While you can't negotiate everything, there are ways to save on practically everything you need for your event. Follow these tips, and you'll be amazed at the different deals you get!

Easy Ways to Save:

1. When you go in to your vendor, it's helpful to know the limits of your budget. Don't let yourself get pulled in by free dessert from a caterer, if the entree it comes with is $300 over your budget, for example. Stick to your guns, going in with a lower number (about 15% less than your budget) so that if you need to go up in price, you're still spending within your limits.

2. Ask the caterer if you can work off the menu. Keep it basic- grilled chicken, steamed veggies, pasta, etc.- and you might be able to shave a few dollars off the bill.

3. If you are going for a theme, buy all of your decorations in one place. Many times, there are packages you can purchase at a discount. BabyShowerStuff.com and SimplyBirthdayStuff.com both have deals on themed party packs that can save you up to 25%! Also, if using a website, check the sale section, too.

4. Vintage stores are a wonderful place to find unique party items. A bride's “something old” can be a beautiful handkerchief or brooch for the big day. For a 70's-theme birthday party, you can find a genuine 8-track for less than $10, often with some tapes to play. The more you are willing to purchase at these places, the more likely the owner is to knock down the price. You can walk out having paid less than 50 % of the sticker price! (This generally only applies to privately owned stores, however. Places like Goodwill are less likely to bargain because they're non-profit organizations.)

5. If you decide to go with a professional photographer for your wedding, ask if you can book them for the ceremony and posed pictures only. Many will agree, because it allows them to do two jobs in one day, as long as your ceremony is in the morning or the evening.

6. For birthdays, try to do something other than a typical party. Places like zoos, amusement parks, and museums offer group discounts. You can have food and cake at a nearby restaurant or have a picnic in a nearby park.

7. Try to network your vendors. For instance, ask your photographer if they know a good videographer. Call that videographer and say something like, “Hi, I got your name from X. I'm on a budget, but was really hoping to work with you.” Many are so happy to get the word of mouth promotion that they'll try to help you out.

8. For flowers, do your research and know what's in season. (If you want tulips in December, you are going to pay a pretty penny to get them shipped from Holland.) Once you've decided on what you'd like, tell your florist your budget and the flowers you'd like. Many will go above and beyond to make sure you get a beautiful spread, some even throw in extras, but still stay within your budget.

9. For online vendors like Big Dot of Happiness check out coupon sites, like RetailMeNot.com and CouponMom.com. You can even do a Google search with the vendor's name and the words “coupon code”. It's amazing what you can save, from $5 off to 10% off your order.

Also, keep in mind that the more you are willing to offer a private vendor (i.e. caterer, photographer, baker), the more they are willing to offer you. If you frequently plan parties for work or family, tell them that you are willing to offer them first crack at those jobs. Offer to keep their business cards in plain view at your event. Just be sure to do exactly what you say you will. Not only is it the right thing to do, but the more you work with someone, the more likely they are to offer discounts to you on a regular basis... and the friends you refer.

Posted by Jillian, a Dot-arilla Blogger