How far would you go to save money: Would you have a “sponsored wedding”?

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Original photo by Andrew Malone, remixed by Creative Commons License.
Original photo by Andrew Malone, remixed by Creative Commons License.
So, in my crawls across the internet I came across the idea of “sponsored weddings” e.g. services that you either get discounted or free in exchange for promotions/advertisements at the wedding.

On one hand, I think it's tacky… on the other, I think it's fabulous.

What are your thoughts on all of this?


Ok, so first thing's first: watch out with the word “tacky.” We're of the opinion here that when it comes to weddings, it's ALL kind of tacky. The bigger question is what factors would make this particular budget-saving measure feel comfortable — or if it just doesn't feel comfortable no matter what you do.

We'd like to open this question up to readers: is there any way you'd feel comfortable having portions of your wedding sponsored? Or is the idea just not for you? Remember, the question is NOT “is this idea tacky?” It's ALL tacky.

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Comments on How far would you go to save money: Would you have a “sponsored wedding”?

  1. I think in some ways, this is something that’s already general practice.

    I know the caterers I used had their van set up behind the buffet area (a black van with giant bull horns coming off the front and their logo on the side), and the bartenders had their company name embroidered on their outfit. I didn’t see the valet, but I’ve seen them elsewhere, and their sign had their name all over it. I know those are not examples of sponsoring, per sey, but we had several vendors names easily seen at our wedding.

    I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch to put a vendor’s name on other things as well, though I’m not sure how much of a discount or deal you would get from it. There’s also the idea of just paying a lower rate for the branded item, and then paying slightly more to have no brand (think Vista Print). I guess the main difference between sponsoring and branding would be having the name of a company or person that wasn’t actually used in your wedding.

  2. I think leaving out a flyer from your vendors or displaying a logo or two is totally cool. I think it’s nice to pass along the name of a vendor who provided you with good service, and it’s no skin off my back for a few logos to be left out.

  3. Hmmmm. Honestly it would depend on what promoting and such looked like. Huge banners over the serving line advertising the caterer/restaurant would be no go. However, stacks of business cards on a table of all the vendors would not go amiss. Having the vendors name on every. single. thing. Not so much , but having a website discretely on some things would be fine. I guess so long as the bride and groom don’t look like sponsored Nascar drivers/cars then it’s not too much. Certainly I’d never look down on someone who used the advertising break to afford something they wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise. I guess the thing that springs to mind is much like y’all have said in so many posts about who pays for what. Be careful who you ask to pay for things because they then get a say in how things are done/how their money is spent.

  4. We’re sort of doing this. We have a lot of wonderful friends and family gifting us services for the wedding. We thought it’d be nice to include them in the program so people could go to their business if they liked it

  5. If you can save some money, and still get your dream wedding I say go for it! I have looked into it and found it is not easy to find a company to sponsor a wedding, so if you find someone go for it! Have fun with it!

  6. I say no.

    1. There are enough outsiders already trying to influence how your wedding looks. You don’t need another one, especially with a monetary amount attached to it.

    2. Do the sponsors really think they’re going to get anything out of it? If I’m a wedding guest looking for a service I’m going to be paying much more attention to the service that the company is providing, not whether that company is sponsoring it. In addition how many of the guests are local and in a position to patronize that business?

    • Interesting, I disagree with almost everything you said. Maybe you don’t need “a monetary amount attached to it”, but I bet there are plenty of couples who are getting married on a budget and could really use that discount.

      Of course level of service is important. No amount of branding is going to get you to buy something if it’s bad. But if (as a guest) you don’t know that company X provided those awesome cupcakes/centerpieces/signature cocktails/whatever, it will be hard to patronize them later. A little sponsoring just to get your name out

      We talked about this a little when we talked our wedding over with the manager of our location. He was very accommodating to all our wishes and actually mentioned that weddings are a big source of business for him, because wedding guests are often also in the same age bracket as the couple and might be getting married in the near future. And then they could think ‘hey, I went to a wedding at place Y once, it was totally awesome, we could go there too’. I imagine sponsoring can work the same way.

