Negotiating prices with wedding vendors is something brides- and grooms-to-be may not anticipate, but the process of negotiation is paramount for couples who hope to plan their dream weddings without ruining their budgets.

Though vendors vary considerably with regard to their willingness to negotiate, the following are a few tips for couples hoping to get the best deals possible on their wedding services.

* Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Couples who blindly enter negotiations with wedding venues and vendors are far less likely to get a good deal. When working with any wedding vendor, whether it’s a wedding venue representative, a local florist or a deejay, couples should know what the going rate for the vendor’s services are.

Couples who find a venue they like should receive quotes from similar venues before negotiating a rate with the venue they most prefer. Arming oneself with quotes from competitors increases the chances of receiving a more couple-friendly quote from the venue liked best, as that venue won’t want to lose business, especially to one of its chief competitors.

In addition to pricing, estimates from other venues can vary based on what they include. Even if a favorite venue does not come down much on its original quote, they may be willing to add extra services, such as an open bar or an extra hour during the reception, free of charge to match a competitor’s offer.

But they cannot match such offers if couples don’t first do their homework and solicit estimates from their competitors.

* Avoid making demands.

Coming off as too demanding when negotiating prices with wedding vendors may not produce the results couples are hoping for. Much like couples don’t want to receive “take it or leave it” offers, vendors don’t want to be given demands they have to meet in order to book a wedding.

The right tone can go a long way with wedding vendors, who are typically more willing to work with couples who treat them nicely than couples who enter the negotiation process full of demands.

Vendors often like it when couples know what they want, but couples are not doing themselves any favors when they express those desires as demands.

* Don’t be afraid to ask for more.

Making demands and asking for more are not the same thing. When negotiating with wedding vendors, there’s no harm in asking for more. For example, the worst a deejay can do when asked to play an extra hour at no additional charge is deny that request.

Reception venues often have the most wiggle room, so don’t be afraid to ask for free coffee with dessert or valet parking. Vendors are often open to suggestion and willing to honor requests, but it’s not their responsibility to make such offers.

* Make sure all contracts are itemized, and read them thoroughly before signing on the dotted line.

The negotiation process is often tedious, and contracts should reflect that. When hiring a wedding vendor, make sure the contract is itemized, spelling out in intimate detail just what was negotiated and how much each item costs.

Couples may even notice items in the contract that can be removed, saving them a few dollars as a result. Be especially mindful of extra fees that can add up. For example, some venues try to make up for lower rates couples negotiated by tacking on fees for cutting the cake or other minute details.

These fees will be in the contract, and it’s up to couples to have them removed before they sign and the contract becomes official.

* Remember there are two parties involved in the negotiation process.

Vendors are not the only ones who might need to bend a little at the negotiating table. Couples might have to be flexible in order to make their dream weddings a reality.

Some vendors charge considerably less during certain times of the year than they do during peak wedding season. If couples are finding it impossible to afford the wedding of their dreams during peak wedding season, they should consider tying the knot during a less popular time of year, when venues and vendors can offer them more competitive rates.

Brides- and grooms-to-be cannot expect vendors to bend over backward for couples who aren’t willing to make any concessions themselves, so couples might have to make certain sacrifices at the negotiating table when planning their weddings.

Negotiation plays a significant role in wedding planning. Couples who take the process of negotiation seriously often find the best deals without having to make too many concessions. 

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