Wedding Industry

Lie #1: “We’ll work within your budget!”

The translation: Instead of listing pricing information on my website, I will use that phrase to entice couples to contact me so that I can woo them and convince them my services are essential. And when they resist my pricing, I will show a good faith effort and lower my price 5-10%.

How to handle it: Let me explain what “we will work within your budget” actually means. It means that a caterer might be able to lower their price from $110 per person to $95 per person. Does that help any of you all out? Hells no!  When communicating with vendors, let them know how many guests will attend and what your overall wedding budget is, not just your budget for that particular vendor. That will let that vendor know immediately what they are working with, and whether they’ll be able to actually “work within your budget.” Reality check for brides: Don’t ever expect a $110 per person caterer to lower their price to $20 per person.

Lie #2: A “Budget” wedding dress will cost you at least two grand.

The translation: You are a bride. Therefore I can assume you have seen at least two dozen episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress.” Therefore I can easily convince you that $2000 is considered a budget wedding dress.

How to handle it: A budget wedding dress is not $2000. You can get very inexpensive wedding dresses. I bought my ceremony dress for $175 from Ebay, and my reception dress from Macy’s for $139. You can order dresses from China. You can buy used wedding dresses. You can do a lot of things that do not involve $2000 wedding dresses.

When you try on dresses, tell them that your wedding dress budget, including alterations, is $500 max. Do not waver. Do not apologize. If they can help you out, they will, by offering you sample gowns, or letting you know when their next trunk sale is.

Lie #3: “You need a day of coordinator if your wedding day will run smoothly.”

The translation: I will instill fear and panic by convincing you that EVERYTHING CAN GO WRONG on your wedding day if you don’t hire a day-of-coordinator. I will leave out the parts about how you, your friends, and family can help out.

How to handle it: Okay, okay. We all know that I had my own issues with our day-of-coordinator. And if you’re not an organized person or think you might have trouble executing your vision, then by all means, hire a day-of-coordinator.  But a day-of-coordinator is not a necessity. Instead, enlist the help of a few friends the morning of your wedding and go to the venue and set things up! This is not brain surgery. Have a detailed task list for each person, organize the task list in chronological order (for instance, tablecloths go on tables before centerpieces go on tables) and execute it!

Lie #4 “Oh, your guests will really prefer …

(insert idea here: having transportation from hotel to venue, having hors d’oeuvres before dinner, having a full bar instead of wine and beer).”

The translation: I am a salesperson. I am trying to sell you things. I am trying to make you feel bad by telling you that your guests will think you’re inconsiderate if you don’t buy my services.

How to handle it: Throw this ridiculousness back on them. “Wow, really? My guests are coming to the wedding to celebrate our marriage, not with expectations of [Getting shuttled around, having expensive h’orderves, etc.].  How silly some people must be to think they need those things!”  The end.

Lie #5: You need to book wedding vendors very far in advance

The translation: I am a small business owner. I would really really like to be able to project my cash flow far in advance and have bookings far in advance.

How to handle it: I got married on a very popular wedding date, 11-11-11. So, I was in a huge rush to book vendors like our photographer. But other vendors, such as ceremony musicians and hair stylists, I couldn’t decide on, so I waited probably a bit later than I should. But I couldn’t believe it! Even two months prior to the wedding, I was able to book vendors for a popular wedding date with no problem!  I had no trouble at all getting my preferred choice of vendors. What does this say to me? Brides are serious procrastinators, and the wedding industry just tells you that you have to book everything really far in advance. And brides don’t listen to that advice. So, carry on and don’t panic when a vendor tells you that you have to book them ASAP.

Like #6: Bridal shows are a great way to find and book vendors!

The translation: Vendors have to pay a lot of money on marketing, so this is a great way to let a lot of people know about their business at once.

How to handle it. There’s a lot of debate on whether bridal shows are beneficial. I went to one, and didn’t like it. Vendors spammed me afterwards, and some even sent countless follow up e-mails. But, there were some yummy food and cake samples, and a few fun pieces of schwag, like pens and canvas bags. But I did not, under any circumstances, find a vendor there that looked promising. So, make the decision for yourself. Weigh the cost of the bridal show against the potential benefits (while realizing they might be minimal).


Oh, well I don’t want “that” kind of wedding

Do you know the type of wedding I’m talking about?  When you tell people you’re on a budget and they tell you to check out firehalls or VFW posts or church halls to have your wedding reception.  Or when they tell you to try and cater it yourself.  Or they tell you to buy just a simple white off-the-rack dress instead of an elaborate wedding dress. And your immediate response, whether out loud or kept to yourself, is, “Well, I don’t want to have THAT type of wedding.”

