Wedding Industry Rip Off

I attended a wedding event recently and the topic about “wedding mark up” cropped up.

I also featured an interview in my women in business series discussing this very same topic

The phrase ‘wedding mark-up’ has been doing the rounds again recently, and I’d really like to put an end to the negativity around pricing in the wedding industry. We all work hard, and deserve to earn a decent salary that represents our talent and expertise. All this media-bashing means there are too many businesses who are afraid to charge what they are worth for fear of missing out, when really we should be raising our prices and educating couples about the value they are receiving when booking experienced wedding professionals. Louise Beukes

Setting the record straight

apple-orchard-waterloo-engagement20Kingdom Photography | Brian and Regina

Let me get this straight.

There is nothing stopping any of us getting married for £500. To include an officiant and signing of legal paperwork, donning your favourite frock and shoes and going to your favourite restaurant with close friends and family afterwards for ham and eggs; like Carrie and Mr Big.

Weddings do not ‘need’ to cost £10,000 nor do they ‘need’ to cost £500,000. The fact that they do, is because we actively choose to invest in them. But as soon as we take ownership in our part we can stop feeling like we are at the effect of the industry. We are feeding it, we are fuelling it and there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting more than ham and eggs! But to abdicate the responsibility solely on the industry ripping couples off irks me. We have a choice in how much we spend.

You get what you pay for

Leah HensonLeah Henson | Javedys and Phil

Theres no avoiding it, the wedding industry is not regulated.  As with any industry that is not regulated, that does mean there are unscrupulous individuals trying to take advantage of wedding couples and make a quick buck. But this does not mean that everyone in the industry is out to rip you off or deserves to be undercut. Wedding services notoriously require much more time, quality, standard of service and investment from businesses and individuals, hence the deemed larger mark up to a 50th birthday celebration for example.

In any industry, I truly believe you get what you pay for. If you pay cheap, you’ll pay twice. I’ve been victim of this before, when a deal sounded too good to be true, I ignored my gut and it was. When budgets were stretched and I tried to cut corners, I ordered a glass dining table I bought ‘cheap’ online which subsequently exploded into a million pieces in my kitchen. (Luckily we weren’t eating off of it at the time). I tried and quickly learned!

As a wedding blogger, I recognise that I have influence and am a key contributor to sharing information and giving helpful wedding planning advice to not only gorgeous people such as yourselves, but to those that work in the industry too.

I am frequently asked for recommendations for suppliers and one of the things I always ask for before I connect suppliers with couples and vice versa, is budget.

This instantly helps manage expectation.

Budgeting headache

great-gatsby-glamorous-wedding-the-burks-photography-www-nubride-com_0264The Burks Photography | Christopher and Danae

Sometimes I wonder if I am failing as an educator when I am asked to recommend a professional cake baker to provide a four-tiered bespoke wedding cake for £150. Or  £200 for a professional photographer.

I wonder what I and my colleagues are doing wrong for couples to genuinely think that these prices for professional services are reasonable and realistic.

They aren’t. (Not for professional service providers anyway).

I appreciate when we get engaged and start planning, the price points and the discrepancy between products and services offered in the wedding industry are vast and it can feel completely overwhelming.

I understand most couples simply don’t know how and what to budget for and what things should realistically cost. Countless wedding budgeters in magazines don’t help either as there are so many variables.

BUT there are many things you can do to make budgeting more realistic, so that you don’t fall off your chair when you realise your wedding photography costs nearer £2000 than £200, or feel like you are being ripped off and taken advantage of when you get a quote back from a genuine hard-working business owner and that they also aren’t wasting their time.

Consider, is the quote you have received from a professional or an amateur?

It’s important to dedicate time doing accurate research of costs of like-for-like wedding services in your area before setting aside a budget without pulling figures out of thin air based on what you personally value a service to be worth.  You wouldn’t go into Jimmy Choo and ask to pay £50 for a £900 pair of shoes would you?

To help, during my own planning I researched as best I could what services would cost, I asked friends already married with a similar aesthetic to what I wanted to create what they paid, I asked colleagues, I went on online forums, I used the world-wide web and took time to gather like-for-like quotes to compare.

Everyone’s budgets are different. That’s the beauty of weddings. It’s human nature for us to place monetary value on what we deem as important. For some of us that’s investing in our wedding fashion, for others its the investing in a five star venue or providing top-notch food and champagne.

There is no right or wrong, but making a list of your wedding priorities in order of importance will help you prioritise where you spend your money.

It does in turn mean there will be areas where you can’t be as generous, and may have to cut back or cut out all together.

