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How to Score Wedding Freebies

Any bride will tell you that it’s tough to stick to a budget when planning your dream wedding. But instead of having to do without something you really want for your big day, what if you could get it for free instead?

Believe it or not, it’s possible, says Sharon Naylor, author of The Bride’s Guide to Freebies. “I’ve never believed in the old adage, ‘You get what you pay for,’” she says. “There’s a lot of adding-on happening in today’s competitive wedding market, and the smartest brides and grooms are cashing in left and right.”

So how do you go about asking for freebies?

Make a great first impression. It makes sense that vendors reward the clients they most enjoy working with, so make it a point to always be kind and gracious to everyone you work with during the planning process. Some vendors say they often throw in freebies during the last weeks before the wedding to couples who were especially nice to work with.

Be honest. Don’t be ashamed to admit to your vendors that you’re on a tight budget (who isn’t nowadays?). Naylor suggests saying something like, “We’d love to get any budget-stretchers possible, and we know you’ll help us do it in style.”

Ask directly, using this wording: “Would it be possible to get (insert item) added on for free?” Naylor says this is respectful and defers to the vendor’s expertise.

Be realistic. It’s not realistic to ask for food, flowers and other large-volume supplies that are expensive for vendors to buy—even at wholesale prices. Stick with smaller items (an upgrade on the centerpiece vases), extras (cocktail station, dessert, etc.) and items that are in-season and plentiful.

Let them know what’s important. Tell your vendors what items are on the top of your must-have list so they can help you get more for your money in those areas.

Check out their overstock. Vendors often have storerooms filled with pretty vases, centerpiece bowls, candelabras, linens and more left over from prior weddings (or events that were canceled), says Naylor. “When you show you’re open to this stock, you may get it for free or a reduced rate.”

Choose simpler designs. The cost of your cake, dress and other detailed items often goes up because of the labor involved. “When you choose a simpler design that doesn’t take a team hours to make you make get a portion for free,” says Naylor.

Go in person. Naylor says asking face-to-face elicits a more positive response than doing so via email. “Vendors say email can come off as bossy without body language and voice intonations.”

Always say thanks. No matter what the response, show gratitude for a request granted or considered. “If the vendor says yes, always send a handwritten thank you note expressing your happiness over his or her generosity,” says Naylor. “Vendors love proper brides and will peg you as someone they’d love to help again, if possible.”

Don’t be afraid to say no. “This is your wedding day—fantastic freebies are only valuable if you love what you get from them and if they help you afford the big, high-priority elements you want,” says Naylor.