    • I agree with everything you said, Josh. If anyone wants to know the names of the vendors we’re using, they can ask me or the man I’m marrying. Wedding vendors make money off of referrals all the freakin time.

    • I disagree. I work in the non-profit sector so sponsorship is nothing new to me. Companies wouldn’t agree to discount/sponsor something if they didn’t think it was worth it. Convincing them that it is worth it is solely the responsibility of the person asking for the sponsorship. It all comes down to how much name/logo recognition and is it directed toward an audience that will act upon it?
      For example, the event staging company I’m 99.9999% sure I’m going to use for DJ and rock-concert lighting for my decrepit warehouse reception is someone I’ve worked with in the past at my npo, so I already have a good report with them. I can probably already get the bro discount on that alone, but since lots of my friends and future wedding guests are young, live in the area and tend to throw epic parties where such services are required, producing my wedding is essentially an advertisement in itself.
      Sponsorship is really just an exchange of goods or services where money is reduced or waived dependent on the specified arrangement. If brides are looking to go this route, the best thing they can do to enhance their chances the vendor will say yes is to let the vendor know what they’ll get in return. You have a website/blog/facebook event page for your wedding? The cover photo should include the names/logos of all the wedding sponsors and they should get a shout out post as well as a special thank you announcement at the reception. That should be worth at least a 10% off deal. You want all the food for free? Be prepared to put their name and logo on your invite, the program, favors, the website/facebook, shout out at the reception and probably promise to do a special promotional mailing following the wedding to remind the guests that if they liked the food to go with “Gus’ Gastric Gourmet” (< not a real business so far as I know, but maybe it should be…)
      Another tip for sponsorship is to ask someone that you already do business with. With weddings it is hard but in the large scope of things everybody knows somebody in town who knows somebody else who operates a catering business. Use your connections.

    • Josh, out of the 100 people in attendance only maybe 20 from well out of state. And of that 20. Maybe 8 at close state borders. Also several of those have used the floristbecause the flowers were so spectacular. And a few unique arrangements. They didn’t tell us how or what to have we told them what was in our head or rather my head. And they made it happen. So having their card attach to a little babies breath and attached to their take home gift was no problem. All done for 10%of the original cost. Plus some freebies. My total cost came to $100.

  7. No for me as well. I feel like our world is turning into a giant advert and sponsoring would only make it worse. The reason why TiVo is so successful is because people don’t want to see ads.

    However I suppose if you are REALLY cramped for cash and it’s the only way to have what you want then… maybe. I just wonder how much you actually save by going this route. I find it hard to believe a caterer is going to say “Oooh your going to let me put a business card on every place setting? Free service for you!” So, what would be an appropriate discount for such a thing? And how much are you wanting to save in order to allow this?

    Personally, this is not something that I would do though, no matter what. I’m filing this in the “what are they going to think of next?” drawer. Can you picture it: the bride is walking down the aisle, tears sparkle in her joyful eyes. You watch from the pew as she passes you and, what have we here? Is that a David’s Bridal ad stamped on the bride’s ass??

  8. On a regular basis I’m a walking billboard for Maurices clothing store. Almost everything I wear to work comes from that store. What I mean is in many ways a wedding is already a way for vendors to get the word of mouth out about their products. Adding an actual advertisement wouldn’t be that much of a step up and I’m ALL for saving money and helping people out at the same time. It would be a question of how much of the wedding would need to advertise. If I can just put cards on the tables or a note in the program that would be ok with me. Anything else (such as announcements or wall advertisement) would be taking it way too far.

  9. I’m of two minds… On the one hand, we live in a world where advertising seems to take up more and more of the space around us, and I have to work pretty hard to carve out a few advertising free spaces in my life (covering up my computer logo so I’m not advertising to my students, removing logos from jeans). So I wouldn’t be psyched to be advertising. On the other hand, why not find a way to support local ventures, or vendors I really believe in?

