W Is For Weddings – Behind “The Wedding” Word

by | Bride, Finance



Anna and James by Zoom Photography

In 2009 the Australian magazine, Choice, ‘sought quotes from 60 reception venues, cakes makers, hire car businesses, entertainments, florists and photographers in Sydney and Melbourne.’ Two ‘shadow shoppers’ were assigned to the task. ‘One shopper asked for prices for her wedding and another for her 40th birthday. Both events had the same number of guests and identical requirements in terms of cars, cakes, flowers, photographers, entertainment and venue.’ (Quotes from the Choice website article ‘Here Comes The Bride: And Up Goes The Price’) The television program that aired this ‘research’ even suggested that brides not tell the vendors that they wanted their services for a wedding!

So to get the other side of the story and add some balance from those in the wedding industry, we decided to interview a selection of vendors to give you the REAL story!

We asked some questions:

1) Do you charge more for a wedding, and if so, why?

Two hire car companies responded by saying they work on a set hourly fee, which one said he discounted as weddings are usually for a number of hours. They offer specialised services at no extra cost such as decorations and refreshments.

Paper goods vendors (invitations etc) stressed that there is a world of difference between a party invitation and a wedding invitation. A lot of brides now want a wedding invitation ‘package’ to send to guests, often with costly embellishments. This consists of a minimum of 4 pieces but can be up to 10 pieces to design and print. Most work on an hourly rate which includes consultation, design, research and presentation of the portfolio of the suite. Given the emotional component of a wedding this can take many hours. A birthday invitation on the other hand is often one page or a simple card so takes a lot less time in consultation and design.

One vendor said that her prices were the same for other events and weddings and her prices were on her site ‘and clear to all’.

A floral designer commented that ‘brides have a specific vision’ and often want non standard items which are not ‘commercially available’. She went on to say that generally ‘corporate clients are satisfied with my inventory of containers and props and do not require additional time and labour spent to acquire the quantities needed to match the bride’s vision’.

Another floral designer says that she does charge more for wedding flowers because for a wedding she sources and uses only blooms that are sold by growers as ‘premium’ quality stock, whereas a shop bouquet is made from ‘standard’ stock. Also wedding flowers can take hours to prepare and create, so there is a labour charge involved.

One event designer custom quotes for each event and cost ‘is based on the amount of hours invested’. Another vendor pointed out that ‘expectations of weddings are always very high and the details that go into them are numerous and they typically require more extensive planning than another event’.

Interestingly one vendor made the point that she ‘strictly limits the number of events we do each weekend, so once I commit to a wedding or party, I am also losing the potential income of other clients that may be getting married on that weekend’. Don’t forget that their time includes sourcing, planning and set up time in the vendor’s studio and on site, as well as clean up time when the event ends, in some instances.

Check back this afternoon to see what else vendors had to say about the issue!

Want more? Check out these posts from the archives:

  • Patrick says:
    February 3, 2010 at 10:16 am

    I call their bluff…

    We are having a very laid back wedding and have specifically said to some vendors that we don’t want anything fancy and they still charge through the roof!

    A good example was flowers… my partner wants native flowers for her bouquet, and the florist had bunches of native flowers on display for $15. We advised we wanted a bouquet similar to those on display but HALF the size, and the quote was $110!

    And don’t get me started on cakes 🙁

    Simple solution: screw wedding vendors and DIY it!

  • Sweet Libertine says:
    February 3, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Great article, I know for alot of brides have trouble seeing where the money is going to as most vendors are very secretive over what goes where. When something costs you one thing why does it cost you so much more when you mention wedding?

    I think there should be more transparency for brides from vendors, I think it would do the market some good and would open brides eyes to how much work actually goes into their day.

    In my own personal experience I’ve found myself thinking “How much??? For flowers? But?” and then had to remember I have just requested a quote from one of Melbourne’s best florists and I am paying for that skill and her knowledge of the markets to be able to source the most beautiful flowers in the markets on that day. I gather from the amount of no replies I get from quote requests that people think the same of me.

    For what its worth, I charge the same amount no matter what kind of cake I do. Birthday, Wedding or otherwise. My time is no less important because you want a 2nd birthday cake or an 8 tier wedding cake.

    Looking forward to other brides opinions on this.

  • James says:
    February 3, 2010 at 11:58 am

    For some elements in the wedding industry such as venues, etc… then yes, they can charge more than a birthday and haggling is a great idea.

    However when it comes to the CREATIVE aspects that make the lead up and entire day that much more beautiful (and even in retrospect when you see your wedding photos and all the little bits and pieces that convey a sense of beauty that have gone into the day), you’d be crazy not to hire a professional. There is a reason why there are professionals in the industry and have they have the experience and talent to get it right. Would you hire a cheap mechanic to fix your car and then not long after, you have to keep getting it re-serviced which ends up costing so much more in the long run? I didn’t think so.

  • Sarah says:
    February 3, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    We were out having a birthday lunch at a venue that does a lot of weddings in Perth recently. There were a couple of tables set up at one end of the restuarant, about 30 people I guess, they didn’t start arriving until after 2pm. We said to the maitre d’ “oh, is that a wedding” and he replied very curtly that yes it was and they hadn’t told them, and they would be asked to leave at 4pm because they had to set up for a function in the space. He said they had charged them as much, if not more, than a wedding set up would have cost them and they got none of the expert advice and service that they would had received if they had been honest.

    It made me sad, especially when we saw the groom arguing with the wait staff about it, there was nothing they could do at that stage except to say I’m sorry, you should have told us!

    I would say, sure, there’s going to be vendors who will try to rip you off, but surely with a bit of research you’d realise who these people were and would steer away from them.

  • Pat says:
    February 5, 2010 at 8:46 am

    I got married in Dec 2009. Was tagged as the cheapest bride ever but no one could tell from the weeding itself. The bridal bouquet of peonies cost $30.00, my hair cost $45.00 to wash, blow-dry and curl, make up was done at a Napoleon Perdis counter for $92.00 with products redeemed and my Monique Lhuillier-inspired gown which everyone loved was done for about $550.00 by Paris Bridal Boutique in Cabramatta. The reception at the Shangri-La hotel in Sydney was also affordable and they did a marvelous job. I got a good rate at the beautiful St Mary’s the Virgin Anglican Church too. Our invitations were from Truly Madly Deeply which we did ourselves and came to about $2.00 per card.

    At the end of the day, one can choose to have a decent event and not be in debt or go all out and hang the cost. And if you choose to go all out, there are vendors/suppliers who will charge you for your “vision”.

  • Choice Wedding Report Roundtable | Polka Dot Bride says:
    April 20, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    […] events. We touched on this issue when I interviewed vendors, and wrote about it in February “W Is For Weddings- Behind The Wedding Word Part One & Part Two“. It’s an issue I’ve been incredibly interested in and one I want […]

  • Boston Wedding - Boston Bridal Shops says:
    April 21, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    […] events. We touched on this issue when I interviewed vendors, and wrote about it in February “W Is For Weddings- Behind The Wedding Word Part One & Part Two“. It’s an issue I’ve been incredibly interested in and one I want […]



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