Would you lie to vendors about your wedding to get a cheaper deal?

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Canada's Globe & Mail recently interviewed me for an article called “I do, but shhhh” about brides who save money by not telling wedding vendors that they're getting married:

I do, but shhhh: Bargain-hunting brides keep mum to cut their costs

Originally posted by The Globe and Mail

On the morning of her wedding, Ana Blagojevic arrived for her salon appointment and asked her hairdresser to swoop her brown wavy hair into a simple updo.

About 40 friends and family were scheduled to gather by the river in Kingston, Ont., that Saturday in May to watch the 30-year-old medical student marry her fiancé, Filip.

But that's not what she told the hairdresser.

“I just said, ‘Oh, I'm going to a party. I just need my hair done very simply,' ” she said.

Blagojevic came clean, however, when the hairdresser asked what the party was for.

“Then she said, ‘Oh, why didn't you say so!' But at that point, the pricing was already decided.”

Like Blagojevic and her husband, couples who yearn for their special day to be low-key and (relatively) stress-free are intentionally omitting the m-word from their dealings with wedding vendors.

And they're not just saving fuss – they're also saving money, as many caterers, florists, salons, venues and other suppliers charge more for a wedding than they would for any old social occasion.

“Some people call it a wedding tax – the same bunch of flowers that would cost you X dollars would cost you one and a half or even two times [the amount of] dollars because it's wedding-related,” says Ariel Meadow Stallings, the Seattle-based author of Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides.

Often, the markup is justified, Stallings adds. Dealing with weddings is “higher risk, higher drama, higher quality.”

“That said, with things like flowers, with things like clothing, with things like accessories or shoes or decor, there's just no reason to ever mention that it's for a wedding.”

For many couples, it's the inevitable host of wedding add-ons that winds up getting expensive.

If she had said she was prepping for her wedding from the get-go, Blagojevic notes, she would have had to fend off the hairdresser's entreaties to add flowers to her ‘do or get her nails done. She had already had that kind of encounter with a florist who, when she did reveal her wedding plans, steered her in the direction of a $200 bouquet and other exotic, pricey arrangements.

“Just having ‘wedding' attached to it or ‘marriage' attached to it costs a little bit more,” Blagojevic says, acknowledging that more work is typically required to satisfy a bride as opposed to a regular partygoer.

“But don't try to sell me $200 flowers. That was kind of annoying.”

Despite the fear of fuss and aversion to financial headaches, others facing impending nuptials say honesty is still the best policy.

Christina Friedrichsen, the Windsor, Ont.-based founder of IntimateWeddings.com, an online guide to planning small ceremonies, says she has seen the fallout from disguising wedding receptions as a no-big-deal event.

A bride who blogs on her site almost lost her venue, a rental house in New Hampshire, just days before her wedding because she told the person leasing it that she was simply having a party. It took a lot of convincing that the wedding celebrations wouldn't get out of hand to ultimately secure it, she says.

“Over all, it worked out for her, but it easily could have gone the other way,” Friedrichsen says. “You're really taking your chances, but I think essentially people feel better in the long run just being honest about things.”

Weddings can also be a lesson for couples in being firm about their vision, whether they're tussling with planning pressures from family, from vendors or from both, says Alison McGill, editor-in-chief of Weddingbells magazine.

“You have to decide what are the non-negotiables and what are the negotiables,” she says. “In life, you can always be upsold, there's always something bigger and better. It comes down to a budget and, if you've only allotted X amount of dollars for your flowers, cake or dress, you've got to stick to your guns.”

If bargain-hunters do engage in subterfuge, author Stallings warns, they should remember to tread carefully with service people they may run into again, such as hairdressers or venue renters.

“If you're not going to tell someone, just don't tell them. Don't do an ‘Aha!' reveal.”

Whether they're going to a wedding or a party, anyone who comes in for an appointment at EvelineCharles Salons, a Western Canadian chain, are asked the same questions, marketing co-ordinator Kathleen Nixon says from Edmonton. “We're especially attentive to brides because it is a very memorable day of their lives. When they say it's just a party, it's not as specific.”

And brides, she says, usually have very particular ideas of what they want, she adds.

As she prepares to marry fiancé Nick Brown on July 6, Julia Lum has tired of the fuss associated with planning not only their wedding in an Okanagan vineyard but two other events later in the year to mark their union with friends.

“Because I knew that I might be charged more for a wedding, I just said in my inquiries that we were having a big party,” Lum, a researcher in Toronto, says about her search for venues. Initially, these additional gatherings in Vancouver and Toronto weren't part of the plan, but the wedding seemed to take on a life of its own, she adds.

The article uses an example of a bride who scheduled an up-do appointment with a stylist for a “big party” to avoid paying bridal styling prices. At the end of the appointment, the stylist asked what the party was for, and the bride was like SURPRISE IT'S MY WEDDING!

While I feel that it's maybe ok to lie by omission and not say that you're planning a wedding when purchasing supplies, I feel strongly that, in terms of personal integrity, it feels icky to straight-out LIE to folks performing a service for you … and doing a “GOTCHA!” reveal also feels extra sketchy.

Yes, there's money to be saved … but there are also people to be treated respectfully. Don't mention your wedding at all if you're buying supplies, but when it comes to getting services from people? Tread gently.

