How To: Negotiating with Vendors

Updated: Oct 9, 2021

A big question on everyone's mind as they plan their wedding is: How do I get a deal? Should I negotiate? If so, how do I go about it?

I'm going to share an unpopular opinion:

I don't blame couples for negotiating. As a business owner, it's my responsibility to communicate clearly whether my pricing is firm or not, and articulate the value that I bring. Or, choose to bend if I have the ability to do that within the limitations of my own business practices.

One thing I want to make clear: just because one vendor can negotiate a bit on price, does not mean that all vendors should be expected to. Everyone is running a business that is uniquely unlike anyone else's.

That's why when I hear, "Well, I spoke with another planner and she is only quoting us X", I respond with, "That's great! Then they might be a better fit for you. I can't speak to their experience, overhead costs, and amount of time they plan to invest in your wedding. The fee that I charge reflects my value, experience, and time and effort that I put into each project."

So, what do I encourage in place of negotiating? Being transparent with your budget limitations and expectations.

Let's say you have the ability to spend up to $5,000 for florals, but that personally feels a little excessive to you and you would rather put that money elsewhere. That's OK! Your florist is not going to be offended. That's called knowing your priorities.

It's important to let them know where you're comfortable at price-wise and whether or not they should make any suggestions in excess of that, or whether it's a firm cap.

Couples: this is NOT because they're trying to squeeze money out of you. They're trying to deliver on a particular vision of yours, and most of the time, vision and the budget do not align. So it then becomes a dance.

This is why wedding planning is so much work. It's a constant back and forth to make all of the pieces fit, and transparency in the conversation makes it SO much easier to do this.

I recommend going into each conversation with an honest approach of what amount you would feel most comfortable spending (bonus points if it's a range, because then the vendor can show you options at the high and low ends).

Then, there will likely be some education about what they can offer in that range and how that lines up with your expectations. Weddings are expensive because they are typically time-intensive events where the stakes are extremely high. This isn't an annual conference where we can say, "Aw, well we'll tweak that next year to make it better." It's one shot.

So rather than negotiating with vendors because you believe they might be price-gauging you, ask questions about WHY they charge what they charge and what can they offer you within your desired budget. This type of approach encourages a two-way conversation, which will grow the vendor's respect for you as a potential client, and make them want to work with you even more.

Try it out and let me know what you think!