How I Got My Haggle On (kind of) and Some Shopping Teachable Moments

So as I previously wrote here, I found my wedding dress and got some discounts for it.  The lovely Femme Frugality requested that I post about how I haggled, so this is what went down (it’s anti-climactic now that I think about it, since all I did was ask).

I first researched dress places around me and asked if they had dresses true to my size, since I don’t really like having to clip dresses so much in the back that you don’t get the true effect.  It turns out in this case that I liked the floor sample in a store, but have learned to not impulse buy.  So I went home, did some research, and discovered a couple of online sites that offered stuff such as a free veil, or free shipping and $300 for the next order which I could then use for bridal party gifts, veil, etc.   I was a bit hesitant since I’ve heard some nightmare experiences by buying online for wedding dresses, and since it would be delivered around late December, it was a bit too close for comfort when taking alterations into account.  However, the store didn’t have to know I had these reservations, so I called to ask for a discount.

Initially, they said that they would just dry clean it.  I asked if there’s more that they can do, and when she said she had to speak to her manager, I merely replied, “Great, I’d appreciate it!”  She called back and said they’ll add a back panel and take $100 off, and still not loving that, I said I would sleep on it.

I called other stores around me but didn’t have luck (or would convince me to come in to try alternatives, which I admit, I was too lazy to drive to).  I also discovered dry cleaning can come out to a pretty penny, so I took this cost into account.  I went back to the store, and asked if they can match the online offers, since I want to give them my business but the offers were hard to resist.  They then came back that they’ll give me half off veil, and when I asked how about just give me a veil, they then offered half off veil and shoes. Despite not really liking their shoe selection, I figured the discounts were essentially a wash and at least I wouldn’t have to worry about delivery time crunches, and took the deal.

I also noticed some beading was coming loose and pointed that out to them, so they said their seamstress would retouch them up.  I then asked if they would throw in taking care of all the alterations, but they said no.  Hey, I tried! 🙂

I kinda hoped for a bigger discount and free veil, but oh well.  However, here’s some teachable moments from this dress shopping process:

1) Once your wedding date is set, actively search for a dress right away!  I scoured Craigslist, Ebay, and pre-owned wedding websites, and though I found some great ones on CL, they were gone by the time I inquired about it!  Online sites are a bit of a challenge since you can’t look at/try it prior to purchasing, especially since wedding dresses run smaller than street sizes, but if you know the style you want then they can be great resources if you don’t mind pre-loved.  If you want new, then I’d definitely search right away, so you have enough lead time for the dress to be made/delivered since it can take up to 6 months (or more!).

2) Consider renting the dress, though in my case, renting it would have only been $200 difference from purchasing.  I figured this way, I can at least try to re-sell to recoup some of the cost afterward, provided I find a shorty-doo-wop who likes my style. 🙂

3) Do some homework online to make sure you’re getting the best price.  Consider all the discounts or offers, and let the stores know that there’s some great deals online and would they match it.  All they can say is no, and it’s not worth it to worry what they think about you since you’ll probably never see them again (especially wedding vendors).  I am 96.35% sure you aren’t the first person to try and haggle, and no doubt you won’t be the last.

4) I don’t know how this would have played in all of it, but I probably wouldn’t have worn my engagement ring while trying to haggle, and I wouldn’t have disclosed my venue (neither are fancy, but I think the less vendors know, the better).  I don’t know what good it would have done, but I noticed when I went for tastings at catering and cupcake vendors, they were a bit more accommodating when I threw out low-ball offers when I didn’t wear my ring.  But who knows, since there’s probably more catering/cupcake vendors out there than wedding dress shops?

5) Haggle (or really just ask for discounts in my case) when you can.  There’s so many wedding vendors vying for your business, that if you do enough research you can find the best price point, or you can get a lower price point and see if the vendor you like can match it.  I’ve received anywhere from 10%-20% off on other wedding stuff, or tossing in free kickbacks, so again, all you can do is try!

