The great white lie: Would you lie to vendors about your wedding to get a cheaper deal?

ready to get wedded
Would YOU mislead your hair stylist? This bride didn't, but would you? Photo by Madlove Photography.
Canada's Globe & Mail recently interviewed me for an article called "I do, but shhhh" about brides who save money by not telling wedding vendors that they're getting married:

I do, but shhhh: Bargain-hunting brides keep mum to cut their costs

Originally posted by The Globe and Mail

On the morning of her wedding, Ana Blagojevic arrived for her salon appointment and asked her hairdresser to swoop her brown wavy hair into a simple updo.

About 40 friends and family were scheduled to gather by the river in Kingston, Ont., that Saturday in May to watch the 30-year-old medical student marry her fiancé, Filip.

But that's not what she told the hairdresser.

"I just said, 'Oh, I'm going to a party. I just need my hair done very simply,' " she said.

Blagojevic came clean, however, when the hairdresser asked what the party was for.

"Then she said, 'Oh, why didn't you say so!' But at that point, the pricing was already decided."

Like Blagojevic and her husband, couples who yearn for their special day to be low-key and (relatively) stress-free are intentionally omitting the m-word from their dealings with wedding vendors.

And they're not just saving fuss – they're also saving money, as many caterers, florists, salons, venues and other suppliers charge more for a wedding than they would for any old social occasion.

"Some people call it a wedding tax – the same bunch of flowers that would cost you X dollars would cost you one and a half or even two times [the amount of] dollars because it's wedding-related," says Ariel Meadow Stallings, the Seattle-based author of Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides.

Often, the markup is justified, Stallings adds. Dealing with weddings is "higher risk, higher drama, higher quality."

"That said, with things like flowers, with things like clothing, with things like accessories or shoes or decor, there's just no reason to ever mention that it's for a wedding."

For many couples, it's the inevitable host of wedding add-ons that winds up getting expensive.

If she had said she was prepping for her wedding from the get-go, Blagojevic notes, she would have had to fend off the hairdresser's entreaties to add flowers to her 'do or get her nails done. She had already had that kind of encounter with a florist who, when she did reveal her wedding plans, steered her in the direction of a $200 bouquet and other exotic, pricey arrangements.

"Just having 'wedding' attached to it or 'marriage' attached to it costs a little bit more," Blagojevic says, acknowledging that more work is typically required to satisfy a bride as opposed to a regular partygoer.

"But don't try to sell me $200 flowers. That was kind of annoying."

Despite the fear of fuss and aversion to financial headaches, others facing impending nuptials say honesty is still the best policy.

Christina Friedrichsen, the Windsor, Ont.-based founder of IntimateWeddings.com, an online guide to planning small ceremonies, says she has seen the fallout from disguising wedding receptions as a no-big-deal event.

A bride who blogs on her site almost lost her venue, a rental house in New Hampshire, just days before her wedding because she told the person leasing it that she was simply having a party. It took a lot of convincing that the wedding celebrations wouldn't get out of hand to ultimately secure it, she says.

"Over all, it worked out for her, but it easily could have gone the other way," Friedrichsen says. "You're really taking your chances, but I think essentially people feel better in the long run just being honest about things."

Weddings can also be a lesson for couples in being firm about their vision, whether they're tussling with planning pressures from family, from vendors or from both, says Alison McGill, editor-in-chief of Weddingbells magazine.

"You have to decide what are the non-negotiables and what are the negotiables," she says. "In life, you can always be upsold, there's always something bigger and better. It comes down to a budget and, if you've only allotted X amount of dollars for your flowers, cake or dress, you've got to stick to your guns."

If bargain-hunters do engage in subterfuge, author Stallings warns, they should remember to tread carefully with service people they may run into again, such as hairdressers or venue renters.

"If you're not going to tell someone, just don't tell them. Don't do an 'Aha!' reveal."

Whether they're going to a wedding or a party, anyone who comes in for an appointment at EvelineCharles Salons, a Western Canadian chain, are asked the same questions, marketing co-ordinator Kathleen Nixon says from Edmonton. "We're especially attentive to brides because it is a very memorable day of their lives. When they say it's just a party, it's not as specific."

And brides, she says, usually have very particular ideas of what they want, she adds.

As she prepares to marry fiancé Nick Brown on July 6, Julia Lum has tired of the fuss associated with planning not only their wedding in an Okanagan vineyard but two other events later in the year to mark their union with friends.

"Because I knew that I might be charged more for a wedding, I just said in my inquiries that we were having a big party," Lum, a researcher in Toronto, says about her search for venues. Initially, these additional gatherings in Vancouver and Toronto weren't part of the plan, but the wedding seemed to take on a life of its own, she adds.

The article uses an example of a bride who scheduled an up-do appointment with a stylist for a "big party" to avoid paying bridal styling prices. At the end of the appointment, the stylist asked what the party was for, and the bride was like SURPRISE IT'S MY WEDDING!

While I feel that it's maybe ok to lie by omission and not say that you're planning a wedding when purchasing supplies, I feel strongly that, in terms of personal integrity, it feels icky to straight-out LIE to folks performing a service for you … and doing a "GOTCHA!" reveal also feels extra sketchy.

Yes, there's money to be saved … but there are also people to be treated respectfully. Don't mention your wedding at all if you're buying supplies, but when it comes to getting services from people? Tread gently.

More ethical wedding debates

  1. My fiance & I discussed it & while I was all for it at first (a certain bridal planning book recommends it), he brought up the point that florists, DJs, and the venue ARE going to find out so even if you get the benefit fo that lower price, you've alienated your vendors. Good karma is more important than a good price.

    45 agree
    • Yeah, as I say in the article — I'm ALL for keeping it to yourself when buying supplies, or even having a dress made.

      But when you're talking about services, it starts to feel a little sketchy pretty quickly.

      16 agree
  2. I read somewhere that you could also simply state that the event is a "big family reunion". Technically, it is! I plan on doing this personally, especially since a lot of our "stuff" (centerpieces, cakes, etc.) won't be very weddingy, but very casual.

    11 agree
    • I read somewhere that you could also simply state that the event is a "big family reunion."

      I agree with this — but only for NON-SERVICE vendors. This is not going to fly with photographers or other vendors who are going to show up on the day of the event and see that they've been lied to.

      9 agree
    • As a professional wedding photographer I think it is flat out wrong to lie to your service professionals, your SERVICE professionals are there to serve & meet your needs. If you lie to your vendors they may not have the tools or experience needed to get you the best result.

      Additionally, I think it is FLAT-OUT wrong for service professionals to charge more per hour for a wedding than any other event. My rate is $125/hour- that pays me for the one hour of work shooting, the 2-3 hours of work converting, uploading & creating proofs, my post session client meeting via telephone or in person & pays my baby-sitter during all those same times. In the end, my business makes about $20/hour. I offer a la carte options & "the full shebang" packages- but the rates are the same, newborn, 2 year old, anniversary, corporate event. What is DRASTICALLY different is my prep, what I load in my car, who I ask to be my assistant & the like. You could be shooting yourself in the foot by not telling your vendors it is your wedding- then you've wasted the money you did spend.

      Why not take the time discussing with your vendors a) why their wedding rates are different (b) are the differences in rates essential to your wedding (c) why you do not want to be treated as a wedding & what your expectations are? If your vendors are able to meet your needs without treating you like a wedding, HIRE them. If your needs absolutely require "extras" which "cost more" decide if they are needs or wants & shell out the $$$ if it's a need.

      Personally, I think it's all waaaay overpriced. I had a DIY wedding with professional catering & photography, for 125 people and it was just under $5K.

      107 agree
      • "Additionally, I think it is FLAT-OUT wrong for service professionals to charge more per hour for a wedding than any other event."

        This. There is absolutely no reason why a vendor of any type should charge more for the exact same service if it's a wedding than they would for another event. If there is truly more work involved, then price that out for anyone who wants that extra work. But to do something such as charge more for a hair style just because it's a wedding? That's ripping off your clients in my book — unethical on the part of the service provider, NOT on the part of the client who chose to call them on it for their attempt to get more money for the SOLE reason that it's for a wedding.

        55 agree
      • I don't know your area so I can't judge your prices but photographers need to educate eachother on pricing to keep the market fair so people can make a living. $125 hr with 2-3 hrs post per hour (if I'm reading that correctly) that's 4 hrs of work for every hr. Minus 30% income tax. Minus sales tax. Minus yearly cost of doing business (samples, cards, marketing, bridal shows) minus camera & equipment costs, minus education to stay up on yearly trends and keeping techniques fresh, minus certifications, minus hours meeting with clients, minus travel to and from meetings and weddings.
        I'm all for making exceptions for elopements, small weddings and off peak days but photographers need to charge a fair price. Sitting down with an excel spreadsheet and doing all the math will really be an eye opener. I wasn't understanding why I was actually NEGATIVE income last year until I did that. There are awesome resources out there to educate both photogs on pricing and clients on why things cost what they do. It's our job to educate the public.

        39 agree
        • So true – I am a wedding floral designer and I work more than 40 hours a week.

          You can't knock us for charging for our time. You wouldn't be happy if your boss came up to you and said "Even though you are handling the Smith Corporate Account taxes, i think you should earn the same wage as if you were working on Mom & Pop's taxes even though you'll be working 3x as much with 3x the risk." Weddings are a big deal to most brides even though it might not be to you. I get brides who come to me with a style me pretty appetite on a small budget and I simply can't do what they want within their budget. Wedding professionals are artists – just like your friendly neighborhood tattoo artist. And we end up spending so much more time with you than just a couple of hours. It's not just an end product – it's time and a ton of effort. This is how I feed my family and I cna't stay open if I don't make money on the time I spend working.

          If you have a small budget, just be up front and honest with us. If you are a low fuss bride, just tell us that you don't need the hand holding. Being secretive will create such an uncomfortable relationship and bad blood on either side is good for no one. Even if I can't help you, I always know someone starting out that can help you. While some vendors can be greedy and seedy, the rest of us are working our tail ends off to make you so happy with our work that you tear up and remember it forever. Throw us a bone, be honest up front and we'll take care of you!

          22 agree
          • Wedding are harder. PERIOD.. Clients demand more service, and more attention. Also, to be a "wedding" vendor, your reliability and backup crews have to be through the roof. If you miss out on someone's birthday party, that is bad. Miss out and do not show for a wedding, that is a nightmare.

            8 agree
        • The issue with 'educating the public' is that a lot of brides don't want a photographer doing all of this, nor can we afford it. You can sit down and explain all day why you're charging me x-amount of dollars, but if that's what your price is, that's fine… I'll just have to find someone who does it cheaper than you. And here's the thing… I will. Many brides now aren't looking for hundreds of posed and candid shots where the photographer busts their butt all night long and then spends hours and hours in photoshop. I asked my photograph to snap a few photos of me alone, a few of me with my family, a few of the groom and his family, then one or two group shots. At the reception, after he ate his meal, he snapped a few more here or there.