To Conclude

0006elenayvictorLorena San José | Elena and Victor

Many people who work in the wedding industry are small business owners, supporting themselves and their families, earning an honest and decent livelihood, dealing with quiet months, a rise in the cost of living and life’s challenges along the way too. I think we can all be guilty of forgetting this sometimes.

So how do you determine if you have been given an honest quote or a cheeky mark up?

Word of mouth, read reviews, ask for testimonials, ask friends and family,  or even ask your favourite trusted wedding bloggers!

Consider this….

A cake baker shared on average it takes her 75 hours to hand-make intricate sugar flowers, to then bake and decorate a four tier wedding cake cascading in these handmade flowers. Going back to the £150 budget set aside, that equates to £2 per hour, not to mention ingredients, equipment, overheads.

Consider this…

On average some of my photographer colleagues say it takes up to 60 hours to shoot and edit one wedding, thats rarely including pre-wedding shoots, meetings and associated administration, and of course not including insurance and the cost of equipment or albums. So for the £200 budget for wedding photography that equates to at least £5 per hour – less than the minimum wage.

Would you work for less than the minimum wage?  No, neither would I.

Ham and Eggs

Leah HensonLeah Henson | Javedys and Phil

So the next time you start to feel ripped off, think of ‘ham and eggs’.

Suppliers are entitled to price their business at a rate that covers their overheads, pays their bills, and also values and pays for their talent, time, skills and expertise.

Remember, you are 100% in control of how much you choose to invest in your wedding day and also where you place value on wedding services and who you book. If you can’t afford to, or don’t want to pay for an additional service consider if you “need” it or not. Whilst discounts may be perfectly ok to ask for and sometimes applied, suppliers are not obligated to discount for you, they too are earning a living. Don’t assume their prices are plucked out of the air to con you out of your hard earned wages. They aren’t. Ultimately the genuine people in this industry truly love what they do and adore providing an honest and decent service for you. No-one wants you to enter your wedding day feeling begrudged or ripped off.

Let me leave you with this poignant message left on social media last week by MUA extraordinaire and colleague; Malkia Roberts.

Working on the most important day of someone’s life is what makes this job amazing, it also makes it unbelievably stressful because it can be the worst day of our lives but we work with the knowledge that our suffering is irrelevant and dare it impact on someone’s day – it’s unacceptable.

Please remember that wedding vendors are human. We feel pain & bleed just like you. We are mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, brothers & sisters. We do what we do because we love making you happy, but if an email is delayed, if we seem stressed, it could be the worst day of our lives, nevertheless, we will always do all we can to never let that affect yours.

Join the debate! I would love to hear your views!

, , ,

19 Responses to “Wedding Industry Rip Off”

  1. Avril Reid
    November 7, 2016 at 8:58 am #

    So eloquently put and so true. Thank you for featuring this.

  2. Nathalie - Buttercup Bus
    November 7, 2016 at 9:02 am #

    A really well balanced article.
    As a supplier, I remember the shock at how much things cost to keep our campervans running when I started in the wedding car industry – there is also a lot of talk about the mark up on the “VW” scene (similar to chat of Mark ups on the wedding scene) but as you say, you pay for what you get.
    I would rather pay good money for a quality mechanic or bodywork job and in turn be able to offer a reliable and safe wedding car service with my campers – rather than cutting corners, looking for cheaper options that result in offering an unreliable service with dodgy campervans.

  3. Thrity Mama
    November 7, 2016 at 2:59 pm #

    A lovely balanced article – that could apply to many small businesses run by people that have a passion for the services and products they provide.

  4. Jessica Hay
    November 7, 2016 at 3:50 pm #

    So true Nova! So glad you put this up! Such a good topic and a well needed topic for the industry. It is so important to educate people on an industry that can sometimes be deemed ‘fluffy’

  5. Wedding Planner in India
    November 8, 2016 at 6:14 am #

    Very informative blog, great points thank you for sharing.

  6. Alexander Leaman
    November 16, 2016 at 6:57 pm #

    This is a great, informative read – I love the fact that you straddle across and over the ‘Us and Them’ feeling that can dominate the industry sometimes.
    It’s a huge problem when clients are price shopping because they’re literally being advised to in articles they’ve found on directory websites. I’m not the most expensive photographer in the world and I still get hit time and time again with this stuff. Running a business? It’s expensive, competitive, and unpredictable. Being good and staying relevant is hard, but essential if you want to stand out and deliver consistently amazing quality. That’s just a small part of what people are paying for. Thanks for sharing…

  7. San
    November 16, 2016 at 11:19 pm #

    What a brilliant, informative and helpful piece! It’s exactly the kind of article that needs to be shared over and over again if we want the industry professionals to be both respected by clients and confident enough to charge what their hard work is worth.

