As you go about planning your wedding, you might start to wonder if you have ATM tattooed on your forehead, because seemingly, all of a sudden everything is extremely expensive.
At your annual work holiday party, the caterers absolutely smashed it out the park. They provided bar support and rentals, delicious canapés galore for 100 people, and you noticed that the service seemed effortless. You even remember hearing something about how they weren’t that expensive either, score! So of course, they were the first people you thought of when you decide to start planning your wedding. Imagine your shock when you get in touch, and have them send back an initial quote that’s double the cost of your work party bill. But, but, but… you only want canapés for 50 people. How could this be? Is there a hidden wedding tax on everything?
You’re not wrong when you say that wedding vendors can charge a lot. It’s also true that weddings can be 24-carat gold expensive. But, before you grab your protest sign and megaphone, I have to tell you something honestly — the reason wedding vendors charge what they do is for good reason.
Firstly, what exactly do you wish for your wedding to look like? What’s the vision you hold in your mind? Is it a perfectly styled event with sustainable and local flowers, indulgent food (and dessert!), magazine-worthy photographs, and enough staffing to make sure you get to actually enjoy your wedding day? Yeah, I’m not surprised. Planning a wedding in today’s market means being bombarded with expectations, imagery, and judgement about all of the above. As a collective, the vision our culture holds for our wedding-days are akin to a Hollywood movie set. We are consuming a nearly constant stream of Instagram worthy wedding ceremonies, with multiple outfit changes, flowers dripping from the ceiling, and don’t forget that absolutely flawless makeup and hair.
What that means for you, is that the moment to start to plan your wedding, you start playing out your wedding day in your mind over and over. Every time you think about it, that same vision plays out, and it ends up feeling like it’s a scene in a movie, and you start to expect nothing less than the fairytale you have in your mind. Maybe you’ve been thinking about this day your whole life. You and your partner are perfect for one another, and you’ve decided to host a big event in celebration of your commitment to one another, so duh, IT HAS TO BE PERFECT. Now all you have to do is hire the folks that’ll help you pull it all together, you’re looking for a best friend, magician, and wedding-Yoda all in one. Oh ya, and ideally they’re affordable.
Now put yourself in the shoes of your chosen wedding vendors and you will see how much expectation rests on their shoulders. If you think that there’s a lot of pressure on YOU to plan the most perfect wedding ever, what about the people who need to execute it for you? It must be ELEGANT. SEAMLESS. PERFECT. and your chosen wedding vendors are very aware of this.
They will do everything within their power to help turn your vision into a reality, and, they’ll try to do so with as little stress to you and your partner as possible, which translates to many extra hours of prep, (er, how many emails have you already sent your photographer exactly?) and more than likely, extra hands on deck to support that seamless execution on the day.
Secondly, besides the pressure of the expectations many couples have for a flawless and elegant (ahem, expensive) wedding, we also need to take a look under the hood of what it takes to deliver on their services. Take your wedding photographers, they’re not just working for you during the duration of time they will spend with you throughout your wedding celebration. There are consultations that occur in the lead up to the wedding, including a number of emails and admin tasks to manage, and that’s not only for your event, running a business is a heck of a lot of work!
Keeping camera equipment up to date so that they have the best tools available to capture your memories is one thing, making sure that this equipment is in pristine working order is another.
Cameras and lenses are expensive, and so are all of the accessories, there’s computers, software programs, and storage required to make sure that the 2 TB of images captured from your celebration are backed up more than once and not at risk of being lost forever. They’re putting money into continuing educational, insurance, administrative programs and costs to make sure that every detail surrounding your wedding goes off without a hitch (think: childcare, travel details, and scheduling). Afterwards, they will spend numerous hours combing through and editing your photos. On average, wedding photographers will take upwards of 2000 photos, and deliver around 300-500 final photos to you, and if you have ever had to cull or edit a large batch of photos, you will know that takes time! Not to mention the hours and hours they have dedicated to their craft to make sure you get the most fabulous wedding photos possible.
It’s not as simple as showing up with a camera and taking a bunch of pictures because your wedding pictures are one of the only things you will actually get to take with you and that’s a notion that they are very much aware of.
So, what about catering then? Well, let’s shine a little light on the sheer volume of to-do’s that fall to the caterers on the day of your wedding. They have to plan a menu for all of your people, making sure that it all falls within your culinary requests and budget, and there may even be a tasting. Their team will spend on average two full days prepping for your wedding, and normally it’s the caterers job to bring in all the rentals that are needed for your day. In order for your wedding day to go seamlessly, you will need bodies on hand to help with service, maintaining levels in the room, and clean up afterwards. So that while that quote you received feels kinda-pricey it may not feel that way when you consider that it needs to pay the wages of a team for three days, rentals for your party (warming ovens, flatware, glassware), the actual food costs, all of their own business admin and training costs, and the company would love to make a small profit on their hard work I’m sure. To pass off that epic laundry list of to-do’s to your caterer will take a massive amount of stress off of your shoulders, and I can tell you that in itself is worth the *seemingly* ludicrous quote you received. To know that all the gear will show up with the right people, and will get picked up at the right time… that quote doesn’t seem so wild anymore, does it?
In the end, it all comes down to what you value, so before you get mega bummed out by another seems-far-too-expensive-quote you need to think about the value of the items you are spending money on.
Everyone’s values are different of course, spending 20% of your budget on décor may be of great value to you, but to others putting that money into a sweet wedding video might resonate better. Maybe having your perfect venue is more important to you than the food you serve your guests, or vice versa. I’m not here to tell you what is right and what is wrong, but I urge you to ask yourself—what is most important to you on your wedding day, and how much are you willing to invest? Your budget isn’t endless, and of course it’s going to feel expensive when you want to have it all. But you need to decide what’s really important, and then use your budget wisely.
Having worked in the wedding industry for years I can tell you that the wedding vendors I have come across were hardworking, dedicated, creative, talented, and ultimately are just in the business of helping you to see all of your wedding dreams come true. So, as you consider which vendors you will work with, try to look beyond the price tag. These people will be your support network, sounding board, and your production team. They will know the details of your celebration as intimately as you do, and they will be just as invested, if not more so, in the outcome as you are. Take care to nurture and build relationships with these people because they can be more than just service providers if you treat them that way. So if you need to, hate the game and not the players.