Planners share what to know about negotiating with a venue

When Melissa Marks and her fiancé Pat first saw their wedding venue on September 17, 2022, it was love at first sight. But, the one thing they didn’t like? The high price of the region. Instead of continuing their venue search, the couple decided to take their shot and negotiate the terms of the event — and it worked.

“We asked them to send us quotes for their peak season for 125-140 guests knowing we were going to have over 200 people at our wedding,” the bride shares. “There was a lot of back and forth, but our final proposition was that if we increased our number of guests to 200 people, they would give us off-peak pricing, an open bar of premium liquor, a extra cocktail hour station and a free bonfire after the beach party. They accepted the offer! We have our dream place [and] all these extra amenities within our budget.

Admittedly, entering into negotiations with the location of your dreams can be a bit overwhelming. (One wrong move and you’re entering very uncomfortable territory.) But, not only is trading with your site completely permissible, it’s also a planner-approved move.

“Everybody wants a lot and when you’re [getting married]it helps to have some negotiation tactics up your sleeve,” says AJ Williams, Founder and Creative Director of AJ Events. “Sometimes you’ll be able to ‘score’ with an incredible offer, and other times (or even most) you’ll receive the most incredible concessions; “benefits” added to your contract that make you feel even more special. »

So how do you know which terms are negotiable? How do you even approach the conversation? And what if you don’t get everything you ask for? Below, two wedding planners share their expert advice.

Meet the expert

  • AJ Williams is the founder and creative director of AJ Events.
  • Amy Lynn Parmar is the lead planner for Poppy + Lynn.

Understand your options

According to Amy Lynn Parmar, chief planner at Poppy + Lynn, wedding venues are currently in high demand. So you may not be able to bargain everything of your terms. That said, your site may have some wiggle room on logistics like payment timing, timing, and when your vendors can drop off decorations. Another area of ​​negotiations? The menu.

“If your venue has its own catering, you might be able to negotiate the minimum if you opt for a cocktail with passed nibbles instead of a sit-down dinner,” Parmar shares. “[Also]you can sometimes exchange liquors, wines or beers for brands or types that you prefer.

But, while there’s plenty of room for negotiation, Parmar stresses that some terms are simply beyond your and your site’s control. “These types of clauses are usually in place for safety or for the preservation of the venue, and usually there’s nothing you can do about it,” she shares. For example, music end times may be strict due to local noise ordinances, while certain special effects may be prohibited at historic sites. If in doubt, ask your site coordinator to clarify any confusing terms. This way you will be able to understand what is to be traded and what is not.

Photo taken by People Photography


Choose your battles

It’s no secret that planning a wedding is a time-consuming and, yes, stressful endeavor, so the very last thing you’ll want to do is spend time negotiating something that hasn’t. not important. As Williams says, focus only on the terms that will truly make or destroy your wedding day. “I always ask what the restrictions are and what’s included that we haven’t discussed,” she shares. “I would like to address what is important to you and what your deal breakers are.”

And, when it comes to starting the negotiation conversation, Williams recommends approaching wedding venues as if you were buying a house. “Don’t tell them their place is the only one you’re considering,” she explains. “Let them know that location is your number one choice, but budget is a concern. Connect with your contact, get to know them and communicate with them. »

keep it nice

Gone are the days when poker faces and my way or the highway attitudes reigned supreme. For these marriage experts, benevolence is essential. “I would say the biggest mistake couples make is assuming they’re entitled to anything,” Parmar shares. “Coming with a legitimate and demanding attitude will only make the place less eager to work with you. No one wants to deal with a rude and inconsiderate couple.

When in doubt, focus on communicating your vision in a calm and considerate manner. “Show the venue that you’re genuinely excited about their space,” she shares. “Gently explain why you would like to make a change.” Parmar says if you’re kind in your communication, a venue might be more likely to try to shake things up.

Find common ground

No matter how nice and communicative you are, a place may not want to budge on a certain term. While it can be frustrating to be pushed back for your dream wedding, both Williams and Parmar agree that a venue isn’t obligated to change anything in their contracts. But, before that feeling of defeat sets in, consider a plan B.

“Thank them for trying and always be nice; you may not receive a concession in advance, but that does not mean that they will not provide a concession in the future. said Williams. “If a venue can’t or won’t budge on something that you think is a dealbreaker, see if there’s something else that can be compromised.”

For example, if your hotel can’t guarantee a larger block of rooms for your guests, ask them if they’d be willing to upgrade your honeymoon suite as a compromise. Although you may not get everything on your terms, a compromise might make you feel better about signing on the dotted line. What if your site still isn’t ready to move? Maybe it’s a sign that it’s time to leave.

“Getting mad at the site team won’t help you get the results you want,” Williams shares. “So if you’ve tried to find a compromise and they’re still not budging, you may have to decide if it’s worth moving forward as is or if you need to look elsewhere.

Ask for help

With a booming wedding boom, Williams and Parmar recognize that it’s a place market right now. (Translation? If you finally pass on a venue, there are probably several couples ready to set a date.) Instead, you might want to ask your wedding planner for help.

“They know the industry better than anyone and may be able to work on your behalf to find a solution that works for both parties,” says Parmar. “A good wedding planner is your biggest advocate and will work tirelessly to help you where they can. my clients, because they know that I work well with their team and that I take care of things.

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