What to ask your vendors
Your wedding day can’t go ahead without the help of outsiders: everyone from dressmakers and florists, to DJs and venue managers. But to make your big day the best it can be for the lowest price possible, you’ve got to be prepared to ask your vendors what they can give you for free.
You’d be surprised at the deals you can get. Caterers have been known to serve homemade wedding cake; bar staff have thrown in toast drinks, and a bridal shop let Popup Weddings’ co-founder, Kerry, try on her eBay-bought wedding dress in the shop. All for free.
If you don’t think it’s the right setting to ask for a freebie, haggle. Don’t be afraid to dig your heels in, and know that you can haggle on almost anything. One couple I spoke to managed to get a discount on the tables and chairs they hired from the marquee company for their wedding. Just make sure – particularly for the more costly things – that you get the exact details of the deal, including potential annual increases, in writing.
Here are some must-ask questions to run by your vendors.
Venue managers and wedding planners
To avoid blowing your budget on hidden costs, clarify every detail with the venue manager beforehand. You’d be surprised at how many titbits slip your mind. Think crockery, cutlery, candles, lighting, linen, furniture, marquee hire, wedding present storage… even cleaners afterwards.
Another thing worth checking is if you’ve got the venue to yourself all day or if there are other weddings going on after yours. You never know, you might be able to get a discount for sharing.
If you’re hiring a wedding planner, why not ask if they’ve worked at the venue before. If they have, they might have some nifty ideas of things that did or didn’t work.
A groom’s top tip
‘If you’re tying the knot in a hotel, see if the venue will give you and your guests reduced room rates for overnight stays.’
A bride’s top tip
‘If you have specific features in mind for your big day, ask the planner or manager at the venue how they can incorporate them. Don’t think you’re being a burden – it’s what you pay them for.’
Flowers, dresses, suits and jewellers
To avoid any hefty shipping fees, it’s worth asking your florist which flowers are in season and which have the most staying power. (A little tip, tulip button holes don’t always do so well with the hugging that goes on at weddings.)
If you’re ordering dresses and suits online, make sure you know every last detail. Size guides (which can come in both UK and US sizes); materials; delivery costs and dates; returns policy; recorded/insured delivery, and how and when your outfits will arrive.
And if you’re getting your rings made by a jeweller, be clear on the details like the size, colour, carat and design. You could always draw a diagram, if needs be.
A bride’s top tip
‘Before ordered my wedding dress online, I asked the company to send swatches so I could check colours and fabric quality. And if you’re ordering from overseas, I’d suggest you look out for how professional their email responses are and how good their English is. This will help you gauge whether or not you’ll experience any problems with things like alterations or returns.’
A groom’s top tip
‘Check to see if your vendors take credit cards for purchases over £100. If you put any amount on a credit card instead of a debit card, you automatically get Section 75 protection. In case anything goes wrong.’
Photographers and barmen
If you’re hiring a photographer, check with them how much time they’ll need for group, family and private shots. And if you have ideas for specific pictures, consider chatting it through with them in advance. That way you won’t waste precious time on the big day.
Some photographers are willing to come to your hotel or home before the ceremony, and stay until the end of the first dance. So if you want a mixture of photos in your wedding album, it’s worth the ask. And if you can do a deal with them, even better.
If you’re having a bar at your wedding, think about getting the vendor’s position on things like corkage, cloakroom service and extra waiting staff. And if they take payment by card, check to see if there’s a minimum.
A bride and groom’s top tip
‘We haggled when we were bulk buying the alcohol for our wedding. Just keep an eye on the quoted costs. Sometimes vendors don’t include VAT, which can increase the bill substantially.’
All in all
So there you have it. A general idea of what to ask your vendors when it comes to planning your big day.
Take comfort in the fact that almost everyone haggles with wedding vendors. So ditch the inherent British politeness and go for it. And if you’ve got any other tips to add to the ones above, we’d love to hear them.
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