It is often thought that negotiating with wedding vendors is a standard aspect of wedding planning in order to get the best deals and often couples expect substantial discounts. Many couples believe that mastering the art of negotiation is the secret to keeping their wedding expenses in check.
You might end up disappointed since the reality is that most vendors are unlikely to reduce their prices.
Photocredit: Piteira Photography
In the wedding industry there is a lot said and written about ´how to get the best deals and how to negotiate with your wedding vendors´. It is even often mentioned as an advantage of hiring a wedding planner - that he or she can get you the best deals and discounts for your wedding. No wonder that many couples expect to be entitled to price advantages and extras when it comes to contracting vendors.
The truth is that most skilled and experienced vendors in Portugal won't lower the rates of their services merely upon request. Essentially, you ask them to devalue the cost of their service. When you want to negotiate with wedding vendors it's crucial to understand the cultural nuances and market dynamics, so let's start to unpack the truth about negotiating with wedding vendors in Portugal.
In this article, we will explore:
What Does Negotiating with Wedding Vendors mean?
Let´s start with the definition of negotiation:
Negotiation is a dialogue between two parties to resolve points of difference.
It involves communication and compromise to finalise the terms and conditions of the services being offered, such as:
Negotiation in the wedding industry is characterised by seeking lower prices and by finding a balance that satisfies both parties, ensuring a fair and mutually beneficial arrangement for the couple and the vendor. This can include:
When it comes to destination weddings, cross-cultural difference in negotiation are involved and can be particularly challenging. When people from different cultures negotiate, they often feel uncertain about how to act and can get confused by one another’s statements and behavior. The potential for misunderstandings and conflict is often high as a result.
Therefore, a basic understanding of Portugal's trading culture is helpful to navigate the negotiation and communication successfully.
Why you shouldn't negotiate with Wedding Vendors in Portugal?
Competitiveness of the landscape
Context here is everything and this starts with the competitiveness of the landscape. Or in other words, how much supply and how much demand there is in the market.
Portugal has become a very popular destination over the last decade and in the high-season - which typically starts mid April until mid of October - many couples come to Portugal to celebrate their wedding. There is a high demand and over the last years we see popular vendors getting booked up quickly.
In addition, many vendors operate either independently or with a small team, thereby restricting the number of weddings they can undertake in a season. Given the high demand for their services, they often choose to work with the best paying clients. Negotiating aggressively might risk losing the opportunity to secure your preferred vendors or venue, especially if they are already in high demand. Establishing a positive and respectful relationship is often more beneficial than pushing for discounts.
On the other hand, in low season you may find vendors more willing to lower their prices as the demand for their services will be significantly lower. But still this doesn't guarantee that a vendor is willing to lower their price, because the price reflects their expertise, time and value that they bring to your wedding experience. More on that later.
Besides high and low season there is also the distinction between high and low supply. Although Portugal offers a wide variety of wedding services in all kinds of price categories, it (may we say fortunately) remains a traditional and authentic country. Many couples cherish this authenticity and aspire to infuse their weddings with Portuguese traditions. However, for specific services like Indian catering, upscale decoration, or food stylists, choices become more limited. In these specialised areas, vendors hold a strong market position, reflected in pricing structures that offer little room for negotiation
The person(s) behind the Business
When engaging with wedding vendors, it's crucial to remember that a substantial number of them are small businesses or single-service providers. This awareness can help you approach negotiations with a blend of understanding and appreciation for the personalised dedication these vendors bring to the table.
In addition to this, their pricing is thoughtfully curated, encompassing more than just the time a vendor dedicates to your wedding. Vendors prices are also a reflection of:
The level of experience;
The quality of their equipment;
The quality of their service;
Overhead expenses (e.g. insurance, accounting, taxes, equipment and its maintenance, etcetera).
Although unintentionally, you basically say that their service is not worth its price when you ask for a discount. Bear in mind that it is not the vendor´s job to meet your budget constraints. Typically, vendors offer various packages designed to accommodate specific budget ranges, allowing you to find the best-suited service within your budget. It's advisable to initially seek vendors aligned with your budget. We recommend leaving a margin for 'hidden costs,' such as travel expenses, staff meals, and possible accommodation expenses, as these factors can contribute to the overall expenditure. More on "hidden costs" you can find in this article.
Tips & Alternative approaches to Negotiating with Wedding Vendors
While discussing possibilities with your wedding professionals is encouraged, expecting vendors to slash their rates through aggressive negotiation is generally not well-received. The key lies in thorough research, transparent communication, and a willingness to make informed choices, even if it means sacrificing certain aspects to stay within your budget.
Tips for Effective Negotiation
➡️ Research and Compare: Before entering negotiations, thoroughly research the market and compare prices from different vendors. This knowledge will empower you to make informed decisions and provide a basis for negotiation.
➡️ Be Transparent: Clearly communicate your budget constraints and expectations with vendors. This honesty can foster a collaborative atmosphere, and vendors may be more willing to work within your financial parameters.
➡️ Flexibility: While negotiating, be open to compromise. Flexibility on both sides can lead to a mutually beneficial agreement where both parties feel satisfied.
Negotiating Tips if you plan your wedding on a Budget
👉 Consider selecting a wedding date during the low season, which typically spans from November until the beginning of April. During these months, fewer couples opt to tie the knot, making vendors more open to negotiating their prices. Simultaneously, venues and accommodations tend to offer lower rates, given the decreased tourism activity.
👉 If your budget is tight, you may also explore the option of hiring less experienced vendors. While they might not impose 'starter fees' for their services, they are often more amenable to price adjustments as they seek to build their portfolios.
If you have the luxury of working with a wedding planner, he or she will be perfectly able to guide you through the process of finding the best matching vendors and service packages. But a good understanding of what is feasible and reasonable will also help you to keep the relationship with your wedding planner healthy. Sometimes couples expect miracles from wedding planners by getting them disproportionate discounts and deals. A collaborative and informed approach ensures a smoother planning process and enhances the overall success of your wedding celebration.
➡️ Focus on Value-Added Benefits
Rather than fixating on negotiating lower prices, couples can benefit from focusing on value-added benefits. Wedding vendors in Portugal are often open to customizing packages to better suit your needs, providing additional services, or even offering flexible payment plans. This approach enhances the overall experience without compromising the vendors' hard-earned worth.
➡️ Building Positive Relationships
One of the most valuable aspects of wedding planning in Portugal is the relationships you build with your vendors. These professionals play a pivotal role in bringing your dreams to life, and a positive, collaborative relationship fosters an atmosphere of trust and understanding. By prioritizing a respectful and appreciative attitude, couples can create a more enjoyable and stress-free planning process.
➡️ Adjust your Priorities
If you really like a vendor but they're a bit pricey, you can make changes to your budget. Until you've finalized all your vendor contracts, you can be flexible with how you allocate your funds. For example, if you budgeted €2000 for a photographer but found the perfect one for €3000, you could cut back on the floral decorations budget to make room for the photographer you love.
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