I just started a management unit in graduate school on negotiations, and during the entire lecture and discussion on car prices and prom dates, I couldn’t stop thinking about flower prices! “What is my real bargaining zone on prices? What other information could I gather to make my negotiations better? What are my real alternatives if I don’t decide to go with my favorite florist?” (Have I shared the fact that I’m dodging voicemails from my florist until I answer my unsettled questions?? I can’t do this for too much longer!!!)

I suddenly realized how many people are completely unaware about the importance of negotiations prior to a wedding. For some, it’s like their first time at a flea market and they are forced to learn, accept and purchase goods according to the vendor’s terms. For others, it’s old hat, and they simply readjust their skills to fit the new market for goods and go merrily on their way. Just like buying a used car, for some the experience is pleasant and enjoyable while others dread it like the plague.

I’ll hopefully be able to draft up some basic negotiation tips (esp. those that apply to the wedding biz) in the next few weeks, but I’ll need your help bees! What scares you about negotiations and in what particular vendor areas???


Mrs. Lemon

Los Angeles/Monterey
Wedding Date:
July 2007
Acorn Necklace

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  1. Guest Icon Guest
    jenn, Guest @ 10:03 am

    this isnt about what scares me, but it’s certainly about what has worked for me. as i am getting married off-season (february), i’ve found that asking photographers for discounts or specials has been promising. some of them have thrown in free travel, an extra shoot and/or a discounted rate that i’ve found helpful. not sure how you can get away with that much negotiation during peak wedding season though…

  2. Guest Icon Guest
    Kathleen, Guest @ 10:19 am

    We are getting married in July, and have yet to pay full price for anything. I have negotiated on every item…the worst they can say is no. As far as I am concerned if they say no..the next person will say yes. So far only one vendor has refused to negotiate.

    Some have given us bigger discounts or incentives than others, but what has worked is telling them what other vendors are giving us. If one photog was going to give us all of the proofs and negs, the others knew they had to do the same if they wanted to book it. Dress shops knew we could get the same dress somewhere else at a lower price, so they beat it. etc


  3. Guest Icon Guest
    m, Guest @ 10:41 am

    I think this would be a great post. What i have found though is that since i am getting married in June, (one of the most popular wedding months), it is really hard to negotiate with vendors. We were able to get the band and florist to come down on a few things, but the caterer has been difficult – I wish I had negotiated a lot more before signing the contract with them. I think if I had to mention one “fear” it would be the possibility that vendors wont go above and beyond on the day of, if they know you got a huge discount on things….

  4. Guest Icon Guest
    hm, Guest @ 11:07 am

    i used to negotiate a lot of things for my old job, and here’s what i found works best:

    kathleen is absolutely right: the worst thing anyone can say is “no.”

    it is important to let a vendor know that you think their services are worthwhile, and that you would like to work with them. if your vendor thinks you are only concerned about price, they will give you what you are paying for, not a deal.

    information is your best ally, and emotion and time is your worst enemy. knowing exactly what you want will get you further than pleading.

    renegotiating a contract is not the worst thing; wishing you had feels much worse.

  5. mrsbee Member
    mrsbee 3235 posts, Sugar bee @ 11:59 am

    i suck, suck, suck at negotiating. i’m horrible at asking for things. i don’t think i negotiated a single price for our wedding (the shame!)

  6. Guest Icon Guest
    marclovesme, Guest @ 12:20 pm

    A TON of people say ‘the worst they can say is no,’ which is true, but I’ve found that even while I’m still interested, some vendors have come to think because I’ve tried to negotiate that means I don’t want their services anymore. So annoying. Don’t know if anyone else has had this experience.

  7. msjellyfish Member
    msjellyfish 1453 posts, Bumble bee @ 1:20 pm

    The only thing I negotiated with so far in my planning process was with what the photographer threw in… but then again, I opted for his highest package so he better be accomodating with the little extras I asked for! I have trouble negotiating with vendors because I don’t know how to begin. You have the initial meeting where you ask questions and s/he will provide you with more information about his/her services.. and then do you chime in and say “so can I get a discount because I think you’re awesome?”? I’m sure there’s a more tactful way of approaching it, but I”ve never been able to figure out what that way is yet…

  8. Guest Icon Guest
    CBeth, Guest @ 1:29 pm

    I will definitely be interested in hearing about any discoveries you make in the “flower” dept. This seems like such an open area, especially since I’m looking for something simple but don’t want to DIY it all the night before. I’m really curious as to what their profit margins are like…

    Also, I’d love to hear your thoughts on bartering. I do web design on the side (I’m currently a student) and I’m planning on showing some ideas to the cake vendor I have in mind (their website is horrible). What do you think the best way would be to approach them–get their prices, then let them know I’m interested in bartering (maybe for a discount if not an even trade)? Or do I offer my services up front as soon as I know they are a good vendor? Questions, questions!

  9. Guest Icon Guest
    TheMDBride, Guest @ 1:44 pm

    Is April a peak season month for weddings? Would I be able to break a deal with my photographer for that month? Wedding is not for another 1.5 years anyway.

  10. Guest Icon Guest
    Miss Plum, Guest @ 2:40 pm

    I have read lots of books, articles, webpages, etc that try to give people “helpful hints to save money” and negotiating is always part of it. While it is a good idea and you can often get a couple freebies/extras, many times, the price is right – just have to shop around and do the research. You have to consider the cost of materials and factor in the labor involved, so be fair to your vendors as well. Photoshopping photos can take hours at a time to do, flowers can take hours to arrange because of the unseen mechanics that need to be done to prep the flowers before they go into a vase, etc.

    Come to think of it, I haven’t really negotiated with many of my vendors yet other than the caterer and invitationer….. hmmm…

  11. Guest Icon Guest
    ms. mouse, Guest @ 11:36 pm

    I think it doesn’t hurt to ask for discounts. Sometimes saying, “your package looks great, but we don’t need x” canlead to a great coversation about why you should then pay “b” not “a”, that’s where we’ve found most of our discounts. Also, saying we can only afford “b” and we want to maximize what we get- what can you offer- sometimes backfires, but sometimes you get “I can give you amazing [whatever] for that.”

  12. Guest Icon Guest
    Katya, Guest @ 2:07 pm

    that’s funny, i just took negotiations in grad school as well and wrote my final on wedding planning :))

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