The great white lie: Would you lie to vendors about your wedding to get a cheaper deal? #Budgeting Advice#In the news#budgeting#industry insiders#wedding industry Updated Sep 13 2019 (Posted Jun 14 2010) Ariel arielmstallings Throne of Lies mug available on Etsy. 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. The article is no longer on their website, but I saved it for posterity here: 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 Related Post The ethics of a cheap off-shore wedding dress I think that stealing a wedding dress design and having it made in China (in a place that is probably a sweatshop) is really unethical. It upsets me, as it… Read More Related Post Duplicate It Yourself: the dark side of DIY Here's the scenario: you're looking for wedding ideas online. You find something you like, but it costs more than you want to spend. What do you do? And when does… Read More Related Post Can I share my own wedding photos? Copyright, Creative Commons, and your wedding photos Academic Librarian, Copyright Specialist and Tribesmaid Mollyali has written an impressive post on copyright issues and how they relate to your wedding photos. Read on and learn! Read More Ariel Author of three editions of the Offbeat Bride book and the forthcoming From Shitshow To Afterglow, Ariel Meadow Stallings acts as the publisher of all the Offbeat Empire websites. She lives in Seattle with her son, and if she's not reading or writing books, chances are good that she's dancing or happy-crying. She writes weekly essays for her new publication, The Afterglow. PREVIOUS Rachel & David's artsy retro picnic wedding NEXT Verity & Lucky's multicultural, backyard bbq with a wedding Show/Hide comments [ 231 ] I'm kind of surprised to hear this is an issue at all. At the risk of sounding really simplistic, lying is bad. It's pretty obvious to me. If you can't afford/don't like what someone is quoting for you, move on. Find another vendor, DIY, have friends do it, whatever works. Retain your integrity and good relationships, even if there are some vendors out there who wouldn't do the same. Also, it is very enlightening to hear about it from vendors' points of view. Thanks for sharing! Reply I think that what people are really up in arms about is that they shouldn't "have" (because no one *has* to) lie… There should not be "special" wedding prices for most services. Limos for a wedding shouldn't cost more just because they're for a wedding. If extra costs are incurred, they should be for specific goods or services that can be itemized. The issue is that many vendors within the wedding industry take advantage, and people are tired of being taken advantage of. I get that lying is essentially wrong, but the vendors with a subjective wedding markup are lying as well. They're essentially claiming that their wedding services are somehow worth more money/different/more special/etc., than their non-wedding services. And with a few notable exceptions (hello, photographers!), they're not. Reply This reminded me of an article I read in the New York Times ages ago, and it pretty much illustrates why I'm okay with lying in some cases. The highlight for me is the East Coast Limousine, which requires any wedding be booked with the 'wedding special', which includes a horn that plays Wagner's Bridal Chorus, aka "Here Comes the Bride", and is far more expensive. Reply http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/09/books/09bride.html?pagewanted=all Wow, I just realized I didn't post a link to the article. Here it is! Reply This is another reason it's a very good idea to ask what your extra money goes on. I hate 'Here Comes The Bride' and if I knew in advance they were going to insist on playing it, even for free, I'd refuse to hire them just on that basis. If I didn't find out until the day…I wouldn't say it'd ruin the wedding but it'd definately be the low point of the entire day. If I found out on the day I'd paid extra for that then I would be pissed off. Reply I'm personally a big fan of Wagner, but the Bridal Chorus is so over done, and it's definitely not his best work ad not something I would want in my wedding, let alone my ride. Reply Another Wagner person here. I will be having the music from Lohengrin at the ceremony, but for the ride over, I'm thinking some Act III of Die Walküre may be in order 😉 Did you know that Here Comes the Bride is not allowed at many Jewish weddings because Wagner converted away from Judaism before writing it? At least, I think that's why. Pacabel's Canon in D is also not allowed because he was a known antisemite. I very well may have those reasons backwards … The point is, if I were having a Jewish wedding and someone rented me a limo that played that song (especially if I was told it was "required") I would be furious. Reply It could also have something to do with the Nazis having Wagner's music played often at the death camps. I could understand being opposed to it for that reason as well. I mean, how terrible would it be to hear that for someone who lived through those horrors? Reply I don't know much about Pachabel, but it was definitely Wagner who was anti-semitic, and Meredith is correct about the music being piped through the death camps. Reply Wagner was the anti-semite. You are very correct that no one wants to hear that at a Jewish wedding. Reply I actually LOVE Wagnerian opera and I am having the Bridal Chorus played and sung at my ceremony (which will have lots of Lohengrin & Parsifal motifs in terms of the feel and decor) full-blast (to me, "Here Comes the Bride" is the melody played delicately on a violin or piano and no one singing–I want the lyrics and all the loud booming Wagnerian sound: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridal_Chorus). German Romantic period is actually our theme (specifically Wagnerian dramas). While I will agree that Wagner wasn't a nice person and I certainly don't agree with his antisemitism, I LOVE his music, and it sucks that Hitler did too b/c it makes me often feel like I have to defend why it's ok for me to like it 🙁 I hate that it was used in such evil ways. That being said, I am SUPER PICKY about music and would be extremely angry if I had been charged for a music service I didn't want/need! If you are are okay with a package deal, then it's not so bad, but when you are having to pay for something you don't want because it's a wedding (and not opt-outable), that's some really questionable packaging. And for goodness sake, that's a flipping LIMOUSINE service??? Very impersonal for something that supposed to be "your special day" Reply I went with a friend (bride) and her bridesmaids to a salon where they got their hair and make-up done. They did not agree on a price before the services were rendered. The hair prices seemed high but equal. However, the make-up lady was "freelance" and made her own prices. She charged my friend $20 more for the EXACT same make-up as the bridesmaids, because she was the bride. At that point, it's your wedding day, and who wants to cause a scene? My friend just forked it over. I recommend settling prices up front to avoid such unpleasant situations. I am having a friend photograph for the same reasons everyone else mentioned–no photographer is willing to do a simple wedding package (a few portraits) because of the high demand for paparrizzi style documentation of every second. And why would they? They could be at another wedding making a lot more money. Also, one hotel would not let me reserve a block for a wedding, because they had bad experiences with other brides. I learned to just say it was a party. Reply My caterer actually had package prices on his website for his regular event catering. I strongly recommend finding a caterer with listed prices. That way, when they create your custom menu, you can compare it to their "Lunch Package" or "Heavy Hors d'oeuvre" package. In the case of my caterer I was SHOCKED that the custom package he came up with for our wedding was actually *less* than the "Heavy Hors D'oeuvre" package I had based it on. If I had just gotten his standard reunion/meeting/event package I would actually have paid more. Reply This has certinally given me a lot to think about. I've been lucky so far because everything I've bought has been 'off the shelf' and already had a price tag attatched. It would have been very difficult for them to tell me the prom dress with the Â£120 price tag pinned to it actually cost the same as the Â£700 wedding dresses because I happened to be wearing it at my wedding. Admittedly I'm paying far more for my venue that I would if it was for a corperate event but I'm happy to do that because they itemised the cost and I know I'm also getting a lot more for my money. (Longer hours, more space, far more beautiful room, alcohol in the catering package ect.) I think this is the approach I'm going to use in the future when negotiating with vendors. A photographer was my big concern because my fiancee really wants professional photographs but most of the prices I've seen quoted are way outside our budget. This article and a few other things I've seen around has made me realise that those prices also include A LOT of stuff we don't want. All we want is a relatively small selection of formal group shots taken after the ceremony. Unedited unless they need to