I had the pleasure of visiting White Gallery London last week during bridal fashion week in London, to get an exclusive snoop from some of the […]
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
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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!