Figure Out Your Budget ASAP
Lynn Easton of Easton Events suggests that you don't hire any vendors until you make a complete budget. "We've seen brides hire an expensive band that they couldn't afford once they took into consideration all of the other wedding expenses," Easton notes. "It's hard to enjoy dancing when you have to skimp on everything else."
Stay Real and Prioritize
Pinterest is beautiful, but budgets are real. "Focus on what is most important to you two (paper goods, florals, tabletop décor), and shrug off whatever does not work," suggests Lauren Wells of Lauren Wells Events.
Be Honest—and Flexible
Rick Davis of Amaryllis Designs thinks honesty is key, and being flexible with ideas, types of flowers, or products being used is just as important. An important factor in making things work? Trusting your vendors. "Companies like ours have not survived in the wedding world by not producing beautiful memories," he says.
Don't Be Afraid to Negotiate
Vendors have starting points for a reason—to cover their time and talent, their overhead, their staff, and so forth. Sometimes there's a bit of wiggle room, or sometimes you might inquire with someone out of your price point only to find that they are open to working on the costs. Regardless, it's OK to ask, but just know that many smaller companies or self-run businesses really can't swing a lower dollar amount without digging into their own pockets. And always be respectful.
"If someone doesn't provide a service or product that fits in your budget, you don't have to hire them, but don't try to belittle them over what their fees are," says Michelle Leo Cousins of Michelle Leo Events. "You wouldn't walk into a grocery store and demand to pay half the price of what a gallon of milk actually costs. So don't expect your vendors to give away their products, service, and time away for free."
Talk About It
It can be difficult or awkward to talk about money with your family or future-in-laws, but doing so will help you get an accurate idea of what your budget is so you can plan accordingly. Being on the same page from the beginning on your priorities, your all in number, and who might be covering what is invaluable.
And talking about it at the wedding in another way is just as important. "If someone helps out with the cost of your wedding, make sure to recognize them in some way during the event," suggests Betty of Betty Brooklyn Catering Co. "That could mean thanking them in a speech or including something special for them on the menu or at the bar."
Remember: Weddings Are A Lot of Work for Vendors
"I have heard many a bride lamenting the fact that once the florist knew it was a wedding, they jacked up the price. Of course they did! The amount of time spent on administrative tasks, meetings, contracts, proposals, and adjustments is much different then daily flowers or corporate events and this cost needs to be captured to run a viable business," notes Jenn Pineau of Nature Composed.
So keep in mind that it's not that you're being upcharged, it's simply that vendors are accounting for the additional time they will be spending working and making your vision become a reality.