fix mistakes and delivered on CD. No all-day 'photo journalism' style shots, no reception candids, no weird editing, nothing like that. In fact my boyfriend would be more annoyed if they did do that kind of job becuase that's the kind of wedding photography he hates and wants to avoid by hiring a professional. I'm hoping that if we can make it clear it will be a shorter, simpler job we'll be able to find someone who will quote us a lower price. (I might also try getting different quotes for a wedding and a party and then asking for a comparison. I never thought of that because it never occured to me anyone would hire a photographer for a regular party.) Finally my opinion on lying vs. honestly to vendors is pretty much the same as Ariels. If they're going to find out anyway then be honest from the start because it will save a lot of trouble, but if they don't need to know there's no reason to tell them. The people you're hiring chairs from don't need to know what they're for and they definately don't need to try and sell you 'better' chairs when you've already decided which ones you want because they think what you've chosen isn't 'special' enough. I don't like the idea of out right lying but there's nothing wrong with not telling them at all. Would you feel guilty if you hired chairs for a childrens birthday party and found out later that they'd assumed they were for a retirement party? I doubt it, so why should you feel guilty because the same chairs would have cost more at a wedding? Reply One thing I found incredibly frustrating when I first started my wedding planning was how many vendors don't like giving you a price from the get-go. This seemed to be especially true with wedding photographers. I was SO appreciative of photographers that would put on their website something along the lines of, "Pricing starts at $1000." From the very beginning I know whether you are close to my price point. But I found in my area photographers who stated this upfront were very rare. What was even more frustrating would be emailing a photographer, "Hi, I'm planning a wedding. Please send me pricing information on your packages," and then only receiving an email back, "What's your budget?" I just kind of felt like they were putting me on the spot. I hadn't even decided my budget at that point and I was also wary that they would then try to price themselves based on a number I threw out. It shouldn't be that hard to say, "Here's a brochure. Contact me if you have any questions!" The photographers who did do this were the ones that I would talk to and eventually hire 🙂 Reply Yeah! I looked at one – with rather boring shots I might add – not bad but not exactly going to get him an exhibit at a gallery anytime soon – with an "Investment" PDF linked to his site. That "Investment" thing is a bit jarring and irritating, but OK, I'll bite. It had a list of packages A, B, C and D with the usual marketing ploys (the middle and second from the top tiers were made to look appealing, while what was clearly the cheapest option was meant to look unappealing and their seemingly most expensive choice was a bit over-the-top, so people would feel more inclined, from a marketing psych perspective, to go with something in the middle as opposed to the cheapest). Then it had a list of prices for add-ons to each package. Some seemed quite reasonable. Notice that actual prices for the base packages was not given. The entire sheet was confusing and clearly meant to push someone into actually calling to inquire. It also could lead someone to believe that the add-ons were the base prices because of how it was formatted. The entire thing was one big pile of bad. We didn't go with them. I just feel like, if vendors would put prices on websites and stick to them – one photographer who advertises on OBB and seems super awesome has a pricing section on her site that's more of a dialogue/FAQ style page that does explain that weddings often cost more, but also why, and that she's willing to work with any budget to find a suitable package (I contacted her but she's booked the day of my wedding. You can easily find her with an OBB site search – I recommend it if you're in the market for a photographer and in the New York area). I liked that a lot. More vendors should do it. Then we wouldn't have to question whether or not we should lie. We can all treat each other like decent human beings. Reply I agree. I had one photographer get outright nasty with me because I wouldn't give him a budget number. Why the heck does it matter what my budget is, just tell me your price range and be done with it! Needless to say I didn't hire him haha. Reply As a photographer, I do have a starting price on my website. I have no interest in wasting a potential client's time, and my time, corresponding with someone who has a $500 budget. I would like to respond to your comment about photographers that say "What's your budget?" when you ask for pricing. Personally, I do not ask any of my clients this. It's their budget, and it's their business how to decide to allocate it. However, as photographers we get A LOT of emails from brides such as yours: "Hi, I'm planning a wedding. Please send me pricing information on your packages." For a photographer, this is a red flag that the person is a price shopper [or another photographer trying to see what your prices are] and most likely not worth their time because they're only interested in who can offer them the best bargain, not whose work they like the most or who they connect with as a person. Your email doesn't give ANY information – such as, when is the wedding (my prices are irrelevant if I don't have your date open)? Where is it (my price is going to be different if I have to travel to another city)? Have you viewed my work (do you even like it)? How did you find me (so I can thank your friend/relative/wedding planner)? Is it a short elopement or a full day wedding (because I will price a 2 hour elopement like an event, and will not shoot it on Saturday)? 99% of photographers have some kind of a brochure or price sheet that they will show you and you can choose your package and/or additional services off of that. The idea of of a photographer finding out your budget and then telling you a higher price is a MYTH (well, if I get an inquiry from Wills & Kate I might quote him a higher price 🙂 It may be true for vendors where everything is so custom it doesn't make sense to have a brochure (flowers, for example, vary widely in cost.) If your budget is well below their starting price, they're just going to reply back and tell you that, and maybe include a list of other photographers they recommend you contact who might be within your budget. Reply Why not just ask a vendor what their higher price includes? "Oh, a wedding shoe fitting is $50 more than a regular shoe fitting? What does that include?" Maybe it includes something you really do want. Maybe it includes something you could live without, which gives you a great starting point for negotiation. ("So if I don't want the 3 assistants fanning me with peacock feathers, it would be the lower price, right?") And maybe they can't come up with a specific reason, in which case you really don't want to work with them anyway. Weirdly, the only place that charged me a wedding tax was the city park where we had the ceremony. And I grumbled about it, but I paid it, because you know what? If it had been a family reunion we wouldn't have had 100 chairs on the grass, or people in and out for hours doing set up and clean up. If it had been a 10 minute ceremony with no chairs I sure wouldn't have told them it was a wedding. Actually, I probably wouldn't have reserved the park at all in that case. Reply It's been said on this site before and I'm going to bring it up again: if your vendor is charging you extra just because it's a wedding, run! Many brides don't seem to understand the kind of efford and work put into their flowers, their dress and their hair. If you say it's a family event, you're not doing yourself a favor. It just means the vendor will not present you the same options he would if he knew the truth. In a flowershop they want to know if your flowers will not be put into a vase so they can offer you flowers that last the whole day without the vase. At hairdressers they will want to know so they can offer you a bundle price if you bring in your mother and mother-in-law and bride's maids aswell. The photographer will want to know so he can get ready for the different kind of pictures. So how do you know if you'll be cheated or not? It's so simple. Just ask for the price of a hair do, and after that tell it's a wedding. If the price changes, ask for the reasons. After hearing the reasons, you can decide if you want to have something less so the price is lower. If you don't find the reasons are valid, leave. If they won't go lower on the price because it's a wedding, leave. It's that easy. I find it absolutely revolting that some people are ready to pay anything for the indie designer doing their handmade dress, but when it comes to hiring other professionals, suddenly everything should be free. These vendors are putting their time and their effort and their imagination on your wedding, to make it perfect, to fit your and your FH's style. You should respect that and not bitch about the