          And they came out great! He went into photoshop and touched them up a bit. Because he charged a cheap price, we gave him a hefty tip. He had the exact personality I was looking for. I told him what group shot I wanted, he snapped a few, showed them to me, and then I either said I liked them and he agreed they were good, or he told me the lighting or background was off and we quickly moved elsewhere.

          I think everyone understands that weddings are difficult to shoot, but that doesn't mean we can afford you. Clearly no one should lie about it being a wedding. That's terrible and wrong. But I had one photographer try to lecture me on why their prices were $5,000 just to come out and shoot for six hours, telling me it was because of photoshop and equipment prices. Like I said, I understand that, but I had just politely told them that I unfortunately couldn't afford anything price with four digits in it. I didn't need the lecture. I completely understood. I get why the price was high.

          But my budget was $500. I found someone who said they'd do it for $300. I liked his work. He'd shot events before. I threw in the extra $200 as a tip. Because of what I did and didn't want, I am so glad I went this route, and I would never go back and pay thousands of dollars for photos. Many brides would, so they SHOULD tell their photographer it's their wedding day, so they get the best shots possible, rather than scamming the photographer out of their price tag.

          Before you think you need to educate the public, realize that we probably know why your prices are so high, and we just can't afford them. We'd rather pay someone 'less professional' and have nice photos of our wedding day than no photos at all.

          1 agrees
          • you contradict yourself.
            We're not saying that you HAVE to pay 5k per wedding. We're saying that if you're lying to get a cheaper wedding, it is a problem.
            If a couple can't afford 5K photographer.. they should do exactly what you did – move on to a cheaper one.
            And – i'm sorry – I will not buy into the whole "our 500$ photog did a better job than the 5K one "thing. Unless, this was a price tag to scare you off, that is.

            0 agree
      • I couldn't agree more that it's wrong for service professionals to charge different prices for different events. I charge what I charge for gowns, regardless of what it's for. From my understanding, many vendors charge more for weddings than reunions because reunions can happen any time, but each wedding is usually intended to be the only/last, and so want to milk it for all they can. I find it hard to call bridal couples unethical for lying given the very unethical inflation at the W-word. But, for certain types of vendors, knowing the true event ahead of time will help with prep.

        13 agree
        • It's not about milking anything – weddings are typically a one day a week thing for us too – we have to make a living wage in order to stay in business. You do not have that issue because you do not provide a service on the day of. The gown is deliverable at any time. Read my other post above for more of an explanation too but there are so many variables that you haven't thought about.

          7 agree
      • me being a hair stylist i couldn't agree more we always give out deals & mostly get gipped. we need to know what your event is for and especially your wedding. My shop does not charge more for an event, we charge for what style u want, wedding,prom,a night out. a style is a style either way. but for your wedding we take that extra step towards perfection!
        Do not lie to the ones that are trying to help you! most of us like what we do thats why we are independent contractors. If you do not like the pricing either talk to them about it or go elcewhere

        9 agree
        • With all due respect, you appear to have contradicted yourself when you said that you don't charge more for events but charge according to style, and then proceed to call "wedding," "prom," and "night out" styles when they are, in fact, events. For my wedding, I simply want my hair all down and curled, but you would charge me the same amount as someone who wanted an elaborate updo for their wedding. I don't think that's a very fair practice.

          41 agree
          • I think alot of people don't understand that most wedding hair packages are compensating for the fact that we're doing the hair more than once. There's a consult, a trial with your veil or tiara or whatever, possible photos on a separate day, and then your wedding. And perfection is expected, because your wedding pictures are a bigger deal than your 8th grade dance, right? Mostly, I determined the price based on the amount of hours you needed. And curling an entire head of hair is not necessarily less work…

            25 agree
      • hi!!!
        pleeeeease tell me how you managed to stay under $5k? also what city this amazing feat took place? I feel like I have to sacrifice so many things in order to make our wedding even a tad bit affordable. Thnx!!!!!!

        2 agree
        • The best way to handle things if you have a tight budget is to keep the bridal party very small (if at all), a small guest list – this saves money on food, the venue (you can use a smaller place), less rentals, etc. I know you want to include everybody but unless they are helping with cost sometimes you have to cut. The other easy thing to do (if possible) would be to allow yourself more time to plan the wedding and save up for it. You can contact vendors now to get a ballpark estimate (don't expect a detailed quote for weddings more than a year out) so you know what to expect. DIY what you can but you'll have to be willing to let go of perfection on some things. Make sure to delegate on the day of so you are not overwhelmed with being a planner and not a bride. Good luck to you!

          3 agree
      • Totally agree. I'm an invitation designer, but I charge the same for wedding invitations as I do birthday invitations or anniversary invitations or any other invitation. That being said, I do want to make sure I am charging enough. It's a tough balance. I want to charge the lowest price possible, but I'd also like to *make* money!

        1 agrees
  3. I agree with your take on it, Ariel.

    There are times I'd advocate being economical with the truth (I used to work in a hairdressers so I don't necessarily buy the 'we only want to make the bride feel extra special' line) but be smart and thoughtful about it.

    If anything, the crazy mark-ups would make me think, 'Is this really necessary?' and see if there was anything I could do myself (i.e. make my own bouquet/cake/gifts for guests etc) but I'm creative and slightly loco so I wouldn't mind that! I

    4 agree
  4. So this is what we did: if we were worried about price issues, we'd price something twice, once as a "family event" (which it was) and once as a wedding. We figured if the vendor was going to mark things up because it was a wedding, we really didn't want to work with them.

    And you know what? We never had someone mark things up when the word wedding was introduced. I don't know if that means that we had good judgement in vendors we trusted in the first place, or if people are more honest then they are given credit for.

    Side note: there are vendors that I think *should* mark up prices for a wedding. It's much more stressful photographing a wedding than photographing a random picnic for example. And it's fair for prices to reflect that. As far as i'm concerned though, feeding 100 people X is feeding 100 people X. I'd need ar eally smart justification from my caterer of the markup to be willing to let it slide.

    37 agree
    • I agree with what you said about photographing a wedding. I'm not a photographer, but I know that when we got married, our photographer ended up having to wade through family to get some shots. Not only are you dealing with the bride and groom, but in a lot of cases, you end up dealing with pushy family members, too. At one point, I had to go bridezilla and tell some of our family to back the hell off and get out of her way. I mean, I paid HER to take the pictures, not them! And most of the family who took pictures, never bothered to show us what they got anyway. So yeah, there are definitely some acceptable occasions to upcharge, in my opinion. Food, venue, and DJ I would say no, but photography, makeup and hair – absolutely!

      8 agree
      • Being a professional DJ for over 20 years, I disagree with your statement that a DJ should not charge more for a wedding. If you are hiring a true professional DJ, you are paying for extra services that a DJ would need to do at a wedding, that would not apply to other DJ-Required events (such as a party, school dance etc). Most professional DJ's also take on responsibilities of MC duties, announcements, making sure the reception flows well, perhaps even entertaining the guests with games etc during dinner. At other events where a DJ is required about 90% of the time used is actually DJing. For a wedding I would say from personal experience it's anywhere from 40-60%. We also spend a lot more time in general planning out for a wedding as opposed to other events. I can easily spend a minimum of 10-15 hours extra time for a wedding on planning things out, scripting, assisting the bride/groom with event timelines, event flow, music discussions and much more. Most people have no idea the amount of time a professional wedding DJ puts into an event when booked, and just assume the time we "work" is when they see us at the event.

        18 agree
        • I disagree about the DJ charging more simply because a wedding is a wedding. As has already been mentioned, if whoever is hosting an event wants more from the service provider, in this example a DJ being more involved in a wedding, then price according to what the clients want, not simply because WEDDING. Not everyone wants the DJ to emcee or play games. Some might just want music for dancing and nothing more, and they should not be charged the same as another person who wants much more.

          14 agree
      • Like Bill, also a long time dj here, and I disagree strongly that you lump in dj's with the venue and the food, but not with the photography etc. There is a great deal more work involved with dj'ing weddings, both during the function as well as planning before. That's why I flat out refuse to do them.

        3 agree
  5. If I contacted a vendor for a particular service or product, and told them it was for a family reunion, and then later contacted the SAME vendor for the SAME product or service for a wedding, and got two different prices, I would be pissed.

    And if I found out that a vendor was doing this, I wouldn't care about the karma or alienation – I would spread the word as far and as wide as I could.

    There are too many people that do the "wedding markup" for me NOT to check out everything, and too often they get away with it. Vendors, suppliers, service people, stores, etc. My wedding should not be your opportunity to screw me over.

    At the same time, there are LOTS of vendors and service people that do a GREAT job, and who go above and beyond to make your day special, and charge you the same whether it's for your wedding or your birthday party. THEY deserve my business.

    23 agree
    • I agree with this SORT OF.
      I feel like the "wedding" markup tends to apply to being a little extra calm, doing things that are a little extra complicated and being willing to doitagain-no, this isn't right–do it again!!
      So that said?
      If I'm not a bridezilla, why should I pay a bridezilla markup?

      Still, my general advice to everyone remains–if you don't like someone's prices, either don't use their business or try to negotiate. "My budget is tight" isn't a valid reason for negotiating the price–try reasoning that you're willing to be squeezed in very early (when they're unlikely to be busy) or that your fuss-factor is fairly low.

      6 agree
      • I disagree – any reason is a valid reason for negotiation. Maybe I've just spent too much time in Asia where you bargain for everything, but really, there's no reason to feel ashamed for trying to honestly get prices down. Vendors will try to get prices up (yes, they will) so it's our duty as consumers to stay on watch and do what we can to keep them reasonable.

        It doesn't have to be mean or anything, like "Pshah, my budget is tight, make it cheaper!" but there is no shame in saying forthrightly "Hey, sorry, it looks great but my budget just can't accommodate that. Are there any options within what I'm willing to spend?" That's negotiation too. The vendor can always say no.

        24 agree
        • Yep, the worst any vendor can do to you is say no to your negotiations. And unless you're living in some teeny tiny town in the middle of nowhere there's another vendor down the line for you to negotiate with next.

          4 agree
        • Have you seen Ariel's post about negotiating with wedding photographers? I think it's got some great points about the "my budget's tight" argument. Basically, you're assuming that the service you're hiring isn't also on a tight budget. For freelance photographers and many other professional services, their prices are what they are for a reason. You should never feel bad about seeing what your options are–ask if there is any flexibility in package options, for instance.

          Asking for a discount based solely on your finances just puts you on a poor footing with a lot of vendors–you're insinuating to someone you're about to enter a business transaction with that you have financial difficulty. A lot of people don't think of "haggling" that way, but you're sort of sounding like you're worried about whether the cash is going to be there later.

          I don't think throwing out the budget concern at SOME point is a total nono, but it shouldn't be the main point of your argument for a discount. You should definitely demonstrate interest in the work that you'll receive and prove that you're in it for the long haul.

