Thursday, August 20, 2009

How to Negotiate with a Wedding Vendor

As a general rule of thumb, we don’t negotiate with wedding vendors on behalf of our clients. Actually, let me rephrase that: we don’t ask vendors to lower their prices simply because their existing pricing structure does not fit within a client’s budget. In the current economic climate, wedding budgets are being tightened like never before and as a result, some couples seem to think that vendors should reduce their prices accordingly. After all, money is money, right? Booking the client at a lower rate is better than losing the business altogether. Not quite. Think of how you would feel if your boss came up to you and said, “Look, funds are a little tight right now, so I’m going to cut your pay by 25% for the next two weeks, but you’ll still have to come in and do the same amount of work.”

You see, wedding professionals are in a service industry. Negotiating the price on a new car, for example, is an entirely different ballgame. In this case, you are simply asking the car dealer to lower their profit margin. They pay a certain amount for the vehicle and sell it for a higher price. The higher the price, the more money they make, and so list prices are typically inflated to leave room for negotiation. A wedding vendor, however, is essentially selling themselves. They provide a service and base their pricing on the time, effort, and resources involved in executing that service. By asking them to lower their price just because you can't afford it, you are devaluing them. Most vendors don’t appreciate this.

Think of negotiation as a compromise: both parties agree to give something up in order to get something in return. If a certain photographer is out of your budget, for instance, you can ask for a lower price in exchange for less hours of coverage at the wedding, fewer photographic prints, or a smaller album. That way, you pay less and the photographer spends less time and/or resources on your event. Everybody wins. Keep this in mind the next time you are negotiating with a wedding professional.

Do you have any negotiating tips to share?

[Image credit:]


Tania said...

Jessica, what a great blog! You are 110% correct in that the service being provided is the same and coming up with a compromise that both the vendor and client agree upon is a great solution. I can relate to what's happening in the economy (and make every effort to customize packages based on my client's needs), but also speaking to the client as to the effort it takes to photograph and edit a wedding (despite the economy, it's the same effort :-). This is a partnership, and both the vendor and client need to feel that they both are winners! Thank you for posting this!

Jessica said...

Thanks for your comment, Tania!

Tulaloo said...

Very good post - thank you. I frequently see articles where so-called wedding experts advise brides to ask vendors for free items, reduced prices and discounts. I cringe every time! A good vendor will work with a bride and try to find creative ways to stay within a budget. But just about any vendor will be offended by blatant requests for freebies.