No matter how small their roles, professionals play an important part in your wedding. The good ones have experience, expertise, and raw talent that can make even the lowest-budget weddings look stylish.
When it comes to vendors, your priorities and the talents available to you partially determine whether you will actually save in both dollars and sanity by doing it yourself. No matter how you plan your wedding, you will need a lot of people, besides you, to make it happen: wedding professionals and other vendors, family, and friends. The way you combine their available skills will determine how well your day fits both your dream and your budget. Ideally, you will hit the mark on both accounts.
The key is picking and choosing the parts of the wedding that require personalized service. Top contenders are (a) particular aspects that are most important to you and (b) those things you do not have the time or talent to do yourself. Cut costs in areas you are less passionate about and/or are able to accomplish without the help of a professional. Before doing so, however, evaluate what quality you will give up by having your uncle be the videographer or cousin Walt running an MP3 player. Expertise and experience do matter, so scrimp here with your eyes wide open.
1. Be truly interested in working together—given your preferences, budget, and priorities—to find the best solution for both of you. Work as a team, and you will be more efficient and get more accomplished in less time. Plus, no one likes Bridezilla. Yes, it’s “your wedding and you should have it your way,” but treating vendors like underlings won’t cut it if you want any kind of deal. In fact, you may end up paying more in PITA (pain in the a**) surcharges.
Here are some more techniques to help you get the most “bang for your buck” working with professionals:
2. See if you can get a discount for paying up front. Some vendors will give you a discount if you pay the entire bill with cash or check up front. If so, that’s usually a deal you want to take, since the discount is likely more than the perks you’d get from paying by credit card or earn by holding on to the money longer.
3. Ask vendors if there is a discount for scheduling far in advance. If you are able to extend your planning a year or more you may be able to lock in a lower rate versus committing closer in.
4. Assign tasks according to creative strengths. Family and friends will volunteer to help. Because they will have different abilities, your best wedding will happen if you match each person’s strongest abilities with corresponding projects.
5. Think “beginning talent.” Those just getting started in their business are often eager for referrals and opportunities to expand their portfolios. Find young professionals whose work you are in love with and offer them a deal, such as a discount in exchange for your testimonials and unlimited use of your wedding in their promotional materials.
6. Use materials your vendors already have on hand as much as possible. This can not only save you money by potentially not having to pay for additional supplies but could also put you in a better position to negotiate a discount, since they do not have to go to the trouble of sourcing and purchasing them.
7. Consider barter. If you have a talent or skill or make products others find valuable, see if any of your vendors would be interested in trading value-for-value. This way, you both participate in creating a no out-of-pocket service for your wedding.
8. Ask for services as gifts. If you have friends or relatives who are in the wedding industry or simply very creative, ask them to give their help in place of a wedding gift. The only drawback is that if this requires them to work during your wedding (coordinating, taking photos, shooting video, providing entertainment, or serving food), they may miss out on the festivities.
9. Put together a “vendor registry.” After you have decided which vendors to hire, arrange for them to provide gift certificates for friends and family to purchase as wedding gifts. With the added funds, you may be able to order extras—a larger photo package or an extra food station, for example. A word of caution: timing may play a role in the vendors’ ability to provide the additional services. Make sure to discuss ahead of time what happens if you receive enough money for an additional request.
10. Consider using multiple services from a vendor or her associates. Sometimes, you can get a discount by hiring others from or through the same company. Be sure, however, to compare the costs to other alternatives.
11. Sign up with your vendors. Follow the companies you are interested in through the blog on their websites, Pinterest, newsletters via their websites, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and Tumblr to find possible extra savings.
The above is based on an excerpt from the Dream Wedding on a Dime; 7 Secrets for the Budget-Savvy Bride ebook.