          5 agree
          • Eh, if you mean it, then say it. "Your work is beautiful and I really wish I could work with you, but your prices are out of my budget. If there's anyway we could make this cheaper then I would gladly hire you, but as it is, I just can't afford to spend $xxx over my budget." And if they say "That's too bad, good luck finding someone" then walk away and find someone you can afford. If they're willing to work with you, then awesome! I don't think this makes them worried you won't be able to pay. Quite the contrary, it shows that you know exactly how much you can afford and aren't going to get yourself into trouble by going over it. Unless you live in a small town where a vendor doesn't have many options in clients, they shouldn't feel coerced to accept a price that isn't enough.

            I told my photographer that I didn't think I could afford him, but he was the person whose work I loved the most and I really wanted to work with him. My photographer told me the price of his packages. I told him my budget. He told me what extras he could cut and how low he could go. I shuffled some numbers in other categories and we made it work. If he hadn't been willing to come down in price I simply wouldn't have been able to hire him. It doesn't matter how much I loved his work or how many ends he had to meet. I trusted him not to accept a price that didn't cover his overhead. He trusted me not to accept a price I wouldn't be able to pay.

            33 agree
          • At the same time, I'm not going to pretend I have the money to spend on a fancy package when I don't (our photography budget was $500. We bumped it up to $650 because a photographer we loved offered us a fair package for that amount.) Once again, I clearly have lived in Asia too long, but it doesn't bother me to be honest about my budget.

            If it is a freelancer whose prices are what they are for a reason, fine. I'm not going to push too hard or get nasty or demanding. But I'm also not going to lie, or pretend I have money that I don't have.

            Is there really any difference, anyway, between "Do you have any flexibility with packages?" and "My budget can't accommodate that – can we work out a package more within our means?" In one you don't admit openly that money is the key issue, but frankly it's not that hard to work out that money *is* in fact involved.

            Plus, I'd think some vendors would be happier to hear that you honestly like their work (I agree that you should demonstrate some interest in the work itself) and are looking for a way to hire them than just hearing an outright rejection.

            And, I mean really, budget is ALWAYS the central reason for a price negotiation. Always. There may be other reasons (not wanting this or that service even if you can afford it) but it all comes down in the end to money. What does it matter if the difference is how much you can spend vs. how much you want to spend?

            If the vendor's prices are what they are for a reason, the vendor is free to say no. But, come on, can we stop with this painting all vendors as super honest small business owners who only want what is best for their clients and wouldn't dream of jacking up prices? Because it is FALSE. Many vendors are great people, but so many are not that I find it a bit rich that I should not negotiate with any of them based on my budget because *some* of them are honest freelancers with reasonable prices.

            It also bothers me that we, as brides (and grooms), are admonished not to use all the tools available to us to negotiate – "oh, you can't negotiate if your budget is the reason!" – and there's no such lecture to vendors in their networking circles. They are free to try to charge us out the wazoo, and we get a stern finger-wagging if we resist. Honestly, this really bothers me. It's not OK!

            19 agree
          • There's also the fact that if the vendor IS trying to overcharge you and does this regularly, if you say straight up "that's more than we were looking to pay" (which is nice: it keeps it vague whether that's due to not having the money or not wanting to spend it) then it's feedback: it's telling that vendor that some people will find his/her prices too high. If he/she is genuinely overcharging, then that may be the catalyst to get them to lower their prices, when they realize people won't pay them.

            If the vendor is honest, he/she always has the right to say no.

            Plus, I shouldn't have to prove to the vendor – who is working for me, and I am paying – that I will be around to pay. If I sign a contract, I am doing so under the trust and confidence that I will be able to pay.

            The vendor should be proving to me that he/she can give me a fair service at a good price.

            1 agrees
          • I couldn't agree more if I tried. I'm both a bride myself, so understand the importance of bring thrifty, but I also make wedding gowns, so understand the importance of being a vendor needing to make sure that what I charge both covers fabrics and makes it worth my time. If I will make $1 an hour for my time, and have to hire a mother's helper so I can dedicate the extra time to a rush order, then it's not worth it.

            It's just a dream that more brides would DIY what they could to open up funds to hire fair-wage vendors (in other words, not buying Chinese sweat-shop knock-offs of things) instead of trying to negotiate vendors down to the point of negative profit.

            10 agree
      • This seems wrong to me, on one level…….I agree that if I'm a demanding client, who insists on things being done over and over until they meet my exacting standards, then charge more. But don't just assume that BRIDES do this and charge more automatically for weddings. Rather, tell clients upfront that if they insist on things being changed last-minute or done and redone over and over again, then that privilege will cost them, regardless of if the client is a bride planning her wedding or someone planning some other event. It's not only BRIDES who can be righteous pains in the rump.

        5 agree
      • As a wedding professional, I actually find it very hard to identify at a first meeting whether the client is going to be very demanding and take up lots of my time- as a result, I use the same pricing structure for everyone. Some become a nightmare, some are easy-going and trust me to get on with it… I take the rough with the smooth, and the fuss-free brides and grooms leave me more time to help the ones with a more particular vision :-)

        In reality, I make very little per hour for the work that goes into weddings- JUST enough to live on. I deserve to be paid properly for my time and years of expertise; If I charged any less I couldn't pay my (not particularly large) mortgage! And if you can't afford me, go elsewhere or adjust your expectations…

        3 agree
    • So I have fallen in LOVE with this venue that I've visited. The quote they gave me only space rental was $4000. Now a couple days later, called and asked for the same amount of time and same place but as a reunion and they said $800!!!! that is much more affordable! I don't know what to do now! I feel like I am being cheated out of my dream wedding because of this! What should I do? Please help!

      0 agree
  6. This is interesting because I'm planning my wedding now and my mom and I were just talking about this.

    My brother and his wife did exactly what is being discussed – they told all wedding vendors that it was for a family reunion.

    My brother said, reflecting on it, that while they did save money this way (they saved at least $1000 on the photographer) he felt like it wasn't worth it in the long run. Bottom line, he said, is that all the vendors did find out it was for a wedding and were *pissed*. The photographer, for example, was clearly angry and unhappy throughout the wedding. So were the servers provided by the caterer. The food arrived for everyone incredibly late and he felt like the two things were related.

    He says now that he doesn't think the savings were worth the ill-will.

    For my two cents, while it doesn't always seem fair that they charge more for different events, the reasons for doing so aren't always clear and may be legitimate. We always jump to: "They think they can rip us off because it's a wedding!" But in reality, not all vendors are unethical like that. For example, taking pictures at a family reunion – which I imagine entails one group shot and then wandering around a party capturing candids – and a wedding, which entails photographing a ceremony, getting several family shots, several bridal shots, and so on – really are two different beasts. The photographer may even be charging more because she knows she will need an assistant or second photographer for a wedding which she then has to pay.

    Ditto for the caterer – a family reunion is not usually as formal as a wedding and might require a different number of servers and a different level of service.

    23 agree
    • Holy WOW — it never occurred to me that people might mislead a photographer about what kind of an event they'd be shooting. To me, that sounds like a quick way to get some pretty spite-tinged photography … and honestly, I could see a photographer just walking out on the gig.

      I feel like there's a big difference between not telling people who'll never know the difference (dressmaker, florist, jeweler) vs. misleading a vendor who's going to actually BE at the event. Not telling a hair-dresser feels mildly questionable but really, what difference does it make? But lying to a caterer or photographer feels like a recipe for serious wedding day friction … and possibly even a breach of contract? Not sure about that aspect.

      31 agree
      • Wow. Lying to your photographer is just dumb, in my opinion. They are going to be there on the wedding day, which means that they're definitely going to learn that you lied. And they're going to be mad. Do you really want an angry photographer taking pictures at your wedding?

        On a more practical note, photographers have a whole different way of preparing for weddings. There are a whole different set of questions that they ask the couple. They may bring more (or different) equipment. Also, the shooting process is so much more high-stress for a wedding than another type of event, and the editing so much more involved and high-pressure, that the added price is usually justifiable.

        If I arrived at what I thought was a family reunion only to discover that I was actually photographing a wedding, I would be upset. I don't like being lied to, and I don't like being cheated out of money. My prices are low for a reason, and I work with virtually ANY budget, sometimes even shooting weddings for free if a couple honestly cannot afford a photographer.

        I understand that wedding-related prices are often ridiculously inflated (I was once quoted $120 for the use of a small meeting room for two hours. When I said that we were going to view wedding pictures and eat leftover wedding cake, I was told that it qualified as a reception and that the price would be $3000, FOR THE EXACT SAME SERVICES). I also understand that people often don't have as much money to spend on their weddings as they'd like. But when it comes to people who are actually going to be AT the wedding, you'd be much better off if you tell them honestly what your budget is, that you're willing to forgo some of the "extras," and that you really want to hire them. Most people will work with you. I would.

        15 agree
      • agreed – I am not a professional photographer, but I have worked in catering, and if a client outright lied to me about what the event was only to have 'surprise! it's actually a wedding!' I would be really upset. It's just poor practise, and rude. For photography especially, the logistics and preparation and type of photos desired tend to be very different. I am currently tearing my hair out trying to figure out how to have decent photos for my upcoming super-duper low-budget wedding, but it would never even occur to me to deliberately mislead the photographer about what they would be taking pictures of.

        5 agree
      • In fairness to my brother, I think he and his fiance at the time saw it not-as-lying, but just leaving out the fact that they were also having a wedding and as justified since they felt people were overcharging just for the word wedding.

        But would I feel comfortable doing that? No.

        1 agrees
      • As a hairstylist and make up artist with 300+ weddings under my belt, I'm going to have to say that things aren't completely cut and dry with this. In salon (upon consultation) I will price your style based on your hair. Length, texture, thickness, and what I'll have to do to get it to look the way you're wanting to. Need extensions? Well, I'm going to have to prep those in addition to the hair on your head. Also, the difference I charge in bridal make up from other make up is 15 dollars because the bridal make up includes lashes automatically-if you don't want them, I don't charge the 15$.

        Also, if I'm coming to you there is a travel fee and I ask that you pay for parking.

        I do what I can to try to make anyone in my chair feel amazing, but I'm sorry. Your wedding day is more important than a family reunion. I book extra time with brides. Too many times I've taken a bride to a seperate room to do their hair or their make up because their friends and family were stressing them out. Would they rather me take less time with them and charge less? Why even get the service done then?

        If I had a client lie to me and I found out I would feel so completely disrespected and cheated. Any person who PHYSICALLY plays a hand in making sure your wedding day goes off without a hitch deserves to know what their hard work is going towards.

        3 agree
      • this exact thing happened to me this weekend.
        I was hired for an engagement shoot, but when arrived on the premises, found relatives and the couple dressed in the wedding attire.
        While I still went through with the shoot – they made a solid effort in looking great, and are a gorgeous couple, I feel it was extremely wrong of them. When I mentioned this to the couple.. You know the answer I got? "oops.. sorry…"

        0 agree
    • Absolutely. Even if the hours on the day-of are the same, the effort put in on the wedding day and the editing that happens after is a lot more work.

      It is a breach of contract with us, and it's spelled out clear as day in our contract that we can walk away with no penalty if we are misled about the nature of any event.

