There have been some whispers going on around the web about the words “wedding markup”, thanks to a recent news story that aired recently, comparing a wedding to a party. While I’ve discussed this topic before (Read: Is The Wedding Industry Scamming You?), I wanted to go ahead and touch on it once again, but this time discussing the question, “Is a wedding the same as a party?”
You see, to many, a wedding is indeed viewed as being the same as a party. And sure, on the outside, it is… but to those who actually work in weddings, work with the couples, are involved behind the scenes, and deal with the inner workings of a wedding, they know that the two are definitely not the same.
First, to set the stage, I think it’s important to establish what a “wedding” entails in the capacity that I’m using it. A wedding as we are referring to in this post would be the typical event that you do think of when you hear the word “wedding”. White dress, suits, bridesmaids and groomsmen, photographer, ceremony, cocktail hour dinner for all of your guests, entertainment at your reception, cake (or pie or ice-cream or whatever your heart desires)… these are a few of the things that come to mind for me when I think “wedding”. In addition to this, please also keep in mind that here at Every Last Detail, the weddings that we focus on are ones in which the expertise of professionals are utilized.
I also want to make it clear that yes, you can certainly have a party in which you happen to be celebrating your marriage. But chances are good that if this party is occurring, you may not even be treating it as a typical “wedding” anyways. That’s a whole other post topic, but I did want to touch on this, as I fully understand that a “wedding” isn’t right for everyone out there.
For me, as someone who has planned their own wedding, planned other weddings, and also planned parties (big and small), common sense tells me that no, a wedding and a party are not the same. The difference between the two is very, very real.
“There will be several parties to go to in one’s life, but there will only be one wedding. There will only be one occasion where the celebration of matrimony will be had. Comparing a simple party to a wedding is not only insulting, but also degrading of the institute of marriage as a whole.” – Rudy & Marta Photography
You see, as a bride and groom planning a wedding, you tend to have a higher level of expectations. This higher level of expectation is typically not a conscious thing- it just happens, because a wedding celebrating your marriage is a big deal. These expectations apply to those you’re working with, the products you’re receiving, and a general all around expectation too. You want faster responses, you want to see things or meet people in person, taste food and cake, and you expect the people you are paying to truly deliver for the best day ever. Your wedding is (hopefully) only going to happen once, you have a longer timeline, more communication, more decisions to make, more guests, and likely are spending more money too.
When it comes to a party, these are typically occurring more than once in a lifetime. If you’re getting a cake or desserts, you probably aren’t going to have a tasting specifically for those items. You’re likely not planning the party more than a year ahead of time, and should you hire any professionals to help with your party, you’re probably not going to be communicating with them more than a few times.
“A wedding is a celebration of a sacred bond between two individuals, not some party you decide to plan on a whim once in a while. It’s not an event to be taken lightly, and is not an event anyone anticipates having more than once in their life! The details that go into planning a personalized, heartfelt celebration of two individuals are simply not comparable to what punch you feel like serving that day.” – Amanda Day Rose
So now that we have those differences laid out, it’s time to move on to the “wedding markup”.
Remember that higher level of expectations that I previously mentioned? You and I and anyone who has ever planned a wedding knows that it’s there, whether you mean for it to be or not. With that higher level of expectation comes something big that brides and grooms today are demanding- a higher level of customer service. So yeah, you’re hiring someone to work for one day of your wedding, but there are also days and hours of emails, meetings, and preparations involved before that day- and that’s just the customer service end of things. The high level of expectation that brides and grooms have for their wedding is also a demand that wedding professionals have to meet and fulfill, and that demand is most certainly not going anywhere.
Image by Jessica Haley Photography
“No party has as many dreams or emotions tied to it as a wedding does. The hours and years you spent dreaming, we invest in creating your big day to make sure you get your dream. A party happens with regularity and changes theme and design with the times. A party is casual in nature with few structured or planned parts of the evening. Themes of a speak easy one year and calypso the next…it’s fun and relaxed. You will have many opportunities to experiment, play around, and have fun celebrating.