Do you have any effective haggle tips?

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35 thoughts on “How I Got My Haggle On (kind of) and Some Shopping Teachable Moments

  1. I’ve never really had to haggle before as I’ve never made any huge purchases that warranted it. You did a good job not backing down, though! I get embarrassed just thinking about trying to negotiate, but you bring up a good point that you’re really not likely to ever visit a dress shop again, so who cares? I think researching to make sure you know what you’re talking about price-wise is also a good idea. I had no clue it could take that long to get a wedding dress ready! Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • It’s still a work in progress for me – I get shy about it, too, and have to make a concerted effort to muster up the courage, but once I started seeing some discounts it becomes a lot easier. 😉 Definitely research, I was surprised to takes that long, too! In hindsight, dress would have been a priority with venue.

    • Haha, for sure, learn from my errors! I do plan on re-selling – I don’t really get attached to things I know I won’t wear again, so I’d rather recoup the cost. There’s always pictures to capture the day 🙂

  2. I don’t think we did much haggling when I got married. But it was long time ago and there weren’t so many options. Competition and being able to so easily compare prices definitely puts more power in your hands. Plus, I have to assume that the mark-up on a lot of wedding stuff is high so they have some wiggle room. I love your dress and am so glad you found one you loved and could afford!

    • Mark-up is crazy expensive, but thankfully the wedding industry is totally booming so there’s a lot of options to fit different budgets. Aww, thanks for the great compliment, I love it, as well! 🙂

  3. Nice job haggling! You only get the discounts you negotiate for, so good on you for pushing as you did. Like you said, the dry cleaning can end up being a real value/cost, so it’s good to consider it as an add on you might actually want, without realizing it at first.

    • Thanks, DBF! Exactly, all they can say is no, so I ask when I can… plus, I’m just really averse to paying retail. Yeah, I would have considered dry cleaning, anyway, it’s surprising (and kind of ridic) how much that costs for a gown!

  4. Interesting article 🙂 On the other end of the spectrum, always think men should avoid renting a tux and simply buy a nice $400 – 500 suit. It might cost a little more, but you can wear it for years!

    • That’s interesting, we’re discussing that now for him and the groomsmen… I agree it’s more beneficial to own versus rent, but we don’t want to overly burden the groomsmen with clothing costs. We’re figuring it out!

  5. Wow, you really haggle with the best of them. I don’t tend to be super successful playing companies off of Each other, but it sounds like you’ve got it down to a science. Nice job!

  6. Be glad you didn’t rent! I tore a hole in the front of my dress with my shoes going up a short set of stairs near the beginning of the reception. I’m never wearing it again but I’m glad I owned it… would have sucked paying for that repair!

    Your haggling sounds amazing. I am so sheepish when it comes to bargaining… I really need to work on that!

    • Oh no, hopefully you didn’t get hurt by that? 😦 I was actually thinking about that the other day, if I should go with wedges over heels since I don’t want to get it snagged… aww, don’t be sheepish, it’s your money, get the most you can for it. I do admit, I probably wouldn’t have been able to do this in my 20’s, but I care a lot less now that I’m well into my 30’s. 😉

    • Thanks KK! Actually, I think my partner haggled for my ring, as well – it was awesome and got such a great deal. 🙂 You two are so cute together (from a pic I saw in an article)!

  7. I had no idea that wedding dresses could be rented. What a great idea! Seems silly so spend a ton of money for something that will be worn once and then stuffed into a box.

    I can’t stand haggling. It makes me all uncomfortable inside and I don’t even know why. How about you?