      If we found out one of our "events" was actually a wedding, what would happen would depend on how early we found out. Scenario A: If we find out early enough, we'd ask the client to either pay the wedding rate, or find someone else. The retainer is ours for our trouble. Scenario B: If we found out the day of the event, we'd shoot it like any other wedding (and still be nice about it even if we're PO'd!) but let the client know we would not do a thing except offload cards and back up the files until the difference between what they paid and what we charge for weddings is made up.

      Long story short, it's a bad idea, and at least with us, it won't work out in your favor.

      That is not to say that this strategy won't work for the better in some situations, but be careful who you do it with. If you bust out your veil at the last minute with your hairdresser that was doing your hair for a "party," don't expect for things to still be OK!

      12 agree
      • I'm already married, so I'm not in any danger of misleading a photographer. And I am not one of the people who did this type of deception, which I agree is wrong. (My husband and I didn't have a photographer, because it was out of our budget.) But since you said that you charge a different rate for weddings, unlike the other photographer above, I was wondering if you could explain what the extra charges represent. I think what people get upset about in dealing with vendors is never knowing which extra charges are due to the need for more equipment, extra hands, ect., and which ones are just milking more money from the client. Please, please, please be aware that I'm not accusing you of doing that. I'm just curious, really.

        3 agree
        • For event photography, I expect to show up and document the day. I plan to deliver properly exposed, candid photos that document the event. Most times, booking event photography consists of emails and possibly a phone call to confirm details. There is no location scouting, finding best light for portraits, trying to keep people on schedule, and my focus is on documentation, not creating artistic and timeless images. In the event that I was sick/otherwise unable to attend, the task of finding a replacement would be much less stressful/involved than if I were finding a replacement for a wedding.

          For a wedding, I meet with the bride and groom at least once or twice to get to know them and understand their goals/vision for their day. We discuss the schedule for the day, I make sure we keep to the schedule and that none of the shots they want for each portion of the day (getting ready, portraits, ceremony, family photos, etc) are skipped/missed. I make sure to have several poses planned/thought out that flatter the bride and groom's body types & height ratios as well as compliment their personalities (how do they feel about PDA, are they more playful or serious, do they prefer more posed or natural looking photos, etc), I put the family photos in a strategic order, being sensitive to keeping people waiting, people with physical limitations, etc. I'm frequently working in a variety of lighting conditions (yes, more equipment & oftentimes an assistant to help haul it and/or wrangle people) and I'm oftentimes coordinating images rather than simply documenting what is happening around me. If I need to use the restroom or eat, I plan those breaks around ceremony, cake cuttings, tosses, etc. After the wedding, I spend more time editing & retouching the images because they're someone's wedding images and there are not only event photos, but also portraits involved.

          5 agree
    • I completely agree, with one caveat.

      I get that photographers charges more for a wedding because he/she needs all that extra stuff (assistant, back-up camera, equipment, time) – which I think is fair mind you, if it actually costs more to shoot a wedding, then it should be charged accordingly .

      What I think is unfair is when photographers and other vendors automatically charge more for those extra services that you genuinely may not need. Instead of being upfront: "if you want this level of quality in your wedding pictures, it costs $X. Here are some family reunion shots. If that's the quality you want, it costs $Y", which is fair, what you often get is basically treating the client like they're clueless: "The event costs $X" with no explanation, no lower priced option for those who don't need perfection, or worse, some blurb about how they DO need some "extra service" that is actually completely unnecessary.

      That really peeves me off. We were lucky: with home-grown flowers, hand-done hair, a DJ who knows my mom and a photographer who is super-cool and reasonable, nobody's tried to pull the bridal markup on us. But it does happen, and it's just as unethical as lying to your vendor.

      9 agree
      • Yes, I said something very similar in the catering portion of this discussion. I just think it is unfair to assume that every bride and groom are demanding the fullest package available. Why not give us the option to choose the more simple options available to someone planning a family reunion, grad party, or other event?

        If the bride and groom want a full-on package with every possible shot and tons of pre-wedding prep photography, then that is obviously a lot more work. But what if they just want candid shots from throughout the day, with no posed pictures? Isn't that pretty much the same amount of work as a less formal event? Why not give us the choice?

        10 agree
        • Exactly!

          And I have to say that it really…gets me to see some comments, on Offbeat Bride of all places, saying "well they have to charge more or the bride won't be happy because it's not perfect! You NEED to provide these things at a wedding!"

          Um, to be honest, stuff like that makes me feel like we all just went through an Internet Wormhole and we're over on that other website.

          11 agree
          • Um, to be honest, stuff like that makes me feel like we all just went through an Internet Wormhole and we're over on that other website.

            Can I ask that we dial down the outrage a half-knotch? I want to leave comments open, but only if we can keep discussion constructive — Knot-bashing and belittling other commenters doesn't feel constructive to me.

            7 agree
          • Fair enough.

            How about…"Vendors charge more because the bride won't be happy if it's not perfect, and people need that extra service at a wedding"…is something I very strongly disagree with, because it is not true (in my experience anyway) that every bride demands perfection. I know I don't. My friends who've gotten married didn't.

            11 agree
  7. I'm all for not getting screwed over, but as much as I try not to mention that I'm having a wedding…I just can't help it. Invariably the people I contact will ask "what is your event?" and I just don't have it in me to prevaricate.

    Which is another reason I have my wedding planner. It's her job to find me ethical vendors who are not going to take advantage, just because I'm getting married.

    2 agree
  8. Speaking from the catering stand point and from experience. Weddings are more work. period. We may be making the same food but have to make it "extra" special so that this memorable event will come out with happy memories! We hire more help for weddings and make our presentations more unique for that event. Even our hall: we have to put special touches and more work hours in prepping for weddings and longer cleanup afterwards. Don't lie to vendors!

    3 agree
    • Okay, I sincerely doubt this is what you meant, but, to me, when someone says they charge more because they have to make the same food "extra" special, this reads one of two ways. 1) They make the same food, and call it "extra" special or 2) if I hired them for a family reunion or graduation party, I'd get mediorce food, because it's not an important event worth making memorable.

      Needing additional staff is a valid reason for higher fees. Using higher quality or more expensive ingredients – at the clients request – is a reason for higher fees. But it's this "extra" special stuff that just smacks of a wedding tax to me. How do you itemize "extra" special on a invoice?

      48 agree
    • OK I understand that if you need more staff or more decorations or more expensive ingredients, then you are within your rights to charge more money. But what if the bride and groom only want the level of service and quality of ingredients that comes with a more standard event?

      It just seems unfair not to let the couple make that choice for themselves. Why not offer, say, two packages one standard and one extra special, then let the planners select which one would best fit their events — be they weddings, grad parties, family reunions, corporate events, whatever?

      I think the "bridezilla" culture has pervaded our world so deeply that everyone involved in the wedding industry automatically assumes that everyone wants maximum levels of extra effort performed for their wedding.

      This is the exact reason that my husband and I chose not to use a caterer for our wedding. We met with several who offered the type of food we wanted, but they all had huge extra charges for weddings. Instead we went to our favorite restaurant, arranged in advance for a giant takeout order and, with the help of our parents, set up a buffet to feed our family and friends. It worked out great and we didn't pay any more than standard menu price for everything.

      22 agree
      • I exactly agree with this. If I don't want anything extra special and I want simple service, they should give me that option. And I'm also with the first replier, why do they do this extra special stuff only for weddings? Does this mean they will do a bad job just because an event is not a wedding? A good business will give great service no matter what they are doing.

        17 agree
        • Because the wedding is – HOPEFULLY – a one in a lifetime occurrence.
          we, service providers, want to ensure that we do the most amazing job possible to keep ungrateful people such as yourself happy.
          If you don't think that you "need" the extras, it does not mean that you're right. You are not a service provider, you have no idea what is behind the service. Let us do OUR job.

          0 agree
          • There are many once-in-a-lifetime events that aren't weddings – children can only turn one, or sixteen, or eighteen, or twenty-one, once in their lifetime. You can only have one 25th anniversary, one high-school graduation, one Confirmation or b'nai mitzvah – those things are as important, if not more important, milestone events in a person's life, when compared to a wedding – and unlike a wedding, you can only have one.

            Service providers should not lose sight of the fact that this day is important, but that other days, and other events, are equally worthy of extra care. And if someone doesn't want an extra service, they are entitled to their preference.

            If I went to McDonalds and politely refused to add an apple pie or ice cream cone to my order, the kid behind the counter wouldn't call me ungrateful – so why is a bride or groom ungrateful if they don't want an extra photo album or fancy Champagne?

            I don't have to do your job to have an opinion about which of the services you offer I do or don't want. Yeah, a bridal couple who wants to skip that extra album isn't going to bring you as much revenue as the couple that wants the whole shebang, but that doesn't mean they should be punished – maybe they'd love to have that extra album, but he has crazy medical expenses and she has so much student debt that they just can't afford it (and the parents can't pay for it either).

            If you can't slice up your service package to omit whatever they deem to be unnecessary or beyond their means, both client and provider have the option to walk away from the transaction. There's no need to be rude if someone doesn't want to / can't buy what you're selling.

            7 agree
    • I have a problem with this thinking. I may be a bride, but I actually hate all that "fancy presentation" shiz that some places seem to do. I want food that tastes good and will be enough for people to have a good feed. Standard service is fine, people are going to have fun (or not) regardless of what the damn food looks like!

      16 agree
    • But, see, here's the thing….you are generalizing. Not every bride demands perfection and all those "special" touches that we can do without. Let us know, and if we WANT all those special little extras, fine, we can pay for them. But if we don't, don't just assume we do and charge so much. People who are getting married are not all the same, and we need options just as everyone else does.

      9 agree
  9. I'm on board with the omission for non-attending vendors. What the hell difference does it make to a hairdresser whether this is a wedding or not, if you're getting the same kind of hairdo that you would for any other special event?

    Now, for a photographer, there would be a difference due to the type of event, but then again, I wonder what the TECHNICAL differences are for a photographer who is asked for a bunch of candids of an event that turns out to be a wedding rather than a reunion? I mean, what if a bride and groom just wanted photojournal-style shots of the party, and not posed or highly edited photos of a ceremony/guests?

    3 agree
    • That's an interesting point — I think having a photographer just at the reception would be a whole different thing than doing the full wedding.

      7 agree
    • Yes I said the same thing above. Why not give brides and grooms the option of having a family reunion-type package, where they spend less but only get candid shots?

      2 agree
  10. As a Photographer, I would be upset too! There is soooooooo much more planning and work that go into a wedding than into a family reunion and I would not have brought my 2nd shooter! I would feel ill prepared and bamboozled and the photo's would SUFFER! Be up front and honest with people, it brings good karma! ;-)

    4 agree
    • See, I'm getting a lot of that from photographers (I'm being TOTALLY upfront about the fact that it's a wedding), but I'm going with a pitch like this: the ceremony is on a weekday morning, less than an hour, in a courthouse, with ten guests. At the end, I'd like a disc of high-res, largely unedited images. What's the lowest you can go on this? And nine out of ten photogs are like, "I start at $2500." And I'm like, "Yeah, but I start at THE SMALLEST WEDDING YOU WILL EVER SEE IN YOUR LIFE."

