Your wedding date is fixed, and you are now sitting in the budgeting phase. You have made your list of expenses from photographer, caterer, venue, trousseau & bridal outfit expenses. Now comes the big question about the decorator. Dropping a sweat, anyone? Don’t worry…has happened to the best of us.
Decorators have always cost a bomb for the most minimalistic of the decorations. No matter what taste you have in wedding decor, the vendor will somehow squeeze all your money in the name of ‘one time investment‘. The prices of any decent decorator starts upwards 1lakh. Then imagine, what they might be costing for showy opulent wedding decorations. I have heard figures as bizarre as 5-6 lakhs and running upwards 10lakhs for a single event.
If you are someone who believes in simplicity, don’t want too much – wedmegood or pinterest worthy decor, but still want your guests to appreciate the decoration while not having to burn a hole in your pocket…then keep reading…
First off, let me make it clear that its NOT impossible to bring down your decor cost. Everything has a way around…and in dealing with wedding vendors, you need to always remember that.
They want your job as bad as you want them for your event.
The question eventually boils down to who is more desperate. All your negotiations is based on this fact. Period.
These are some of the tips and tricks that I used to bring down the decorators cost for my wedding.
Keep a few decorator options in your bucket. It always helps to tell one that the other is giving much more at the same price.
Nowadays, if you go for any wedding venue…like a banquet or lawn…the management always has multiple options in wedding vendors. They might be having 3-4 caterers to choose from, and similarly for decorators as well. If you work out the probability, its a tough battle even for the wedding vendors to seal the deal with any client.
Negotiate with multiple decorators at the same time.
You really don’t know what the actual expenses should be. A decorator will tell you everything is too expensive, he doesn’t have a margin given the budget and blah blah blah. They are trained to talk in these terms. Now you may not be a wedding expert, let alone know the current prices of wedding vendors, so it helps to get a sense of the numbers from multiple sources.
This is a must do. Talking to multiple decorators will not only give you an idea of what’s out there in the given budget, it also keeps them on their toes to give you that slight extra just so you favor them over their competitors.
Start with the lowest budget figure in mind. Tell them this figure is the maximum you can stretch.
Believe me when I say this, the decorator is going to take this amount as the starting amount for negotiations. You don’t want to make the mistake of paying double the amount for the same stuff because of one tiny mistake.
Every wedding vendor knows that no parent would want to compromise on their dons or daughters wedding for a few bucks here and there. Weddings afterall is all about doing that extra bit more from your comfort zone. Decorators play on this emotion. Normally what happens is even for us who are paying the amount…we think of it as a one time thing…and that we would cover it up in future.
The idea of this blog is to help you NOT do that to yourself. Take for instance my own wedding. I paid a total sum of 1lakh for decorations. Not a penny more. I started off at 50k. My decorator when he heard the amount, rubbished me by saying, “chawl vaalon ka bhi isse jyaada budget hota hai”.
Do not get bullied by decorators. Yes, it happens a lot. But your money is your hard earned money. Remember to respect that always !
You are not here to impress the decorator by showering him with your money, so there is no shame in being ruthless. Ruthless in negotiations is the way to go. Now this rule holds true if you want to spend 5,6,10lakhs…whatever amount. Start at 50% lower and work your way upwards to get the maximum in your budget.
They all make you feel bad, the photographer, venue management guys, caterer…basically every wedding vendor. You need to be stone faced when you deal with them. Sending a parent to do the negotiations is the worst idea ever. Can you imagine the effect a decorator will have on your father, brother or mother when he says…”can’t you spare this much extra to give your daughter or son that little bit of extra happiness. She/He will remember this for the rest of their lifetime.”
This exact thing happened to me when my decorator started emotionally blackmailing my dad. I stayed quiet the whole time, and when he was finished I saw the look on my fathers face. I simply smiled at the decorator and told him, “your money is with me. I control the budget“. I didn’t see him talk to my dad ever again.
Do not show that you are in a hurry to close the deal. EVER!
It helps if you do a little homework. The venue management will always tell you that they are booked for the entire month, even during off seasons. It helps if you have a detective eye. You don’t need to steal stuff, but little observations go a long way in securing your money in your pocket.
Go down to the venue yourself and ask them to check availability for your wedding date. You can tell them that you are flexible in that month. Not only will you get the open days, you will know which days they are packed if at all with confirmation.
While looking through the booking book, you can also peep in while the receptionist is browsing through…no need to wait for him to tell you how booked they are…just observe. If there are not too many pen writings on pages, you know…they are desperate to get you !
If you are not getting ‘access’ to the booking book, bug them with questions like…which day is it…sunday, saturday…then with the date etc etc….a little bit of creativity helps.!
The more you delay with the decorator, the more he will lose patience and time behind your job. Time is money…and if he has invested a lot of time talking back and forth with you, chances are he will be willing to let go of 20-30% just to get your job to justify his time and resources spent on you.
Its all worth it in the end ! Spend that extra money you save on yourself, your photographer, your lehenga, your honeymoon…
Ask for a breakup of costs, boiling down to as trivial as a per chair cost.
If you ask for a overall figure, they will just add a zero to everything. Decorators make a huge margin per wedding…no matter how much you squeeze them, they always have a big profit margin. Its upto you and your negotiation skills to bring down the expenses.
Go into details. Ask questions like…difference in costs between artificial and real exotic flowers. Flower arrangements make the maximum difference. You can play a lot in budget if you choose the right flowers.
If you really want to break down your costs, go for artificial flower decor for the reception stage look. If you’re having a grand stage…then the flowers which are above your head is something that nobody will notice if its real or not. Nowadays you get artificial flowers which look better than real…so you can really save up a lot…think 15-20% straight !
Keep the mandap flowers fresh and real, its the sacred fire and this is the crux of the wedding. So don’t compromise here.
High chances are that when you ask for a break up of costs, you might get a document which will have all that is included listed with a final cost…this is not what is called a breakup cost. You need to continuously keep on hammering the decorator till he tells you exactly which props are going to cost what, which set up will come for what price. Even if it is a verbal conversation, you then get a fair idea.
Know about all the hidden charges. Generator costs, overtime charges, taxes etc
If you are having a lawn wedding, a generator set itself will cost you easily 15k for 6 hours. Now depending upon the size of your lawn, you might require 3-4 generator sets. That’s a huge difference which you might not be told till the time you’re almost finished finalizing the decorator. So be aware of all these add ons.
Ask him about props and items that he has in-house.
In-house automatically means rental goes down. So rather than getting ice sculptures which will cost a bomb, go for colorful props like lanterns, crystals, frames etc which is the rage nowadays, and something that every decorator keeps with him. You can have a few add ons depending upon your budget, but it makes sense to check out what all is out there within your budget.
If you respect and stick to your budget, your decorator will eventually have to respect it too. Period.
The minute you show that you are open to negotiation, all hell breaks loose. So, don’t ever discuss budget matters with your family in front of them. They are experts in reading faces and catching emotions, and all the vendors play on this aspect. Keep a stone face, and keep it professional.
You don’t have to see them ever after your wedding, so you don’t need to please them. They are here to please you. Keep that in mind and you will be good to go.
For more inspirations, check out Frugal2Fab’s Pinterest Board on Wedding Decor