price of work: the vendors need money for bread too. If the price is not what you are ready to pay, find another vendor. Be an adult. If you're old enough to get married, you should be old enough to find a vendor that's not ripping you off. Please do not claim that all vendors are evil and will steal every penny they can get out of your pockets. The vendor is a person and you should respect his work enough to let him know what he's getting into. The method I presented earlier is an easy way to find out if you're supporting someone's greediness or a genuine professional. /vent off Reply Very good points. There's the sordid flip-side though, where if you say it's for a wedding, oh, they'll tell you about other options. All sorts of things you can have. And try to sell them to you, whether or not you need them. I don't believe in lying just to avoid having to steel myself and say "no" over and over again to the hard sell on things I don't want, but it is an easier road sometimes. I also did a lot of "We want this for a party – what will it cost?" to try and get the base price before specifying that the party is a wedding (this is not a lie – it IS a party, just not specified what it's for). Sometimes that worked. Often, though, it would go like this: "We want this for a party – what will it cost?" "What kind of party?" "Errr…." Because then you're put on the spot: you can lie, or not, or be super vague (my response would be "well…a party party" in an tone of voice that said "why does anyone need an excuse to party?"). The sort of vendors who would overcharge have long since caught on to the "for a party" thing and *will* do this. So, again, you have to be prepared. That's why I preferred contacting about a family reunion or something first, then following up with a wedding inquiry. I don't mean to say all vendors are evil: they're not. Many are really wonderful. Our vendors (all four of them) are absolutely superb. Our venue's director is hilarious (it's a house from the 1870s, and I asked about wireless internet for Skyping people in, and he replied "Sorry, in many ways we're still in the 19th century here"). Our photographer is phenomenal. Our caterer can do anything (but we're paying accordingly). Our DJ is just what we want – "show up and play music". But really, I am not going to pretend that *all* vendors are amazing, sweet, honest people. They're not. They're not all bad, but they're not all good either. And, again, I feel that as a person providing me with a service, it is just as important for the vendor to show me that he/she is a professional with fair pricing as it is for me to be upfront and honest (which I am). I'm the one with the cash, so I want to see what they can do for me. The onus is on them to show their forthrightness. Not that I don't try to be a good client: I do. But. Reply That's the thing: if your vendor is trying to sell you things you don't want to, YOU are the person who needs to say "no thanks" and if they persist, you can say you'll take them if they're free. I work in a business that brides come to occasionally: when I ask do you want ThisAndThat, I'm doing my job by making sure she gets everything she wants, and if she doesn't want something, that's cool with me and the firm. I'm doing this so she doesn't have to come back later when she remembers she forgot something. I believe MHO ment this with "you have to be the adult"-thing. We tend to keep a price list on the wall where everyone can check prices for ThisAndThat by themselves. You can also avoid the "what kind of party" by asking "are there different prices for different kind of parties? What are the prices then?". I can't see anything wrong with this. You're the customer, you're allowed to ask questions and you're allowed to demand explanations before you pay. Reply Or negotiate (fairly. Not nastily or bitchily). Really. Negotiating skills are a good thing to have as an adult, too. And, as I outlined below, it is absolutely business appropriate to do so. Reply If you're very happy to lie to your service providers, then why bother being honest with your guests? Just invite them to a party and surprise it on them too. *tongue planted firmly in cheek* In all seriousness, I do agree that some services do not require a wedding day markup, however, others do if the wedding is being celebrated as a one-off 'special' event. And if it's low-key, and relaxed, then DIY away and don't pay people to provide services that you don't require. But if you do need a service provider, don't lie to them when you enter into a business transaction. It's poor manners and may affect your overall service, esp if it's a photographer. I think the rule of thumb is, if it's important enough to pay for it on the day, then I think it's important to be upfront and honest and play nice. Same for the vendors to outline what their prices are, esp if there is a differential for normal v's wedding day quotes. Reply Actually, for a long time I've been fantasizing that I will in fact only invite my guests to what I will call an "engagement party" and then suddenly have the ceremony right then and there. I think that would save my family and I a lot of drama. It would be like a surprise party for my guests instead of my fiance and I. Reply Oh I'm soooo glad that someone picked up on this point abt surprise weddings, it's a damn good point, but it also illustrates my point of *why* people want to know what they're providing a service *for*. Purpose and objective is important. Generally, your guests will want to know what they're turning up to in advance or why they're putting time aside in their lives to attend an event; I assume that they want to know what the significance is. But back to the vendor thing – if it's important to you and worth paying someone to provide an item or service, then pay for it. And pay a fair price where possible. Don't allow yourself to be ripped off, nor try and deceive others if there really is more work involved to deliver to your needs or more than what you originally asked them to quote for. Reply I know of a couple who a surprise wedding fairly recently. They figured that their real friends would make the effort to come to their son's 5th birthday party and it would get rid of the freeloaders after a fancy dinner and free drinks. As I understand it, it worked out well for them. Reply I also think that this could be really lovely 😀 Have fun keeping it a secret if you can possibly do that hehehe I would have told everyone in advance by accident lol Reply "I think the rule of thumb is, if it's important enough to pay for it on the day, then I think it's important to be upfront and honest and play nice." The problem with this is in a lot of cases it seems to be an all or nothing deal. Either you ask a friend to take photos or you get the full blown wedding package with two photographers there all day long photographing absolutely every aspect of the wedding, spending hours airbrushing out anything they think might be unattractive and putting them into an expensive looking album. Either you borrow chairs from friends or you rent chairs plus chair covers, plus a dance floor, lighting and a tent. Either you make a bouquet or you buy one for yourself, one for each of the bridesmaids and corsages for all the bridesmaids, the MOB, MOG and any other important female relatives who might be around. And so on. There is no middle ground which leaves people who for whatever reason can't DIY something and don't want/can't afford the full-blown Big White Wedding version (which could be totally inappropriate for a lot of less formal weddings) stuck with nothing at all. From the other side I also feel like it's pretty insulting of vendors to make a point of only giving their best for weddings. Reverse all the "it's got to be extra special" comments and you've got "Oh well, it's only a birthday party, you have one of those every year, it doesn't matter if it's not as good". I just think it'd be much better for everyone if vendors would offer a range of packages to anyone who wants them and let the customers pick instead of dictating to stangers how their event should be run. Reply This! This this this! I just hate that it so often seems to be "buy this thing that is totally overblown that you don't need" or "get nothing". Maybe all we want is what you'd get for a birthday party. Reply Further to this point, the people I ordered my wedding dress from, got really upset that I ordered a 'bridesmaid' dress to wear as my wedding dress and not a traditional wedding dress. This dress was perfect, came in over 75 colours, including 10 shades of white/ivory/cream (I had purle and white)and I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't think to order this $300 dress as a wedding dress, when it comes in white. Sure, it's not a $2000 dress, but looks just as good on the day. I was upfront with the boutique, but they didn't like how I was subverting their entire big pouffy white dress sales pitch. I outrightly rejected it as I HATED the idea of wearing a 'BIG WHITE DRESS' What they ignored….they didn't see the bigger picture. Nevermind the fact that I bought 3 evening dresses for myself (including the dress I wore for the wedding) and another dress for my bridesmaid – the total cost of my business with them, equalled the cost of one wedding