We have some great news; after three visits to Lombok, Indonesia (our beach wedding destination), seeing north of 10 different resorts, we have finally confirmed the final venue for the event.
It didn’t come easy though and was a lot of work. Wedding planning is a full time job!
We are so glad we did a physical visit to the locations in advance. They can show you anything in pictures or the internet, but in some cases the reality is starkly different from what they show you. That is why it is so important to do your research up front.
After having visited the 10 locations, it was fairly easy for us to narrow it down to about three that we could realistically see ourselves holding our wedding at. A number of the resorts were simply fully booked around the dates that we intended to hold our wedding so they fell off right away, and a couple of them just weren’t us.
It’s hard to describe, but it just didn’t feel right… it didn’t fit and didn’t click. The chemistry just wasn’t there!
I suppose every couple that has searched for a wedding venue will know what we are talking about. Make sure the chemistry is there, since after all, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience (if all goes as planned, of course, and you won’t be holding another wedding 10 years down the line!!)
We were 100% confident with the final three venues that we had narrowed down and we knew that we could have an amazing wedding celebration at either. Of course, they were all slightly different and they had different nuances in terms of the layout, rooms, and a number of other details they all had the four critical characteristics which were crucial for us in our beach wedding.
- A deck overlooking the beach on which we could hold the ceremony
- Relatively small scale, allowing us to have a very intimate and personal wedding
- A solid back up plan should the weather Gods decide not to be kind to us
- The emotional click with the venue
I sincerely recommend every couple two write down the most important things you are looking for in your venue before beginning your search. This gives you a sense of purpose when doing your search, but more importantly puts you into a great negotiating position, which is what this whole article is about.
Of course, we are by no means experts at negotiating, but we did do a fair amount of research beforehand knowing that this would be one of the largest expenses of our life. We also knew that the wedding industry is one that enjoys extremely high profit margins and most wedding suppliers will get away with it because of the simple fact that couples justify this as being a once-in-a-life time experience.
This doesn’t apply to just the wedding venue, but also your wedding attire, rings, or anything related to weddings for that matter!
Being quite frugal, as we are, we figured where there are high profit margins there is generally scope for negotiating so we felt it was worth our while to look into it a bit more and position ourselves to get the most bang for our buck.
As an example, we will show you one of the negotiating emails that we ended up sending to one of our potential venues. We didn’t end up using this venue in the end, but it will give you an idea of how we approached it.
Just for confidentiality purposes, we will cover up the actual details of this resort and the pricing.
Our Negotiation Email to Resort #1
We want to thank both of you for taking the time to meet with us regarding the wedding while we were in Lombok. It was a very informative meeting, and we were very impressed with the beauty of your resort (Resort #1). We want to be honest and admit that we have looked at a number of other venues as well for our wedding in Lombok (including your neighbor Resort #2) but Resort #1 comes out on top for a number of reasons for us:
- We are able to book the full resort which will give the privacy and intimacy we are looking for in our wedding
- We feel the quality of the rooms are slightly better in Resort #1 than in your competitors
- We really enjoy the deck that you have facing the sea and feel that this would make for a beautiful location for the ceremony
Having said that, there are two points in which we lean slightly towards Resort #2 as below
- The pricing of Resort #2 is surprisingly favorable when everything is added up.
We don’t mind paying a little more for Resort #1 but at the moment the difference is simply too large. As such we have tallied up the proposal that you have given us in the attached file, and came up with our own proposal in the second tab that would make this work for us. Please bear in mind that we will likely have another 10-12 rooms occupied for another 3 nights prior to and after the event which will spend another $X,XXX on rooms alone, not taking into account any consumption of food & drinks, or any tours they may go on.
Using the current proposal that you have given us we have estimated that our group will spend approximately $XX,XXX in Resort #1 for the wedding. This is unfortunately quite significantly on the high side for a young couple as you could imagine. As such, we have revised the proposal slightly to come to an all-in expenditure of approximately $XX,XXX which we feel is still very generous. Of course, that is the price you pay for getting married at such a beautiful location as Resort #1 in Lombok! Please see the attached file below for details.
