By: Karen Sullen
Ah, the art of negotiation. It's a subtle craft that can mean the difference between getting a great deal and getting ripped off. No matter which side of the table you're on, everyone wants to win (or at least give up as little as possible.) Chester L. Karrass once said, "In business, you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate." So don't be afraid to ask the tough questions and let them know you mean business. After all, you are potentially bringing a lot of business to the vendor in your booking, referrals and exposure or advertising as you list their names in the acknowledgements. That's why you should negotiate from a position of strength—not arrogance, wisdom—not naivety. But how do you become such a savvy negotiator? Often times, it's not about what you do, but what you don't do that matters most.
Never make an impulse decision
Planning a wedding is an exciting time! Looking at all the bouquets, dresses and wedding favors can make your head spin with delight. However, impulsive decisions can lead to buyer's remorse. Always go back a second (or even third) time to be sure, and never make a decision without discussing it at home with your mate first. Sometimes, when you are removed from the situation you have a different view, and discussing it with someone else can offer another perspective, as well.
Never act too anxious
While you want to show enthusiasm for the product or service, being overly anxious can shift control from you to the vendor. Realizing that you are already "sold" on the idea, they are less inclined to offer specials, throw in freebies, or aggressively pursue your business. It's better for them to feel that you are genuinely interested but that they still need to earn your business.
Never sign a contract on the spot
You might think that you've somehow stumbled onto a used car lot when negotiating with some vendors. Pressure tactics like "the deal is only good today" is a sign that you're on the wrong road. While many vendors offer specials, you shouldn't have to sign the contract on the spot to get them. If you're not absolutely 100% sure, don't sign. Walk away. Take time to truly evaluate your options. The "deal" will most likely still be there if you decide to select that vendor.
Never let them see you sweat
If you appear panicked and out of control, some vendors might try to take advantage of that and apply pressure for you to cave. We don't usually make the best decisions when we are upset, agitated or irritated. Take a few moments to step back from the situation and regain your composure before proceeding.
Never leave without asking for more
What's the worse they can say? No. But if you don't ask, you'll never know for sure. They might have said yes, or at least offered a nice compromise. Questions like "Do you have reduced rates for early or off-season bookings?" or "Are there any special extras you can include at that price?" are always appropriate.
With that said, know that a truly nifty negotiator does her homework. Research trends, pricing, the flowers and centerpieces you like best—everything! The more you know, the better off you will be.