One of the by-products of our crummy economy is the many articles online and in wedding magazines about ways to save money on your wedding expenses. As a recent bride myself, I know how appealing the idea of saving on expenses can be!
Many authors have suggested that because most vendors have some "exorbitant" markup on their goods and services, that they are more than willing to come down on price just to secure the (hard to come by) gig. Their attitude is that it never hurts to ask for a discount.
I will say that in this particular market, my vendor friends are doing just peachy so far; the economy may not catch up with the wedding biz for another year or more. I would be very careful about requesting lower prices from a vendor you really want-if a photographer is pricey, he or she is in great demand and likely only takes a select number of weddings a year anyway. You are essentially telling him that you believe he is really not worth what he is charging. The most coveted vendors are often the most experienced, educated, well trained in their field, and have invested heavily in the best equipment and products. They know exactly how much it costs them to do the average wedding and how many hours they ultimately will spend completing it.
Be sure you are in a position to bargain in the first place-is your wedding on a Saturday during peak wedding season? You probably don't have a lot of wiggle room. Now if you're doing a Thursday wedding-sure, go ahead and ask that top photographer if she'll go for an hourly rate. Chances are she will say yes.
Are there things you can offer a vendor? Are you a graphic or website designer who can barter your services? Can you book your DJ for a gig with your company in exchange for a little break on your reception? I once had a P & G bride secure me a great little freelance job ; another bride who worked for Loreal hooked me up with a ton of mascara testers.I also recently traded my services for slipcovers for my barstools. Bargaining is give and take.
Many of us are not as "desperate" as the media would lead you to believe.
One other caveat-this economic downturn is also breeding a rash of brand new vendors-either people who have recently lost their jobs, or those who are looking to have a second source of income.While it's true that everyone has to start somewhere, be sure that these up and comers have the level of expertise, professionalism, and high quality equipment necessary to do the job. Does their price seem too good to be true? Will they still be wanting to fulfill contracts at those prices in a year from now, or will they realize by then that their overhead is exceeding their profits? While starting a wedding related business seems "fun" to the outsider, many newbies experience quick burnout when they realize how stressful it can be when you are entrusted to such an important day. It definitely takes a certain personality to work on weddings and give up every weekend.
Don't let that "bargain" become a major headache!