    So, I guess as a bride, I would consider: is this a company I want to support to that extent? Is the requested advertising unobtrusive? Crediting the person designing programs on the program, sending a link to the photographer after the wedding, a small sign saying “catered by…” – I’d be fine with any of that. Wall banner – not so much.

    But as a guest, I would try to respect your decision as well – I would never pick your wedding as the occasion on which I argue my politics about corporate advertising.

  10. Not for me, thanks. I mean, the only thing we HAD to buy or our wedding was the marriage certificate. That cost $75. Everything else is optional, and there are a zillion ways to do it cheaply. I think getting your wedding sponsored cheapens the sentiment. I would rather have my wedding be bare-bones and meaningful than everything I ever dreamed of and sponsored.

  11. I could see looking into some sort of sponsorship if it fit with your theme. Like if you are going with dolphin themed and having a ceremony in front of Seaworld’s dolphin tank. Or if you are doing a coca-cola theme trying to get coke to spring for some of the decor (with their name on it).

    I think this would bring some questions to the Offbeat Empresses here: If a tribesmaid is pitching a sponsorship for their wedding, part of that pitch would be that the Tribe would get wedding porn (pics). The sponsor would be essentially getting advertising without paying the blog owner. Recently we have seen lots of shark themes due, I assume, to a shark week theme. How would you feel if one of the highlighted weddings had a Shark Week logo in key places in the photos and the Discovery channel was paying (or providing free stuff to) the bride and groom?

  12. When I think of a sponsored wedding, I picture one where all the vendors are giving services and items, and the end result would be that wedding imagery being used online or in print as an advertisement. The Couple would have some control but I am thinking “today show” style where the event is styled. If you just wanted a beautiful of the moment wedding it might be a great idea. I would think you would have to fit the look that the vendors are trying to achieve. It might be fun. It might be strange to see your I do moment on the side of a bus 🙂

  13. My easy answer for this is “yes”… but only if it was for the beer we’re serving. We bonded over the beer, we’re serving it instead of champagne (we’ll provide wine and non-alcoholic drinks as an alternative), and it will probably come up in some other way during the whole production. (I’d love to be able to stand under a sign that read, “Brought to you by Guinness”).

    On the other hand, I know that our style wouldn’t work for everyone. It can be tacky, and would probably not fit with most people’s ideas of “perfect day”.

    If it works for the bride & groom, I say go for it! It’s expensive enough to put together a wedding; a little bit of help could add some special details which make the day even more special.

  14. I actually wrote a sponsorship request letter to OK Cupid, which is the site my fiance and I met on. I reached out to a couple of other vendors — even Trip Advisor, since we already had several links to them on the “Guest Information” section of our wed-site. A couple of local vendors were open to providing discounted services in exchange for a logo on the programs and on our site. Unfortunately, the services they offered were not ones we needed (i.e. we were offered 50% off wedding coordination instead of the requested donated linen rental). We never heard a peep from OK Cupid — I imagine they probably get those requests all the time — but we got some serious warm’n’fuzzies from the surprising generosity of the local vendors who responded positively.

    We ended up not having anything sponsored, and that’s certainly ok, too. 🙂

  15. Unless you’re a big celebrity, vendors aren’t likely to provide their services for free or discount them just for advertising…unless you already have a relationship with them. Most would be insulted if you asked them to do so. Vendors want actual money for their work and efforts. Your wedding prrrrrrobably isn’t the social event of the season.

  16. I used to work in corporate event planning, so I know how had it can be to get companies to give you free things when you can give them them in return (radio spots, online ad space, hundreds of guaranteed attendees,) so I can only imagine the nightmare of trying to find anyone to give you anything for a wedding.

    That said, if someone wanted to give me ANYTHING from a flight to a meal to a hair clip, I would pimp them to no end on my blog. I’m having enough trouble paying for my TINY destination wedding… Depending on the “gift,” I’d be open to flyers in the gift bags, logos on the programs, the whole nine yards.

  17. I have no problem with this. My only question is how do I contact someone in Vegas to make this happen for my upcoming wedding?

