Today I'm struggling with an email I received from a bride who I KNEW I shouldn't have taken on, but I did because I just haven't learned my lesson! Actually, I can honestly say that I took it for the money. She's got a lot of it, and not only is that enticing for me personally, but oftentimes it makes for a super fun planning experience too. Well... USUALLY it does.
Anyway, recently, we visited several venues and received several proposals with the hopes of solidifying a space quickly so that we could move on to the fun stuff; decor! However, enclosed in her email was a wish list of sorts based on the spaces we saw. And it was shocking. Actually, it was undeniably, borderline horrifying. Because this wasn't just any wish list. This was a genie in a fucking bottle wish list. This was an "I'm smoking the fuck out of this crack pipe" list. As a matter of fact, it was more like an "I want everything for free, and I'm totally entitled to it because, I know you want my business, so fuck off" kind of wish list.
Seriously, I stood at my computer completely shocked. Because although I knew this bridey was going to be a bit of a challenge (code for what we industry peeps call a total pain in the ass), cheap wasn't really what I had expected. I mean, it's one thing to negotiate, but it's a whole other ball game to expect that you are exempt from paying for shit because you're getting married.
So, bridey, based on this ridiculous email, I thought I'd share with you a few secrets about negotiation:
1. Your stationary displays (cheese stations, chef attended risotto or pasta stations, carving stations, etc.), are not included in the price, no matter how badly you want them to be. And if you're working with a planner, please don't expect us to risk our reputation even asking the question because it's just embarrassing. And if you're not working with a planner, then do what you want, but I wouldn't suggest lying to a venue by telling them that their competition is including stations for free, because they all talk to each other, bridey, and you'll get caught.
What's a reasonable negotiation? Seeing if they are flexible and can include an extra passed hors d'oeuvre (maybe even two).
2. You know what's cray cray? Expecting a 6 hour open bar, including wine service with dinner and a fucking champagne toast for under $40. Bridey, think about the last time you went out with your girls. About 10 PM to 2 AM... Four hours, right? How much did you spend? Yeah, a shitload more than $40, right? RIGHT!! Do you think that booze costs any less at a hotel, country club, museum, etc.? Nope. So, don't make an ass of yourself by asking for a steep discount on the bar.
What's a reasonable negotiation? See if they can throw in the champagne toast. Tell them, to only fill the glasses half way, and see what they say. I mean, you can't blame a girl for asking, but you can blame a girl for being downright stupid.
3. Setup fees or ceremony fees... This one is tricky and depends on the venue. Sometimes it legitimately goes to the setup staff, and sometimes it goes to the bottom line, and sometimes it's divided into several pockets. But no matter what, don't expect it to be completely waived.
What's a reasonable negotiation? Again, this is a tricky one. All I can say is that if you don't ask, you don't get. So, it's definitely worth asking, but how far they'll discount depends on the venue. And you know what? They might not do anything at all.
4. The guest room block of rooms does not include brunch the next morning for your entire family. If you're getting married at a hotel, they don't give a shit HOW much money you are spending, you still have to pay for breakfast. I mean, what the fuck? I am constantly baffled at the shit you girls try to pull.
What's a reasonable negotiation? Ask if there is a discount (if you are getting married in the hotel), for bringing them additional business the morning after. Odds are, they will offer you a break, but don't count on a freebie.
5. Sorry, but the fancy chairs are not included. Typically they are $8.00/chair, so get over it. Most of the time, the venue doesn't even own them, bridey. They rent them, so no they can't "throw them in". C'mon...
What's a reasonable negotiation? Either find them yourself for cheaper (which can be hard to do without the right contacts), or ask if they can give you a break and pay whatever rate they are quoted from the vendor (without the upcharge). They may agree, or they may say "no".
So, bridey, do me a favor... Please try not to outrage the people in my industry with your atrocious demands and entitled behavior. Because, you know what? You are not doing anybody any favors by getting married in their establishment. Got it?
Image via Linda Spencer Real Estate Consulting