    Thank you for addressing this important issue and for doing it so incredibly well. xxx

  8. Joyce Connor
    January 5, 2017 at 8:59 am #

    Great post! Very well explained why suppliers charge what they do. Most weddings are customised for the couple. If you want to by anything custom made it takes time and effort which equates to paying a little bit more for that service.

  9. Louise
    January 5, 2017 at 11:38 am #

    Excellent piece!

    One of the biggest issues fuelling the idea of the wedding industry mark up I think is that couples are told consistently to budget for things before having any realistic idea of what things actually cost. It’s rammed down our throats that the FIRST thing we need to do is allocate budgets.

    Of course, have an over all budget in mind so you know what you can afford, but there is absolutely no point setting a budget for a photographer or a cake for example based on guesswork. You’re just setting yourself up for disappointment and feeling ripped off if the true cost is higher than you’d guessed. In this situation it’s easy to assume it’s an inflated “wedding quote”.

    Couples (I feel) should set their over all budget and then research suppliers/services in depth, so they have a realistic idea of costs. They can then allocate their over all budget accordingly depending what is most important to them.

    This is the way we approached our wedding planning. As a result we were able to have everything we loved. Things that weren’t important to us were set aside or we sought out alternatives. We never felt cheated, ripped off or like we were paying inflated rates. Similarly we never had that feeling of guilt that a lot of couples mention when going over budget. It’s a worry and a stress that could be so easily avoided!

  10. Marc Bowker
    January 5, 2017 at 9:02 pm #

    This is a really really well written article on what it quite possibly the most difficult subject to write about. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it, I’m about to share it on my business Facebook page – a professional photographer.

  11. A very well written piece that tackles the issue of pricing and wedding budgets head on in a fair, honest way. A must read for newly engaged couples before they embark on their wedding planning. It is down to couples to decide their priorities and slice their cake accordingly but they do need to open their eyes to the realistic cost of what is a very personal service industry. Thank you for being the voice of reason.

  12. Sadie
    January 5, 2017 at 10:10 pm #

    Fantastic article! Weddings are completely amazing to be a part of as a photographer. But there is most definitely more to the job and running a business than people realise.
    People’s first impression, when they meet you, is that you must be loaded because you charge a fortune and work stupid hours – then they look at your car and realise not!

  13. Joasis Photo
    January 5, 2017 at 11:38 pm #

    I love how you approached the topic in a non judgemental way. I am so happy you wrote this post up at this time too. I have just completed my last year tax return and cried a little at the level of expenses that my business incurs. Expenses that most people who are not self employed in similar field would not imagine they exist. Expenses that I chose to have to ensure I provide quality service and premium products. I wish there were more articles like yours in wedding magazines and blogs. We get constantly bombarded by advice to brides how to price check, bargain, compare this for that. I wish there was more on investment, quality, style match, emotions (yes, do you really LOVE this style/photo/design etc). I hate reading stories about couples who are so disappointed by making wrong choices for their suppliers…

  14. Anna Newman
    January 6, 2017 at 8:51 am #

    Wonderfully written, let’s get this message shared! Thank you

  15. M Shulman
    January 7, 2017 at 8:57 am #

    Such a wonderful article. As a cake maker people often compare the prices of our bespoke cakes by those from supermarkets shelves. As you say it is very important to get like for like quotes.

  16. James Corcoran - Blooper Photobooths
    January 7, 2017 at 10:30 am #

    So good to read this. Our service sits at the higher end of our industry and it’s soul destroying when we get compared to other suppliers on price alone. If we charged what others do, we’d make a loss. I find that the couples that do appreciate this and book us clearly went about their wedding in the right way, it shows in the appropriateness of all the services and products they choose. It’s not about spending more money, it’s spending it in the right way and for the right reasons.

  17. Cathy
    January 7, 2017 at 1:18 pm #

    Thank you so much for putting the argument so eloquently for fair prices for the time and effort invested by your service supplier! Reputable businesses, be they large or small, want to give you the wedding day of your dreams but costs of such services have to be fairly compensated.

  18. Diane Rossi
    January 8, 2017 at 3:45 pm #

    Couples have the right to make an informed choice. It is sad that sometimes the service of a vendor is quoted rather differently to couples by agencies. It doesn’t always happen but a large discrepency between a direct quote and one made via a third party is bad and unfair publicity unless it has been agreed beforehand by contract.

  19. Louise Warren
    January 8, 2017 at 11:47 pm #

    All true, thanks for sharing Nova. In my opinion, and it might sound harsh to some, but if you can’t afford to get married then don’t get married. Too many couples/families expect an additional discount or something thrown in for free when booking. It doesn’t work like that. If you want something, you work hard and you save for it, just like we all do with things we want in life.

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Please feel free to leave your nice and friendly opinion here. I promise your email address will be kept private.