  18. I say, “know your crowd.” The reason sponsoring exists is because it allows the host of any event to monetize their guests and their eyeballs. Anyone who is shrewd about advertising will understand that their presence helped benefit you in a way other than their presence alone or any gifts they gave you. That might rub some people the wrong way for one reason or another, and it’s up to the couple to decide if they’re okay accepting that some people won’t like it for that reason, which is the only reason I’d worry about. We all know that the “it’s tacky!” reason is nothing to pay any attention to, haha.

    If I were a guest at such a wedding, so long as the hosts were clearly gracious and considerate of their guests’ comfort in exchange for us being monetized, I’d expect no one would feel too put off by it – why not enjoy the fruits of the sponsorship! Chocolate favors sponsored by so-and-so local amazing patisserie that you wouldn’t have had to offer them otherwise? Why, yes please! More comfortable chairs, courtesy of Bob’s Rent-All? I’m glad to look at their logo for the sake of my butt! Hahaha.

    I’d hope that making a vendor a more obvious sponsor of an event would insure they’d do a damn good job for you, since their reputation is much more “out there” and on the line than usual. Could be yet another benefit to that approach.

  19. I’m sorry, but I would think less of a couple who did this. If you’re thanking vendors or family/friends who’ve done something for your wedding, that’s one thing. Turning your wedding into an advert because you could get something for cheap? No. Throw the wedding you can on the budget you have, and leave advertising to the mass media.

  20. I think doing this is like asking for money to have a party… so No I would not do this. All anyone really needs to do is pay for marriage license and then wear what you already have and make cake or share a cupcake… weddings do not have to be big and fancy because all you really doing is making vows to each other for a life time commitment….

  21. Ok… so this is how I did it at my wedding –
    I was very interested in whether vendors would be willing to negotiate on price (or services) if I offered to allow for promotional materials at my wedding. I figured if I opened up the conversation I’d see where it would go. Surprisingly people were willing to talk about it. Sometimes negatively and sometimes positively – but at least I wouldn’t be worried about a missed savings opportunity (my cheapness knows no bounds).
    This is how it panned out. Photographers won’t do it unless they’re just starting out. They’ll get all the exposure they need when you share their product on facebook or any other medium. The caterer wouldn’t even talk about it lol. I was able to get 10% off and free delivery of my cake by allowing the bakery to put business cards right next to the cake and on our signing table. But the best deal came from our event decorator. He provided us with a great overall price, he didn’t charge us for the labor of set up and take down, and gifted us two extra flower arrangements. He was eager to gain exposure from a wider audience because he typically only styled Indian weddings. We wouldn’t have know that unless we started the conversation about promotional materials for services. We made sure his company info was available in multiple locations.
    Basically what it came down to was companies don’t like to give stuff away for free, but it never hurts to ask. They have no real assurances that they’re getting the marketing you promised. It doesn’t hurt to ask about deals – but I still budget things at full price.

  22. I personally wouldn’t have a problem with a couple leaving out business cards from some of their vendors. If I were planning my wedding and really loved their photographer or cake, it would make it much easier for me to have all their contact info already in my hands without having to bother the bride and groom. I think, as long as the cards aren’t stuck on a guest’s plate, they are discreet enough to still be classy AND save the couple money.

    What I take issue with are couples treating their wedding day like a freakin’ charity function. Unfortunately, there are many couples who think that just because they are getting married, they are entitled to a big, fluffy wedding. No, sorry, you aren’t entitled to anything except the RIGHT to get married (to another consenting adult, of course). At the end of the day, as long as you have a valid marriage certificate that says ‘these people be together legally now, yo,’ then your wedding was a success. Everything else (while certainly lovely!) is gravy. So I believe that couples should throw the wedding they can afford, whether that’s making sure they host their guests properly with food and drink at a reception or eloping privately- whatever method they choose, they are the ones deciding how much the event will cost. No one is forcing them to have an expensive wedding. I’ve heard of a bride who actually rented out ad space ON HER VEIL to the highest bidder. What if the company stood for values she and her spouse did not? That, in my opinion, is rather crass and money-hungry.

