1) Ask if there are discounts for leaving Yelp! reviews.
The world of event vending is fiercely competitive, and every vendor is always looking to boost their image and public standing so they can continue to attract clients. For most, the best way to appeal to consumers is through reviews. Small business owners, individuals running small one-person operations, and new businesses just starting out are often in strong need of positive reviews to bolster their image. If they don't already offer a discount for leaving a review, ask if they might be willing to cut you a deal in exchange for a prompt (and positive) Yelp! review.
2) Book during the off season months.
Spring, summer, and early fall are the most popular months for weddings. Vendors know this, and will charge accordingly (which is to say, top dollar). If you want to get married, but aren't heir to an oil fortune, then you may benefit from asking your vendors if they offer lower pricing from late September through early March, which is generally considered "off season." November, December, and January are (in most parts of the US) the coldest and wettest months of the year, so vendors see very little business then, and may be willing to cut you a break in exchange for some much needed patronage.
3) Inquire about military/ nonprofit discounts.
Are you an active or recently retired member of the Armed Forces? Some vendors may be interested in offering discounts to our people in uniform. When discussing booking fees, inquire if they have any military discounts or special packages available. Also, do you work for a certified nonprofit organization? Are you on a tight budget, and can't find anything in your price range? When contacting vendors about packages and services, ask if they offer any discounts or offer any free services to nonprofit organizations. Some may do this as it may be counted as a charitable donation, which confers tax benefits on their company. Be prepared to fill out and possibly notarize documents certifying their donation of goods or services.
4) Find out if they offer partner discounts.
While perusing the websites of various vendors, do you see any common names crop up? Do any of them have names of vendors they like to work with? Venues definitely like to keep a list of preferred vendors available, which can sometimes mean a discount when you book a venue and some of their preferred vendors. However, you might be able to find videographers who have certain photographers they like to work with, or DJs who like to work with photo booth people. Some of these vendors may offer a referral discount, if you book their friend as well, and their friend in turn, since both essentially got each other the booking. While discussing bookings, ask if they have any close associations with other vendors, and if they might be able to cut you a deal (and then ask the other vendor if they can do the same). Or ask if they can be booked as one entity, and providing a sort of group discount.
5) Special Discounts.
For an added bonus, inquire if you can get a special discount from a DJ by not requesting any face-to-face meetings. If the DJ can save on gas money before the event by only corresponding via e-mail or skype, they may be willing to pass on that saving to you. If the DJ is not too keen on making announcements, or if you'd rather have a family member make the major announcements, ask the DJ if they would be willing to shave a few dollars off for not having to make any announcements. If you provide the DJ with a total and comprehensive list of every song you want played at your wedding, right down the top 40 hits you want played at the reception dance, you'd be taking some pressure off the DJ to have to guess what should be played, and narrows down the field of music they need to have handy for the dance. That kind of time and effort conservation they may be grateful for, and you may be able to ask that they knock a couple bucks off as such. And a videographer or photographer may be happy to shave $100 or more off their normal price if you make the effort to coordinate with them via only skype or e-mail, and if you have someone on hand to help them find the optimal spots to place their gear for the best shots. Coordinating with the videographer with the location of the grand entrance well in advance so they know where to place their cameras to get maximum quality video will definitely be in your best interest.
Written by Dave Andersson