Tuesday, December 16, 2008

NY Wedding Workshop “How To Get the Most for Your Money” part 2

Negotiating Your Contract ... more tips from Lindsay Landman.

Here are Lindsay's main tips for understanding your vendor contracts and negotiating to get a better price:

1. Read your contract carefully.
Yeah ok, no brainer, right? But Lindsay made an interesting comment about this point. Don't get caught up in the legalese (I know the best part of this post is that I am a law student quoting this advice ... on a side note: soon to be former law student!!!). Almost all of the contracts give the vendor all of the legal protection and if you cancel they get everything you get zilch (if your really worried about it, look into insurance). 
But do carefully look over what products/services you are getting that are explicitly stated in the paper work. If they promise you something and you don't see it in there, go ahead and write it  in in pen (advice from a law student who is not a practicing attorney but did get a good grade in her first year contracts class: draw their attention to the fact that you have made this addition before they sign... trust). 

2. Ask questions!
A good one that Lindsay suggested is: "What is going to cost extra that is not included in here?" I think this is a great question. Often there are hidden fees and/or taxes that may be hard to find all of the jargon in the contract. Specifically ask about set-up fees, delivery fees, and gratuities. You read that right, ASK about gratuities. That way you don get hit with the "Well it is customary to give X% tip to joe, jack, and jim...." at the end of the night when your happy and tipsy and not in any mood to discuss.

3. Some things are not negotiable.
If you are getting married at a hotel they sometimes employ union staff and unions often have set fees for certain services (coat check, cake cutting, etc...).  Union fees are not negotiable. Don't bother arguing them, its not worth the stress.

4. Ask: "Where can you be flexible?"
That question is a great way to start the conversation. Let them know that you really would like to use their product/service but that you want to know where they can be flexible in terms of their rates and/or what they can give you for those rates.
Sometimes it is easier for vendors to throw in perks rather than lower the price, but that still means that your getting the most bang for your buck. For example a photographer is more likely to give you some extra time or a caterer can throw in more food (an extra appetizer for example) rather than lower their price. ASK. Always ask.

5. Ask: if you can pay the entire cost up-front for a discount. OR Ask if you can pay in cash for a discount.
BUT remember ALWAYS get a receipt of your purchases. Many vendors will give a discount for cash because when they accept credit cards they are charged a fee. Some vendors will offer a discount for paying upfront (especially during wedding light months like during the winter and especially if they are a small business) in order to raise capital right away rather than wait for it.

6. Remember to ask your caterer if you can negotiate the price of your vendor meals.
Another tip in this category was that if you have a huge band, ask your band if they are willing to do a "meal buyout" (where you give them cash to either run out or get delivery and eat before they need to be on).

7. Most importantly, be ready to walk away.
Not as a bargaining technique but because sometimes things just don't work out. Be realistic! If the price is not for you and they can't or won't work with you on it, then it might be time to move on.
  Remember Wedding Motto #2: Best is the enemy of good! Maybe you will find something even better that won't break the bank.

Tomorrow: The Wedding Workshop series continues with "How NOT to Lose Money"


Krista said...

Oh that was so useful. Usually the contract advice is "don't be afraid to ask for more" or "ask if this is the best they can do". These were actual tips that I can use!
And I have in fact used:
#1. On an employment contract, in which I was to read the policies & procedures BEFORE signing, but when I asked for the policies & procedures, they could not provide them. So I ammended that part, and drew it to their attention.
#2. I always ask questions, but that one is still a good reminder!
#6. I can't negotiate the meal price because of the nature of the reception site (it's an officers' mess with fixed meal prices). But (per #4) I can ask where they can be flexible. Great idea!

AmyJean said...

Thanks so much for all this, i'm totally borrowing all of this and gladly giving you full credit.. plus i love your blog - so i hope my readers will venture over and give you a visit

PS. Check out Amy Jean's Blogger Bride blog, I've also copied it onto my blog there, for more to see! (again if you mind, let me know!)