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Bridal Club Magazine

What Price For Your Wedding? – The Art Of Negotiation

Is the price the agent gives you for your reception venue the price you have to pay? Or any other wedding service you require for that matter? Usually yes, but not always. Knowing enough to ask, and being able to ask intelligently, can mean a smaller bill for each service and a considerable saving over the cost of your wedding.

We know that buying a car means negotiating with the salesman for the best price. We know that supermarket prices are paid without negotiation. In New Zealand, most of us know when to negotiate and when to pay the listed price, but, when it comes to things such as services we often take it at face value or simply look elsewhere. Many of us would be surprised at the flexibility of pricing which is given to many managers in today's service-oriented economy.

Does a manager have the ability to "match" a competitor's price?
Many do and will, if the customer asks and can document the lower price.

Is there a coupon or discount that could be applied to the price?
Some businesses offer price reductions for showing a coupon or discount card, some have discounts for customers referred from businesses like the 'Yellow Pages,' while others give discounts to members of certain groups such as senior citizens (parents or grandparents could book this service on your behalf) and AAA members. If you don't ask, you will never know.

Will a business offer special services or extra features when you use them?
Does the reception venue include labour for set up? Or does the ceremony venue have it's own church decorations? Is there something extra available that would induce you use their service or venue?

Maybe one of these examples of discounting could apply to your wedding requirements - if not, they may if you investigate your options and ask the right questions.

'The XXX venue has a slightly bigger space for less than your price. Can you match that price or can you tell me why your venue is worth more than the XXX?'

'The XXX caterers will discount my order $$$ if I pay when I place it; can you offer me the same discount?'

'My Fiancé and I are both students and are eligible for a discount at most places and I see you currently don't offer one, are you willing to extend us the same courtesy?'

'I like this venue location, but the interior is in pretty poor condition. If you arrange for a spruce up or decorations, it's a deal.'

Negotiating with a vendor can be as simple as asking if there is any flexibility in pricing or if s/he would accept a discount if paid in advance. It can include paying more in order to get something else you want such as a service they can provide cheaper than if you hired a separate vendor to do the same job. But be careful - if it is not written into a contract and something happens on their part or the wedding day cancelled or postponed - you may lose any monies paid altogether.

Common to successful negotiations is the idea that each party should get something they want in exchange for giving up something the other person wants. Vendors are business people who want a good return on their service whether that means money or word of mouth advertising. Business people love to set up networks that can mean potentially more business for them in the long run. If you feel you have something to offer them in way of barter or exchange, don't hesitate to say so and to prove it to the vendor. If what you want is a lower price, better lease terms, customised dates/times of occupancy, or a special service - you will have to ask for it and demonstrate that you are the kind of couple who will make the vendors life and business benefit in some way.

A common error in negotiation is talking to the wrong person. You wouldn't ask the cleaner to lower the price because they couldn't make that decision even if they wanted to. Make sure you are talking with someone who has the ability to act on your request.

In all cases, whether negotiated or taken as offered, you should get every agreement in writing, signed, and dated. Memories will fade, good intentions may falter, and reliability may not be a vendor's strong suit, a written document is proof of the agreement AND it is enforceable in a court of law. Consider it an insurance policy you hope you'll never need.

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