So this post isn’t part of any particular series, but I really have to get something off my chest. You see, a few weeks ago, there was a 20/20 feature about the wedding industry. “Wedding Confidential” is what it was called, and it was advertised as being the “secrets the wedding industry doesn’t want you to know”. Well, I watched it of course, and I just have to respond to it.
Truthfully, I skimmed through the program because the majority of the show wasn’t even about the wedding industry- it was about brides who had bad/weird wedding experiences. But the parts that I needed to hear, I heard loud and clear. It was funny to me, because they had very few testimonials from actual wedding professionals, and provided hardly any data to back up their claims. I think they maybe had two wedding professionals speak. Well my friends, two people is certainly not reflective of a whole industry, and in case any of you saw that particular show, I’d like to set some things straight.
The big take-away message from this program (for me at least) was that the wedding industry tends to see brides as “ATMs” and they are essentially scamming brides. Oh. My. Goodness. A national “news” program telling people that the industry I work in and love dearly is scamming brides? My heart broke.
Photo by Justin DeMutiis Photography, via
Friends, I am here to tell you that the wedding industry is not in existence to “scam” you and take your money. They are in existence because they offer a service. A service for you. A service that you can’t or don’t want to do yourself. A service that you don’t want to pawn off to someone you don’t trust. A service that will create a day you will remember for forever. They don’t see brides as “ATMs”. They see you as brides and grooms, and clients for their business. They see you as people who are in love and about to start a life together. Do they make money by working with you? Of course they do! But let me ask you this: do YOU make money from YOUR job? Now are there some horrible people out there who *do* view brides as ATMs? Sure. But that’s why you work with professionals. Not someone you found on craigslist, and not someone you haven’t vetted yourself. There is a reason that people work in weddings full time and are called “professionals”. Make sure you’re working with those professionals, and you’ll have nothing to worry about.
Now let’s move on to the whole “things cost more just because they have the word ‘wedding’ in them” myth. This isn’t true- at least not in the reasoning. I can tell you that if there is a different price tag associated with what you *think* is the same thing as what you’re getting for a wedding, you’re wrong. Weddings are *different* than parties. A party has the opportunity to happen more than once. A wedding presumably does not. And this is why you put more of an emphasis on your wedding day, right? You want it to be amazing and memorable. It’s why you spend more money on a wedding than you would a birthday party, right? So why WOULDN’T you expect things to cost differently?
You’re putting special expectations on your wedding day, so everything associated with your wedding SHOULD be treated differently than they would for an event that happens every year. Wedding professionals don’t just have a job to provide a product for someone’s wedding- they also provide a service. They’re providing an experience for you. An experience to make sure your wedding planning process goes smoothly, and by proxy, your wedding day too. Now I don’t necessarily think it’s *right* that some people put a higher price tag on a wedding-associated item or service. But I’m just saying that they most likely have their reasons for it. So my question to those who claim that things associated with a wedding cost more than they do for a party is this: why WOULDN’T they?!
[Editor’s Note: I am not saying to expect things to cost more just because they’re a wedding- I don’t agree with this practice. With the above statements, I am saying to just think about what your own expectations are, and know *why* you have those expectations.]
Photo by Rustic White Photography, Via
With all this said, something that you might not realize is that the wedding industry is portrayed differently from all other industries. Just because someone works in the wedding industry, it doesn’t mean that normal rules of society don’t apply to them. This was precisely what my thought process was when I was bride. I totally expected someone to answer my email in 20 minutes because I assumed they were just sitting waiting around for emails and meetings. And I would get so annoyed when they didn’t response right away. (I still feel horrible about that.) And sure, you pay your wedding vendors a lot of money and they must make hundreds of dollars for just 8 hours of work on a wedding day, right? Ohmygoodness no way. The majority of the time, what you’re paying wedding professionals is greatly reduced by product costs or paying employees so they can do their job well.
To put things in perspective, I encourage you to take a step back and think about all those involved in your wedding (providing that you’re working with wedding professionals). How many emails, phone calls, and meetings have you had? How much time have you put in yourself? Take that, and multiply it, because those wedding professionals have to do extra work beyond just their emails, phone calls, and meetings with you. And then multiply that by all the other brides that they have- because unfortunately, a wedding professional can’t just have one bride- they have to pay their bills too! Doesn’t seem quite so glamorous anymore, does it?
And speaking of money and paying bills- let’s talk about the fact that wedding pros are running businesses. Employing other people. Working closely with *other* businesses. How many companies do you know in the wedding industry that are large corporations? Not that many- perhaps some wedding dress designers, magazines, accessories, and things that can be ordered online, but other than that, the people that you work with to make your wedding happen are running businesses. They have bills to pay, employees to pay, and families to feed. But yet, they’re portrayed as “crooks”, scamming brides, being too expensive, and on and on. And in reality? They barely turn a profit. After paying all they have to pay, taxes, and business expenses, many wedding professionals take home less than what their couples live on. And yet they give up their weekends, their evenings, time with their family, and their sanity- all in the name of love and weddings. [Editor’s note: This is not true about ALL wedding professionals, and usually if it is, they quickly learn their lesson and change the way they do business. But I myself have witnessed and experienced it, and for purposes of this article, it’s the example that I’m using. :)]
Photo by Stephanie A. Smith Photography
I’m writing this today because these aren’t the things that are portrayed by the media. It’s clear to me now that the media only cares about the negative things associated with weddings. The bride who booked a venue without seeing it in person, and the couple who didn’t hire a professional photographer and never got their photos. But what do you think the common thread is here? Not hiring professionals and not doing your research. And that is why I’m here. It’s why I created Every Last Detail!