dress, but I was treated like a 2nd class citizen for not buying into their traditional philosophy. I'm sure to spite me further, they almost missed delivery dates because my order wasn't logged as a 'wedding dress' so it was somehow 'less important' and they botched the tailoring as ti was given to someone who does bridesmaids dresses and was somehow inferior. I had to have it redone at a significant cost with only a week to go before the wedding itself. So being upfront, didn't help me there as such, so I can't imagine why you'd bother lying about anything either. It'd only get nastier. Reply This is something that we have been struggling with as a lesbian couple having an event in a state where gay marriage is not legal… We want to have a fabulous event at the best price possible but we are also terrible liars and want to be very upfront. We feel that if the state (let alone the nation) does not support legalizing our union then we should not have to pay vendors for a "wedding" when in their state it could never be a "wedding"… If by some miracle state or federal laws change then we would pony up the extra dough, but it feels like this should be something we negotiate… Perhaps we are being cheap or taking the crazy pricing structure of the wedding industry into the political realm, but we have a hard time choking down the price differentials especially if we don't get the legal protections that come with the "special day"… How does someone gently approach negotiating with vendors about their pricing schematics? Reply I think its completely unethical to charge more for something just because its a wedding and the old, 'it's a wedding it needs to be more special' doesn't wash – if I'm getting my hair done I would expect the SAME standard each and every time, wedding or not, otherwise what are they saying? Are they are happy to do a shoddy job for clients who are not getting married? The same goes for catering, I expect my dinner to be of the SAME standard every time – are you telling me I'm paying for crap as it's NOT a wedding? You sould pay a fair price for the service you receive and my steak/ chicken, whatever should be of the same quality on any day I choose to order it! And a premium on flowers – now thats a complete joke – I'd rather do them myself. Reply What amuses me is that even if you pay a premium for wedding catering (as opposed to any other event), you still sometimes (heck, often) get shoddy food. Really. Can I just say? I've had so many bad meals at a wedding that the couple paid out the nose for, it's just sad. There's a REASON why wedding food is a running joke: Wedding Chicken in Beige Sauce, Potatoes Generiques, Green Bean Almondine, Vegetables a la Canne, Shoe Leather Steak…because so often, it's actually that bad. And yet we pay more for it, to make it better. To make it "perfect". And so often, IT'S NOT. In fact, it's WORSE. What's the deal, yo? Reply And, y'know, can I just come out in favor of negotiating instead of lying? A few posts here have been anti-negotiating, but…think about it. Negotiation happens every day. Not only can you negotiate for salaries, raises, better workspace and responsibilities at work, you actually SHOULD. It's encouraged. It's expected. The business world agrees: negotiation is OK. Women are so often held back in terms of jobs and salaries not just because of a continued undertow of sexism in the workplace (though that is a problem), but because they don't negotiate as much…and men do. Really. REALLY really. So telling a site aimed at women not to negotiate even for a wedding vendor might convince them they shouldn't negotiate for a salary later on, which is, can I say, actively harmful? Beyond that, people within companies negotiate with each other all the time. What are mergers, what are sales, what are acquisitions and co-promotion deals if not piles and piles of negotiation? There is NO shame in trying to get a better deal. That does not mean an unfair deal: if the deal is unfair, it is your responsibility to say so, if it's unfair against you, and if it's unfair to the other side, it's their job to speak up and keep negotiating. (Of course when it's not company-to-company business but couples and wedding vendors, don't propose "deals" that are unfair to the vendor. No reason to. The point is to pay what's fair). If you ever find yourself in the position of negotiating a big / bulk deal at work, you'll find that it is quite common and accepted to ask for and give discounts/better deals/extra perks to get the contract signed. Flea markets and yard sales are one big pile of negotation. If you're considering buying something in a privately run store (not a chain) and are hesitating, it is not uncommon for a discount to be offered, or some extra thing thrown in. In a world where not all, but many vendors will actively try to upcharge you to have a wedding (YES, they will…not all of them but enough for it to be a problem), what exactly is wrong again with negotiation? It's perfectly OK in every other business transaction. And, as a person getting married, it is absolutely your best tool. Reply Everyone seems to pretty much agree; it isn't ethical to charge more *just* because it is a wedding. But people do it; I have a friend who was buying several one-layer chocolate raspberry cakes for her wedding. She didn't deliberately omit that they were for her wedding, she just hadn't mentioned it. The bakery had quoted her a price, and when someone mentioned the word wedding when discussing the delivery, the staff member suddenly said "I need to call you right back"… at which point the price had *doubled*. No joke, they were that blatant, and wouldn't come down. It's unethical, but they do it, and they aren't shy about it at all. My friend went to another bakery, and this time she had the cakes picked up by a member of the wedding party instead of delivered by the bakery. Reply Wow, has this gotten a response! Another two bits from the coordinator/florist perspective: I don't charge more for a wedding than for any other event. I charge more in accordance to what my client needs/wants, and in accordance to what my labor will be. Here's the thing: No matter how low-key, non-drama, imperfection-loving a bride/groom wants their wedding to be, it *always* places more pressure on me than any other type of event. Why? *Because It's Bloody Important*, that's why. You have birthdays every year. That's not really true of weddings. I want to be a part of making my clients' weddings the way they envisioned them–I want to be a part of those good memories. We place more importance on weddings because they're the representation of two lives and two families coming together–I believe it's a singularly beautiful ritual. I work my ass off for weddings because I care deeply about being a part of that history, and a part of my clients' happiness. And? Many vendors feel the same way. If you're uncomfortable with a price, talk to the vendor, and if they can't meet you in a compromise, find someone else. It's not worth *you* being unhappy, and the vendor feeling resentful. Reply I'm a pastry chef and have done countless wedding cakes, and countless event cakes. I've had brides lie to me, I've had brides be up front. I use a flat price per serving system depending on flavor and frosting, and then I give a price quote depending on what kind of decoration they want. Two things- the first is that I am up front now with my customers that I will charge them a high-maintenance tax if they are a high-maintenance customer. I don't care what the cake is for but if you're emailing me every day and demanding updated pictures of every single step and so forth, then I'm going to charge you for sucking up more than your fair share of my spare time. On the reverse, as an OBB myself and a creative person, I absolutely LOVE when I get unique requests that allow me to do things and use techniques that I normally wouldn't be able to do. I tend to knock off labor costs substantially if I really love a unique idea (I did a chess wedding cake, the toppers were a molded sugar king and queen piece!) I may give it to them at a fraction of the cost because it allows me to be creative and 'play'. One thing I have noticed though and I caution brides in general about trying to drive a hard bargain- vendors have their own costs and businesses to maintain. You wouldn't go to a grocery store and try to bargain to get 20 cents off that one dollar can of soup… I think it's a little inappropriate to try to bargain instead of presenting your budget and asking what's doable with that. I've been insulted so many times with brides (it's only happened with wedding cakes, dunno if that's just coincidence) who tried to drive a bargain and would unintentionally equate my work (I paid a lot for my culinary education and my cakes I think are beautiful and taste gourmet) with something generic you get at a grocery store. Tread very, very carefully when bargaining and IMO try to err to the side of just gathering information as opposed to "You will make me a 5 tier red velvet cake with spun sugar roses but I'm not going to pay more than 200 dollars for it!" bent. Reply As a professional makeup artist, I always charged more for wedding day makeup because of the combination of challenge to get the makeup photo-perfect AND waterproof (as brides and others in the wedding party whom I may be making up tend to shed some tears). Also, there is frequently a great deal of pressure on a wedding day (and sometimes drama). There were times I was lied to about what was going on-it was clearly a wedding but I had been told it was a "formal dinner" or a "family reunion" or a "graduation". Those times I did the same makeup I would for a bride and her attendants and charged less. I figured it was more important to maintain my reputation as a makeup artist than let someone's mascara run. Sure, it alway made me angry, but people take advantage of service professionals. I always try to get as much information as possible before the event. Reply I was a bridesmaid in my ex's wedding, and all of the girls in the wedding party decided that we just wanted our hair to be curled for the wedding day. The price for the style was $15. However, since the bride and the other bridesmaid had arrived earlier than I had (there was no set appointment, so it wasn't like I was late and inconveniencing the stylists) they left before my hair was done. The stylist that was doing my hair was having a hard time getting my sideswept bangs to not hang in my eyes, so she told me she would just pin them back with ONE hairpin ( I repeat, ONE hairpin.) I go to pay for the service, however, and was charged $45 because since there was the addition of ONE hairpin, that quite frankly I could have put in my hair myself, I was being charged for an updo as opposed to a normal style. I just wanted to share my horror story. All in all, if the hairstylist had been upfront with me and told me that adding a hairpin would qualify the style as an updo, I would have politely declined it. However, since it was thrust upon me as I was leaving, I was in such shock that I didn't even think to dispute the charge, plus the fact that I was only sixteen years old and didn't want to be rude by arguing with the stylist about the charge. Reply A few weeks ago, I called a salon to make an appointment for me, my mother, and my bridesmaid for wedding day updos at my wedding about 3 1/2 hours away. At first, the stylist was very nice, asking questions about all of our hair, etc. So, then we talk money. "Okay, so your hair is going to be $200, your bridesmaid $75, and your mom, because she has shorter hair, probably around $50." Um, excuse me? So, taking the advice of the commenters on here, I point blank asked why my hair was MORE THAN DOUBLE what my bridesmaid's hair would cost. "Well, that includes your trial." I had already told her that I don't live there, but I repeated that I was not interested in a trial because I live far away and would not be making a special trip for that.* "Well, you know, your hair is going to take about an hour and a half. Oh, and we need to attach your veil." "I don't have a veil." "Oh." Icy silence. "Well, maybe you should call me back when you decide what you want." Come on, SERIOUSLY? My cousin just got married this weekend, and the stylist showed the MOH how to attach the veil (she didn't do it herself). It literally involved sticking the comb in the back of her hair and securing it with a couple of bobby pins. Anyway, so this salon, despite the fact I turned down a trial, was prepared to talk me into the $200 price tag by saying it was because of the VEIL. When I told her I don't have a veil, she balked and didn't even want to do it anymore! I called JCPenney's, and the woman who scheduled me was so gracious, and didn't quote me a bridal tax. My mother, upon telling her the story, "What the hell is this, rob the bride blind?" It was pretty egregious. Reply holy smokes … to lie.. fib .. to whom.. when.. shall I keep my secret.. vendors no.. hair possible.. extra special = misc charges that cannot be explained… gotcha. Reply I've only done one major booking– the horse drawn wagon from the parking area to the venue– and didn't use the word "wedding" on the phone when I called. His prices, however, are flat rate, and I know that because I spoke to the man in person first and he was aware that at least one person would be calling him to book an autumn wedding. If he wants portfolio/advertising type pictures as part of the deal, I'm happy to oblige there too, as that's the biggest downside for the service sector I can see with the "tell or don't tell?" question. If your hair stylist is still building her book, then ffs tell her it's a wedding so she can do a few pictures! She'll appreciate that more than just doing "party hair" and might take the opportunity to get creative when she otherwise wouldn't. Reply I'm so happy someone wrote an article about it and so many have commented – I was definitely planning on only calling my event a "party." I have had a few quotes from vendors, so I'll be sure to tell the whole truth when it comes to service providers. I didn't think it made a difference…so thanks for bringing this topic to light! Reply Welp, whether I would lie about it totally depends on the product or service and whether the type of event impacted the cost to the person supplying it. For instance a photographer might have different kit to bring, want consultation hours, etc, if I book a wedding rather than just paying by the hour for something random so it makes sense that he might be a bit more expensive. It would also just be bad sport to lie to a person who was to attend the event, or find out some other way. That's a great way to get spit in your champagne. BUT, that said, I am not going to pay a different price to aquire the various bits and bobs of paraphenalia just because they say "wedding" on the packaging. I have literally seen the same product packaged in white on one shelf and in colours on another, with a price hike on the "wedding" version. Um, no. That's exploitative. It also depends on whether what I actually NEED aligns with the supplier's idea of what "bridal" constitutes. I am unlikely to tell my hairdresser that I am getting married because I do not require a "bridal" styling session, with whatever else that comes with. I'm just getting a trim and wearing my hair natural, and that's up to me, so I don't see the point of paying any more because I mentioned my wedding. See what I mean? So it does not need to be a controversy because sometimes it can be appropriate to avoid the exploitative "wedding tax", and sometimes it is not. Both can be true depending on the circumstances. Reply We're having a fairly laid-back backyard wedding this summer and my fiance has been ADAMANT that we never say the word 'wedding' when we don't have to. But recently, my parents have been talking to tent rental services (and not following my fiance's rule in the least) and one guy honestly said, "My tents aren't nice enough for weddings." It made me realize that the 'little white lie' really depends on the service. I would never lie to a photographer, but since we're not going the tiered wedding cake route, I probably won't have a problem placing an order with a bakery without telling them what the occasion is. They'll never know that the Mr. Met or Yoda sheet cake they made is being served at a wedding and not 5 year old's birthday party, so it doesn't feel like I'm pulling a fast one. On the other hand, I doubt that I'll be able to NOT talk specifically about that big 'party' I'm going to while a hairdresser is spending 40 minutes curling my hair, so I'm okay with that 'wedding tax.' Reply I would lie like a villain. It is ridiculous how stuff gets marked up just because it is a wedding. Their way of thinking is, well this is price they will be willing to pay because it is a special day. They have not met me yet. I have found so many bargains that it is unreal. For example, I am paying $300 for a venue to rents for $1500. I am saving $2500 by having my family help me with the food opposed to paying a caterer to do it. There are ways to save you just have to be willing to do some of the work. Reply No, I have a thing called character and don't lie 🙂 As a professional photographer, if people tried the price match with me, I'd say, see ya later! Reply We offer all the services under 1 roof that anybody would need for any event, wedding, bar mitzavah or backard BBQ. They all need the same things. As such our pricing is fixed online and anyone who gets a quote will get the same price with one caveat. You pick the level of experience you desire. With 3 levels, Apprentice, Expert and Master. Clients just pick the level of service they expect and the pricing is fixed across the board. Whether you want an DJ, Photographer or something as simple as a photobooth. BUT we do not let our our apprentice employees do weddings. For all the reasons all so eloquently stated already. Weddings will usually only happen once in a persons lifetime. There is no room for error nor is there any leeway from the client. So its a 2 way street, you can't expect perfection on your special day, if your willing to lie about it. Reply This has been a fascinating read. On one hand, I disagree with the "just because we expect you to be wayyyy high-maintenance" markups and think that vendors should offer, at the least, an explanation as to why a wedding would cost more than a family reunion. For example, Birthday Cake: $XX, tastes great! Wedding Cake: $XXX, tastes extra great, and then we keep it chilled/fresh/whatever