Expertise Exchange: The Art of the Barter

Reading this weekend’s Real Wedding Saturday at Snippet and Ink jogged my memory about something I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while: bartering.

Katie and Ben managed to pull off their October wedding for less than $5000 (!), and one way they did it was by bartering. Katie does custom stationary, and has a friend who owns a bridal boutique, so she was able to barter for her wedding dress (a Jenny Yoo bridesmaids dress) — Katie got the dress, and will be designing and producing the invitations for the boutique owner’s upcoming wedding.

I think bartering is definitely a bit of a lost art. It used to be pretty much the only way anyone did anything (remember stories of doctors getting paid with chickens?), but in our age of plastic, it’s been all but forgotten. Minor soapbox moment: speaking of plastic, please don’t go into debt over your wedding. When it comes down to it, it really is one day, and your friends and family will be just as happy for you at the backyard barbecue you can afford as at the black tie affair for 300 you couldn’t. PSA over! With the current state of the economy, though, it’s definitely enjoying something of a resurgence.

For our wedding, I’m doing at least some bartering. Not as much so far as I would like, but a few. Since our photographer is just starting out, I offered to develop a website and business cards for him, in exchange for our wedding photography. We worked out a similar deal with the harpist who will be playing at the ceremony — I’m designing business cards for her as well. We have another photog/videographer friend who just got engaged, so I’m going to offer coordination services in exchange for her serving as a videographer/second shooter for our wedding. In our case, these are all friends/family of ours, but the same principle works for other vendors, it just may take a little more nerve to ask in the first place.

EAD and A Practical Wedding have both featured posts on negotiating in which they talk about bartering. When done right, bartering can definitely be a win-win situation, especially in tough economic times: each side gets something they need, but neither has an immediate cash outlay. Check out this article from last fall for an NWR look at the trend.

Is anyone else bartering for any of their wedding needs?

Published in: on March 16, 2009 at 9:55 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m really hoping to barter with another bride or friend for Day-Of coordination services. Seriously, brides are the experts here, and I would love to help out another Atlanta girl with her big day!

  2. Yes actually I am! I helped a local scrapbook store owner set up a blog and I did all the behind the scenes coding to make it pretty, so she is doing my custom invites!!

    Our photographer is also semi-barter. We are getting a VERY deep discount because we use him for everything and refer him to lots of people.

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