Just like you, I didn’t know about any of these things- until I dove head first into the industry. I was just as surprised as you about many of these things. But I *want* you to know these things. There aren’t “secrets” that wedding professionals don’t want you to know about. They aren’t “up charging” just because something has the word “wedding”, and they aren’t scamming you. They are running businesses, putting food on their tables, and helping you have a wedding day that you will remember for forever.
I’ve been on BOTH sides of the fence in the wedding industry, and I’m here to tell you the TRUTH about weddings. I will tell you what you need to know about weddings so you can make your own educated decisions- so in turn, you can have an amazing wedding day. That is my goal- that ALL brides can have amazing wedding days. I want you all to be more knowledgable than I was, so you can look back on your wedding day and remember all the great things, and not what the media wants you to remember- the things that went wrong.
I could go on and on and on about all of this, and I truthfully do have more to say- but I think I’ve said enough for today. But please, if you take anything away from this, let it be that the wedding industry is NOT scamming you! :)
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17 responses to Is The Wedding Industry Scamming You?
Oh yes, I do agree!
Love this Lauren! :) Agree with it all.
It is all about education … you are absolutely correct! Trust and education…
Great insight! Thanks for this, Lauren! :)
Couldn’t have said it better myself! Thank you Lauren! Working in the industry for eight years with sometimes 12-15 hour days(because I care that much), it is so upsetting to have clients take 20/20s false claims. This industry was created based on their needs and demands or else it would not exist. I agree with everything in this post. Unfortunately, the past two years I see the “trend” to believe in this nonsense. I don’t know what caused the shift?
Thanks for putting this out there! The perfect response!
Lauren, awesome post. Although, I’m going to respectfully disagree on your statements about your thinking that wedding professionals barely turn a profit, sacrifice time with their families, and give up their sanity in the name of loving weddings. This applies to some wedding professionals, sure, but they aren’t running their businesses very smartly. What you’re describing sounds like the worst job ever. I started my wedding design business to have a life exactly the opposite of this, and I’m doing a pretty good job. Making hardly any profit is not a very good business model. I better be making a good chunk of change from every wedding I do, while still spending enough time with my family, or I’m not running my business as smartly as I could. I don’t know who these vendors are that are barely turning a profit – but they need to raise their prices or lower their costs. It doesn’t matter how much I love what I do, if I don’t have the time and capital to live the type of life I want, then, for me, it isn’t worth it.
Thank you for this article!! :-)
This is wonderfully and honestly written! Thank you for speaking up for all of the wedding professionals who put their heart and soul into making each bride’s day as wonderful as possible! xoxo
People out there have to start understanding that word wedding in front of an event really means; more time, more patience, more effort, more stress, more emotion, more details, more experience, more care, MORE MONEY!
amen, lauren! i’m going to repost this. it’s very well written. thank you for speaking for all of us wedding professionals.
This is GREAT Lauren! I’ve been in the barely turning a profit stage, I’ve been in the sacrificing family time stage, and I’ve been in the why am I sacrificing all my weekends for barely enough money to live on stage. It’s great to now be out of that stage, but I think we ALL go through that stage and it’s important you highlighted it. It would be crazy to assume that every business became an overnight success. But that’s not the point…the point is that you are 100% correct! I’m tired of hearing people say “when people say wedding you automatically charge more” like it’s a bad thing. Heck yes we do! It’s more work, more time, more pressure, more emails, more meetings, more phone calls, more shooting, more editing, more everything! As a photographer, my clients are booking about a year in advance – which means a year’s worth of contact and relationship building plus weeks of work after the wedding on culling, editing, blogging, delivery, album design, etc.
Okay, end rant haha!! Thanks for the post Lauren! It’s perfect! :)
Thank you for posting this! You did a great job of explaining it and I could not have said it better. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone ask me “So, what do you actually do??” It so hard not to just start listing everything, but in the end we do what we do because we love it and the end result is worth it.
You are an essential gem and cheerleader for this industry! Thank you so much for being the “voice” for so many vendors. :)
I cannot thank you enough for this beautifully written article. I am a wedding photographer, and in no way shape or form decided to get into the business for the money. It was about a LOVE for photography and being a part of a couples most treasured day. To be there the capture the moments, the laughter and tears. Sure after 5 years in the business my prices have increased but as should be expected as my experience and knowledge have grown considerably. I still have that absolute LOVE for wedding days and feel that if you find the right vendors they are 100% in it to make your day amazing and not there to rip you off.
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