It Makes You a Savvy Bride.
Even the term “money is no object,” in my experience, has never been a translation of, “we just don’t care how we spend and are dying to get ripped off.”
It is an age-old question, even in the best of times and no matter the budgetary allowance, “How can we save money on our wedding?” As a wedding consultant, brides and grooms continually ask for our expertise and guidance to decide where they can save money while planning. Wishing to lower the cost of a wedding, should never mean having a less desirable event. The first step is prioritizing.
During the beginning stages of the planning process we spend a lot of focus determining what elements of the wedding are most important to the bride and groom, whether it be their flowers, the food, the entertainment, etc. We ask each of them to “rate the importance” of each aspect included in their plans and then discuss their responses and why they chose the rating for each item. The couple can now decide as a couple, through their answers, what makes most sense for their vision and where they need to place the most emphasis to achieve that vision.
It’s like the song, “ac-cen-tuate the positive… e-lim-inate the negative” In this case, the negative are less important, “lower rated” desires. Instead of eliminating them, we determine ways to save on them so that we can place the largest investment on the most important factors.
We may encounter a bride that doesn’t place a high value on her cake, but is adamant about her flowers and desires exotics to decorate the affair. In those instances, we factor in a higher budget percentage to the exotics and know to look at the wedding cake and other elements as areas that we can cut back on. Additionally, a groom may have a special place in his heart about treating his wife-to-be to a carriage ride and we will discuss how to work that in by saving somewhere else in the planning.
Once we have determined the prioritization of their elements, we are ready to begin with decisions on how to achieve their highest rated choices. Here are some of the tactics that we use to save and where:
- Haggle, haggle, haggle! Blame the economy! It is just a fact of life that at times like these, retailers are eager to make the sale to meet their quotas during times like these. You are not a bad person if you haggle to get the best possible price you can. Many people may feel awkward haggling with a sales person, but honestly, this is the best time to get the most for your money! If you are uncomfortable, take a friend with you that you know has no problem saying what it is that he or she wants and how much they are willing to spend if the sales person wants to “close the deal”
- If you have a wedding consultant, he or she should be more than happy to negotiate better pricing for you and remain firm as your advocate.
- If you have a wedding consultant you will already enjoy a 10-15% discount on your party rentals through their repeat business with party rental providers. Ask your wedding consultant to shoot for a higher percentage discount! Remember the general tactic, “Haggle, haggle, haggle.”
- If you do not have a wedding consultant, but you are using a professional caterer, they get the same discount that a consultant would. Let them know that YOU KNOW that they get this discount and that if they want your business they need to turn that savings over to you as their special client.
- If you do not have a wedding consultant or a professional caterer refer quickly to the general tactic and bring your best negotiator with you to choose your party rentals. There is no reason why you cannot negotiate at least a 10-20% discount with some careful persuasion. Be sure to understand the delivery and labor costs BEFORE you begin this negotiation to ensure that the provider does not include your savings on a separate line item to absorb the cost to them. Your discount will be on the actual items you are renting and will not include deliver, setup, or taxes; but you will want to be sure everything is spelled out so that you can see it, before you agree on your savings.
- Tell your florist first what budget you have to work with. Be sure to bring pictures of the ideas you have found either online or in magazines. With those pictures you and the florist can determine what flowers could be replaced with a less expensive flower that will provide the same “look” but without the same price tag.
- If you live in an area that is flush with wildflowers, you might let your florist know that you have access to them. They make great fillers. You could always bring them in and have the florist add them to his or her design.
- Stay in season with your flower choices and when setting the date avoid dates that are near “flower-giving” holidays such as Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day. If you have already chosen your day and it is near one of these holidays, you need to be aware that there is a higher cost for flowers during those months. Talk with your florist; with such a huge demand for roses during those times, it may be a great time to capitalize on lower costs for other types of flowers, which may not be experiencing the high demand of flower-giving.
- For a smaller guest list (under 100) – It seems that all brides want the classic three tier cake (or more). With a smaller guest list, you may end up with a lot of leftover cake as a reminder that the money spent could have been applied to an item higher on your priority list. Use a “dummy” layer for a bottom layer. These are frosted Styrofoam tiers designed to match your chosen cake. They provide the height and beauty that brides want without the cost of having more tiers
- Square shaped cakes feed more people than round. You will get more cut pieces from a square cake.
