Wedding Planning By Jessica Weltersen Negotiating on everything from the wedding cake to the bride’s attire doesn’t come naturally for most Americans. But learning the fine art of negotiation can easily reduce wedding costs by 10-20%, and it helps to know a few insider tips on where, when and how you can negotiate. Be sure you are truly comparing apples to apples when you have multiple quotes for the catering of your wedding reception food! The cost of the reception will usually eat up (pardon the pun) 50-60% of your overall costs. Let me share my 5 best budget busting ideas: Be flexible with reception dates and times. Saturday night is going to cost more than a Sunday Brunch or Friday evening cocktail party.The notion that hors d’oeurves are less expensive than plated meals or buffets is just not true. Those tiny bite-sized goodies require two to three times the labor to create. Price wise, you’ll get the best bang for your buck with a buffet. The ‘small plates’ trend is also a great way to add flexibility to your menu. Serving numerous small plates throughout the reception frees up your guests to move about and mingle instead of being glued down to a table for hours on end.When you are getting multiple quotes from caterers, be sure you are comparing apples to apples. This is crucial! One quote for $2000 and another for $2350 does not make the $2000 a better deal! They may be using pre-prepared food, chicken instead of beef, taking a chance on the quality of service by cutting their staff, etc. And sadly, some caterers don’t lay everything out in their first proposal in order to entice you. Ask questions and read the small print!Price isn’t everything. If you have a good working relationship and feel comfortable with your caterer, you can negotiate the price. Don’t sacrifice your comfort level for a couple of dollars less per plate. More often than not they will find a way to meet your price.At your initial meeting with your caterer at least have a ‘ballpark’ estimate of what the range of your budget is. This will give everyone a good idea of where to start. Weddings can be very costly, but knowing the right questions to ask and finding a caterer that is understanding of your budget will be a big help to your honeymoon budget!