If you're planning a wedding, you've probably realized just how much wedding vendors will mark up their prices when they know it's for a wedding. You may be pretty peeved that you're having to pay a “wedding tax” for something that would cost less on any other kind of occasion. But in a lot of cases, these extra costs are incurred with good reason, especially for service-oriented vendors like DJs and photographers. Weddings usually take a lot more time, effort, equipment, and generally just extra care than other social gatherings. Despite this, some couples are trying to snag a better deal from their vendors by withholding the fact that the service will be used for a wedding instead of, say, a vow renewal, family party, or similar. We've heard these called “bait-and-switch brides.”
Some vendors, like those providing DIY materials or finished products, may never even find out what your event is before making the sale and probably don't care too much if it's a wedding or not. But some, like photographers, DJs, or hair and makeup artists, need backups in case of emergency and will go to greater lengths to make sure things run smoothly due to the pressure of the event. You might balk at a higher price for an updo or wedding day makeup, but the artist could be using different products to make sure it lasts well into the night.
In a lot of cases, the services you'll get by paying for “wedding services” will be different from other kinds of events. Delivery, packaging, level of service, interacting with other vendors — all can be different for a wedding. The quality is often higher, as are the risks and potential drama that can occur at a wedding versus a birthday party or family reunion.
Alternately, there may be some vendors, a hands-off venue with no service aspects for instance, where a mark-up in price for the venue makes no sense. But a venue where the service is clearly different for a wedding (ceremony to reception turnover, extra servers, extra equipment, higher expectations, juggling communications with lots of other vendors), the wedding markup can make total sense. Sometimes it's not completely apparent what the differences in service will be or if they'll be identical. It's worth an ask.
For me personally, I find that when all of my vendors are aware of what kind of event this will be, it's easier for them to coordinate with each other if necessary and also to anticipate wedding-specific issues that could come up and be adequately prepared for them should they arise. I feel like the more everyone knows, the smoother things will go. But budgets are budgets and sometimes you have to cut costs somehow.
My question is this: do you think it's ever okay to lie to your vendors and not mention the wedding aspect to get a better deal?
Engaged couples: are you seeing the “wedding tax” and are you actively trying to avoid it?
Vendors: what are some examples of extra effort/equipment/time that goes into a wedding event versus any other kind of event?
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