Category Archives: Wedding Vendor Negotiation

Hiring the Best Wedding Vendors

By | 5 Biggest Wedding Planning Myths, Budget Los Angeles Wedding, Budget Weddings, Event Planner, Facebook, Los Angeles Wedding Planner, Wedding Planning Checklist, Wedding Vendor Negotiation | No Comments

By Dee Gaubert | Owner, No Worries

Every year as the holidays roll around, the wedding industry clamors about “engagement season”- and yeah, this is the time, from December through January, where we get super busy taking incoming inquiries and generally book up to 60% of our dates for the coming year.  It’s appropos then to share some insight about booking wedding vendors.

Remember, there is no real barrier to entry for most wedding vendors.

A DJ has to have specific technical skills, sure, but has he or she practiced mc’g in front of large crowds?  A florist doesn’t necessarily need to be formally trained to start his or her own business. And wedding planners and coordinators need really NO technical training, nor does there seem to be any formal qualifications and standards set by a leading organization to follow. (Corporate planners can get their certified meeting planner designation, which is respected as definitive by the industry, but in the wedding world there are a variety of certification programs by competing organizations for weddings and none of them are considered “the” one to get.)

So when you interview a prospective vendor, it’s good to see how they are viewed in the industry. Do numerous venues sing their praises?  Is their Yelp page full of 100s of reviews? (Remember, Yelp isn’t the end-all be-all of legitimacy, but it is a good indicator that a business has been around for a bit.)  They don’t need to have graduated from “DJ School,” but they should have a solid level of experience and savvy in what they do.

Tray passed appetizers wedding vendors Los Angeles Wedding Jenna Janelle Rose Wedding photography cost of wedding catering

Your wedding: Not the time to go cheap on food. Tray passed appetizers here are by Huntington Catering Company, Photo by Jenna Rose (JennaJanelleRose.Com)

Benchmark prices carefully.

I know weddings aren’t cheap these days, and it’s a struggle couples go through. But if you go cheap on a vendor, you’ll pay a price.  I’ve had weddings where, to the person, the vendors that were charging below-market price were the ones with which we had significant issues – including a florist that was sloppy and left damage at a venue that would have cost the client hundreds to thousands in their security deposit. (The florist came back later and managed to fix the damage.)

First, put together a solid, cohesive budget.  Then, carefully compare prices from competitors in a variety of categories.  If there is a vendor that is significantly less expensive, there are a few reasons why:  1.  They may have another job, which isn’t a deal breaker, but it’s important to make sure they will uphold reasonable work ethic and response times, which is easy to check by calling a few references; 2.  They may be just starting out – so it’s important to see what prior experience they have, since anyone can pretty much get a business license for performing work in the wedding industry; and/or 3. They do a very high volume of work for very low prices.  I speak from experience when I say this means you will get a longer response time and less of a personal touch from these vendors, nearly every single time. For a wedding cake, maybe (maybe) this is no problem. For a photographer or DJ, you will want a more intensive flow of communication.

Norris photo los angeles church wedding vendor

A church wedding ceremony can be cost effective, support the community, and provide a gorgeous setting for your wedding. Photo by Don Norris (Norrisphoto.com)

 

A good wedding vendor sets boundaries.

My life changed a few years ago, when I added office hours to my contract.  A good vendor has good boundaries, and ultimately they help the client.  It’s important to know when wedding vendors are usually available (this blog post is helpful as to what is typical in the industry), and to understand that if a vendor can compartmentalize when and how they work for you, they can manage your event better because they are focused on pre-set, efficient work hours and deadlines and can be super productive in the times they devote to your project.

Does that mean I haven’t squealed with delight and texted right back to a client who shot me a photo of her dream dress at 7pm on a Monday night?  Or that I haven’t suggested a Skype at 8pm with an out-of-state client that works 60 hour weeks, or a weekend walkthrough of a venue? Of course, I am flexible and meet clients halfway whenever possible with my time. But be aware, and respectful, of wedding vendors, and ask ahead about when they usually take appointments and correspond with clients.

For more solid, realistic advice, my guide the Five Biggest Wedding Planning Myths will steer you well; and hang around our Facebook page to learn when we’ve posted a new article on the blog.  Happy Planning!

5 Biggest Wedding Planning Myths: Myth #2 – Haggling = Negotiation

By | 5 Biggest Wedding Planning Myths, Event Planner, Five Biggest Wedding Planning Myths, Vendors, Venues, Wedding Budget, Wedding Consultant, Wedding Vendor Negotiation | No Comments

MYTH #2:  Haggling = Negotiation

Over the past few days, we’ve been breaking down the 5 biggest wedding myths. Today we’re tackling Myth #2: “I can haggle my vendors down to nothing!”

A powerful sign that a wedding vendor is worth every penny is when they don’t offer drastic discounts. That means a) they have experience and know-how, and understand exactly how much they need to charge to make sure you have all the resources (time, labor, materials, etc.) you need from them and b) they are so secure in their reputation and referral base that if you don’t choose them, then they’ll find another client who values them for their actual worth. It’s as if they are saying, “Go ahead – find someone new, inexperienced, and low priced, and best of luck to ya. I’ll wait for the next client who comes along and truly values me.”

Tip:  When negotiating, be reasonable. Fridays and Sundays almost always mean price reductions at venues; Fridays in particular have become very popular in the wedding world, and tend to last as late as Saturday night weddings. Also, meet the vendor in the middle – whether it’s shaving off an hour of the time frame for the photographer’s active time or letting the florist pick more cost effective blooms that still stay in your color scheme.

To save on decor budget, we advised the bride to use lanterns and floral pieces, down her wedding aisle, then we repurposed them as cocktail/lounge decor. Photo by Collective Perception.

To save on decor budget, we advised the bride to use lanterns and floral pieces, down her wedding aisle, then we repurposed them as cocktail/lounge decor. Photo by Collective Perception.

Tip:  Also keep in mind the wide swings in pricing from one vendor to another. If Vendor A charges $1800, and Vendor B charges $1500, but Vendor C charges $700, something is way off with Vendor C.   That’s just the economics of supply and demand, simple as that. Vendor C may be a diamond in the rough just starting out and building their clientele – but you better check solid references on them just to be sure. Why? Because they have not established a market value – what the consumer is willing to pay for their services. And they won’t be charging that little for much longer at all, because eventually – no exaggeration – they will make more money slinging lattes.

 

Find a way to make it work, and remember the realities you are working with. Once you understand actual and realistic costs, you can learn to move forward making smart, cost effective decisions!

 

We’re no strangers to negotiation and far, win-win agreements between clients and vendors.  Contact us anytime here or at 310-562-3306.  Happy planning!