My Story: Wedding Savings
by Debi Brim
Many photographers, florists, and wedding consultants use invitations as a loss-leader to get you into their place of business, offering as much as 50-60% off of the published price. While planning my daughter's wedding we found a place that gave free invitations.
Our local tux rental shop offered 100 free invitations with the rental of the wedding tuxes. They offered to clean and store the wedding gown after the wedding---also free. Since we are having a small wedding, we only needed 3 tuxes. At $60 each, we only spent $180 at the tux shop. but received 100 free invitations at a retail value of $300, and the cleaning/storing of the wedding gown at a retail value of $200: over $500 of free product and services for our $180 payment.
Get a Quote on Flowers and Other Services: I was not happy with the first quote I received on the wedding flowers. I took the quote from the first florist and went to a second florist, gave the quote to the second florist and told them, "Here's what I've been quoted. If you can beat it, the business is yours." The second florist came back with such things as $150 for the bridal bouquet instead of $300, and $25 for the flower girl basket instead of $45. Overall, the flowers ended up costing me HALF of what the first florist had quoted.
This technique works with other services and vendors. They want your business and are open to negotiation, but you need to be informed and know what you are willing to spend.
For example, the 2nd florist told me that $45 was pretty standard for a flower girl basket. I made it clear up front that I was not willing to pay $45 for a "...wicker basket with dead petals." They came back with a reasonable price of $25 (almost half of the originally quoted price).
The bridesmaids are going to be carrying a single white rose. The first florist quoted $10 each. Even though the wedding is in October, I doubted that a dozen roses would come with a price tag of $120. (This brought to mind the advice I had seen in The Dollar Stretcher article about not using "....the "W" word" when planning a wedding!) I asked the second florist how much their long stemmed roses were and they said $5. Later in the conversation, the second florist said, "Oh, I forgot you wanted ribbon on those" I replied that I was not paying five more dollars for a piece of ribbon and their final quoted price came back with an acceptable price of less than $10.
My advice would be for brides to do more than just shop around. Let the business know that you are comparison shopping and ask them if they can beat the price you've been given. You will usually come out ahead!
Updated September 2013
We're still paying off last Christmas and worry how we'll afford the holidays this year without charging it again! Tell us: Yes, we could use help getting out of the debt trap we're in! or No, debt is not a problem for us but I'm always looking for ways to trim my family's expenses further!