Congratulations! If the title of this post has caught your attention, then you must have already decided on your wedding destination, and have already undergone the process of negotiating with your families to have your wedding in Spain. So congrats again, as you have already experienced negotiations at this point, and have obviously come out the winner!
Now onto the fun part of planning your wedding – sourcing each service provider and getting the most “bang for your buck!”
After 10 years of experience planning weddings under my belt, I can safely say that I’ve come to learn a thing or two about negotiating with Spaniards. We’ve planned weddings of Couples from every single continent, and with that rich diversity and multi-culturalism, I have seen different attitudes and approaches to negotiating. There are Couples who have obtained better deals than others, and today I’m going to share with you how to negotiate in Spain so that you can also have the best possible deal for your destination wedding.
But before I begin, I’d like to clear the air about one of the myths that many Couples from all over the globe mistakenly believe – regardless of whether they’re from Spain or abroad – and it is that they are getting charged more just because it’s a wedding. This is simply not true. When you tell a provider that you are looking to hire their services for your wedding, be that provider a wedding planner, photographer, Dj, Officiant, caterer, etc., they provide you with their pricing based on the realistic amount of work that your wedding entails. If your wedding last 12 hours, then you will get charged for 12 hours of work. If you want a lobster dinner, then you will get charged for a lobster dinner. It’s that simple.
Spaniards, as part of their culture, do not rely heavily on negotiating. Therefore, when you receive a quote from a provider, do not take for granted that the pricing has been increased so that you can later negotiate it down. On the contrary; the initial quote that you receive from a provider will be based on a reasonable and fair price for that specific service required for your wedding – of course, each provider’s specific business model will come into play here. A wedding planner that works based on quality instead of volume, such as us, will inevitably charge more than a planner that does over 50 weddings per year, for example. An award-winning photographer will also charge more than a photographer that is just starting out in the business. Overall, however, you’ll find that the providers will be quoting a fair and reasonable price for their services from the very early stages of planning.
So with that in mind, do not start off your negotiations by asking for what a Spaniard will believe is a ridiculous discount, such as slashing the price in half. A provider will not respond well to these kinds of unreasonable requests. They are deeply offended by them, in reality, because it is perceived as an insult to their work, their work ethic and their business. Often, what ends up happening is that the providers are put off by the Couple and adopt a “take it or leave it” attitude. No negotiation is possible.
Allow the provider to come back to you with a revised quote as opposed to you telling them what discount you’d like to obtain. Nine times out of ten, the providers will offer reduced pricing – without sacrificing quality – that will include all of the services that you require so that your wedding is a success. Nevertheless, they will however reduce costs somehow by charging you for different expenses separately, such as travel to and from the wedding venue, by limiting the number of hours working at the wedding or by offering a package deal which includes various services as opposed to only one service. They know their business best and the fixed costs that each wedding entails, so I always recommend that you let the experts do their job and let them quote a negotiated price that they (and you) are satisfied with.
Always be kind and polite. Do not use aggressive negotiation tactics! Spaniards in general (not just in the wedding industry) do not succumb to these kind of tactics. Rather than being intimidated by them, they are put off and will prefer that you take your business elsewhere – and will be so blunt as to tell you directly. When a Couple uses these kinds of tactics, I can tell you from experience that they are in for a rough ride, because the providers will be inflexible, even unwilling to offer a minor 5 euro discount to people that treat them with disrespect and aggression.
A smile will go a very, very long way! Spaniards are warm, hospitable, Mediterranean people, lovers of life and of people and they thrive on personal relationships – often mixing business with pleasure. So be personable, be warm, have a good rapport with them and try to establish a friendly-ish relationship with the providers, even if it is only via email. I guarantee that they will be much more generous with you, not only (or necessarily) in terms of pricing, but in terms of their going above and beyond what is expected of them on your wedding day!
Photo Credits: Andrea Ferrara