Save at all costs? Getting married is not like shopping!
To save even €5 per person on the price of the menu or to have the florist include extra decor without charge can drastically change the economic situation for a wedding. Today I would like to talk about the topic of negotiating, which many Indian couples take for a given when planning their weddings in Italy. I so often find myself bargaining on behalf of my couples to try and obtain the best conditions for them. Keeping their budget in mind, I calculate and recalculate where cuts can be made to find a compromise.
And, yes, we’re talking about cutting back on something, because “sales” when it comes to planning weddings never means lowering the price without changing the conditions somewhere along the line. Weddings are not a seasonal sale of a clothing store where the same jacket today costs €100, and tomorrow when the sales begin will go for €50.
In the world of every professional, the wedding planner included, the price of his or her services is calculated based on the work dedicated in executing them, just as it is for wedding venues or the catering company which comes up with its prices for the menu by keeping the costs in mind for the employees, the materials, the cost of management, and the transportation, all after considering the price of the food itself.
Couples often say that the price of this service provider or that is too high, but no one is ever willing to sacrifice a part of the quote to lower the cost. The pretense is always the same: everyone wants to pay less without having to give up anything.
Ok, let’s analyze this situation.
Everything has a price
Let’s take the example of the floral arrangements – for the Mandap, to be precise: if the bride wants a particular structure which would have to be made specifically for her, why should the price be the same as it would be for a structure which already exists and does not have to be built from scratch? Who pays for the new structure? The florist? No, it has to be the couple that is requesting it who pays. The florist will do everything he or she can to please the bride, but their extra work needs to be compensated for.
It is also common for couples to request quotes for stratospheric decor seen on the internet, but their budget that would not cover even a portion of such grandeur. In this case they might have to cut out the orchids, or perhaps the lateral decorations, maybe the garland in the back and make the festoon in the front a little less full of flowers and then reuse it later on the table of the bride and groom. Everything can be done, but – as you can see – that means cutting back from the original hypothesis.
Don’t compare English prices with Italian ones!
Or let’s take the example of food. My wedding colleague planners are so often told by their couples, “for the dinner we want to spend this amount,” (which is usually half the cost of the quoted price), “because we want to make our parents happy/because in the UK it costs so much less/because otherwise we won’t be able to fit everything into our budget.” We all want to make our parents happy, especially when they’re helping pay for something so big and important as our wedding; staying within the budget becomes obligatory.
But you must remember that you’re having a destination wedding in another country with different regulations and different prices. So my first advice is to avoid comparing Italian prices with those of the UK: the availability of the materials is different, as are the services provided.
So if a couple wants to have 2-3 live cooking stations to impress their guests, but every station requires a particular setup and a specialist operator, why would they expect this type of extra service to be included in the “classic” food service? Or let’s take a menu of white meat, such as chicken, and menu of seafood, such as shrimp – is it plausible that the two menus would cost the same? No, of course not.
So, to fit in the designated budget, perhaps you would have to cut back on one of the live cooking stations, perhaps cut out the shrimp, and maybe instead of having one server for every 10 people you have one for every 15. Again, we’re talking about cutting back somewhere to stay within the budget, not simply getting discounts.
Don’t look at Instagram but only at your budget!
My next advice for you is to start off with your own budget rather than go from what you see and read on Instagram; that way you’ll face planning with a whole new spirit. You won’t be let down that, given your budget, you won’t be able to get married at the spectacular venues seen on Instagram; instead, you’ll get to make a conscious decision between the venues which do fit within your budget. The beautiful thing about Italy is that there are villas for all price ranges, and you will have no problem finding a gorgeous location that is within your means, and it will be your wedding planner who helps you choose it.
Sure, if you want a famous, exclusive venue where the rich and famous have gotten married but your budget won’t permit for such an expensive location, your wedding planner is not a magician who with the tap of a wand can bring the price down by half just so you please your parents. This is especially true for highly requesteed venues which have no problem selling out in the off seasons; why then would they come down on their prices if they could book with another couple on the same dates without a discount?
While it’s true that having Indian weddings in their portfolios helps venues with other potential Indian couples, the margin within which you can bargain is very thin. If you don’t sign on with them, they’ll have someone else who will: a corporate event, the launching of a new product, a gala dinner, or a wedding of another couple.
An expert wedding planner can decide the fate of your wedding
Couples don’t always realize that, so here comes the famous line, “would you please give me the manager’s direct contact so I can bargain with them myself?” as if the wedding planner were unable to and by calling them directly they would magically bring down the price. Ok, I want you to consider something: the bride and groom are a one time client, a “one shot” – one which will come once and never come back.
Why, then, would a venue need to please a couple which they would never see or hear from again? The wedding planner, instead, could potentially bring back all of his or her couples to get married there as well as corporate clients and other events. This, then, gives the venue all the motivation necessary to keep the wedding planner happy and meet them at their requests. And a reputed wedding planner who is considered a specialist in her field has twice as likely to succeed in bargaining with service providers. Perhaps, too, instead of always making cuts, she will even be able to have some extra service be included in the price.
An Indian wedding isn’t just any wedding!
Another important thing that the specialist wedding planner knows how to do very well is to work on the priorities of your wedding. When we’re talking about an Indian wedding with a lot of guests and several days of events, the first thing is to work on the top priorities. Couples often get fixated on a certain reknowned DJ or expensive photographer, and in that moment they’re not thinking that they have to feed 150 people for 3 days, and for the extra money spent for that particular DJ they could offer a welcome dinner to all of the guests.
So before conferming with any service providers, pushed by the unrestrained desire to have them at your wedding, stop for a second and consult your wedding planner to see if they would truly be such an important aspect to your wedding and if having them would leave enough of your budget for everything else.
Specialist wedding planners know very well all that goes into Indian weddings and with what proportions those things influence the budget. No one will be able to advice you like she can on how best to divide the money set aside for the wedding, and where to make cuts (if need be) to stay within the designated budget, all the while respecting the priorities of the wedding itself.
You don’t necessarily have to have an enormous budget to realize a beautiful wedding which guests will always remember, and the only solution is not always to desperately bargain the prices with service providers; what is important, however, is to have a person at your side who will know how to distribute and manage your budget, a person who will have certain bargaining powers with the venue, and who has a circle of trusted service providers who offer preferential prices just because they want to work with her — the only wedding planner in Italy who specializes in Indian weddings! Want to know more?
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