching (I spent hours searching the web for the best rates) and find the most inexpensive rate, then ask your preferred vendor to honor that rate (state the source). While it is easy to call up a vendor and speak to them on the phone, I did most of my price negotiation via email for 1 reason: proof (see second image below). Any price that a sales person or vendor throws out to you – you will want proof of it. Whether you actually plan to purchase/rent something from them or simply to have proof in negotiation with another vendor for a cheaper price. It is also helpful knowing the salesperson or vendor's contact name, write it down for future reference. From my experience, when I was getting transportation quotes, one salesman misquoted the price and later the company ended up honoring that lower price because I had proof of who I talked to and what time we spoke. 

Seriously it works.

Sweet savings huh?

This leads to quotes from in-house suppliers, their restrictions and outrageous prices. Have you met with a vendor that wanted to charge you $750 just for playing a slideshow at your reception? I have. I didn't even want to bargain with them because that was such a ridiculous price. Needless to say, we did not choose that venue. Most venues have preferred suppliers, where you have to rent or purchase through them or you will be charged an additional fee (example: DJ, ceiling draping, cake, etc). What I found to be the most effective, in this situation, was to find the best deal (keep quality in mind), find out how much the in-house charge would be for bringing something in from an outside vendor*, then compare the two costs. Is it more inexpensive to pay the in-house price or is it cheaper to rent/buy from an outside vendor and pay the fee? You also have to keep in mind where you're at as far as reaching a minimum.

*Bargain with vendors to lower fees! Example: instead of being charged $2/pp for cake cutting fee, request a lower price! Give them a low number and most likely they'll give you a number back that's in-between the two. This is a great opportunity for the men to step in!

Always an exception to the rule.

On the other hand, sometimes it is a better option to rent/purchase specialty things through your in-house vendor – even if the cost is higher. For example, we purchased roses for place settings through our reception venue, instead of our florist. The main reason we bought through our venue was because we wanted to make sure we reached the minimum, but we also thought it would be best for convenience sake since we were using fresh flowers that would be sitting out of water.

As far as getting the biggest bang for your buck with décor, there are tons of resources available to anyone. There are websites such as Recycled Bride, Craigslist, Etsy (hand-crafted items), etc where you can find all sorts of things. While I didn't purchase anything used, I found Hobby Lobby to be extremely resourceful as well as the Dollar Tree (who would have known right?) Hobby Lobby is awesome because they oftentimes have 50% off sales in the wedding aisles! In my King of Coupons article, I talked about how I ordered 288 votive candles and googled a promo code for them and instantly saved $15do not forget to use promo codes when shopping online, it can end up saving you a fortune. Also, remember to think outside of the box - decor does not have to be expensive flowers!

Achieving the wedding of your dreams is not impossible and I hope some of my ideas and techniques will help you! Please leave a comment if you have any other bargaining or money stretching techniques for weddings!

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