      Now, I can't shoot a photo of my own foot without hurting myself, so I'm not going to pretend that I know anything about this, but it seems like a lot of wedding packages are aimed at larger shindigs; they start at a certain rate that includes two shooters and four hours of time. I feel like maybe someone could negotiate a lower rate if the event itself is small, in the winter, on a weekday, etc.?

      I imagine that travel costs, set-up, etc. probably involve a baseline cost, though?

      For the record, I have found someone who is being reasonable AND enthusiastic, but it took longer than I thought it would.

      7 agree
      • HI Ann D, I am so sorry that happened to you! There are a lot of photographer's that will charge by the hour. If 9 out of 10 say that, go directly to the tenth one!! We charge 300 for the first hour and 250 for every hour there after.
        Candy

        3 agree
      • Hey Anne D! Try and find someone who is just starting out with their photog. career. I try and find people like this for clients of mine with small budgets, small weddings, etc. You can do it, it just takes some time and energy. Ask around. Experienced photographers, who rely solely on their income (to run their small business) have some strict policies. Understandably. Good luck!!

        2 agree
      • Ann, they might have quoted you high because they didn't want to do the dig. Especially if you're doing it on a Saturday, that means the photographer has to take 3 hours of time (hour setup, hour shooting, hour breakdown) out of the day to make a very small amount of money, in the end. They may want to be able to make the money they normally would in a weekend for a large wedding, so they're overcharging to either scare you off or get their money's worth on a productive day.

        I agree with one of the other commenters — ask for either an associate photographer or find someone who is just starting out — an art student at the local college, perhaps.

        4 agree
        • That would make sense, yeah, except like I said, it's on a weekday, and we just wanted candids – so, no special lighting or posing. Anyway, we found someone pro that is really psyched about the gig, but I can see why it's hard for non-photographers like myself, for instance, to not see much of a difference between party pics and wedding pics, especially if what you WANT really is a bunch of party pics (not photos of the dress, shoes, prep time, adorable details, etc).

          2 agree
      • yeah, I have the same problem – the 'trend' these days seems to be for the photographer & assistants to arrive in the morning and shoot every single aspect of the day, candids, posed, etc etc. This produces some *great* images, and I'm sure is worth it for those who can afford this, but it results in a whole crop of photographers for whom it's just not worth signing up for less than a 6 hour gig. And for my own itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny wedding, well, sure, it'd be cool to have fancy-schmancy pix of me doing my hair or whatever, but basically I just want a wedding picture. I want to hire someone for like, 1 to 2 hours. Because that's all I can afford. I'm becoming resigned to not having a photographer at all. Sigh.

        2 agree
        • As a bride who decided to, more or less, go without a photographer, let me tell you that I have zero regrets.

          We had a fairly small budget and decided that we wanted to spend as much of our money as possible on elements of the wedding that would be memorable to our guests, not ourselves. So photography went out the window.

          Like you said, this option wouldn't work for someone who wants every little detail before, during and after the wedding documented. But I figured I'd be happy if we got 10 shots I really liked from the whole day, which we did.

          Our plan:
          1. I asked a friend with a really nice camera to shoot pictures during the ceremony only. I knew from previous weddings he'd take pictures anyway, so really all I was asking for was edited versions of the pics he would already take. Then I said he could take as long as he wanted to edit them. (It's been more than six months and he still hasn't gotten around to it and I honestly don't care as long as I get them before, let's say, our second anniversary.) I told him that once the ceremony was over, he should put the camera away and tell anyone asking for a picture to eff off. I also offered to pay a small amount, which he refused. But I did get him a nice thank you gift.

          2. Sent out an e-mail to our closest friends and family members about a week before the wedding, making sure everyone knew that we didn't have an official photographer, so could they please share their digital files with us through a special Flickr account that I set up for the wedding.

          3. Used Flickr to order prints of my favorite photos from the pool.

          Like I said, zero regrets.

          14 agree
          • If you do this…. or even if you don't….
            Since most people shoot digital pictures now – you can easily buy a multi-card reader (I think I got mine for $25) and bring a lap top. One of the bridal party can man the computer at the end of the night… a simple "hey, if you took/ are taking pictures today/night please grab me before you leave. We would love to get them from you for the bride and groom." I've done this for the past 4 weddings I was in and have always gotten at least a couple hundred extra pics. It's so much easier than running after people later.

            3 agree
      • I shoot weddings like this – courthouse weddings with 10 or fewer guests – as the majority of my clients. I would never hand over unedited images.

        5 agree
    • Thing is, some couples are perfectly happy with no 2nd shooter and photos that are good, but reflect the fact that there was only one person taking pictures.

      What I'd like to see is instead of vendors telling us what we NEED ("you need a 2nd shooter or your photos will suffer!"), they give us options about what you can choose to have if you want ("if you want better images, you can pay $X more and bring a 2nd shooter").

      I mean, my grandma's wedding had one person, who was barely even a pro, taking pictures and while they weren't the masterpieces we see today, they were fine. Some of us are happy with that. It shouldn't have to be "fork over for the masterpiece…or get nothing". It should be "I'll take some pretty nice photos for you, or you can pay more and I'll deliver masterpieces".

      I think that right there may be why *some* couples lie to vendors.

      28 agree
  11. The thing about all this is that a lot of it has to do with assumptions.

    For example, one vendor might say: "We may be making the same food but have to make it "extra" special so that this memorable event will come out with happy memories! We hire more help for weddings and make our presentations more unique for that event" (thanks to Sarah, above).

    But that is all based on the assumption that the couple wants those special touches, those extra decorations. What if the people who are ordering services really are minimalist? Or are planning on doing their own special touches entirely differently? The truth is, it is a little unfair to mark something up (be it catering, or whatever), based on what you think someone meant to order extra, but didn't.

    Why not just be up front about all associated charges? Like, "We could charge $200 for these extra decorations we usually do for weddings, would you like that included?" Leave it up to the customer, since they're the ones paying the bill.

    I realize that the "wedding charges" in some cases (photographers, for example) are legitimate. But photographers can also clearly delineate why those costs exist. If a vendor can't itemize that extra wedding cost, and if it can't be negotiated, I say that's a crappy vendor.

    18 agree
    • I was just about to make this exact point! Thanks so much for posting it. If what you're really offering is a "Tier 1" high quality service and a "Tier 2" everyday quality service, why not just let people pick what they want? I mean, there could be some family reunions out there that would really like those "special day" touches.

      5 agree
  12. My future husband and I discussed this too. He was all for it – if it was someone that wouldn't find out in the process, but I just couldn't do it. The thing is though, I'm doing most of the things one would hire others to do. I don't see the issue in not saying it's a wedding cake, if you're going to go pick it up, and the same with flowers, or even your dress, if you are wanting something simple/low-key/not a typical wedding dress. Personally I told my dressmaker. She does wedding dresses! But also, I'm too damn excited that I'm getting married to hide it.

    But as Ariel said, your venue, your photographer, your caterer, your DJ, these people are going to find out, and you know what, their services are going to be different for a wedding than just some party. Also, I can't imagine them not being pissed that you lied to them. I mean, even if it didn't change how they would service you, if I was in their shoes I'd be pissed just because it's a shitty thing to do to someone.

    As others have said, if you don't like their prices, look for someone else. I personally found a venue and a photographer with amazing prices!

    OMG, I am in love with my photographer! She offers SUCH an amazing wedding package, and we're only having her for 4 hours!! Yet still she wanted to give us all these wedding extras. She rocks! And I think she's worth every penny. So you know, it's not all bad being up front with people!

    1 agrees
  13. As a wedding photographer and a previous off beat bride. I'm all for not disclosing the information to non-service vendors when it's small. Like you'll need just your bouquet or need to reserve a block of rooms at a hotel (we did this because they would only block out for weddings held at their venue, so we said family reunion – but I got ready on location so they had no way of knowing). I think eventually vendors will catch on.

    As a wedding photographer I would be fuming to show up to an event that the bride and groom lied about. I wouldn't give them sub-par service however I'm sure my mood & upbeat attitude wouldn't be what it usually is. The reason why wedding photography costs so much is because it's a once in a lifetime event. I'm on my toes from the minute I arrive until the minute the bride and groom leave the reception. I'm absolutely crazy about my memory cards and backing files up. I also bring a lot more equipment to a wedding – so you might not get the wedding images you see on my site that require extra lighting. With "family reunions" and "large birthday parties" our prices are cheaper because we're not shooting continuously and organizing groupings of people or giving the guest of honor about an hour long private portrait session.

    As a word of warning to any bride who would try this with a service provider, it's most likely in your contract with your vendor what they're providing the service for ie "family reunion". If you had a really crabby vendor they can claim you breached the contract and refuse service. You did after all sign a contract for a different type event – They don't have to honor it. And it could potentially lead to a lawsuit for you because if your reception site had to purchase & prep the food, hire waitstaff, etc.

    7 agree
  14. I am a photographer and don’t typically shoot “parties” , but like you said – they would be COMPLETELY different things with totally different coverage, and MUCH more editing and post production time involved. I feel like if some one did that to me, I would almost want to get out my contract and just say I was only hired to shoot group shots and the party – and that they could pay me my wedding fees to shoot the actual wedding. I mean, I cant imagine I could ever do that to some one (even if they did it to me) since I would not want to put them in that terrible place. But it would be pretty heartless to lie to people to save money – just for them to get underpaid.

    2 agree
  15. we told our caterer that we were having a family reunion because we got engaged. One month out, we told them we were getting married. We already had our price quote and knew what we were getting. The caterer thought it was clever that we decided to get married and didn't get upset at us. She tried to make us change our menu at the last minute but we were dead set on what we wanted (gourmet pizza buffet!)…No hurt feelings! Plus, we didn't spend an arm and a leg…

    5 agree
  16. I'm a photographer and if I came up against this I think I'd be extremely angry. I try my best to cater to what a couple wants on their big day – if you don't want me to photograph the bride getting ready then the price is less than if you want me there from beginning to end. If I'm just photographing a family reunion the price is less than a wedding because I foresee less of a workload. That doesn't mean to say that I don't put in any effort but I'm not expecting to do a ceremony, bridal shots and everything in between.

    If I was to turn up and find out that what I imagined to be a family party with a few group shots and a lot of candids had suddenly turned into a lot more I can imagine I'd feel pretty shafted by the couple. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to cause a scene on their wedding day but certainly a quiet word off to one side to try and sort out any miscommunication.

    4 agree
  17. I feel that lying to someone like my photographer about what I'm paying them to do by pulling a bait-and-switch is highly, highly unethical. Different events call for different types of photography, and weddings are definitely Big Deals, and I know if I were hired to do something casual and I found out I'd been lied to, I'd be very angry because working a wedding is WAY more intense than a simple family BBQ might be.

    Lying by omission about a tent rental? Meh, whatever. Just ask to rent a tent. Lying to someone who's going to be putting forth work for you specifically on the day by working WITH you? Bad karma and very unethical.

