Monday, 11 July 2011

To haggle or not to haggle?

I thought I'd start the week with a contentious issue - the subject of haggling.

There are certain areas of life where haggling is okay/expected and others where it's not.

You go to a car boot sale and they say £10, you say £5 and so on.

But you go to the hairdressers and they say £40, you don't say £25. In fact, can you imagine doing that? The receptionist would look at you like you're crazy and tell you the price is £40. 

So how does this all apply in the wedding industry? Brides are constantly told to get their money's worth and try to negotiate. Which is fine but can lead to this kind of scenario:

Bride: 'How much is your XYZ service?

Wedding planner/photographer/insert any wedding professional: For that service the cost will be ABC.

Bride: I'd like to pay DEF, can you do that?

W.P: Well possibly, but it won't be the above service, it will be JKL.

Bride: But I'd like the XYZ service.

W.P: Well then I'm afraid you'll have to pay for it.

If you're not totally confused by my XYZs and so on, let me try to explain.

I am not saying that trying to get a good deal and negotiating are 'not allowed' in weddings or that it shouldn't be done, but there are ways to go about it that are fair to both parties.

If somebody enquires about a service of mine, I give them the quote based on a variety of factors. This quote is what I feel is fair to both the bride and myself. No one gets into wedding planning to get rich quick! We do it out of love, but do have to try run a business at the same time.

So if the bride tells me that's higher than she expected, I ask her what she wanted to pay. And then where possible I try to create a bespoke package that she can afford but that is financially worth me doing too. So I'll offer less hours, or less meetings, or some way to reduce the price but still be fair. Basically I'm prepared to negotiate. Up to a point.

And the same applies when approaching wedding photographers for instance. If a photographer says on their website their fee is £1800 for 7 hours, and you say you'll give them £1500, the photographer will most likely say no. And be a bit affronted. If you only have £1500, then by all means ask if they are willing to do it for 5 hours for instance.

Negotiating on price in essence is a good thing, (I do it a lot for my clients obviously), but it's the way you do it that counts, especially when it comes to individuals running their own businesses - planners, photographers, stationers etc. These people have set their prices for a reason - it's what they think is fair to both themselves and their clients - and it's important to respect that.

My advice to those dealing with hagglers - be polite and flexible where possible - but don't forget to respect yourself and your business at the same time, otherwise you'll take a job on but be resentful, and that's not worth it for anyone.


  1. Great Points! As a wedding stationer I am sometimes asked if I can do a range of stationery cheaper. Not only is this a tad insulting but people need to realise I've worked these prices out very carefully and I don't make massive margins on my work.
    The way to approach a wedding supplier is to say that you really love a design but its not within your budget ... I can then suggest ways in which we can make it for your budget and come up with a bespoke design suited to the couple.
    Its all a question of approach! Don't treat us like you're haggling in a market and we'll be more than happy to do anything for you!

  2. great post! I agree with Nikki it's definitly all about approach and being realistic to what a service is worth.

  3. Im married to a wedding photographer and as the post says he is never offended if someone has a certain budget and asks if there are any compromises in terms of coverage etc which would make him be able to work to it however as Nikki comments his packages are very carefully worked out and include a basic package which can be added to for this very reason so when people seem almost affronted when he politely informs them there is no wriggle room in his price structure it is annoying. Also be very carfeul at how low you allow yourself to go as there is nothing as annoying as realising they have spent £900 on a cake and are paying you less for the photos : )

  4. I've been composing my version of this post in my head for ages (since the comments on east side bride's post on the matter made me furious. Good post though, did you read it?) but you write this with so much more grace than I would have done!

  5. i totally agree. Negotiation is of course possible but you have to offer the other party something in return (perhaps full payment upfront, free advertising somewhere, etc.) There is such a fine line on what can be negotiated but it doesn't hurt to try tactfully!


    Chic 'n Cheap Living

  6. Fabulous post, sweetie! I was just talking about this the other day. J & I aren't big hagglers but we were able to negotiate some aspects of our wedding.


  7. Very well put! I am always happy to accomodate clients on a smaller budget but they have to realize that if their wedding is on a Saturday in high wedding season I cannot reduce my set prices. I only do a certain amount of weddings a year and offer a bespoke service which I have carefully priced to make it fair for my clients and myself. I feel that quite often couples have no idea how many hours of work there are involved in their wedding photography, the cost of equipment etc...

  8. I work at a restaurant venue where we offer a minimum spend rather than a hire charge. The prices are based for everyones pocket but Brides n grooms often say. 'That's too much can you reduce this to ££'... NO, this figure is what we make if our doors are open! If I reduce it the restaurant is out of pocket! Go for this cheaper option? Bride, 'but that's not what I want'....
    I wanted a temperley dress for my wedding but my bank account didn't, so I bought vintage.
    Brides need to be given more realistic advise..

  9. From a photographers viewpoint: People haggle because they want, but can't afford what you do.

    The mags are chock full of images that are used to sell a utopian wedding.

    Brides who enter into this dream of their perfect wedding have champagne tastes but beer budget.

    If you are able to sell what you do well, and clearly demonstrate the skill level that you have, then you won't be bothered by brides who can't afford you. Put a price on the website that stops time wasters.

    If they have contacted you, its because they want you, there is no harm in saying No. If they are chancing it, you'll still book them.

    AW's wedding planning tips- haggle the venue, save money by not having any frilly bits, get a band,lots of booze and then the best photographer you can afford. ( completely unbiased of course!)

    The photographer will last a life time, the cake is but a second on the lips and a lifetime on the hips!

    Hope everyone has a great day x

  10. Great post. I run a small millinery company, working from home and often catering to brides. My hats are priced lower than many on the market simply because I don't have a shop rent to pay and because if I want to make any money I'm forced to work at below minimum wage levels, but still people always want a discount. They expect time-consuming bespoke work for the price of a standard design, or expect a handmade, limited edition piece for the same price you'd pay for some piece of feathery tat in Primark - they literally sometimes offer a tenth of the asking price, not even enough to cover the materials!

    If people are spending £1500 on a dress which is obviously overpriced and which they'll wear for half a day, why on earth do they begrudge paying £35-40 for a beautiful craftsperson-made headpiece which they can wear again with another outfit?


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