According to ABC News, the cost of the average wedding in the United States in 2011 was $27,000. While I believe this figure to be accurate, I can tell you from experience that most couples do not embark on the wedding planning journey with this number as their budget. Somewhere along the way, they fall in love with different venues and wedding vendors who manipulate their spending limits which causes them to lose touch with “financial reality”.
Newly engaged couples are swept up in the moment of planning the perfect day and sometimes believe that “more money = better party”; but this is never the case. The day will be special because you will make it so. The memories that are made cannot be bought and the amount of money you spend will not make the day any more memorable. Yes, good vendors can cost more and you want to make sure you aren’t leaving your big day to amateurs; however, there are many ways to help combat the high cost of weddings and still use great vendors. Here are some tips to keep in mind before making contact with your vendors.
1. They want your business. When you reach out to a vendor, do you notice how thrilled they are to talk to you? Everyone in the wedding business is desperately trying to get you to reach out to them. They’ll bombard you with emails, flyers, and ad banners trying to get you to their website and their contact page. I’ve seen so many brides and grooms lose control of the of the buyer/seller relationship by falling in love with one particular vendor. It’s okay to pursue a specific vendor, but remember that you are shopping in a very competitive market, and most wedding vendors will typically take less money to keep your business in their camp.
2. Flexibility = Savings. This concept can be best exemplified through a story. Last month I booked a live band for a small wedding reception in Kansas City. The group typically commands $4,000 – $5,000 per event, and is by far the most requested group I book. They will turn down couples that can’t afford them because they are in demand, and if you don’t book them at the price they want, they’re confident that someone else will, so they don’t have a problem saying no. However, this couple’s reception was on a Tuesday. They ended up booking the same band that will not budge on price for $1,200. Why? Because what else were the guys going to do on a Tuesday night, so they agreed to work for much, much less. Now, I’m not saying to have your wedding on a Tuesday, but the same concept can be applied to Friday’s and Sunday’s. If you’re a bit flexible on the day, typically you have more bargaining power with the vendors because “what else are they going to do that night”.
3. Share your comparisons. Your end goal should not be to get the cheapest vendor; it should be to get the best vendor at the best price. One of the ways you can do this is to let the vendor that you’re targeting know what other quotes you’ve received for the same service. After doing so, you should expect the response to be something along the lines of “you get what you pay for; if you want the cheapest vendor, you’ll get the cheapest product”. If they’re not interested in matching the price, ask them to meet you somewhere in the middle. You’ll be surprised at the egos that some vendors have developed over the years and will never be the “cheapest” because they believe their quality is superior to all others. But as long as you understand this, you can use the other quotes not as a way to get that price, but as a way to get them to come down some. And if your preferred vendor IS the cheapest out there, you might want to look at them a little closer to make sure you aren’t putting your big day at risk.