    • Renting is definitely a cool alternative, but in this case it just wasn’t as cost-effective as I would have liked (and I do admit, I got pretty hooked with this dress once I tried it on). Since I kind of haggle, I’m not opposed to it. 🙂 I’m not argumentative or rude about it as the term connotes (at least to me), but I just don’t like paying retail if I don’t have to, so I was okay with asking for discounts. There is some discomfort, but I always figure it’s worth a shot. 🙂

  8. I didn’t really haggle much when I got married. I’m not a haggler period although I want to be. I just can’t seem to get it out of my mouth.
    But with the vendor that I rented my dress, men’s tux, make up and hair (one shop did all this), since I already decided and knew I wasn’t going to change to a different vendor, I offered to pay them up front and asked for a discount. I think I got a discount on moms’ hair and makeup and 10% discount on the total amount.

  9. I’m not great at haggling, but I’ve gotten some discounts just by asking. Another thing that works is to offer to pay in cash to get a cash discount. And another thing that works is walking away…the vendor doesn’t want you to leave. My wife’s wedding dress was rented…it was actually a one stop shop place that rented the dress, my tux, and included photography. It was pretty cost effective.

    • Oh funny, Michelle just mentioned that above about offering to pay in cash – a lot of vendors are asking for that, anyway (or at least personal checks), but I should also ask vendors who accept cc’s if they’ll give me a discount. Man, that’s pretty cool that you had a one shop stop for some big ticket items – did things get more discounted the more you buy/rent?

  10. Haggling is not my strong point. When it comes to discounts, whenever I get something small (like, 10%-15% off), I’m pretty satisfied. But my mom will counter and say that I could get a bigger discount, so I never really know when to stop!

    Glad you got a discount on your dress and veil! When the times comes, I hope I can rent, but I’m not ruling out buying something that’s close to the price of renting.

    • Haha, I wonder if it’s a mom thing since my mom does the same thing and gets way better results than I do! Agreed, renting would have been okay for me, but in this case I figure I might as well try to sell it and hopefully come out ahead. Here’s hoping, at least!

  11. Haggling is great, esp on big ticket stuff! I did it for my mattress, obviously with property (even rentals!). The key is to have a ‘I have nothing to lose’ attitude. If I know, at the list price, I’ll buy, there’s no shame in asking for a reduction in price (or a freebie), cause I know I’ll buy it no matter what.

    Interestingly, I used to work in a florist. She categorically hated haggling, and therefore wouldn’t work with types of client known for haggling (essentially cutting out large cultural groups arbitrarily!). She was probably overpriced, but she did great work, and ran a great shop/business (ie she ran me into the ground!!!)

    • That’s too bad that the florist would be biased against certain cultural groups, as well as she ran you to the ground! I agree with you that it doesn’t hurt to ask since there’s nothing to lose but perhaps something to gain, no matter how slight. Something’s better than nothing, even if it just means a mere couple minutes of asking! Thanks for stopping by, Sarah 🙂

  12. My haggling tip is using pity in your favor, LOL! When I was doing long distance, I was in town visiting my bf and we were having a great day on the coast and I really wanted to stay the night as it was my last evening in town. All hotelst were $150-200/night. I talked to the concierge, told them this was my last evening in town and I didn’t know when I was seeing him again and we really wanted to stay there but we couldn’t afford the price. They lowered it to $100! It was beautiful. I don’t think pity should be used all the time, but it worked for me in this case 🙂 Good work on your haggling, that’s awesome!

  13. Oh, yay oh yay oh yay! Thank you for writing this!!!! My biggest problem is under #3…I don’t know why I’d worry what they said about me once I was gone. Their opinion won’t matter. And in other negotiation situations I haven’t worried.
    Also, that’s an AMAZING tip about the ring! Wouldn’t have even thought of it! Have a link party on the blog today…it’s open till Tuesday. I would be absolutely THRILLED if you linked this post up there,,,it’s so pertinent!

  14. Pingback: International Haggling for Fun and Kicks | Are Ya Gonna Eat That?

  15. Pingback: Why I’m Not Buying My Wedding Dress From China (Even Though It’s Cheaper) | Femme Frugality

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