[Editor's note: If you haven't noticed by now, wedding cost is something that I talk about a lot here on ELD. Part of the reason for this is because I was absolutely unaware of the true cost of weddings when I was planning my own wedding. The other reason is that when I entered into the wedding industry, I actually learned why things cost what they cost, and it all made sense as to why weddings cost "so much"! And so, I have made it my mission to take both of those personal experiences with wedding costs and educate you about what I have learned. I've talked about why weddings cost so much before, but I felt like it was about time that I touched on the subject again- so I've updated this previously published post on why weddings cost so much...]
“Why do weddings cost so much?!”
I’m pretty sure this is a question that I think just about EVERY bride (and groom and parent and friend) asks. Don’t worry- I asked the same exact question when I was planning my wedding. And I never really figured out the answer until AFTER my wedding when I started working in the industry, learning the ins and outs and what it really takes for a wedding to happen. (Thankfully, since that’s a HUGE part of why I started blogging in the first place!)
So at first, you’re SUPER excited to start planning your wedding, right? And yeah, you know weddings can cost a good chunk of change… but when you start getting the proposals and quotes from people, THAT’S when it really hits you. I think a HUGE part of it is that you don’t really have a good *idea* of what things cost beforehand. Whenever I give brides a ballpark range of what to expect for what something would cost, it’s always so much easier for them to think about and make a decision. There’s just something about knowing ahead of time, that helps SO much, don’t you think?
Here’s the thing: when I was planning my wedding I did always wonder why things cost so much. But I was so focused on the COST that I never really considered or bothered to find out the WHY…
1. Making it happen.
What does it take to make a wedding happen? Wedding professionals. I don’t know what it is about weddings, but for some reason, lots of people don’t consider working in the wedding industry as a “normal” job. Maybe because weddings are such happy and fun times, so it’s hard to think of any “work” being associated with them. (Confession: I was one of those brides who thought this!) Or maybe it’s because there are indeed a few “hobbyists” in the wedding industry providing services to brides. Whatever it is that’s causing this thought process, it’s wrong. Wedding professionals aren’t charging what they charge just for the heck of it. They charge what they charge because it’s their livelihoods. Their career. How they put food on the table for their families. Sure, some charge less and some charge more, but it’s what they think they’re worth and what they need to live their lives. Oh and let’s not forget about experience, which is also a huge factor of wedding professionals’ costs too. And also, their TIME. They work during the week, and then they still have weddings on the weekend. Half the time, they’re not even being paid enough for the time they put in, but it’s what has to be done to make awesome weddings happen.
[Note: wedding professionals don't charge more because the word "wedding" is attached. This might be true for those who *aren't* in the wedding industry, but don't think it's true for those who are. Let's kill that myth right here and now.]
2. The *Things*
Yes, there are *things* that are needed for your wedding. Lots of them. And these things are also what “cost so much”. Rentals, purchases, food, alcohol, flowers, linens, etc etc. They’re all things, and are a HUGE part of the wedding costs. These things usually have to be purchased (or rented) FOR your wedding, so they can be functional AT your wedding. [Get ready for a baking/cooking analogy because that's all I can think of right now...] Think of it this way: You want to make cookies to bring to a party. But before you can make your cookies, you have to buy all of the ingredients. That’s what the things for your wedding are. They’re the elements, the ingredients, of your wedding. These things still cost money- they don’t just appear out of thin air. And trust me- you don’t want to buy them yourself. So that’s where wedding professionals come in, because they know/own/make/have access to those things.
Images by Ashley McCormick Photography
Yep, the guests. Guests are really why weddings cost so much. I probably say it once a month. The more guests you have, the more money you’ll have to spend. It’s more food, drinks, tables, linens, centerpieces, etc etc. And guess what? It’s something that YOU can have control over. If you don’t want to spend much on your wedding- keep your guest list small. That is the key to EVERYTHING!
4. What YOU Want.
You can be your own worst enemy when it comes to what your wedding costs- I know I was! A wedding that costs “so much” could just be the result of what YOU want! But hey, it’s AWESOME to know what you want, and hopefully get it for your wedding day! :)
I was actually inspired to write this post because of something I saw on a local photographer’s blog. She had seen a bride’s posting on Craigslist about photographers costing too much money, and she wrote a little response to the bride. It’s SO informative and something that not everyone realizes- definitely go and read it! Oh and after I wrote this whole post, I forgot that I wrote a Thursday Tips similar to this a while ago. It’s a little bit of a different breakdown though, so be sure to read it next! :)
It’s important to me that you know something: I don’t share this information to “inflate” the expectations for what weddings cost. I do it to educate you about weddings, and to share the truth with you… because in my experience, there’s a ton of fluff out there, and not enough truth! It is my goal to help brides and to hopefully keep some of you from making the same uneducated wedding planning mistakes that I made.
Okay, so out of the things I mentioned above, which is the most IMPORTANT to you? It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting your planning, halfway through, almost done, or already married- I’m sure one of these things is/was what you absolutely have/had to have!
I would love to hear from those of you who are fairly into your planning or already done- in what area did you spend the most? I love your comments, so tell me tell me! :)
*Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2012 and and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.