until the last second so it doesn't melt and fall over before dinner's over. Or, $XX tastes great! + $XX extra tasty filling + $XX to make sure it doesn't melt in your venue and it falls over. And then have in a contract that if you go above a certain level of PITA, you are allowed to tack on a fee to cover the extra time to take care of you. Really, people just want to know what they're paying for, especially when they're spending so much money. Obviously, itemizing every single egg or foot of ribbon isn't necessary, but yeah. On the other hand, while I'm not a wedding vendor, I do create custom clothes and costumes. There are certain aspects of quality I WON'T compromise on, much like how a pro photographer won't release untouched photos, even though it does cost more time, and thus money, to do those things. We have reputations to consider and stress levels to consider. I have a base and build from there. A bridesmaid or bride or cosplayer would get the same quality of tailoring and attention. Want an extra fitting? I'll let you know we need to bump the cost a little. Don't want an extra fitting? We'll do the one and wing it. No fitting at all? I'll do my best, but I cannot guarantee superior fit, despite the fact you gave me measurements. At which point I will make things somewhat adjustable (corset lacing, elastic, drawstring, etc) Reply As a vendor… 1. Shouldn't all work be perfection? Why strive for less??? That being said, weddings can be more work. Have a menu with different levels of quality. As far as supplies etc. Customer service should be the bes t whether it's a budget bride or the St Regis girl. I am a makeup artist. They screw themselves if they lie to me! I specialize in media and digital makeup. All the makeup I do is my best work. I don't want people seeing kmart makeup. All of it will last through an awesome party. HOWEVER , how I do the makeup will be different what I use is different. Brides have to look flawless in person as well as on camera on the most I portent day of her life! A party isn't going to haveHD compatability. The colors might be different since I am assuming they are not getting pro pics done. I take the time to speak to the photographer to make sure the products I am using will work with their media….if I don't know it's their wedding they will still look great. Their pics might be ok….not bad but not magazine/runway quality. I charge more for brides because I include lashes, a full mascara for them to keep, a full long wear lipstain/gloss to keep. I prep their skin differently and use more expensive ingredients on their skin. It takes longer. I spend a lot of time emailing and phoning them to make them comfortable and confident. I love weddings and take a lot of pride and joy in sharing this day with them! I charge 150 for makeup and 50-150 for hair. More than some way less than others. I give deals on a case by case basis. I will give a deal to an awesome bride that just got back from war. I take the financial hit because I figure it will come back to me later; D Not everyone realizes how much "extra" goes into a special day. Reply I am a makeup artist who specialises in doing onsite weddings but I do other makeup work as well. What I have not really seen addressed here is the fact that the majority of weddings take place on a Saturday. I have to make the majority of my income on one day of the week which makes that very precious inventory. (And Fridays and Sundays are fairly popular as well) When I get the occasional weekday wedding, I do not charge as much as I would for a Saturday wedding because there is much less competing for my time. Additionalla Wednesday courthouse bride is typically not going to be as high maintainance; they rarely request a preview session and there is much less pre-event communication. Wheareas a large Saturday wedding booked a year in advance? It is not at all unusual to exchange 35 or more emails, hammering out timeline, contract negotiation,exchanging Pinterest boards, tweaking head count, scheduling previews, etc. Doing makeup for a party someone is attending is absolutely not going to be the sane amount of work. For one thing they probably aren't requesting service during the busiest chunk of our Saturday. Typically I can fit a party makeup in at 4 after my weddings. They don't need a preview and they don't email me 30 times. So yeah. Weddings are a completely different animal. And vendors have to make Saturdays worth their while. Which is why most of us require minimums and have up charges on the weekend. It's not gouging, it's supply and demand. Reply In my experience a lot of the mark-ups are from a simple lack of communication. If someone were to quote me X amount of money for my wedding and I only had Y to spend, I would ask them (very respectfully) why they had quoted me this when any other event would be half that amount. If they could not adequately explain this to me I would just thank them for their time and be on my way, if there were some things they planned to provide me that I did not need (which is a lot actually i.e. silk and chiffon for a dress, fancy dressed waiters, special tableware etc.) I would ask if we could drop those services and moderate the cost accordingly. More often than not you will find that these service providers would be totally cool with giving you a better price for a service tailored for your needs, and I've noticed some vendors are even relieved! A lot of it has to do with your vision, and there's nothing wrong with shopping around and asking questions in my book so long as it's done respectfully! To me failing to communicate what kind of event they are preparing for is a little under-handed if they are providing a service, especially if they are going to see it unfold and a wedding is one of those days you want the best karma. Reply I am a dreadful liar, so I would not lie about my event being a wedding. I go from ghostly pale to flushed, and an assortment of other blatantly obvious telltale signs, if I tell a lie. That said, I have a deep appreciation for vendors who are willing to work with my specified needs. In my area, the norm for a wedding reception is 4-5 hours on a Saturday evening (with Friday evening being second most popular/common), with at least 100-125 guests. My personal needs/preferences dictated a Saturday afternoon reception lasting no more than three hours, with no more than 90 attendees. We had reserved a time slot at our church to meet that requirement, and started venue hunting. We sent out RFQs to a number of places, and made appointments with the first two to reply. One was a wedding-focused catering hall; the other was a restaurant with an attached catering business. The wedding place insisted on charging us for services and goods that we did not want or need – and they also would not work with our timeline, predetermined by the start time of the ceremony and the travel time between church & reception. You'd think that in an area with a very large Catholic population (Catholics must marry in a church or the Church does not recognize the marriage), they would be accustomed to working with the needs of couples with a schedule determined by the church, but they were quite uncooperative, and insisted on a start time that would be physically impossible without a TARDIS. The place was beautiful, and I'm sure the food would have been delicious, but I was really turned off by their uncompromising attitude, and I left unhappy. When we went to the restaurant/caterer, I was so relieved that when I said "Saturday – lunch for 80-90 – start at two pm – three hours long" they were completely on board, and flexible on reducing packages that were standardized for longer/larger events. It was really refreshing not to have to meet any kind of minimum that was beyond our budget and guest list – and most of the "wedding" services were à la carte, so I could decide for myself that paying for champagne for toasting (that no one would drink) would be a waste of money better spent on additional hors-d'œuvres. I was so delighted by their attitude of "it's your party, so do it your way" that I campaigned to have our wedding there. Based on the responses (or lack thereof) that we had gotten from other venues, I knew that we would receive a superior level of service, on our own terms, from the restaurant than from the catering halls, because the restaurant was not mired in industry standards that our wedding could not satisfy. When all was said and done, the services offered and the price were fairly similar Reply *Got cut off* The services and prices were fairly similar, but the restaurant's attitude of cooperation really turned the tide in their favor. I also want to add that comparing competing vendors can be like comparing apples and oranges – both are fruit, but the similarity stops there. Of course it is important to know that you are getting a reasonable price for services offered, but I am far more concerned about the vendor having honest business practices and friendly, helpful service. I didn't need to look at more than one or two venues, or photographers, to know that I would be satisfied with whatever prices were requested as long as the personal interaction side of things met my needs. Reply How about their respect for me as the customer to not rip me off and charge more