- Order a cake with a plain, less intricate design and embellish it with fresh cut flowers from your garden or florist.
- Two dummy tiers, one tier your favorite flavor cake (for the cutting of the cake), and a sheet cake to spare! Good for any size guest list! You may have the potential to save in a few areas. First, only have one tier of actual cake and order the rest of your tiers “dummy.” Order enough sheet cake from the bakery to feed your guests. You have just saved on the cost of your cake. If you have a professional caterer or venue charging you a cake cutting fee, ask them to remove the fee if the sheet cake is brought pre-cut. Your baker can do that and will probably forego any additional fees to have your business.
- Many couples are foregoing the cake for other forms of dessert, such as pastries, pies, cupcakes, ice cream with a topping bar, chocolate covered strawberries, frozen yogurt with fresh fruit, or smoothie bars for a healthier choice.
- Trunk shows are a terrific way to receive an immediate savings on the dream dress. Once you have determined which dress you want, go to the designer’s website and look at who their local distributors are. Call each of them and ask when they are having a trunk show that features that designer. You will save anywhere from 10-20% just by making a few phone calls and planning ahead for your purchase.
- Accessories can rack up quickly. Once you have settled on your dress and are ready to make a purchase, be sure to see if the seller has any current promotions. Keep an eye out for them. You could save on the cost of shoes, or a veil if you time your purchase with a promotion that includes a “complimentary veil” with the purchase. Don’t be afraid to haggle on the spot if there is not a promotional offering at that time. Ask for a percentage off of your total bill, or let them know that you will purchase the dress that day if they will throw in the veil for free. It never hurts to ask, but be prepared to be firm with your stance.
- Most all tuxedo providers have one promotion or another that will afford a complimentary tuxedo for the groom, for as little as 4 paid rentals. Even if you only have one groomsman, by the time you factor in a ring bearer, and the fathers of the bride and groom, you are already up to four paid rentals. Have a larger wedding party? Negotiate more than one tux for free, and ask that groomsman to put his anticipated cost toward a limo, or other area of your day.
- This is just one of those areas you will have to be on your toes about. A venue can either save you money in other areas, or cost you more. When considering a venue, keep in mind the rentals that must be procured to accommodate your guests in the instance that the venue does not provide the items. Pitfalls include tables, chairs, dance floor, linens, flatware, china, etc. Is it indoors or outdoors? Will you require a tent if it is outside? Electricity onsite? Corkage fees? Do they have décor that you can use for your event to help save money on flowers, or other rentals? Who will be there to coordinate the vendors on the day of your ceremony? Do they have a refrigerator to place your flowers in until you need them?
- Have you noticed all of the empty commercial space in your area? The economy has had its affect on a wide array of businesses, some with incredible potential! How about a gallery, the top floor of a high rise building, the showroom of an auto dealership, a former restaurant or other such venue. With the open space available, there are many choices to be had. Call the realtor of any of these vacant buildings and ask them to negotiate a rental fee for your date.
- Non-profit venues are feeling the crunch as well. Grant monies and contributors are harder to find and many are turning toward weddings and events to help see them through. A fantastic opportunity for a bride and groom to find what they are looking for. Ever thought of having your wedding at the zoo, botanical gardens, a museum, an aviation hanger, an exotic bird aviary, Yosemite, or other venue off the beaten path?
- Do you have many out of town guests? This is a great opportunity to gain a honeymoon suite at no cost. Negotiate with the hotel manager a complimentary suite if you choose their hotel to accommodate your guests. As a consumer, you have choices on where you will get a group rate for your guests. Remind the manager of that fact and let him or her know that your decision would a “no brainer” if they secured your honeymoon night for you. The hotel will surely still honor a group rate for your guests. Be prepared with the number of rooms you will need for your group before negotiating the suite.
Being creative with your choices and thinking outside of the box, will help. Pushing the envelope when negotiating products and services will be invaluable. As a couple, you must keep in mind that you are the consumer and you can choose where and how you shop. If someone with the experience to deliver what it is that you are seeking truly wants your business, they will be open to working with you to gain your business. But, not one provider is going to lower his or her price just because you walked through the door. You have to ask for it.