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Negotiating and Money Saving Tips for Your Wedding

Sep 5, 2008
As wedding costs start to add up very quickly, it becomes important to think creatively about different ways to save money. Since reception costs are generally the biggest chunk of a couple's wedding budget, you should examine all costs carefully before signing the final contract. The most important detail to remember is that vendors are usually open to negotiating but only *before* you sign the contract and pay the deposit!

When you have narrowed down your reception venue selection to two or three finalists, compare what each site offers and the final per-person costs at each venue. If your first choice site charges for something but your second choice includes it for free, mention it to the catering manager at the first venue and see what s/he can do for you.

While sites will give you their standard package when you do an initial visit, many times this fee is negotiable. Here are some useful tips when looking to cut costs from your reception fee.

1) Eliminate: Ask the catering manager if any courses or services can be eliminated. It may be possible to cut out the additional dessert option and serve only wedding cake instead. You can also combine the appetizer and salad courses to have a three-course instead of a four-course meal. This will also work better for those couples who want to have the maximum time possible on the dance floor. Be sure to ask the reception site if they can waive any additional fees such as coat check, valet or ceremony costs.

2) Compare Prices: To understand value for your money, you need to compare quotes. This tactic does get tricky because vendors include different components in their pricing structure. If one venue is more expensive but includes the cake or a bridal suite, make sure to quantify how much extra that would cost at the other site. For example, if one venue includes the cake it can be a $500-$1000 value versus another site where it is not included. Be sure to calculate that difference when making comparisons.

3) Make Trade-Offs: If there's something that's really important to you, try to swap out something of lesser significance. You may not be able to save any money on alcohol costs, but maybe you can swap out some of the liquor choices to make sure you have your favorites at the bar.

4) Get Freebies: If the reception fee is not at all negotiable (and some places have very strict rules), then try to find out if any extras can be included for free. If you are having a reception at a hotel, for instance, see if an extra night in the bridal suite can be thrown in or maybe a free night for your parents as well.

5) Be Flexible: The best way to save money is to be flexible on the day or time of the reception. Having a Saturday afternoon, Friday evening or Sunday wedding can cut the costs in half. An off-season wedding can save a bundle as well.

6) Work as a Team: It's better to discuss pricing when you have another person there with you. It's much easier to say "Oh I love it" while someone else says, "Oh but it's much too expensive for our budget." Negotiating as a team can be much easier and yield better results.

Overall, when meeting with vendors, I believe the best question to ask is: "Can you do any better on the price?" Even this simple question can bring up a good discussion on ways to save some money.
About the Author
Christina White is the editor of www.brideboard.com, where brides advise brides. This wedding website offers the best tips by bringing brides together in the New York area to share recommendations on different vendors and the planning process.
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