Here at Hearts On Fire, we want you to be a savvy negotiator when planning your Big Day. Because as you likely already know, planning a wedding gets expensive quickly! That’s why we are excited to offer a series of tips to help you through some of the biggest decisions based on some real life and professional experiences.
Let’s be honest, people love to eat and drink at weddings. But as the couple footing the bill, how do you budget? To start, know that if you are feeling overwhelmed by the original proposal prices, don’t worry. There are some great tips & tricks to get your best deal for the best rates:
- First, find out what’s included in your initial proposal. Specifically ask if service and tax are included and if your venue has a catering minimum.
- If your wedding is at a hotel, ask if you can spend some of your Catering minima at other hotel outlets (you will have more leverage if you are hosting a room block, brunch, rehearsal dinner, or Spa Day there).
- If your proposal includes a site fee, always ask for this to be waived or reduced. If you are renting out a private venue you will have no choice but to pay a site fee, but hotels and catering halls can sometimes waive and often reduce any site fees (Shh… don’t tell them we told you that!).
- Know that most venues can typically take 10-15% off (or more if you are willing to not hold your wedding on a Saturday) of their food and beverage prices. Here’s a great tip: ask if they have any “need dates,” as those dates are when you will get the absolute best deals.
- When asking for discounts, always shoot lower. For Saturday weddings, tell them that your budget is 20% less than the listed prices and likely you will end up somewhere in the middle (about 10-15%). For Thursday/Friday/Sunday weddings, tell them your budget is about 30-40% lower and you could end up with significant savings, hopefully around 25%-30%.
- If you are working with a Caterer at a private venue it gets a bit trickier, and to reduce costs you may need to consolidate menu choices and offer less variety. Don’t want to look cheap? Consider offering everyone the same duet (eg. Chicken and Fish or Beef and Fish on the same plate.) This looks generous and ends up saving you money compared to offering 2 or 3 different main courses. Also, don’t forget to talk to your caterer about the alcohol prices! If your venue doesn’t have any rules on alcohol, offer to purchase the booze at a local liquor distributor.
- If you have already tried, and they won’t budge on price – ask for more value! For example, a signature drink free of cost, upgraded bar, extra hours of open bar, dessert bar, more passed hors d’oeuvres, champagne toast, and room upgrades.
- And always remember – ask about sweetening the deal! If you are booking a wedding at a major hotel chain, chances are you will earn points per every dollar you spend. This could be used towards an amazing honeymoon. If they will not reduce prices, push for a double or triple points!
Best of Luck!