I get this question a lot. And I usually get it one of two ways:
Scenario One: A bride has booked one of my planning packages, and we’re working together to find the perfect vendors for her needs, style, personality & budget. She emails me something like this: “I just don’t understand why ____ is so expensive!! I don’t want to pay that much for _____. Maybe they’ll come down if we do ____ and ____; maybe we can negotiate.”
Scenario Two: A bride contacts me because she interested in my packages & prices and in the very first email tells me she doesn’t know if she can afford me, before getting all of my information. After receiving all of my information, she tries to negotiate various aspects of my package… what’s included, what’s not, the price, the travel required, etc..
Below are the statics for the national average cost of wedding… put together by The Knot. I’ll be honest, I hesitated in showing this because I don’t really agree with ALL of the averages listed… I think that every couple has different priorities, so for some of you, your photographer & flowers will be above the average price since that’s your PRIORITY; but your engagement ring and reception band are under the national average, since those aren’t make-it-or-break-its for you … that’s okay!! What I DO agree with is the bottom number… practically $30,000.
So, coming back to my original question … why are weddings so expensive??
You’re paying for professionals. I’m going to copy an analogy I just heard that hit home with me: When you’re out to eat, you don’t negotiate the price of the steak with the waiter. When you’re buying that new blouse you don’t negotiate the price at the checkout counter. You understand the QUALITY of what you are receiving, and you’re willing to pay ____ to receive it. Sure, you have a budget for your meal & a budget for the blouse, but depending on the desire at which you want said item, you’ll even tweak your budget to make it happen. Right? Right. The same goes for your wedding professionals. When you hire a wedding planner or calligrapher or photographer, you’re paying them for their time, expertise and talent, among other things. They are professionals; and you’re paying for the professional service. Trying to negotiate package or price when it’s not offered to you as negotiable, comes across as a bit rude… let me ask you this: why do we think we can negotiate with our Wedding Professionals & not the other professionals of the world (restaurants, department stores)?
Wedding Professionals are Business Owners. Wedding professionals are trying to make a living doing this. It’s not just a hobby. We have bills to pay, taxes to pay, and not to mention all of our time that goes into this. When you’re cringing at the price of your dream vendor, think about the TIME they spend meeting with you, emailing you, formulating proposals & contracts … and that’s just BEFORE the wedding day! If it’s a florist, think about the pre-wedding day prep of designing, transporting, and set-up that takes place. If you take their total package price & look at the HOURS they’re working for you, I bet you they’re making less than minimum wage.
You’re paying for experience. Your paying not only for the experience the vendor has, but also for the experience YOU receive by working with them! The Wedding Industry is interesting business. It’s not made for the price-shopper. If you’re just looking for a good deal or the best bargain, wedding planning will be hard for you!! Why? Because wedding planning is emotional, intimate & once-in-a-lifetime. You want to work with the people that will make you feel like the Bride. That will go above & beyond to give you the entire experience of getting married … that will make you feel special & cared for. It’s like the experience of shopping in Coach vs. Ross, or The Loft vs. Plato’s Closet. Sure, you might find a diamond in the rough… but when it comes to your wedding day, do you really want to take that chance?? (I’m telling you all of this knowing full well that my package prices are lower than others in my area. I have my reasons for setting my prices the way I do – for example: my talent, experience in the industry & my love for helping “lower-budget” brides - However, I know that I’ve been asked to charger lower for the services that I give DSE Brides, while also having DSE Brides tell me I charge too little. Interesting, right?)
I was just a bride. Because of that, I absolutely understand the cost of a wedding from the BRIDE standpoint; and now that I work in the industry, I understand even more the cost of a wedding from the PROFESSIONAL standpoint. I know that the majority of the time it’s a shell-shock to brides & fiancé’s & parents of the bride/groom when the realize the price tag associated with weddings, because for some reason, there’s this thought BEFORE you get engaged that YOUR wedding won’t be that expensive. You can find a good deal. You can negotiate. You can DIY and make it happen for cheaper than your sorority sister did.
But here’s the thing…
A wedding is a luxury, not a necessity. You DO NOT have to have a wedding… you can go to the courthouse in that sundress you already own, with no flowers, music or food. You don’t need photos or styled details. You don’t need a timeline or friends from all over coming to see.
But we want the Wedding right? We want the dancing & the laughter & the amazing white gown. We want the photos to show our grandkids, the guests to come from all over, & the entire experience to be stress-free & beautiful. And in order to receive the dream you’ve dreamed, paying for professionals to give you a piece of their time, talent, expertise and experience is required.
Brides, it’s really, really important to remember that!! It’s important to remember that your wedding vendors are in this industry because they LOVE it, not because they’re making a killing!!! We honestly CARE about you, and your wedding & your marriage. And we want to give the experience of a lifetime. We want to have a brand that makes a lasting impression on you; and develop a friendship that truly helps your wedding planning process seem easier, more manageable & just downright more fun!! We understand the budget… money is a yucky thing right?! But when you ask us to negotiate, or you ask why it’s so expensive, it’s just awkward. And it makes us feel like you don’t think the final product is worth it… when we all know it is.
PS. I firmly believe in everything I have written, however I understand it may strike a chord with some of you. If you don’t agree or have more questions, please email me!! I’d love to clarify!:)
(( Bouquet Designed by Dear Sweetheart Events and Photographed by Katie Nesbitt Photography ))