  23. I agree with everyone who said, “It depends.” What kind of benefit and what kind of advertising? Are we talking regular announcements over the DJ’s sound system in exchange for a free bouquet? Are we talking business cards next to the cake (as someone mentioned) in exchange for 10% off?

    If I was going to do this, I would want to make it my theme. Like, big banners over the catering table, balloons with the name of the florist, “Smith Jones Photography” in place of the “Just married” sign on the car, “Vistaprint is proud to announce the upcoming wedding of…” on the invites. Go big or go home.

    In general, if you can get something for less money while supporting a vendor you love without sacrificing too much, I say go for it.

    Edited to add: I so should have tried to get OBB to sponsor my wedding. Can y’all imagine Ariel writing wedding programs?

  24. This is an idea that I actually considered, but we just didn’t have enough time (4 month engagement) to follow through with. I also wasn’t sure how to do it. But I think it’s awesome. And if the situation works out for both the sponsor and the couple being sponsored, I think it’s a total win!

  25. Are you kidding? Is this really a thing?? Holy shit, this is AWESOME.

    It’s really the same as any other compromise a couple might make while planning their wedding. How is it different from accepting money from your Great Aunt Helen for the gold-leaf disco carousel that is SO YOU, knowing that you have to have the ceremony in her local church, even though you and your partner aren’t religious? People who are completely opposed to getting married in a church are going to turn that offer down. People who are indifferent about the ceremony are going to say SIGN ME UP ZOMG DID YOU SEE THE RHINESTONE HARNESSES?!?

    Added bonus : the people who look down their noses at sponsorship can do so wholeheartedly because sometimes as a guest you don’t always know if Great Aunt Helen pitched in money or not. Likewise people who enjoy wedding competitions will relish marking yet another notch on their wedding belt, because Carousels-R-Us is sooo 2012, people. You want to get the good shit from Mr Peebles’ Fun Factory.

    It’s WIN-WIN!

  26. I would totally do this! I may totally do this. I think if you are willing to do the work to find sponsors you deserve what you can get. And I wouldn’t care one bit if anyone thought less of me. Weddings are expensive. Anything to make it easier is good. If it bothers you that I have “insert brand here” on my buffet don’t come to my wedding. Period.

  27. I would agree with the “it depends” votes. But here’s an interesting perspective. My boyfriend is allergic to peanuts and therefore has to be very careful about any baked goods he eats. We went to a wedding of some friends and they had an absolutely amazing looking cake. I normally don’t eat the things he can’t (partly out of solidarity and partly because there’s a chance of cross-contamination if I kiss him later), but one friend was raving about the cake so he told me I should have a piece. She was right, it was amazing. When we talked to the bride and groom after they got back from their honeymoon 2 weeks later, we found out that they’d gotten their cake from a small local bakery who is very careful about cross-contamination. If we’d known – even from a small sign on the cake table – where the cake had come from, he would have been able to enjoy a piece too!

  28. Awesome Idea, But we don’t have this is South Africa or companies who can sponsor the wedding 🙁

  29. I personally think it’s a fantastic idea. I’m all for saving a buck or a thousand even if it means having “sponsored by…” in a few places. I wonder if any place in Alberta Canada has this. I’ll have to look into it and find out. If anyone knows please let me know :).

  30. I think if it were done in a tactful way I would jump all over that. My fiance and I ordered koozies as wedding favors and I saved $30.00 by opting to have the kustomkoozie website printed in a small spot on the koozie. They showed me the art proof and it was tactful and discrete, i didnt mind it at all. I think everyone wants to have a nice wedding, why not save where you can and have more room in your budget for those must have things.

  31. During the planning stage of my wedding I had decided I wanted the groomsmen in shorts and a short sleeved button up. Something that the boys could wear again. A company rep from a popular brand of work wear got wind of my idea and offered to clothe all my groomsmen in exchange for pictures of them wearing the outfits on the day of. It was a win win situation. I got free groomsmen outfits and they were able to promote their brand.