    As for hairdressers, I wouldn't mess with them either. They're performing a service for you — treat them the way you'd like to be treated. If you're getting really fancy hair done, pay what they're asking you to pay, or find someone who will do what you want for less *honestly*. Plus, if you have an appointment for wedding hair, they may be more on-time with you, they may be sure to be running on time whereas if it's a regular appointment, they may not realize that rescheduling at the last minute isn't possible for you. You get what you pay for — if you try to wheedle around paying the proper price for what you want, you may pay less……and not get quite what you wanted.

    5 agree
  18. Holy Cow is right! I don't even see how it is possible to lie to a Photographer like that. It is absolutely a breach of contract and just flat-out-wrong! Wrong. I feel so sorry for him/her. I agree whole-heartedly with Sarah: weddings are nothing like any other event. The stress level of the bride, groom, families, etc. is nothing like that at a family reunion. Not even close. Vendors have extremely strict deadlines/timelines, everything has to be perfect and in no way do they want to risk their reputation or disappoint their clients by doing a poor job. The stress, energy and the hours alone for creating something/providing something for a wedding warrants the price (in most cases).

    As someone who helps others plan events (mostly weddings) I only recommend vendors who are hard working, ethical people who love what they do. If you feel you are getting a shady markup, don't go with them. There are plenty of people who would love to help you, and who will explain their prices for doing so…

    3 agree
  19. As a wedding photographer, the last thing you want to do is annoy the person who can airbrush the other way :)

    I understand the need to save some spendula on your wedding but a part of being professional is about being prepared and if I showed up to an event not knowing it was a wedding then I would feel a little, well annoyed but the couple really do not do themselves any justice as ultimately its them who lose out, you need an honest relationship with your clients to get the best out of them on film…….it takes a lot of talent and skill to be a photographer. Having said that my prices stay the same regardless what type of event it is because I still put the same amout of passion into all my jobs.

    2 agree
    • HA! I like that. "Oh, you wanted me to show your LEFT side, did you?" (mwahahahahaha!)

      2 agree
  20. "Having said that my prices stay the same regardless what type of event it is because I still put the same amout of passion into all my jobs. " Amen, Kitty.

    I'm chiming in from behind the hair stylist's chair here…if one of my clients lied to me about their wedding, I would be hurt & offended. I have a good relationship with them and they usually tell me their good news. It would especially sting if they did an aha! reveal…almost to say "YOU'VE BEEN HAD!" If anyone plans on doing this to their stylist, I recommend not telling them at all, ever. Especially if you plan on having that person do your hair in the future.

    Personally, my updo prices are the same for everyone, whether you are a bride or not. And it would really be their loss, because when I know someone is getting married, I come in early with bagels, muffins, and juice. ;)

    15 agree
  21. Not cool. I would be upset if anyone in any situation lied to me and misrepresented themselves.
    I can't speak for other wedding photographers, but in my business Saturdays in May-Oct. are at a premium because it is wedding season in New England – it is simple economics – supply & demand. I reserve Saturdays for weddings with an 8 hour minimum.

    Unfortunately, I think when most people look at prices for wedding photography, they assume that they are paying for 8 hours of the photographer's time which is usually not the case.

    I photograph about 25 weddings a year in addition to the photography I do for commercial, portrait and boudoir clients. I've given a breakdown of the average time I spend on a wedding.
    Please keep in mind that every photographer is different and has a different way of working and different standards for editing which may require more or less time.

    Pre-wedding – avg. 5 hours:
    Initial consult and in person meeting, travel to and from in person meeting.
    Conversations via email, phone & in person meetings regarding cost and contract, details and timeline for wedding day. Send confirmation emails and letters upon receipt of contract and payments.

    Wedding Day – avg. 15 hours:
    Clean lenses & cameras, load charged batteries into cameras, format CF cards,
    double check location and print directions, print contract, timeline, lists of bridal party & family names. Load gear.

    Travel to event. Quick survey of site.
    8 hours of photography including, but not limited to preparations, ceremony, formals & reception.
    Return trip from event.
    Recharge batteries.
    Download images from CF cards.
    Back up files from Wedding day onto second external drive.

    Post Wedding – avg. 15-20 hours:
    Organize image files from 2 photographers (2000-3500) into editing software.
    Sort files, choose best images to tell the story of the day.
    Select 20 favorite images for blog and/or social media site.
    Edit initial favorites, post to web.
    Color correct and edit about 800- 1000 image files. Convert RAW files to jpegs.
    Create lo-res jpegs for online gallery.
    Create online gallery of edited image files, upload images and personalize gallery settings.
    Send email to client with gallery info.
    Create hi-res jpeg files for client disks. Burn client disks.
    Package and ship client disks.

    Additional time not included in averages above:
    Design Album, book or prep custom prints for professional lab extra.

    In addition to time, photographers have many liabilities in their field, and with the increased crowds and multiple locations often visited on a typical wedding day, all of the liabilities are increased. On a wedding day, I may need to go to 3-4 locations, drive 100+ miles, shoot in rain or inclement weather and risk having my gear damaged by intoxicated or clumsy guests – conditions which don't usually come in to play on a portrait or boudoir session.

    Other factors to consider are:
    – product credits, prints or albums that may be included in a package.
    – payroll for assistants, second photographers or both.
    – material costs for disks, packaging materials, costs for online galleries, etc.

    I hope this sheds some light on how some photographers base their wedding prices.
    I love photographing weddings and have a blast doing it, but I generally make less per hour on wedding photography than I do in other areas of my business. Good luck with your wedding planning!

    20 agree
  22. See, now I'm stressing about my hair, hardcore. I already have to pay the "long hair tax" on my updos, and I'm dreading paying the "wedding tax" on top of that so much, that I haven't made an appointment yet.

    Having said that, any of you OBBs that know of any good, ETHICAL hairstylists in the vicinity of Seneca Lake, NY? :)

    2 agree
    • I'm a photographer, not a hairstylist so not a hair expert but I have long hair. It's not a "long hair tax" long hair takes longer to style therefore costs more. And it's not a "wedding tax" it's called if you want your hair to look like this all day and night through sweating, dancing, partying, pictures and hugs from every relative you're going to have to pay more because a lot more work goes into it than if you want fancy hair for your dinner date that lasts maybe two hours.

      7 agree
      • Excuse me?

        If that's the case, why is there no "bridesmaid tax?" OR, worse, why is there no "prom tax" or "homecoming tax"?

        At my current stylist, on their website, it says that regular updos start at $65, and BRIDAL updos are $85. No explanation of the extra $20. I'm not getting married in this city, so it's moot, but you can be sure I'd ask why I was getting a $20 surcharge for what is the exact same service.

        And, also, regarding the "long hair tax," I still call BS. I've never once – once! – been charged more to get my hair COLORED, and that I would understand (my hair needs twice as much color and takes twice as long). Yet I'm almost always charged significantly more to have my hair put up, AND usually not quoted a cost when I have sat in a chair. (Case in point – a few years ago, I was a bridesmaid and we were all quoted $50 for updos. When I cashed out? $65. And at the time, my hair was not NEARLY as long as it is now.) I've sat next to people in the chair with shoulder length hair (mine is halfway down my back). It generally doesn't take my hair any longer. So, forgive me for not understanding why one thing costs more than another.

        Also, forgive me for being a bit put off by what would potentially cost me over $100 that may cost my bridesmaid $65.

        14 agree
        • My hair is very nearly down to my waste and I will also say it is TOTALLY a long hair tax for just a simple cut. Girls with super long hair generally don't have complicated hair cuts (all one length, all one length with bangs, or long layers). My cuts are always finished before the girl beside me getting some super involved pixie cut.

          I am personally having my a hair very simply styled (half up, enhancement of my already present waves/curls)- like HELL am I paying $100 for something that would cost me $30 for any other special event.

          5 agree
          • ME TOO. My hair is not as long as yours (I can't seem to get it to my waist – I wish!), but same idea. My hair is long layers, and I only cut it every 3-4th time I go to the salon. I want a similar style to you, too, hence why the whole thing is stressing me out!

            1 agrees
        • I feel your pain about the hair! I paid the "normal" up-do price for my trial run, but will be charged nearly double that for my day-of hair. My hair is super long, but I would hope that you would put just as much effort into it for the trial run as you would for the day of (probably moreso)! I understand that more hair means more work, but the stylist is spending the same amount of time with me as the other girls. Charge for a 30 minute session or for an hour session, but don't charge me extra telling me you want me to look perfect. Guess what – I want my maids to look perfect too!

          For Irisira above, I have been charged extra for highlights before, but I'm not sure about color. I was so knocked over by the price for highlights that I never got full color! : )

          3 agree
          • FYI, full color is actually cheaper than highlights, because it is A LOT less work (slapping color on vs. carefully separating the hair). Actually, too, for highlights I think charging more for long hair makes less sense than all over color – it's not more work to highlight long hair than short hair. If anything, it's more work to highlight thick hair than fine hair. But, the "using more product" adage technically applies here as well. Even still.

            4 agree
          • I'm a hairdresser with 16 years experience and I would like to respectfully answer to as many of your comments as I can. First and foremost what I charge is based on my years of training, education, skill, experience and expertise.
            That said, I charge the same price for an updo regardless of the event OR the length of hair. However, if anyone wants a practice updo I charge seperately for that. As a matter of fact Brides hair tends to take more time, as much as 30-45 minutes more in some cases, because I think the expectations of the client are much higher and specific.
            As far as hair cut prices, your assertations that long hair is simpler than short hair, or that you only cut half an inch at a time, so should be charged less is simply a mis-understanding on your part. A large part of what you are paying for is my skill and knoweledge about what is best for your unique head. Also, maybe it takes 3 minutes to dry and style Ms. Pixie, and I have spent 45 minutes blowing out Ms. Mid-back. If there wasn't some skill there, wouldn't you just let your best friend cut your hair in the kitchen and hang on to all your cash? For color, its somewhat less technical to 'slap on' some color, but you are paying me to know enough to mix the perfect shade, that won't turn green, or break your hair off like you did in your bathroom that time. Hilighting long hair takes far more time and product than short hair. Sometimes thick hair takes a lot more than fine hair because you have to take tiny sections, etc. There are TONS of variables that you aren't privy to, cuz part of our skill is to make it look easy.
            I suggest you ASK your stylist why they charge what they do, instead of assuming its some kind of conspiracy. Any professional should gladly talk with you and help you understand where the value is. If they can't, or won't, find someone else.

            38 agree
  23. Wow! From yet another photographer's standpoint, trust me when I tell you that weddings are much more intense than a family picnic/renunion. Not to say that I don't put my all into both types of events..I do..it's just a different level of work. Nothing wrong with trying to save some money, but perhaps try to work with your photographer or find another one if the price isn't working with your budget. Ditto to the posters above, it's just not right to lie.—->Kitty said it right "As a wedding photographer, the last thing you want to do is annoy the person who can airbrush the other way"

    2 agree
  24. If the vendor won't be at the event, don't specify what it is.

    If they will be, tell the truth.

