I used to travel a lot for my company and as a result, I learned how to land some great deals. I regularly managed to negotiate my way into a more convenient flight, more luxurious hotel, or more comfortable rental car. This skill has and will be a great help when negotiating with vendors. It's already coming in handy. I had a catering estimate that was three times what I expected, ($13,400) and I negotiated it down to $6483 and then to a flat $6000 after offering to pay in cash, up-front. That's more than half the original estimate and a great deal for a full 3 entree' dinner for my 250 guests. This includes linens, flatware, glasses, staff, and additional equip. costs.
I am convinced and have been for years that anyone can get themselves a great bargain.
How to get a great deal:
#1-Do your homework. You are in no position to bargain if you don’t know what things cost. Call a few places to price the service or product.
#2-Don’t be afraid to ask. You’ve done your homework so you‘re capable of asking for a reasonable price. Avoid putting a vendor on the defensive by saying things like, “Company X quoted only .30 cents a plate…”, rather, explain your situation in a tactful manner and ask for help. “My fiancé and I would love to serve dinner for our guests but we’re on a tight budget. I understand that these things cost a lot of money but I’m trying to find a way to get the cost down to $13 a person. Is there anything that you could recommend I do to get us to that price?” Odds are they'll come up with something because they'll want to help you and they'll want your business.
#3-After that, look for ways to cut the cost and suggest them to the vendor. Could you rent linens elsewhere? Could you have a less complicated menu that would mean less staff? Buy your own beverages? Right now I’m thinking that I’d go the DIY route on anything that I can do before the actual wedding day but it might be different for you. Maybe you’re having it at home and you have family and friends who can help or you'd rather have it all done by a vendor. No hassle would be nice.
#4-Be grateful and say thank you, profusely if they've made you a great deal. It makes for a better relationship between you and the vendor and it's the gracious thing to do.
#5- After you negotiate a good price ask for one more break.* It goes like this, the vendor gives you a good deal and you say thank you. Then you ask, “Can I get an additional break in price if I pay in cash up front?”** or use the total estimate to ask for a specific amount off, for example, you have a catering estimate of $3,340 so you ask, “Could we make it an even $3,000, if I pay in cash up front?”. This works most of the time. Vendors appreciate cash and they appreciate it sooner rather than later. Bonus: you'll appreciate not having to pay each vendor before you and your beloved exit the party.
*Be reasonable in what you’re asking for. Vendors have to make a living so don’t ask for a cut that’s so low that they can’t pay their bills.
**I would hesitate to pay up front if your vendor is relatively new to the business or if you know little about them. The last thing you want on your wedding day is to have a caterer not show after you paid. Use this tactic with vendors who have a solid track record.