    • Amelia I think this is the best way to do something like this. It is a win-win, and your wedding doesn’t end up looking like a billboard.

  32. I definitely would do this. I’d have a designated area at the entrance of the reception with a table to display their business cards and pamphlets. Maybe by the guestbook area OR seat assignment table?
    Also, being a graphic designer, I could print up all their logos on a single, simple display board to show on the table saying “Thanks to our vendors!” and all their logos below, too. One area, all the necessities so you don’t see it the rest of the wedding, but it’s still visible!!

  33. Hells yes!
    My love and I met on OKCupid and I wouldn’t mind a bit if they wanted to help with wedding expenses in exchange for some promotion.
    We’re also fans of sport bikes and chocolate, so being ridden down the aisle by a Cupid on a motorcycle with “flower” girls tossing Hershey kisses instead of rose petals sounds fun! lol

  34. Are you offering? Because if so, then YES.

    But if it’s anyone other than you guys, then I’d hesitate & have to consider how obtrusive it would be. Like will I have to wear a banner that shouts “SPONSORED BY _______” across the train of my dress? Then no. But if it’s just a blip on the favors, etc. then maybe.

  35. I was sent a blanket indirect email from this couple at Asking for vendors to offer their services for free in exchange for ‘advertising’ on their wedding website and in many top blogs. I replied asking which blogs had accepted their story already and did not receive a response. Their selling point – if you can call it that – was that rather than spending money on their wedding they would use any money they managed to save between now and the wedding day to go towards a charity. I also asked them what their target was for this to which I also received no response -which considering they were asking me for a £xxxx product was quite rude I thought.

    If they had decided to save/fundraise the average price for a wedding which is anywhere between £12,000 – £20,000 and had already had affirmations from all the top wedding blogs then I might actually have been willing. However it seemed to me that they were only interested in doing as little as possible and had no interest in actually advertising the companies properly. I feel a little sorry for them as I have no idea if they will get anything back from this, and I have no idea if the money they raise will be equal to all of the services donated to them. The fact they do not address this is quite sad.

    I think that the idea could work if the money raised by the couple for charity is equal to all of the services donated and that their ‘advertising’ is properly thought out and guaranteed. Otherwise it seems like it’s just a blag.

    There is a lot to be said for doing a wedding on a budget and being thrifty it is far more commended and far more likely to reflect you as a couple then being a random selection of people.

  36. I have about a hundred pounds to put on my wedding. I have made my cake and got the bridesmaid dress. We have paid for the ceremony, but I can’t find a venue. The family home is off limits. I have nothing to offer anyone to sponsor me.

  37. If I could get Captain Morgan’s or Guinness to sponsor my wedding they cold put their logo anywhere they wanted (except directly on my groom and myself)

  38. I am looking for vendors who would like to talk about sponsorship. I doubt any sponsors are going to read this but I am a student and trying to save as much as possible. The student debt crisis is real, I don’t need one more experience in my life that’s suppose to be positive tarnished by debt. So please contact me, Thank You. Serious Inquiries only, please.

  39. I know this is an old post, but I’ve just come across it. My mother worked at a celebrity wedding some years ago, which was one of a spate of cadbury’s flake sponsored weddings. OK! magazine paid the couple a lot of money for exclusive photography rights to the wedding, and then asking cadbury’s to provide a large amount of free chocolate as product placement. If you google flakegate you’ll get a sense of what was going on, but it was someone else’s wedding mum worked at, which suggests this was pretty common practice for a little while. And it was a shame for the bemused guests and for the couple, because most of the photos revolved around the chocolate bars rather than the celebrations.

    There’s definitely a line between putting out some business cards or letting them have their logo over their stuff, and going full product placement. As someone above pointed out, there’s a point where you stop being able to make choices about your own wedding. Did the couple want chocolate at every place setting, potentially including their diabetic family members (and all the very elderly nuns they’d had shipped over from Italy)? Did they want people eating it in almost every photo? Doubtful, but they didn’t have a choice. Sponsorship comes with strings attached, and you need to decide how you feel about that first.

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