    As a wedding coordinator and a florist, you cannot screw around with vendors just at will–they also have budgets to meet, rent to pay, mouths to feed.

    Bargain.
    Ask for price cuts when and where you can.
    Most vendors will be willing to lower their costs at least a bit–and if not, go to someone else.

    But for heaven's sake, if the vendor will be at your event, tell them that it's a wedding. Not doing so is rude.

    4 agree
  25. (rather, if the vendor won't be at the event, you don't *have to* specify what it is.)

    2 agree
  26. My wedding hair and make-up stayed the same price whether I was getting married or having a "big" party.

    My husband occasionally does wedding photography, and I know he wouldn't be angry if someone lied, but he would be very uncomfortable. Even the equipment he might bring can change, and the price he quotes people would HAVE to change, due to the amount of postprocessing he puts into wedding photos. It is one thing to go to have a couple ugly buildings or a beer can in a pic in a family reunion, but a lot of people wouldn't want that in their wedding photos. Removing that can take a lot of time.

    0 agree
  27. I worked for a catering company for a number of years, and I can't tell you the number of times we would say to each other, in our recap meetings after events, "how can we charge enough next time for all the extra work we did for this wedding?" I agree with Sarah's above comment: weddings always mean more work for the caterer than other events, period, end of story. Additionally, it's not always easy to itemize in advance what those hidden grunt-hours or costs are going to end up being, whether it's opening the reception site at 7:00 on the morning of the event so that the bride's cousin's wife can decorate, providing meals for guests who didn't r.s.v.p. but ta-daaa! still show up, or orchestrating a grand entrance for a disorganized bride and groom who really want one, but didn't arrange with the d.j. for it.

    Having said that, I think that this type of disingenuous behavior on the part of brides and grooms has a lot to do with the perceived disingenuous wedding taxes that so many vendors exact, whether legitimate or not. Fight fire with fire? Yeah, maybe sometimes.

    4 agree
    • Having spent part of my collegiate career working for a restaurant which did a lot of both on and off-site catering, I feel your pain on some of these things (7am, especially). However, I do think things can either be itemized or else simply not allowed. Otherwise, costs become very murky and subjective (IE: "weddings always mean more work for the caterer than other events, period, end of story").

      For example, I worked the easiest wedding in the world, as well as the most epically awful breakfast birthday brunch craptastic extravaganza ever. The birthday was harder, the people were needy, awful, wanted in at 5am, etc. than any wedding I've ever witnessed. But that doesn't mean all birthday parties are horrid. It"s just anecdotal evidence… and that's the thing. Saying all weddings are harder is equally untrue. It's like saying all weddings are big shindigs, which they're not.

      My caterer knows I'm getting married, but believe you me, if she hadn't revealed all costs, I would have dropped her like a hot potato (in fact, I almost did, for that very reason).

      Also, I don't think that the "wedding tax" that goes to caterers usually goes to the bulk of the employees. I know when I worked catering jobs it didn't.

      6 agree
      • Thank you for recognizing that not all weddings are big, elaborate affairs. (And not all non-wedding events are simple.) Itemize your costs and set strict rules and then everyone will be happy.

        7 agree
  28. I have heard this on Bride boards before about "As soon as you say Wedding the price goes up", well for SOME Brides the Drama level goes up as well! (Not all!!!) So does our Workload, Stress level, and basic Business bottom line….and here comes Momzilla to the Fittings to add MORE work and stress to the entire picture for all…
    It's just not the same as someone who wants to have The Custom Order Gown of her dreams made so she can go to many social events and not go shopping constantly.
    Our minimum $ is X regardless of Wedding or not. But our Contract states many little things that can add up for any type of 'Zilla Customer regardless of her intended use. I've had several Brides cry poverty to me asking for deals and then found out they're marrying Royalty (literally!) or other big $ scenarios, so crocodile tears don't work with me anymore.

    If I were a Photographer or Caterer, it's a lie and unethical of a Client to play that hand. Period.

    3 agree
  29. I can see both sides of this. Photographers do need to know the kinds of things they'll be photographing, how much time & energy, what kind of equipment. But I fail to see why a caterer would need to know, or a rental company.

    For me, when I went to one local vendor to look at renting chairs & tables, as soon as I said it was for a wedding, the salesclerk starting trying to steer me to limousines, photographers, caterers, the whole thing. Very annoying! Maybe for some people that would be helpful but it immediately made me think, "Oh, over here is our kickback table with business cards…"

    0 agree
    • Yes, we ran into this when pricing chair rentals. All of a sudden, there was tons of pressure for a tent, lights, a dance floor all this other stuff we didn't want. So when we rented speakers we just said they were for a party. We picked them up and dropped them off ourselves and no one was the wiser.

      3 agree
  30. I have to say, I'm in the same camp with those who said that they're just too excited to lie to their vendors about the event.

    I'm not against lying by omission per se, but in any case where you will have more than a 60 second exchange with the vendor, you will probably find yourself in a situation where you either have to come clean or run the risk of it developing into a much more elaborate ruse, because most decent people in the service industry are friendly and curious folk who will try to make conversation and find out about your event in order to give you the best service they can.

    As it goes I'm lucky enough not to need many vendors as I have a very talented bunch of friends but if I felt I was being exploited for the old 'wedding tax' I would be up front about it. It doesn't hurt to make a friendly enquiry as to what this extra money actually gets you. And if you don't like the answer, find someone else.

    I initally wanted to hold my reception in a live music venue above a cafe/bar which I know on a weekend night hires to music promotors for around £600 tops. For the wedding they quoted me £2000 for the room hire alone, with additional charges for everything else from tables and chairs to decor to bar staff. I walked away then and there as you might expect, and luckily managed to find a really great venue at a fraction of the price. I couldn't afford the venue at that price in any case, but it was more the principle of the thing that put me off.

    I think the same principle applies to wedding vendors as to every other major purchase in life – know what you're getting for your money, be it material goods, piece of mind or excellent service, and if you think it's worth it then that's all that matters.

    Personally I would always prefer to go with principled vendors even if it meant paying a little bit more with them. Then again, if I'd done my homework and was pretty damn sure a vendor was shady and I thought I could pull off the lie (I don't think I've ever pulled off a lie in my entire life) then I might quite happily skank them back.

    2 agree
  31. I'm a full time wedding photographer. I charge the same for family reunions and other events as I do for weddings so I can't see any advantage to lying to me. Between the contract and planning meetings I'm going to figure it out anyway. I'm just going to think people are nutty, and won't take the job.

    0 agree
  32. I definitely think this could be better avoided with on-site vendors like caterers, bakers, and the like by being more aggressive and researched going into contract negotiations.

    If you hear a quote for the wedding food that you think seems high, it's much smarter to ask what exactly it entails that incurs greater costs than a general 'party' package. If the vendor is able to come up with an itemized list of reasons why the wedding costs more, then you'll understand the legitimate reasons for the extra charge and can make your decisions from there.

    The excuse that "we work harder" as vendors at weddings rather than parties is NOT a legitimate reason to overcharge. We should be working that hard all the time, consistently, at every party. If the "wedding package" comes with butlered service, higher quality ingredients, and more preparation time on the part of the vendor, that vendor had better be able to explain why that isn't included in a "normal" package.

    8 agree
  33. I'm a photographer, too, and want to say that I've got two points of view. Yes, I think that for things like supplies… why does it matter what the purpose is for? I wouldn't lie about what I was purchasing something for. But if it didn't come up, I wouldn't feel the need to mention that the chair rental was for a wedding.

    But really, if you are having a weekday ceremony for 1-2 hours, then a typical wedding package wouldn't really apply to you. I've been asked to do a couple elopement packages. As long as it's not a prime Saturday date, I'm okay giving them a "portrait session" that happens to be their wedding. To me, it's about the same amount of time as an engagement session, and takes about the same amount of work. They are still paying the same amount per hour, there just isn't a minimum number of hours they have to purchase.

    (Yes, my hourly rate is the same for EVERYONE.)

    10 agree
    • See, THAT'S what I was hoping to see a photographer say! Especially given how incredibly low-key we are trying to make the wedding and the photos. Lord knows if it gets to pose-y, my fiance will start making that FACE that he makes in photos. :)

      6 agree
      • Oh Lordy, your fiance is the one that makes the face? I'm the one in this couple. My man calls it my "picture day" smile. You know how little kids don't know how to fake smile yet so they just show all their teeth and it looks kind of frightening? My man will literally look at some photos as we're taking them and say " awww come on you're getting a little picture day-y" and I'll be like I'm sick of taking pictures ._.

        0 agree
  34. Okay, I'll chime in. *Puts on my wedding photographer hat*
    I might be a rare case where my wedding package price is less than my hourly rate. Even so… I would be really pissed if someone didn't tell me that I was going to be shooting their wedding. Even though I'd be making more money for the time, there's just a pre-wedding ritual I have, a headspace that I need to get myself into, certain clothes that I'd need to wear, not to mention the extra gear! I'd probably be SO thrown off and, well, confused, that the photos would not be as great as they could be. It's hard to be artistic when you're in WTF!? mode.

    4 agree
  35. If you can't find a service in your price range, has any ever thought of just not having the service? Do your own hair. Have a potluck wedding. Put disposable cameras on tables. There is always an honest way.

    4 agree
    • I agree with this. There comes a point where you have to ask yourself, "Should I be trying to con someone to get what I want or should I just find an alternative to what I want."

      4 agree
      • But it isn't a con. You want an updo. Person X is offering the updo you want. You get an updo from them and are thrilled with their level of service. You did not want them to do a thing different or special. Why is it wrong for you not to tell them you are getting married? You paid for exactly what you got.

        10 agree
        • I absolutely agree. What this describes is not a con.. in fact, if you really think about it, it's not even dishonest. If I walk into a stylist's place and ask, "How much for an updo?" and she replies, "$75," then that's how much it costs.

          If it's for my wedding, prom, my birthday, Wednesday… who cares? That's the cost.

          8 agree
          • And that's where the "Keep it to yourself" issue comes in for offsite service vendors. You don't want to tell and they won' fine out? Fine, don't tell — but don't do a big ol' GOTCHA.

            9 agree
  36. In looking for a venue for my vow renewal, I found a place that had everything my husband and I were looking for. For an "8 Hour Private Event on a Weekend" the rate was $375. For a "12 Hour Wedding in High Season" the fee was $950.

    I don't want to lie to the vendor. I don't know if they consider a vow renewal with reception, separate from a wedding, but I am going to find out. It just saddens me greatly that potentially, our literally a 5 minute ceremony, could cost us almost $600.

    1 agrees
    • Couldn't you say it was an anniversary party with a 5 minute vow-renewal at the beginning? Maybe if you stressed the anniversary part, it would keep them from automatically assuming wedding. And after all, it's true. A low-key vow renewal is nowhere close to the same thing as a full-blown wedding!

      4 agree
  37. It is rude to lie to vendors who are going to find out or who may need to know the difference to do a good job. Completely agree. And those vendors will be pissed off, of course.

    But.

