Weddings aren’t known for being cheap. According to a new survey from Student Loan Hero, a third of couples getting married in the next year expect to borrow up to $10,000 to cover wedding bills. With those kinds of numbers, it’s most important than ever to find ways to cut costs.

Like other major purchases, like a house or car, there is often room for strategic negotiations with wedding vendors to help you stay within budget.

“Negotiating with wedding vendors is not different than negotiating with vendors who are renovating a home or vendors one does business with at work. They’re businesses you want to work with for their products or services,” says Anne Chertoff, wedding trends expert for WeddingWire. “No harm comes from a couple asking for a better price or if the vendor can add in some extras. And you won’t know if you don’t ask.”

To ensure you don’t end up overspending on everything from flowers to catering, here are seven expert tips to successfully negotiating with your wedding vendors.

1. Set Your Budget

The first thing you should do after your engagement is set the budget. Be realistic about what you can afford and consider asking for assistance from loved ones, advises Chertoff.

“Talk to parents and grandparents if they will be contributing and ask them how much they are willing to contribute. Additionally, contributing parties may attach their funds to specific details, such as parents who want to pay the food and beverage bill, or a grandparent will buy the bride’s wedding dress, so it’s important to understand where the money is going as well,” she explains.

2. Do the Research

Before you even start talking with vendors, do some research to figure out what the average price of each service or product in your area.

3. Compare Vendors

Certoff also recommends utilizing vendor competition to your advantage. “A couple should not be afraid to politely tell a vendor that they’re the number 1 choice, but a little out of the budget. And that while they’re considering another vendor that costs less, can the number1 choice vendor match that price?” she says.

Just be sure to compare vendors that actually offer similar services at the same level of expertise. For example, a DJ and a 12-piece orchestra are not the same service even though they both supply music entertainment, adds Chertoff.

4. Be Flexible

Another way to ensure you get your number one vendor choices at an affordable price is to compromise on the date. Vendors are less likely to be busy in the off-season (January through March), so they may be more willing to offer discounts.

5. Request an Itemized Quote

An itemized quote allows you to see all the items included, which means you can try to cut extras in order to reduce the final price.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

You won’t get a discount if you don’t ask for one – and the worst that can happen is they say no. “Just be nice about it and not overly aggressive. You’re working with a business professional and not a vendor at a flea market. A vendor may be able to throw in a few extras such as a tossing bouquet, champagne in the back of the getaway car or a few extra prints of photos for parents,” says Chertoff.

7. Hire a Wedding Planner

If you don’t feel comfortable negotiating directly with vendors, you might want to consider getting a wedding planner. While a planner is an extra expense, he or she is a professional with tons of industry connections and years of experience stretching a wedding budget.

©CTW Features