What exactly is “THAT type of wedding?”  First though, let’s examine what “THAT” type of wedding is not.

Martha Stewart Weddings, Style Me Pretty, the Knot, and all sorts of other beautiful and inspiring magazines and blogs tell me the type of wedding I should have.  I don’t know how to characterize it, but I know that it definitely looks like this.

Magazine Wedding 1Source

Magazine Wedding 2 Source

aisle-rose-petals Source


Or, if I go with the trendy, DIY budget option, it should definitely look like this:

DIY wedding 2



DIY Wedding Flower Petals



DIY Wedding 3


As I look at photos of those DIY budget weddings, there is nothing “budget” about them.  At least not “budget” in the sense for anyone in the real world.  Just take a moment and look at all the STUFF that is in the photos.  How am I supposed to find aged oak barrels on a budget?  And purchase all those floral petals to make a DIY aisle? (yes, that is actually something listed as a DIY project on Martha Stewart)  How each item, even at just a few dollars a piece, can add to your budget so quickly.  In most of these photos, I don’t see a DIY wedding.  What I see is a carefully coordinated effort by a very talented wedding planner that puts all these elements together for a flawless, effortless look.  But, it does take effort.  And hassle.  And stress.  And MONEY.  But that is what my DIY budget wedding should look like, right?

Wait.  Who exactly is telling me what my wedding should look like?  And why am I paying attention to them?

Well, let’s face it.  We want those guests to think that “we’ve made it” and can afford a lavish wedding.  Or maybe we want them to think that we’re awesomely crafty and stylish.  We definitely want to have a more awesome wedding than the guests have ever attended before.  And we will stress ourselves out to no end to make it lavish and/or crafty and stylish.  Why though?  Who will judge us if it does not look like the above pictured weddings?

My fiancé and I are having our wedding ceremony and reception at a National Park campground site. Will guests judge me or my parents for not paying for a “proper” wedding that accommodates their guests to today’s wedding standards?

A public park campground site??  That sounds like it could be *gasp* the equivalent of having it at a firehall!

Can someone please, for the love of God, tell me what is so wrong with having a wedding at a church hall or firehall these days?  Does it convey that we’re poor, or worse, cheap?  Does it convey that we didn’t have the creativity to explore all sorts of amazing historical sites, art museums, or waterfront property rentals to host our wedding?  Will I be judged by my friends and family members if I don’t hand crimp our amazing textured linen stationery for our invitations?  Somehow, I doubt it.  But yet, it still nagged at me.

Recently, my fiancé digitized the 8mm film reel of my parents’ 1969 wedding.  The reception was held at the church hall.  There were no table linens.  Deli meat sandwiches and other basic foods were served on paper plates.  There was a small band.  Bottled Beer and soda in plastic cups.  And lots and lots of dancing.  And it looks like it was a blast.

When I first started wedding planning, I wanted a wedding that looked like the first set of pictures.  I figured I could bargain, find some perfect, unheard of location, buy uplighting, have amazing centerpieces, get all sorts of cool stuff from Etsy, and have one of those beautiful weddings for a fraction of the price that all those “suckers” pay.  Very quickly, my hopes were dashed.  Vendors operate like a cartel aren’t willing to negotiate.  $110 per person for food.  Maybe $80 if you can “bargain” with them.  The less expensive vendors don’t call you back.

As I became angry with wedding planning, people started suggesting things like having a wedding at a public park, or in a church hall, I scoffed, thinking to myself, “I don’t want THAT type of wedding.”

So, here we are.  What exactly is “THAT” type of wedding?  The type of wedding where a bride and groom say their vows and go to dinner and have a blast?  The type of wedding where family members who haven’t seen each other in a long time come together to celebrate a joyous occasion?

Well.  Yes, BUT, but maybe I won’t have a good time if there’s no uplighting or cutesy placecards or I’m not wearing a designer dress.  Or maybe my guests will never speak to me again if I don’t give them custom embroidered welcome bags.

Seriously, what did I become to actually think all that for even a second?

What has society and bridal magazines done to us?  We’ve become spoiled brats riddled with the affliction of conspicuous consumption, myself included.  The need to show off.  The need to one-up everyone.  So what if someone judges me because “so-and-so’s wedding last year was SO much more creative and beautiful.”  I’ve ditched toxic friends in the past.  I’d do it again if for a moment I thought someone judged me for having a “less-than-adequate” wedding.

So, I’m over it.  There is nothing wrong with having “That” type of wedding.  In fact, the only thing wrong is that I was so judgmental at first about having “That” type of wedding.  I’ve gone from wanting what was in that first set of photos, to wanting a wedding that’s ours, no matter what the above photos tell us ours should look like.