As much as I love my sister - and can’t wait to be her Maid of Honor - there’s one thing that she has said 100000 times since she’s gotten engaged, and it drives me CRAZY. In its many iterations, the basic question is ‘How much should that cost?’ When it comes to wedding vendors + specific category line items. Five words that make me twitch, just as someone who has worked in the ‘I Do’ industry for the last 6+ years. I can’t evennnn imagine how vendors feel when they see that question. And they probably get emails asking it ALL DAY LONG.
It’s certainly not an unexpected question, because if you’re not well-versed in the world of weddings or you haven’t watched a family or close friend get married recently, you really don’t have a frame of reference. That. And no one can really blame a couple for wanting a basic ballpark of costs before they start budgeting. But, the question is one that doesn’t have an answer. Everyone wants to believe that there’s a one-size-fits-all approach to the biggest event in their lives thus far, but there just isn’t. Costs are all over the map - literally and figuratively - vendor costs in NYC are entirely different than they are in Arkansas or Texas, California or Minnesota, and then once you consider the costs by city size, it’s a whole other game, as well.
Photo: Natalie Thornley on Unsplash
So, yeah, it’d be great to get engaged, use a templated budget calculator (that every wedding site seems to have), and be able to sus out the anticipated expenses of each and every wedding service - but it just can’t work that way.
And TBH, it’s a both a curse AND a blessing.
Yes, it would be helpful to have a blanket cost analysis of every vendor category, venue to entertainment, invitations to flowers, but since there isn’t, there’s room for collaboration and a partnership with a vendor who can (and wants to) create plans that will work within your budget.
So, why can’t vendors give you a solid answer for your cost queries? Basically because of these four things
Determining cost involves a lot of things, the size of the wedding (although this is far more important to the caterer, rental company, florist, stationer, over the photographer, wedding band or DJ, who usually price their packages on an hourly or chunk timetable basis versus a per person cost), where the wedding is happening and when it’s taking place (spring versus summer, Saturday versus Sunday)
Cost is also contingent on opted-for services, what the couple actually wants out of the vendor. Sure, a photographer can offer package quotes for eight to 10 hours of shooting, but if you want a second or third shooter, an added cinematographer, additional wedding albums, the prices add up.
A couple’s overall style and wedding vision also dictates the bottom line - customization and personalization is a beautiful thing, but it will undoubtedly mean more $$$. I desperately wanted chiavari chairs for my reception, but my venue only had basic tufted seats - I could have spent a TON more to bring in rental chairs, but I understood that my budget simply didn’t allow, and I didn’t blame my venue. I just shut up and moved on.
Wedding vendors have a great understanding of their talents, their capacities and what value they can offer a couple getting married, so they set the score. And every wedding vendor considers their work’s worth in the context of a greater client<>vendor relationship. Forging a true friendship or at least a solid working relationship + chemistry with a bride and groom takes time, patience, and effort - by both parties.
Important thing to remember in all of this: wedding vendors aren’t being sketch for not freely volunteering their prices - on their websites, social media, or via first few email correspondences. They simply would rather meet with you to discuss all of your hopes and dreams, and try their best to work out a reasonable price for their services provided.
In an effort to help you navigate all of the budget burdens, we put together a few things to keep in mind before you start throwing shade on the people you’re trusting to make all your wedding dreams come true:
- Weddings in big cities - New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, for example will inevitably cost the most.
- Flowers are one of, if not THE most fickle wedding expense. Like all of the other ‘I Do’ categories, wedding florals involve some serious artistry and craftsmanship. Total costs are entirely dependent on how many guests you have, how big your wedding party is, what types of flowers you’re crushing on (the prices for roses and hydrangea arrangements differ dramatically from dahlias and anemones), and what season you’re getting married in. And for that, the range of expenses can start as low as $1000 and up to $500K (if you have a $10 million wedding, that is)
All wedding invitations were not created equally. Pretty paper comes in layers, thicknesses, colors, textures, etc. And 100 invitations done in simple cardstock and digital printing can come out to a price that’s insanely different than 100 letterpress invitations or 100 invitation suites with a crazy amount of inserts.
Any time you want to upgrade, you can expect prices to soar.
At the end of the day, if you need to adhere to your budget like white on rice, then make sure you’re communicating effectively with your vendors (present and future). If you need prices, and can’t find them through your series of stalking, then ask for them or at least for averages! Be open and transparent about when/where your wedding is happening, how many people you’ll be having, what your overall aesthetic is, and what # you’re hoping not to go above. Vendors respond to honesty! 👍
Photo: Nick Morrison on Unsplash