Negotiate a Cheap Wedding Dress

In order to negotiate a cheap wedding dress there are a few rules you need to follow.

If you are anything like I was at the start of my wedding plans the thought of negotiating with people was very scary. The truth is I had never really negotiated anything before and the thought of it was just too scary. My now husband on the other hand couldn't understand my thought process as he had been raised negotiating everything with a motto of "never pay full price".

Over the few years leading up to our wedding his ways slowly made more and more sense to me and as we approached 12 months before our wedding just listening to Jeremy negotiating various things made me think how hard could it be? So I gave it a go and I quickly started to get the hang of it, now I always negotiate where possible. The good news is you can too by simply following my pointers below.

negotiate a wedding dress

Do your homework:

This is probably the most important rule when trying to negotiate a cheap wedding dress or negotiating anything for that matter. Once you've set your budget and tried several dresses and are happy that you know the exact dress you want. Spend some time trawling the high street, online stores and anywhere else you think you can find that dress.

Make sure you know who stocks it locally and online and what their prices are. This should include knowing what each store’s delivery times are like, if there are any additional costs involved, whether or not they can carry out dress alterations and if they’re included. If it’s an online store check out their delivery costs and what their returns policy is.

My advice is to make up a spread-sheet with all the store names down the left and columns for all the various prices such as basic dress price, whether on sale or not, delivery cost etc. Then narrow down three or four stores that you will approach to start the negotiations.

Who to approach first:

Let’s assume you have a list of four places where you can buy your dress and you know how much each of them charge. You will need at least two suppliers otherwise you won’t be able to play them off against each other. You then need to decide where you would ideally like to buy your wedding dress. Perhaps one of the suppliers is preferable to the others because it’s local to you or you know them well etc.

My suggestion would be to negotiate with the other three first and get their best prices. Then armed with the best prices from these stores you are in a strong position to go to your preferred wedding dress supplier and try and get them to match (or preferably) beat the best price from the other three.

wedding dress negotiations

Negotiate a Cheap Wedding Dress - Part 1:

Prepare your script - Think about the questions you will ask and how you will respond to the various answers you get. For example you might ask "what is the best price you’ll take for this dress?" and I would expect them to respond with something like "the ticket price is the best price" or "we can't offer a discount." Either way you need to have an answer prepared or your negotiations have just ended.

Be up-front - Let them know you’re serious about buying the dress today if the price is right. Also let them know that you’re talking to other suppliers who can get you the same dress and that your budget is tight, so it will come down to who can offer the best deal. Most wedding dress specialists tend to think their store is your only option.

By shattering this belief you immediately put them on the back foot and they start to panic thinking they could lose you to a rival. At this point you are in a strong negotiating position as you have three other options and you have told them that it will come down to who can offer the best deal.

If you walk out of their store without buying they make no profit but if they offer you a discount and you buy the dress they do make a profit. So they’ll be keen to get you to buy your wedding dress off them.

Be pleasant - negotiations are like walking a tight-rope, you have to be firm but not too firm and friendly but not too friendly. You don't want to drive such a hard bargain that they make very little profit as they will resent you and will not what to help you if you need their help at a later date.

The trick is to be as pleasant and likeable as possible from the very first meeting. If they like you they will view you more like a friend and the human psyche is such that we want to do our friends favours and help them out.

But be careful, this is a double edged sword. You need to remember that this person is not really your friend and your goal is to get a good discount. It’s very easy to start believing the friend thing yourself and you then run the risk of not wanting to push the negotiations too hard either.

Let the other person talk - try not to talk too much, as I have already said be pleasant and friendly but don't talk incessantly. When we talk just to fill gaps we often say things you shouldn’t. Therefore let them do the majority of the talking and you'll see why below.

Don't be afraid of long pauses - these are one of your greatest weapons in your negotiating arsenal. If there is a long pause in the negotiations do NOT be tempted to fill it. Us humans hate long pauses and we instinctively feel we have to fill them, we will say anything just to avoid them.

So when you’re negotiating, ask a question and then just stop talking. No matter how long the pause, do not speak. The other person will eventually fill it as that’s human nature, and when they do there’s a good chance they will come closer to your offer just so that they don’t have an awkward silence.

The other good thing about long pauses is that it shows the other person is considering you offer. The longer the pause the closer they are to accepting your offer. If they don't pause and just say no immediately you are less likely to get the deal you’re after.

The other good thing about long pauses is that it shows the other person is considering you offer. The longer the pause the closer they are to accepting your offer. If they don't pause and just say no immediately you are less likely to get the deal you’re after.

On the other hand if you make an offer and they jump at it immediately, you probably haven’t asked for enough discount. For this reason you are better to initially ask them what their best price is rather than you suggesting a price. Bear in mind their first offer will not be their best one.

Negotiate a Cheap Wedding Dress - Part 2:

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have reached the end of your negotiations. If you have managed to get a discount you are now going to try and get that discount extended to any other items you want. Or if you haven't managed to get a discount this will be your last attempt to get some sort of deal.

Have several methods of getting the deal - There will always come the time where you make no headway using the above method to negotiate your cheap wedding dress and that’s why you will be prepared to either walk away and approach another store or you try your next method.

Let’s assume the store owner won’t budge on price and you’re struggling to think of something to say. All you need to do is make a few suggestions. Casually remind them that you’re looking elsewhere at the same dress but that you would like to buy it from them because...they’re local and you would like to support local businesses, or that you get a good feeling from them and you immediately liked them. It doesn't matter what you say as long as you flatter them a little. This is where you will get another long pause while they think about how to respond. DO NOT FILL IT.

They’ll hopefully offer a suggestion to sweeten the deal, or they may not. If not you should have your own option prepared to suggest to them, such as “what if I bought the wedding dress and the bridesmaids’ dresses? But I’d need 10% off them all.” Or "I'll buy the dress if you throw in that tiara and those shoes".

Open ended questions - Try not to ask questions that gives them room to manoeuvre, for example the above statement "I'll buy the dress if you throw in that tiara and those shoes" is a statement of a further offer that you are making to them. It tells them that you are willing to purchase today but only if they accept your further offer. They will accept it, reject it or make you a counter offer.

If you were to ask a question like "would you throw in the shoes and tiara if I were too buy the dress" is not as strong an offer as you are saying if you throw in the shoes and tiara I might buy the dress. So you will need to understand when to use either of these two options depending on where you are at in the negotiations. You are in a stronger negotiating position if you are prepared to buy on the day.

The Statement is for use as you approach the end of your negotiations and is almost an ultimatum whereas the question can be used mid negotiations to try and tease out some more offers or just keep the negotiations moving.

Regardless of whether you are negotiating for a cheap wedding dress or cheap wedding rings you must be prepared to walk away if you are not getting the deal you want. That's why doing your homework is so important, if you know you can still get the same cheap wedding dress elsewhere at the same price, or less, then it's easy to walk away from a wedding dress shop that won't negotiate.

These people have brides in their stores every day trying on dresses and most are nowhere near ready to spend their money. So reminding them you are ready to purchase will focus their minds on getting the sale if the deal is right.

The above negotiation tips don't just apply to buying a cheap wedding dress; they can be used when buying or hiring absolutely anything for your wedding from rings to photographers, car hire to stationery. Once you negotiate your first item successfully you will quickly get to love negotiating and will want to do it more and more especially when you see how much you can save simply by talking.

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