N is for Negotiating!
Negotiation doesn’t have to be intimidating. If you really feel uncomfortable with the process though, you should definitely hire a wedding planner. Contrary to popular belief, we do not have magic powers that make us better at negotiation than you. But we do have a distinct advantage because vendors view us as a repeat customer vs a one-time customer. Vendors are usually happy to offer a lower rate to someone who will continually be giving them business. But of course that’s up to each vendor’s discretion.
If you’re going to tackle negotiating yourself, the most important thing to remember is that there’s a time and place for it. Scratch that. The MOST important thing is to never ghost a vendor. Keep in mind that these vendors are real people, and often own their small businesses. If you booked a different pro, reach back out to the runners-up and tell them. It might feel like you’re delivering bad news, but it’s to their benefit to have a clear answer from you. And if you’ve already booked someone else, they don’t have any grounds to convince you otherwise.
Okay but back to a time and place for it. This is key. The appropriate time and place to negotiate is AFTER you’ve done some research. Get two or three quotes for each vendor category. Do yourself a favor and ask for itemized quotes to help you compare apples to apples. This will give you insight into what “industry standard” is (and is not). After that, you’ll be able to have a more intelligent conversation about the services or products. Vendors are always happy to discuss their rates and will appreciate when you know what you’re talking about.
Once you fully understand all the quotes, you can pick your favorite vendor and reach out to ask for adjustments to their package proposal. For example if one DJ includes complimentary uplights, but your favorite does not, ask if they can match it! The worst that can happen is they say no. Or if you fall in love with a photographer, but the rate is a little more than you had anticipated spending, ask what they’re able to offer for a given price point. Just keep in mind that if you want to pay less, you’re going to get less.