A wedding usually begins with the dream in a young girl’s heart and expands in detail with every passing year of her life. Taking 20, 30, 40 years of dreams and desires and wrapping them up in one perfect design. Then the planning with every professional starts so that you get the exact shade of coastal blue, the perfect recipe for she crab soup, and the exact stationery suite that screams coastal not beachy wedding because that’s important to you. Then every detail is pulled together by creating a 10 page extensive timeline detailing every minute of your dream evening which is just the start of time invested… And you want to compare the two?” – Emily Peterson of Emily Weddings
Now, all this to say that many vendors who do both weddings and parties do indeed provide that same level of customer service no matter what, and therefore, their rates are going to be the same. However, if there is ever a discrepancy among rates between weddings and parties, it’s likely going to be because that level of customer service and time is not required for the party. A difference in rates is for very real reasons. It’s because wedding professionals have experience, and they know the demands and expectations of parties versus weddings. It’s not because the word “wedding” is attached to something- it’s because a wedding and a party are indeed different.
“The amount of work before and after a wedding is exponentially more than a party! One comparison I think of is building a home versus redoing the flooring or remodeling a room. Building a whole house takes substantially longer, has many moving pieces, and is generally more expensive! Gathering information about the wedding, meeting/getting to know the couple, working with planners/other vendors before the wedding, charging batteries, and making sure cards and equipment is ready to go, those are the floor plan. There is a lot of work that goes into the wedding before the day of. As a photographer, I’m shooting 8-10 hours a day and wear multiple hats during the day. After the wedding, there is more work to be done! Editing and delivering a wedding gallery can take up to eight weeks and that’s before designing an album, ordering prints, and any additional projects that may come along. The volume of work is greater for a wedding and the commitment is more. It isn’t just one day of work. Most people would probably be surprised at how much a wedding vendor pours into a couples day.” – Bethany Walters Photography
I like to give the example of centerpieces. With a centerpiece, you have a product being provided- that is the constant factor among centerpieces for a wedding and party. With a wedding, you meet with your floral designer, and they help guide you in the right direction for your centerpieces. Often times, they will create a proposal for you, detailing the design and elements of your tablescapes. You will then approve the proposal, or ask for a revision. You will also likely have at least one other meeting with your floral designer to confirm your selections- and a mockup may also be provided for you to see the look in person. And then, on your wedding day, your designer will put together your tablescapes and make sure that everything is just as you envisioned.
On the other hand, when it comes to centerpieces for a party, you call a florist, tell them what you want, and pick up the flowers on the day of the party to set them up yourself. Do you see the difference there? It’s also important to note that there is a difference between the floral designer providing that higher level of customer service and design for a wedding, and a florist who is taking an order and creating a centerpiece. If the florist route is the one you want to take, by all means, go for it- but please don’t expect that same level of customer service and experience that a wedding floral designer will provide.
“If I’m planning your wedding, we’re in pretty constant contact for 12-18 months before the wedding vs. emailing back and forth and having maybe one onsite meeting even for a pretty grand birthday party. I’m not charging more because I hear the word wedding, I’m charging premium pricing because it’s way more work than a standard birthday party.” – Julie Painter of Events By Jules
And I want to provide one more example for further clarification, one that is outside of weddings. Let’s say you want to expand your musical horizons and go to a concert. You look up concerts, and you have a few options to choose from- an amazing, flashy Taylor Swift concert, or a simple, small concert taking place at a local bar. In both of these cases, you’re going to be listening to and experiencing music. But one is not the same as the other. The Taylor Swift concert tickets are 3 times are much as the small concert tickets. But you understand why that is- because the experiences provided and expected are different from one another.
So while you may see a difference in price between two different types of events as a “markup”, know that it’s because the two events are different from one another and demand different things. The high level of expectation that brides and grooms have for their wedding is a demand that wedding professionals have to meet and fulfill, and that demand is not going anywhere any time soon.
A few other articles we recommend reading to further educate yourself:
Is The Wedding Industry Scamming You?
Why Do Weddings Cost So Much?!
What Weddings Really Cost
So tell us- how do you feel about the prices you’ve experienced in your planning process? And wedding pros, please share your insight regarding “wedding markup” in the comments below!