V.I.B. Bride Katie Cohen's Perspective: Negotiating with a Venue

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The second question every bride gets after the infamous, how-did-he-pop-the question will be, where-are-you-going-to-get-married? The venue that you choose will set the stage and formality of the entire occasion. Will it be a formal affair at a country club or a casual night out at a barnyard dance?

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For myself, I did a ton of research before locking down the Radisson Blu- Mall of America. I dragged friends to THREE different wedding fairs and created spreadsheets showing the differences between venues. I found that every venue has their own set of rules - for example, if they allow outside catering or if you can provide your own alcohol. Some venues I found had special offers if you got married in an off-season month or within the current year.

Having a wedding is similar to running your own business and like all good businesses, you can and should negotiate with your vendors. From my own personal experiences and tips from friends, these are my top items that you should request and try to negotiate before you sign your wedding contract.

1. If you are getting married at a hotel, check to see if you get a complimentary one-night stay on your one-year anniversary. This has become almost standard in the industry. In case your hotel doesn’t, try finding a few nearby hotels that do and you can present them in your case to have them added to your contract. Also make sure that your contract states the details of your room-block rate and if your parents get a special rate. I would also check if they could offer a discounted room for your honeymoon especially if it is a chain and are planning on using it anyway.

2. Ask your caterer if they have any available discounted. Usually they will be able to fix a dish that is even lower then the ones offered by just switching a side dish, especially if it’s chicken or vegetarian. It doesn’t hurt to ask and every dollar saved is a dollar you can use towards something else for your day. If your caterer is associated with your venue, make sure your discounted meals are in writing on your contract. Last thing you would want to get, is your food bill the day before and find out it’s twice then what you expected to pay.

3. Talk with your vender about their dessert options. If they have a preferred bakery or if they make the cake themselves they might have a special offer if you go through them. Always check if there is a cake-cutting fee. An extra $2 a slice doesn’t seem like a big deal but when you multiply that by 400 guests it can really add up. If there is a fee, see if they would be willing to drop it in half or eliminate it all together. Remember it never hurts to ask.

4. Alcohol is one of the biggest costs in a wedding. If you are able to bring your own alcohol to be served this can save you thousands. If your venue doesn’t allow you to bring your own, see if they would be willing to help lower the cost for you. This could mean throwing in an extra keg or discounting them for you. Some venues will offer discounted drinks if you pay cash upfront then give out drink tickets to your guests. I’ve also heard of one bride who had an open bar but was charged by her venue half off drinks once she met her minimum.

 

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Talk with your venue about available dates they have. Fridays and Sundays typically are less expensive then Saturdays. Also having your wedding in an off-season month will save you not only with your venue but also with your DJ and other vendors that would be not as busy during this time. If you’re willing to have your wedding in a short period of time, some venues will offer additional incentives to book up their rooms. Whatever prices you agree upon, make sure it is in writing for your own peace of mind.

I’ve learned it’s always better to ask for 100 things even if you only end up with 50 of them. The worst that can happen is that people will say no. Also make sure to save every e-mail as documented proof of your agreements. This way when the time comes to sign your contract you can make sure that every item is accounted for.

 

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As always happy planning brides-to-be!

 
Author: Katie C. | V.I.B. Bride

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