bringing business to pleasure

Last month we went left-field and delivered a workshop on negotiation at the National Wedding Show at London Excel. We don’t officially plan weddings, but we do know event management like the back of our hands so why not take our business know-how to happy couples?

Given that we generally operate in an echo-chamber of fellow project managers and corporate organisations, it was eye-opening to get out of our comfort zone and into the world of taffeta and lace.

We had surprising take-aways from the session. Negotiation is a huge part of our job; however, no-one in our 50-strong audience negotiated as part of their day job – not one – we had our work cut out.

Weddings, in their fundamentals, are no different to a corporate event; so why shouldn’t the client negotiate rates in the same way that we do? In fact, we often work with venues and suppliers on corporate projects who also host weddings.

But it can be rather uncomfortable to ask for a discount, especially when you want the best-day-of-your-life to be perfect. Because doesn’t negotiating mean risking a compromise on quality? Well, actually, no; not if done the right way. Negotiation is the key to a happy wedding (if not marriage).

Below, we have outlined 3 really simple stages of negotiation to help you seriously save on your budget.

Go out to several suppliers, all with an approximate guideline of your budget. Tell them that you are flexible on cost within reason.

  1. Upon receiving the initial quote say ‘Thank you, this is a great start. What can we do with the price?’ (Try to ask a direct question; by asking ‘Is there anything you can do with the price? gives them the opportunity to say ‘no’. Direct also means you come across as savvy.)
  2. When this particular supplier reaches your shortlist (let’s say a week after the initial quote and now that you have compared all your quotes), ask ‘What else can you include for that price?’
  3. When this supplier becomes your top option, be honest and direct: ‘You are our favourite, but we ideally need to shave a bit more money off. Is there anything at all further you can do?’ (At this point you do want to give them the option to say yes or no – they may have reached their negotiation limit by now). 


Remember that value comes in different packages. Negotiation isn’t just about price decrease.

  • where can you as the client compromise? Are you prepared to get hitched in low season? On a Tuesday? Have less guests? Take a smaller reception room? Use your own compromise as a negotiation tool
  • consider the extras that might benefit you (bigger reception room/ 1 hour added to your start or finish time / free bedroom / extra night of accommodation)


This negotiation model has been successful for us time and time again. We hope it gives you best-day-of-your-life results.