- We feel Resort #2 has significantly more experience in handling large events and weddings
Resort #2 generally conducts 1-2 weddings per month on average and they have been doing this for years. As such, they have a wealth of experience in running these types of events which will ensure everything will run smoothly, especially if things don’t go as planned! This, being the most important day of our lives, it goes without saying that the smaller the chance of something going wrong, the better! We still think the positives that I mentioned above outweigh this point, but feel that this is also a great opportunity for Resort #1 to showcase that it can run these types of events flawlessly which should help in attracting more of these events in the future. We would, of course, be more than happy to help with that effort after our wedding and are happy to provide some wedding pictures or talk to potential future clients.
We look forward to your acceptance of our proposal and can’t wait until next year!
Tim & Diana
There are a couple of things we looked into before starting this negotiation that we will cover below, and hopefully it was apparent in how we approached this particular vendor and we’ll be able to give you a couple of negotiating tips when you select your venue.
Tip #1 – Know What You Want, Know What You Are Prepared to Pay, and Ask For It
Prior to sending this email, we had worked out very clearly what we wanted the wedding venue to provide and what we were prepared to pay for it.
Clearly, having spoken to 9 other resorts helped tremendously in getting an indication of the going rates for the types of services that we were looking for, and based on that we were able to put forward, what we thought to be, a concise and competitive proposal. As such, doing your research beforehand is critical and is one of the essential negotiating tips.
We didn’t wait and just asked them for a better price, but we put forward what we felt was competitive and put the ball in their court! Take the initiative when negotiating, and don’t just sit back hoping for a better offer from the wedding vendor.
Always build a little buffer into your offer, because at the end of the day a vendor is never going to exactly agree to your offer and you will have to meet somewhere in the middle.
Tip #2 – Never Negotiate Without Having Alternative Options
This is negotiation at its most basic… or Negotiation 101 if you will. Always make sure that have a number of options when making any type of important decision. This allows you to walk away if needed. If you don’t have a number of options available to you, you lose the option to say NO. The other party is likely to sense this immediately, and will capitalize on it. If you forget about all other negotiating tips, please remember this one.
We had narrowed it down to three solid options for wedding venues that we would be equally happy with. This allowed remain rational and not get too emotionally attached to any one in particular.
It also allowed us to play them off against each other, knowing that they are competitors, as we did in our negotiation with Resort #1 above. There is nothing wrong with this. Knowing that there are others out there competing for the same business will force them to put forward a proposal that is as competitive as possible. This is just being practical.
Tip #3 – Point Out Their Strengths but Also Their Weaknesses
Make sure that you explain why you are willing to hold your wedding in their venue, and what their strengths are over the competition. There is nothing wrong with this. Often times, when people negotiate they refrain from giving the other party any sort of compliment, but I feel that this just adversely affects your chances of striking a deal and getting the best price possible.
They ultimately need to know that you are serious about striking a deal, and pointing out their strengths is a great way of achieving this. This isn’t traditionally listed as one of the negotiating tips, but it worked very well for us. Knowing that you are serious, they will put forward a serious proposal.
Make sure that you follow up with where they currently lack and in which areas the competitors are better. Try to link this price that you will be paying but make sure that it somewhat reflects reality.
If they know you have a sincere interest in their venue, and that it might even be your favorite, but that it’s just the pricing that is currently preventing you, they will generally give you a more competitive offer. This is the strategy we took in our negotiation.
Tip #4 – Ask Yourself If You Can Add Any Value to Them in Other Ways?
Before starting the negotiation with this particular vendor, we also asked ourselves if there was any value that we could provide besides the bill we would be paying at the end of the beach wedding.
If you can demonstrate value in another way, that value is likely to be worth something, and can be used as a bargaining tool to gain a more competitive offer.
Resort #1 in our email above, didn’t have a whole lot of experience with weddings. We felt that this was a sincere weakness they had that we could potentially help overcome. This was worth something in our opinion!
We argued that having our wedding at their venue would be a great opportunity for them to showcase that they are able to run this types of events like the best of ‘em. We also offered to talk to potential future clients, or give them access to our wedding pictures as a marketing tool.
We felt that this was additional value, over and beyond the monetary value they would get from our wedding.
Tip #5 – Take Your Time and Don’t Be in a Hurry
Last, but certainly not least, make sure you take your time. This is one of the negotiating tips that has stood the test of time. The best way to make sure that you take your time is to make sure that you have ample time available. This means starting early when planning your wedding!
If you are in a hurry it means you are under pressure to make a decision. Being under pressure doesn’t lend itself to very good decision making, and venues will be able to pick up on this and take advantage of it.
Eventually we were able to get some discount using the approach we described above and hopefully you can get something out of it when you plan your own beach wedding.