for the SAME item or service just because it's a wedding? In my opinion, THAT'S what feels wrong. I plan on telling all my vendors except the photographer that it's a family reunion. Reply for things like venue and photography, I'm all about honesty. but when it came to my cake….man was I pissed! every baker I called I first said I was having a wedding and needed about 60 cupcakes. the cost was $3 to $5 per cupcake. the place I am having my wedding offered to bake them for $7 each!!! but then I called the places again to ask how much 60 cupcakes would be for my family reunion. guess what? 1.50 to 2.75 for the SAME thing!!!! and don't even get me started to the rental prices for stands, so I am having a friend pick up the cupcakes for my 'family reunion' and putting them on my diy cupcake stand Reply A local park in my area (Venue) charges two separate prices to use the Pavilion for weddings and parties. My wedding is just a party with a fancy dress. Why should I pay more? Reply What business is it of anyone's what you want the service or product for? You should be able to buy a service or product regardless if it is a wedding, a shower, or a party. There is a basic right, called "privacy." I just don't think everyone needs to know everything about my life. And if the hairdresser asked me, "what party?" I'd tell her, that's my secret and wink. Then keep my mouth shut the remainder of the workup. And no, I don't agree that because it is a wedding that it should be pricier. Regardless what the venue, the prices should be rated according to the supplies, food, etc. required, not according to the label tagged on it. That is just so backwards! Reply I think there are probably lines, and it can be iffy to judge where they are sometimes. I mean I know if I was buying something like a dress then I definitely wouldn't mention it was for a wedding as just typing in that search term or mentioning it to a designer would massively up the price and not only do I think that's ridiculous but I really can't afford it. I'd feel worse lying to a person outright but, I don't see a wedding as something that should have to be more work than another event? If I was organising a party i'd want the standard to be just as good as if I were organising a wedding. If i had a specific and even intricate hairstyle I wanted for a party why would that be less money than one for a wedding? I'd still want it to be to my specifications. Perhaps for some, I loathe the word bridezillas but people who are that intense then maybe it is more work, but perhaps price it on a case by case basis instead of assuming I mean, it's becoming more common that people take out loans to fund their wedding and that is almost terrifying. I don't like the idea of decieving people in any way shape or form, but then I also don't like the extortionate prices the wedding industry tries to force on us. It's… a grey area to be sure Reply Thoughts from a professional wedding photographer: (1) I only do weddings. If you lie to me and say it is for another event, my reaction will be "I don't do those events. I focus only on weddings." Why ? Because there are a limited number of days where couples get married in any given year. I am not going to throw away a saturday on a family reunion for someone who expects to pay less than a marrying couple. (2) Wedding are the only thing that interests me to photograph. Family reunions, or other parties, are simply boring, sorry, and I don't want to photograph them. (3) If you want maximum negotiating leverage get married on a Thursday. Friday weddings are much more common now, and I am not willing to negotiate for Fridays either (because I'd honestly rather take that day off to prepare for my saturday wedding–it is freaking hard to do two weddings back to back and I price my weddings out so that I don't have to do that to make ends meet). But a Thursday wedding, yes, I'd be willing to make deep discounts for that. Reply Little white lies… I was just married 5 days ago. In hindsight, if you are ordering something to be handmade, lie about when the wedding will take place. The vendors making my wedding dress, cake topper, and caterer, all waited until the very last minute to confirm, ship or get to me, the products I was expecting. I knew the last 2 weeks would be a flurry and despite multiple attempts at confirming an aquisition date, I was put off by being told it would arrive in time, a few days prior. Needless to say I was super stressed out by not having these items ready ahead to time. It would have saved me a lot of heart ache to have these done so I could focus on the "mini-emergencies", other snafoos that I knew would happen at the last minute. Reply I don't think any vendors or service people should charge based on the type of the event, but based on what you want. If I had catering and I wanted just a buffet, no serving, then it should be the same price whether it's for a wedding or a birthday party and be priced based on what I want. As a profession, you would get the food made and set up on time the same as a birthday party as you would a wedding. Now, if I wanted servers or to have plates instead of a buffet, you charge for that premium service but again….if I wanted plates of chicken, mashed potatoes and greens on plates and served to guuest by a seating chart, explain why that service should be more for a wedding than a birthday party, banquet or family get together??? It SHOULDN'T. It should only cost more if I request fine China or extra trype of services that would warrant it. As far as dresses, if I brought in two of the same exact dresses and need them altered; one is green, the other is white and could be used as a wedding dress, why would the alterations not cost the same if they're they same exact dress and work that needs to be done? Why must when I mention the white dress will be worn in a wedding does my quote go up? That insinuates to me you were never going to alter the green dress to the best of your ability and that you're saying you're gonna go above and beyond for the wedding dress, when really the same work just needs to be done! Now hair. For example. Not everyone meets with a hairstylist to practice the 'do. Some people want some simple styles. If I just want barrel curls and to stick a tiara on top and call that a wedding 'do, then it should be the same as if I wanted barrel curls to go out for the night. I actually do hair and instead of charging more for events (prom, weddings, graduation, etc) I actually do DISCOUNTS if you show proof that the hair style is for something significant as like a gift for an achievement (especially graduation) just a nice gesture. But the price is always the same by style, then like maybe $10-40 depending on what they getting/spending. But I would never charge by event. I don't feel like if someone tells me it's for a wedding that I need to go above and beyond to make it "better" and price by that. I get a photo, listen to any details they want or anything that varies from the photo, give a price based on the style and do the hairstyle to look JUST like how they ask. If they did want me to come before and try out the hairstyle (which I've had people do for just going out on a date, because they're nervous and wanna look perfect) I do the tester style for a tad but cheaper because I'll have them pre-pay for both days. If they liked the test style, wear it and show it off….that's whatever. I don't care. If they plan to test it on a day where they wanna go out and it saves them from doing their hair, more power to them because it's notnmy concern. I'm simply not just gonna do their hair, then undo it lol. Plus also when it goes to testing the hair, they'lll wanna see how the 'do upkeeps throughout the day, in the wind, in different environments, etc. As far as venues, I honestly don't understand why many charge more. If I'm renting a venue for x-hours and x-amentities/addons, I expect it to be the same as well. I also don't understand venues that I've rented for parties or public events where I charged for people to come to not care what food/alcohol I bring as long as I get the right event insurance and liquor permits, but then are up my ass and nickel and diming everything for a wedding. All of a sudden for a family reunion or graduation party I can bring my own food, but for a wedding i have to use their vendors or pay a fee for no reason. Or for my "staffing" I'm not allowed to have family/friends be a coordinator and they demand to see a contracted agreement with a professional coordinator or charge me $xxx to use theirs…..why? Traditional wedding or not, I I planned my ceremony to be just 30 minutes and my rental is 6 hours, 8 if you include cushion time for setup/tear down, what makes you think it's *that* hard for me and my family to run through a 30 minute ceremony, rearrange some chairs/tables (same room ceremony/reception), serve some food, talk and party in 6 hours? But if we were just aimlessly having a family reunion, still with a schedule and timeline to follow, you wouldn't care how we get through it?!? I think too many venues use trying to make your day perfect as an excuse to tax you for things you truly don't need. Also trying to impose the idea that you don't know what you want, how to run it and aren't capable of doing so and that you have to do