Negotiating is common in the wedding industry but to be effective at it, you can't treat your wedding venue like they are a rug merchant in Morocco. That is not the way my dear.
In this blog, we are going to dissect in detail exactly how to negotiate with your wedding venue in a smart, fair way.
The fundamentals of negotiating
Before you begin negotiating anything with any of your wedding vendors, let alone your venue. You must know the golden rules of negotiating which are:
1. You can't get everything for nothing
This is number one folks. Don't be requesting a reduction in fees with no movement in your requested package. You'll need to have flexibility in the inclusions in order to get a movement in price. Don't be those people who ask for the world and give nothing back.
2. Don't treat your venue like a sleazy salesman
Your wedding venue most likely isn't owned by a big conglomerate, but a private small business owner who is just doing their job to keep the lights on. Don't treat them as if they are inherently trustworthy or unreasonable as you won't get anywhere with your negotiations. Your wedding venue is extremely important to the success of your wedding overall, so don't upset them!
3. Inclusions are easier to negotiate than reductions
Generally speaking, free additions to your package are easier to negotiate than predictions in price. This is the way you get more for your money. I personally love this way of negotiating as the achievable reduction in price is probably not that much. The potential inclusions your venue adds in for free, however, could be worth hundreds! Going in with the "best value for money" mindset is a better approach than the "cheapest possible" mindset.
How to negotiate the flow of your day with your wedding venue
Having your wedding ceremony in an unusual place or hosting your evening meal outdoors when the venue is not used to it are both examples of "changing the flow" of your wedding day. Every change to the status quo is a negotiation in the venue's eyes.
First you'll need to listen to any logistical issues the venue may have with your proposed change of flow. If there are none, convince them that this small change will make your wedding extra special!
How to negotiate exclusive vendors with your wedding venue
Particularly with destination wedding venues, it is common for your package to include some exclusive suppliers which can include:
Hair and makeup artists
Maybe you would like to bring in your own suppliers for some reason or another. How do you negotiate that with your venue?
Well firstly, ask them if it is possible to hire outside of their exclusive suppliers list before you sign your contract. If they say no beforehand, it'll still be a no afterward!
If they have agreed in principle to be flexible with exclusive suppliers then decide what matters most to you. Catering is the hardest to negotiate away and is rare for venues to budge on. All you can do is ask.
How to negotiate price with your wedding venue
There are two main ways to negotiate with your wedding venue on price effectively:
1. Give them your budget and see if they can create a custom package to your budget
9 times out of 10, this will be your best course of action if you are not super knowledgable about wedding and event space. It also shows the venue that you are willing to be flexible and work with them on what your package ends up looking like.
Now, don't choose a venue that is way over budget, book them, and then try to negotiate them down. That's not going to work out well for you. Choose a venue that has an affordable menu to you in any case, should your negotiations not end the way you want them to.
The budget price you give them should be close to their original menu prices by at least 10-15%. Then allow the venue to work with your budget on a custom package that enables the best of both worlds.
2. Present some ideas of omissions or changes you would be comfortable with in order to bring the price down
I tend to combine this second approach with the first to make my negotiations effective for my couples. This means you need to know exactly what makes sense as a potential negotiating point for that particular venue. Examples could be:
Hosting your wedding on a weekday
Hosting your wedding during low season
Having non-exclusive use of the space
Reducing certain menu items
Reducing services such as decoration and DJs
If you know what will make that particular venue tick, then, by all means, combine this with the first point to maximise your negotiating opportunities!
I hope this article has been helpful to you and remember, be reasonable above all else!