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As she flipped through wedding books for her upcoming nuptials, Shirit Kronzon became frustrated.

“I wanted to have a wonderful, glamorous, glorious event,” says Kronzon, a lecturer in the Wharton Communication Program and co-author of The Bargaining Bride. “But the books out there don’t give you comprehensive information about negotiating. To save money, they emphasize cutting corners from an ideal wedding.”

Though she realized that a bartering bride was better than a broke one, Kronzon still wasn’t willing to sacrifice her dream ceremony, and so she decided to test out some of the negotiating skills she teaches her students.

“Shirit really is the bargaining bride,” says Anthony Ward, a psychology professor at Swarthmore College and friend who was closely involved in Kronzon’s wedding plans.

She won’t reveal the final cost, but Kronzon saved quite a bit of money on her August 2002 nuptials because of her negotiation know-how. About a month after her vows, she decided to help others do the same, and began work on The Bargaining Bride, enlisting Ward as co-author.

On average, an American wedding with 175 guests runs about $20,100. In their book, Kronzon and Ward offer strategies they say will save couples about 20 percent. “We teach you the basics of bargaining, and show you how to negotiate with the florist, the caterer, the musicians, everyone,” Kronzon says.

Many of Bride’s how-to’s feature specific scripts for such situations, right down to the proper tone of voice to use. The book also includes a chapter on negotiating with family members and in-laws in which Kronzon and Ward explain how to mediate conflicting opinions and come to agreements on cost without some of the hardball tactics they recommend using on vendors and other people brides aren’t likely to meet again.

In researching their book, the authors spoke with several brides and wedding service-providers, and also included some of Kronzon’s own experiences as a negotiation-friendly bride-to-be.

And for those brides who blush at the thought of bargaining, Kronzon has some special words of encouragement. “If you’re nervous, if you’re put off by the ideas of formal negotiation, just tell yourself that what you’re doing is just asking a question,” she says. “At the very minimum, just think about it as getting information.”

—Molly Petrilla C’06

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