it THEIR way. I find that unacceptable. I hosted a NYE event at a venue in which I advertised online, sold tickets, hired a bar staff and door staff and paid static per hour prices for everything and just needed to submit event insurance and alcohol license as well as that everyone I hired was a licensed business. All the companies i hired charged by the hour and by the expected volume of people, no other stipulations. That same venue I rented again for a birthday party, private event. I didn't advertise, it was a closed guest list of like not even 1/4 the amount of people at the NYE event and the venue rental was exactly the same because I wanted 6 hours for both. I got my event insurance and license to have alcohol, although this time it was just on site and not being sold, and I hired a bartender to make mixed drinks and everyone had a ticket to redeem drinks (to make sure everyone got stuff fairly, and there was also BYOB). This "cost" me more because it wasnt a for-profit event, but i paid less fornthr event as a whole because of less services, but the venue rental price didnt change. Now I inquired at the same venue for a wedding. I wanted 6 hours, explained I've rented before. Asked for all of the same tables/linens and services as my past two rentals and all of a sudden the price goes from $1,200 to the $3,000 range with stipulations about no outside food, using their vendors or get a fee, no homemade food or cakes, and all these weird rules. So I tested and sent another inquiry pretending to be someone else, asking for the venue on the same date/time as what I inquired fornmy wedding and saying the aspects similar to the wedding, but said it was a family reunion…..the price was $1,200 again. That's honestly so messed up. Anyone who tries to say we are being cheap or don't understand, explain to me why at the same venue I can have any type of catering or even homemade food and have my friends serve it for a public, ticketed event in which I'm serving strangers and making….but as soon as I mention it's a wedding they are concerned about liabilities (someone told me you need licensed vendors so no one uses if they get sick) when it's my own family? Doesnt make sense to me! And even photography, event photography should be the same and as so for a wedding. You should charge for your travel to come, price per hour for photo service, and leave it at that. Discuss with the organizer that at that price, you'll just walk around and take photos. Then introduce premium services like if you want photography at multiple locations (bridal party and groom party photos before the wedding, sunset photos, just married shits, etc) will add. Then explain if they have stipulations as far as you needing to capture certain aspects (wedding ring exchange, first kiss, coming down the isle shots) to make a checklist of objects you have to shoot and capture these things, and itemize them out in your quote. From there, allow the bride to pick and chose. Explain to the bride that if you are a hired photographer, you will NOT battle through friends/family and that she must discuss etiquette wih guest to allow him/her to do their job. Explain that you will add to the price should you have to go above and beyond in the day. But don't just jump and change your rates from $300 for average event photography to $5000 simply because it's a wedding, and you haven't discussed the details and needs for bride as well as what your main role will be. At that price, IMO, you better have your own staffing of at least 2 other photographers, have filters/reflectors, travel and visit multiple locations, and be dedicated to my wedding for the WHOLE day. I'd want "BTS" shots of me getting ready, video as well and photos edited, watermarked with my own "Mr and Mrs." overlay in the corner, complimentary prints of iconic shots, poster print of the kiss and probably a lot more. Because honestly, I could still get amazing shots, get all the right photos and get multiple angles by hiring 2-4 individual photographers for like $200-$300 a piece and coordinate with them each other own duties and be more than satisfied. Also, just because someone mentions a wedding doesn't mean what you have in mind is what they have in mind. Some may want you to just come, take posed shots, grab some shots of the isle and ceremony and be done. Some may want you to get everything from getting ready to after the reception dies. Some may want you all over town, others just for a few hours. I just can't understand how people make quotes without sitting and discussing EXACTLY what is wanted/needed of their services. I've had photographer friends be hired to shoot photos of a singer/band at a showcase or something and have more difficulties for various reasons, working harder, than they did for a wedding. I've had photographer friends simply just be asked to attend a wedding and shoot what they find right, and it honestly not be as complicated as you guys try to make it seem. But there should be no excuse for a photographers price for party/event photography to just jump from one price to drastically different simply because wedding was out in there. For ANY event, they should always start off with "my base price starts at $xxx/hour or $xxx for x-hours block" and explain that base price is travel, service time by price, and basic walking around photos then ask to discuss further the details of the event, what they expect from him, itemize out prices for the detailed services, and allow the wedding party to see if they can continue forward and afford it. Allow them to say "oh well i don't care too much about ____ shot, but I just want you to get the first kiss) or something. If you require the photographer to be at the rehearsal, shoot the rehearsal dinner, etc (which many photographers just include that in their prices, not everyone wants that), then know you're not gonna get a cheap photographer. But one thing that's kind of sucky about photographers is that photogroahy is an art and photographers need to learn how to seperate someone paying for their art and someone paying for a service. They need to learn that if you want to charge extra because you wanna get on the floor, grab angles, run around and try to do "more" to make the shot so-called perfect in your eyes, that's not what everyone wants nor wants to pay for. You really have to discuss detials before you just throw out prices. Because for food, you can easily say you charge $xx/plate for people and be talking about steak and salmon, when the person may want chicken and tilapia which would be less because steak and salmon are premium dishes. You gotta have like a menu of services and allow people to negotiate. You have to understand you are a hired service based off of what THEY want, not just I can do this and I charge $xxx for it. They didn't ask what you can do, they're explaining what THEY want and what you'd charge for that. Reply We're professional caterers….and our price doesn't change whether it's a wedding, an LGBTQ wedding, a reuinion, corporate event, or anything else. We know what it costs us, and what we have to charge. If I offer you a discount/deal, it's only because you asked really nicely and I like you/am being nice, but know that this discount comes directly out of my pocket. Now….I'm surprised this hasn't been mentioned, in a post about lying to your vendors but PLEASE….pretty, pretty please….do NOT try to save money by giving your caterer an incorrect number of guests. We always build in a 15% overage/buffer to account for big eaters, or unexpected guests, or feeding the other vendors (which the client may have forgotten to include), etc. That said…we were told at one wedding that we had 130 guests. 180+ showed up. People were downright HOSTILE and my girls didn't even want to refill the buffet trays, as a result. It was terrible. We never ran out of meat, but did run out of pretty much every single salad and side dish. Finally, the groom got on the mic and told the guests that it was NOT OUR FAULT, and that we had been given incorrect numbers. Suddenly the mood shifted, and everyone calmed down and went back to partying. In this case, it was an honest mistake/oversight on their part, so we didn't charge them any extra. As a result, they've been super vocal about how happy they were with our services, and have recommended us heartily, everywhere. We HAVE had people try to pull this maliciously/to save money though. It makes us look bad, and it makes them look bad, and we WILL bill them for the extra plates/food after the event. So, not a good idea, if anyone is considering going that route because they KNOW that their caterer builds in an overage like we do, or whatever. Reply I get why all the little twiddly bits cost more money, but the venue? If you're renting an empty room and are going to be bringing your own caterers and food etc – what the hell does it matter to the owner what you're going to be doing in there? As far as I'm concerned, the lady who booked the venue for "a party" was not lying. Reply Read more comments ‹ 1 2 Join the conversation Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Sign me up for your offbeat awesomeness newsletter! No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy. Biz owners & wedding bloggers Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.