Weddings are expensive. Compared to many other investments you may make in your lifetime, few are as short lived as your Wedding Day. Couples may end up spending between £20,000 to £100,000 on their wedding day, months of planning with all of it to be completed within 12 to 14 hours. Decreasing your wedding spend and obtaining maximum value for your wedding day is the aim and here is our 10 step negotiating strategy to put you in a position of strength.
- Preparation, Preparation, Preparation – Preparation is the cornerstone to any negotiation process. Sit down with your partner and/or family and clarify what your objectives are for the negotiation. There key questions you should consider discussing are:
- What is your price range – upper and lower limits?
- What service(s) are you expecting from the supplier- before, during and after your wedding day?
- What are your payment terms, which assist your budget and cash flow?
- What factors are important to you?
- What are you prepared to compromise on and what is non-negotiable?
- Whether the service the supplier is supplying is critical for your wedding day?
- Be clear on what your preferred outcome would be?
- Research actual costs – You have an increased chance of negotiating costs with your supplier if you have clarity on the actual costs of the service your supplier is offering. Whilst this is not always easy to figure out, carrying out some basic market research could assist. When it comes to weddings, experience has taught us that suppliers have a tendency to mark up their prices with a premium. By figuring out the actual cost to your supplier for the services, you will gain an appreciation of the likely mark up price on the services. In turn you will gain an understanding of your margins for negotiation.
- Clear Communication is Critical – Adopting a clear line of communication is extremely important when engaging a wedding supplier to avoid any confusion or miscommunication when negotiating.
- As a couple or as a family, nominate a spokesperson who should be the only person communicating with the supplier.
- Be polite, courteous and look for ways to build a rapport with your potential supplier. It is far more effective to negotiate a discount if you have demonstrated your ability to be personable as well as professional with your supplier.
- Any communication, however, long or short it maybe should be documented in writing and sent to the supplier. For example, even a five minute telephone conversation should be followed up by an email to the supplier along the lines of
“Dear Supplier x,
Thank you for your time on the phone a few minutes ago, just to confirm we discussed/spoke about:
I look forward to speaking with you in the near future. In the meantime, should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.
- The “Rule of Three” – As a minimum, aim to approach three suppliers who provide the same services as your target supplier and obtain a like for like quote. The wedding industry is competitive and suppliers maybe tempted to offer a price reduction if they know you have researched the market.
- Consider transferring as much business to one supplier- The theory behind this strategy is “the more you order, the lower the price”. For example, it maybe the case that your photographer can also offer videography services, your DJ can also offer additional entertainment services, your caterer can also offer bar services. If you can keep your suppliers to a minimum by providing more business to a select few, you not only make life easier for your from a management perspective but you open the possibility of being able to negotiate on price.
- Have your deposit ready – cash flow can be as important to a supplier as it is to a consumer. Further, whilst it maybe your dream wedding day, suppliers are running a business and are looking to get paid. Therefore, a way in which you could leverage with a supplier is to be willing to make a larger deposit than they are requesting. The theory behind the strategy is “the higher you go, the more your negotiating power is on the overall rate”. We remind consumers to carry out their due diligence before putting down a deposit.
- Don’t accept the first offer – Yes, you maybe talking to your first choice supplier but avoid accepting the first offer that is provided to you. Consider making a counter offer or ask them to get back to you with a better price. Patience and persistence can pay dividends in a competitive wedding industry.
- Reign in your enthusiasm – It is often said that the better deal goes to the person who wants it the least, or at least appears to want it the least. Aim to have a backup supplier who can provide the same service which will allow you to walk away should negotiations lend themselves to deadlock. Don’t be afraid to walk away. There will always be more than one supplier who can offer the services you require.
- Think creatively – Your target supplier may refuse to budge of price despite your best attempts to negotiate. Consequently, you may need to think creatively about what else you could get from your supplier to add value to your wedding. For example, a caterer maybe less willing to give you a discount but maybe willing to throw in an additional dish to the menu. Don’t be afraid to express your creativity in a bid to get better value.
- Find ways to provide value to the supplier – Consider ways in which you could help your supplier advertise their goods or services to your weddings guests as a way to negotiate on price. For example, you could offer the supplier an option to display their business cards on the dining tables at the reception or if you have a wedding website, you could offer to have a link to your supplier’s website from your website.
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