Probably the only great thing about planning a wedding is that I get to practice my negotiation skills. Especially with the recession, I’m golden. And the thrill of getting exactly what you want? Priceless!
Negotiation 101: I learned in my negotiations class (which I personally think was the most important class I took in b-school) is that if you’re going to be a hard-ass, you’d better be willing to walk away. Well, Vendors, I’m here to tell you…I am so ready to walk.
I really don’t care if my wedding is in San Francisco or Scottsdale or Chicago or New York. It’s about affordability and figuring out how to feed a ton of Filipinos without depriving my future children of a private school education. I don’t care if my bouquet is fashioned out of aluminum cans and ribbons. I don’t care for a bejeweled Monique Lhullier dress…although there is one that caught my eye for a whopping $10,995. But 10% off because it was a trunk sale. Wowweeee. What a deal!
So I’ve been all over the place, scouting out venues, reading Yelp reviews, impatiently staring at photographers’ slide shows. I’ll send my inquiry and very quickly get a response back with pricing information attached to a very nice personal email. “We’d love to be your [FILL IN VENDOR TYPE] at your wedding!!! Please let us know if you have any questions at all!!!” Lots of exclamation marks, lots of smiley faces. Very nice. Everyone has been pleasant and nice.
Then the controlled stalking starts. “Just checking to see if you got my last email. Keep in mind anything can be customizable. I’m happy to work with you to meet your needs.”
Perfect. How can I get you for free?
A week or two later, the panic sets in. “Hey Catherine, I’d love to do your wedding. Right now, I’m running a special. If you book by the end of the month, I’ll give you 20% off.” You’d think this is only happening with smaller vendors. Nope, even the larger ones are caving. I have a 5-star hotel offering to completely eliminate their $5,000 site fee and discount their $225/person menu down to $200. Not too shabby for a place that insisted they book up quickly for weddings. Ummmm….sure.
Then then are the people who have gone off the deep end—like the florist who has given me three separate quotes. Each time the quote is half the previous quote. Please Ms. Florist, have some self-respect. Believe in your product/service and price accordingly. I feel like writing her a check and telling her, “Let’s make a deal. Centerpieces, bouquets, boutonnieres, flower petals. I want all of that for $100. Yes? Done.”
One last point I want to make about negotiating is that if you drive a hard bargain and get what you want, you always risk damaging the relationship. What’s great about wedding vendors is…I have no established relationship with them. Game on!