Five Tips for Meeting with a Wedding Vendor Who You Know Is Out of Your Price Range
Be wary! Falling in love with a vendor's work when you know you can't afford them is never a good idea.
Falling head-over-heels for the style and services of a vendor whose portfolio examples look like they cost more than your entire wedding fund can feel more than a little heartbreaking—but just because you think a vendor is out of your price range doesn't mean you have to immediately cross them off your list.
"Pricing is not always easy to find online, so the best way to know someone's actual cost for their services is simply to ask them," says planner Jove Meyer, owner of Jove Meyer Events. "The work is so custom and based on scope, time and talent. In the conversation about pricing you will likely learn more about what is included and why, instead of just guessing or counting them out because of what you have heard or read somewhere." But if talking about the bottom line still makes you feel uncomfortable, follow these tips to erase any awkwardness.
You don't have to open an email by quoting your financial details, but it's appropriate to mention that you're working with a tight budget. "When reaching out to vendors you think you cannot afford, do not lead with that, but be honest," says Meyer. "Set up a call or a meeting, get the info you need based on the scope of work you are looking for, and then just be honest with them: 'I love your work, but it is above my budget. Do you have any suggestions to get it closer to this number?' Put the ball in the vendor's court to see if they can work where you are."
If your budget is flexible, then you may end up shifting other costs around to make room for a superstar florist or high-end caterer. "I suggest couples start by asking what the average price is that couples spend with the vendor to see if they are in the right ballpark," says Meyer. If the average is still way more than you can spend, it's time to move on before you request a detailed vision that you know you can't afford. "I am not a fan of having couples ask vendors like florists to create custom proposals that take them many hours and creative juices if they are not in their price range at all," says Meyer.
Your father-in-law may roll his eyes at the cost of your band or the uncharge for locally-sourced meals, but the vendors you're hiring are professionals who've set their prices based on a variety of factors—and trying to negotiate a discount right from the start will create an awkward vibe. "Weddings are very demanding physically, emotionally and mentally, and take a lot of time, talent and work during late nights and weekends," says Meyer, "so keep that in mind when chatting with vendors. This is our livelihood, not our hobby. There is no harm in asking if the vendor can offer more competitive pricing, but be prepared should they say no."
Be open to suggestions.
Wedding industry pros often work with each other over and over, so they can be a valuable resource. "Once you book the first vendor, I suggest asking them for recommendations about other vendors as they likely work with people at a similar level and/or price range," says Meyer. Your wedding planner can help, too: "I encourage couples to hire the planner first as they can help you allocate your budget based on your priorities," he says, "and then they can recommend vendors who can collaborate in your price range and with your style." And don't let vendors—or family members—add to your stress by pressuring you to spend more than you planned. "In every category of your wedding there will be options at every price level," says Meyer. "I always suggest couples play in world they are most comfortable in financially."
Professional wedding vendors have experience working on events of all sizes and scales, and their Instagram feed may not represent the full range of their offerings. "Each wedding vendor and their services vary greatly so their pricing will be based on your needs," says Meyer. "Reach out to your dream vendors first, ask the hard questions about costs and services, then take a look at your overall budget and see if it makes sense. Once you have all of the information you can make a decision on whether they are in your budget or not. You cannot know until you ask!"