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Wow, wedding services are expensive. But maybe that's just the list price? Maybe we're supposed to say "well this is a great offer but I need you to come down 20% or we're going to use the golf club down the street." Or maybe that's going to be received about as well as trying to get the milk cheaper at the grocery store.

I don't want to commit some sort of faux pas trying to negotiate if that's just not the done thing. But I can see how even a 10% drop in these prices would be a significant saving. Do people routinely negotiate? Will the venue be expecting that?

I'm considering several venues at the moment. Some are "we'll rent you the hall; get a caterer and rent some linens and décor yourself" while others are one-stop shopping including the ceremony and hotel rooms. These latter are the ones where I would get most "bang for my buck" negotiating, but I'm feeling unsure whether that's a normal thing to do in Canada (presumably, we have the same patterns as the US.) Or rather than asking for a reduction do you maybe ask for certain things to be "thrown in"? I'm not inexperienced when it comes to haggling, including at this price point - last year I got a $40,000 purchase down to less than $30,000 - but I am inexperienced when it comes to weddings (and frankly, hoping to stay that way :-) )

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    The worst they can say is no. Even if it is a major faux pas, it isn't like they are going to get insulted and turn away the work. Even if it is embarrassing, unless you are going to plan another wedding, what do you care what they think of you? – JohnFx Feb 24 '15 at 13:53
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    You don't necessarily have to directly haggle- you can ask for alternative choices (such and such flower vs. another might be a lot less expensive) or "is there some way we can get closer to my budget" and they'll get the idea. I'm suggesting you don't assume you're getting the same product for the reduced price, because some cultures (and about every one is represented in Canada) will surely assume just the opposite- and there are lots of ways to cut corners in a service. – Spehro Pefhany Feb 24 '15 at 14:55
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It's always negotiable. A common sales technique is to start with the highest prices. If the customer pays them, great. If not, the lower-priced options are still profitable and will seem like a deal to the consumer after having already seen the most pricey package.

Weddings are notoriously expensive and negotiating prices is not uncommon. Be aware of kickbacks and referral fees. (Notice how the photographer says, "who's the caterer?" and the caterer asks, "who's the DJ?" -- they might be getting a commission for making a recommendation. Find vendors on your own and they might be more willing to make a deal.)

Get multiple quotes so you know the general price ranges, of course. Things you can do:

  1. Ask "is this your best price?". It never hurts to ask and they might lower it on the spot.
  2. Say "I can only budget $x for photography. What can I get for that price?"
  3. Once you found a vendor you're ready to sign with, flat out ask for a discount. "Can you take off 10% to help keep me within my budget? If so, I'll sign right now and pay a deposit."
  4. You can also offer to pay cash instead of a credit card in return for another 2% discount. They might say yes because of the credit card fees they have to pay, so it's a wash to them and saves you 2%. If they say no, pay with a credit card and get the rewards. (assuming you will pay the bill in full and won't get charged interest)

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