    It's JUST as rude / crass / unacceptable to stick a markup on prices in the first place, and that's what so many people do. I mean, yeah, it's good to get out and say "no, you shouldn't lie" but then, there is very little equivalent respect on the other side – how many vendor conventions where weddings come up end with an admonishment by a speaker to "not lie to brides"? It's been proven that, in fact, the opposite is true ("Upmark your services because you can! Tell the brides they NEED that service!").

    So while we're not lying to any vendors, and we wouldn't lie to any vendors (we don't need to lie to any vendors, which is good), I have a hard time feeling sympathy for many of the vendors who may be lied to: sure, many of them are decent, honest folk but it is absolutely not true that they all are. I also have a hard time judging a couple who would do this…even though it's not something I would do. I agree, it just feels icky, but then marking up prices and/or tacking on services things that may not be necessary ALSO feels icky. Those services may be strongly advised or useful, but can I tell you how many vendors we vetted told me we "needed" some extra level of service that we absolutely did not need?

    In the end, it still sucks to fight fire with fire. There's really only one clear path, but at least it's honest: for every single thing you're hiring a vendor for, you need to do your homework, find out what the true costs and benefits of any service are – not just "what's the average price" because even advice websites will lie to you about that, but "what does this extra service cost to provide? Do we really need it?", "What does it cost to do this for a party instead of a wedding?", "Why is it higher for a wedding?", "What do most people pay for it?" "What's the value added?"

    Then, be ruthless.

    I mean it – use your newfound knowledge about what a fair price is and what you are getting for your money to vet, interview, analyze and question each one. Not in a bitchy Dragon Lady way (though honestly, I think that stereotype has its roots in some serious sexism) but in a frank, competent, "I know what I am talking about" way.

    On the website of one vendor we were looking at, it had two clearly different prices for a "corporate" package vs. a "wedding" package. I e-mailed (calling is better, but I live abroad so it's hard) and asked what the difference was and why one was literally twice the price of the other. The response I got was a bunch of "make your super special day even more super duper special" drivel. They didn't get my business.

    It takes a lot of extra time and effort, but then if you are thinking of dropping hundreds (or thousands, or even tens of thousands) of dollars on something, it's worth it. You'd do it if you were researching plumbers, so why not photographers? You'd do it if you were hunting for a new car, so why not a caterer or a dress? If anything, these things aren't really as weighty as a new car on the "prudent ways to spend money" list – they're extra things you can tack onto a party if you want, and that's all – so they deserve *more* scrutiny vis-a-vis how you spend your cash on them.

    It's also a good job to give to a relative or friend itching to help or the part of a couple who is less "into" weddings: anyone can sink their teeth into researching prices and figuring out how to best spend money. (I don't mean this in a bad way – most couples have one person who is more into wedding planning than the other. Doesn't necessarily have to be the bride who's into it and the groom who's not). Don't be afraid to negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Pretend you're traveling in Egypt, India or China where you have to bargain for every last penny. It's good practice.

    Side note: negotiating works. We love our rehearsal dinner venue, but in initial talks with them, I noticed that their contract had a "private dining room use fee" tacked on, to the tune of $150. Err? I thought the money they were charging us for food, which costs more than if I were to make it at home, would cover things like cleaning and prep work for use of the room. So my next e-mail to them said "We love your restaurant. We'd love to hold our dinner there, but I can't help but notice this $150 'private dining room use' charge. Other venues we're looking at don't have such a fee. Is there something that could be done about that?"

    "My manager says we can waive the fee." Poof. Gone.

    Don't be afraid to be upfront with vendors, either. If you are being quoted a price that all of your research tells you is a blatant rip-off – because it DOES happen, this isn't hearts and roses fairyland where everyone's sweet and nice – say so. Not like "You're ripping me off!" but in a cold, efficient, "I've looked into this, and found that the average price for X service is Y dollars. Can you tell me why you're charging Z dollars? What's the value added for that increase in price?"

    If they argue with you ("No, it's not Y, you heard wrong, it's Z") or try to sell you something you don't need ("I charge Z because I provide useless services A,B and C"), bid them good day and leave. Find someone else. Try to negotiate if you're good at that. If they have good reasons – be very, very ruthless in what constitutes a "good reason" – you might consider it.

    If every vendor in your area quotes a price that seems high to you (if you can't justify an "oh, if this were my profession, I'd charge this", it is quite possibly too high), well, it IS true that vendors know each other, network with each other and attend conventions with each other. It is entirely possible that the average price in your area is a result of everyone knowing what the competition charges. It may still be too much. At that point you get the fun job of looking into alternatives (do it yourself, do without).

    And it is absolutely OK to have someone else call each vendor to get a quote for a "birthday party" or "corporate event" or "family reunion". It keeps 'em honest (because they DO know that people make such calls) and there is nothing immoral, unethical or illegal about calling around for price quotes, even for a party that doesn't exist. Then call about a wedding. Sure, it means twice the work, but it's worth it considering the sheer audacity of some markups.

    So, in the end, research, research, research. You'd do it for other big purchases so do it for this. Negotiate negotiate negotiate. Be steel-wool tough about prices. Don't lie, but don't take any BS.

    Make your vendor calls out with your balls out.

    12 agree
    • There's also nothing wrong with taking a price quote, asking for the breakdown, and negotiating from there – your average vendor won't always tell you up front why they charge more (if they do).

      As in, "Well, I charge X for weddings because I need to hire more staff/do more editing work/make it perfect/spend more time" can be met with "Well, we are happy with pictures of the same quality as a family reunion." / "We don't need that." / "It's OK if it's not perfect. It just has to be good and professional." / "I don't need tons of editing or special photo effects. Just the basic editing you'd do for any other event is fine. It's OK if we don't look perfect." / "The food doesn't have to be some big fancy production. We just want food, like at an anniversary party or corporate dinner. Really. You can even put it in the contract."

      …and see if the price goes down from there. That's how we got our photographer. ("We love your work, but we can only budget for 4 hours of shooting, and we really need just the basics. No special blurred or jiggered photos, just basic editing. A CD is fine, no album or proof book needed." We got a photographer who charges $2500 for an all-day shoot for $400 for just four hours of professional pictures, which is more than enough for us.)

      2 agree
  38. The idea that I would need to bargain makes me nervous. I've worked retail for years, and its always irritated me that people who ask for a deal sometimes get it (in some places, and in others, never), and people who don't, don't. There have been a lot of times when I've had clients essentially demand lower costs – including regular ones, whose incomes are well above the owners of the stores – even in situations where we can do absolutely nothing, and the attitude disgusts me.

    Because of this experience, I am simply not the bargaining type. I know that people who as for less *sometimes* get it, but I want to believe in a world where we charge people an honest price to start with, and I sympathize with the comments here from those who have had couples lie about their ability to afford things like photography. It bothers me that this works, and that as a society I feel we sort of endorse the behaviour.

    Our wedding's still a couple years off, so this isn't an issue yet, but I'm already nervous about having to feel cheated right from the get go for not trying to bargain. I have NO intention of lying, or even omitting the information, but there seems to be a correlation to me between concepts I find misogynist and stereotypical (like 'bridezilla') and the assertion that weddings are absolutely always so much more stress and work than everything else. I know I'm vain enough to want good photos, and hair and makeup and dress in them, so I'm happy to pay for extra attention from those service providers, especially the photographer. But just 'cause I'm a bride, doesn't mean I'm going to cry or scream if the flowers or the chicken dish doesn't have that extra something to it, and I do not want to pay for the assumption that I care about those things.

    I really appreciate some of the solutions here, like simply calling around and getting quotes for different events, and asking about the price difference. This might be a good way to ease myself into bargaining…

    3 agree
    • I understand that you just want to pay an honest price for the work and I sympathise. Don't look at it as bargaining – look at it as research.

      Talk to the vendors, find out how much they charge and why they charge that much. Then look at at least two other vendors in the same area – get an idea of what you feel is a fair amount for the service that you are buying. You are then in a position to speak to the vendor that you feel most fits your idea of the wedding.

      If I feel a vendor is overcharging I wouldn't go with them in the first place. I feel that I wouldn't want to give my business to someone who is taking advantage – even if they were then to lower their prices.

      0 agree
    • I don't think weddings do involve any more work than anything else: it's true that vendors will try to squeeze more money out of a bride than a corporate contract, but in terms of the research you should do for the amount that you're spending, it's about the same IMHO. I'd research a potential new car or house or other major purchase just as voraciously as we're researching our wedding vendors.

      It's true that bargaining sucks. (I do it, and I still think it sucks). But it's really not about – or at least not always about – trying to squeeze every last penny out of some poor honest hardworking vendor by lying or demanding unreasonable discounts. It's the way things are in a world where you have to bargain just to get the *fair* price. For me, anyway, I bargain because I want to pay what's fair. I won't be overcharged. (Upselling is different – that's all on me to resist).

      I appreciate the comments from honest, "no double pricing system" vendors on here. It's great to know they're out there, and we're working with similarly awesome ones…but the vendors who read/comment on OBB are not the type to overcharge methinks: it's the ones who don't, the ones who read WIC-ier websites than this one who do. So while hearing from honest vendors is great, it still doesn't mean they all are (I'd like to think most of them are).

      And, y'know? It's not just weddings where you need to bargain. It's an essential business skill. Granted, we're not all cut out to be cutthroat businesspeople. I know I'm not (not because I can't bargain, but because I hate workin' for the man).

      1 agrees
    • I think it's worth bearing in mind that there can be a big difference between asking for a discount in a retail situation and asking for a cheaper service.

      I used to work in an electronics store and a lot of customers would try lines like "I'm spending over £100 here, what discount do I get for that?" which annoyed me, partially because £100 was actually a relatively small sale (electronics are expensive) and it seemed silly that they'd think it entitled them to anything, but mainly because they were getting exactly the same products and services as every other customer so there was no reason at all they should pay a different price just because they felt like it.

      That's completely different to negotiating with a photographer or caterer and agreeing to leave out some parts of their normal wedding service that you don't want in order to reduce the price. If you're asking less from them you should pay less.

      2 agree
    • I felt the same way. I am honestly too lazy to do extensive research and too lazy to drive a hard bargain. Our solution was to do as much as possible ourselves, with the help of family and friends. We assembled and hung our own decorations, got takeout and set up our own buffet, rented speakers and had an iPod playlist, and had family and friends help with my hair and makeup. I know that wouldn't work for everyone. But in my book, it was easier to do as much as possible ourselves than to spend forever looking for deals.

      0 agree
  39. Even though I'm using the term "wedding" with everyone in my family and such (because it is a wedding, dammit, even if the government doesn't recognize it), I plan on saying to vendors that it's a commitment ceremony. This is double edged – 1. it cuts down on problems that might happen down the road if they get weirded out that my wedding has two brides – sucks, but it happens and 2. so that maybe they'll be confused out of giving us a needless wedding tax? Although I'm really curious to see if that'll even work…

    I think I was going somewhere with this, but I got lost :(

    1 agrees
    • If you go with Bed Bath and Beyond for a registry, say wedding. They have a commitment ceremony registry as well – without the 20% completion discount.

      0 agree

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