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Comments on Would you lie to vendors about your wedding to get a cheaper deal?

  1. My fiance & I discussed it & while I was all for it at first (a certain bridal planning book recommends it), he brought up the point that florists, DJs, and the venue ARE going to find out so even if you get the benefit fo that lower price, you’ve alienated your vendors. Good karma is more important than a good price.

    • Yeah, as I say in the article — I’m ALL for keeping it to yourself when buying supplies, or even having a dress made.

      But when you’re talking about services, it starts to feel a little sketchy pretty quickly.

      • Why should someone charge more for the exact same service just because it’s a wedding? What are they doing differently at other events? ? Showing up late,?Switching the food? A better way would be to charge normal prices for normal service and charge extra for changing plans, rush deliveries, cancellations, etc.

        • Storm- Because it isn’t always the exact same service. As a photographer, my wedding clients receive A LOT more of my time than my regular event clients. And when I show up to a wedding, I literally bring all of my gear (multiple lenses for different looks, multiple lights, etc) and a second shooter whereas I don’t for a regular event because it isn’t necessary. A hair and makeup artist may offer a trial run of the brides hair and makeup making the wedding service more expensive. Often times vendors add value to their wedding services which increases the cost.

          This is why wedding services cost more

  2. I read somewhere that you could also simply state that the event is a “big family reunion”. Technically, it is! I plan on doing this personally, especially since a lot of our “stuff” (centerpieces, cakes, etc.) won’t be very weddingy, but very casual.

    • I read somewhere that you could also simply state that the event is a “big family reunion.”

      I agree with this — but only for NON-SERVICE vendors. This is not going to fly with photographers or other vendors who are going to show up on the day of the event and see that they’ve been lied to.

    • As a professional wedding photographer I think it is flat out wrong to lie to your service professionals, your SERVICE professionals are there to serve & meet your needs. If you lie to your vendors they may not have the tools or experience needed to get you the best result.

      Additionally, I think it is FLAT-OUT wrong for service professionals to charge more per hour for a wedding than any other event. My rate is $125/hour- that pays me for the one hour of work shooting, the 2-3 hours of work converting, uploading & creating proofs, my post session client meeting via telephone or in person & pays my baby-sitter during all those same times. In the end, my business makes about $20/hour. I offer a la carte options & “the full shebang” packages- but the rates are the same, newborn, 2 year old, anniversary, corporate event. What is DRASTICALLY different is my prep, what I load in my car, who I ask to be my assistant & the like. You could be shooting yourself in the foot by not telling your vendors it is your wedding- then you’ve wasted the money you did spend.

      Why not take the time discussing with your vendors a) why their wedding rates are different (b) are the differences in rates essential to your wedding (c) why you do not want to be treated as a wedding & what your expectations are? If your vendors are able to meet your needs without treating you like a wedding, HIRE them. If your needs absolutely require “extras” which “cost more” decide if they are needs or wants & shell out the $$$ if it’s a need.

      Personally, I think it’s all waaaay overpriced. I had a DIY wedding with professional catering & photography, for 125 people and it was just under $5K.

      • “Additionally, I think it is FLAT-OUT wrong for service professionals to charge more per hour for a wedding than any other event.”

        This. There is absolutely no reason why a vendor of any type should charge more for the exact same service if it’s a wedding than they would for another event. If there is truly more work involved, then price that out for anyone who wants that extra work. But to do something such as charge more for a hair style just because it’s a wedding? That’s ripping off your clients in my book — unethical on the part of the service provider, NOT on the part of the client who chose to call them on it for their attempt to get more money for the SOLE reason that it’s for a wedding.

      • I don’t know your area so I can’t judge your prices but photographers need to educate eachother on pricing to keep the market fair so people can make a living. $125 hr with 2-3 hrs post per hour (if I’m reading that correctly) that’s 4 hrs of work for every hr. Minus 30% income tax. Minus sales tax. Minus yearly cost of doing business (samples, cards, marketing, bridal shows) minus camera & equipment costs, minus education to stay up on yearly trends and keeping techniques fresh, minus certifications, minus hours meeting with clients, minus travel to and from meetings and weddings.
        I’m all for making exceptions for elopements, small weddings and off peak days but photographers need to charge a fair price. Sitting down with an excel spreadsheet and doing all the math will really be an eye opener. I wasn’t understanding why I was actually NEGATIVE income last year until I did that. There are awesome resources out there to educate both photogs on pricing and clients on why things cost what they do. It’s our job to educate the public.

        • So true – I am a wedding floral designer and I work more than 40 hours a week.

          You can’t knock us for charging for our time. You wouldn’t be happy if your boss came up to you and said “Even though you are handling the Smith Corporate Account taxes, i think you should earn the same wage as if you were working on Mom & Pop’s taxes even though you’ll be working 3x as much with 3x the risk.” Weddings are a big deal to most brides even though it might not be to you. I get brides who come to me with a style me pretty appetite on a small budget and I simply can’t do what they want within their budget. Wedding professionals are artists – just like your friendly neighborhood tattoo artist. And we end up spending so much more time with you than just a couple of hours. It’s not just an end product – it’s time and a ton of effort. This is how I feed my family and I cna’t stay open if I don’t make money on the time I spend working.

          If you have a small budget, just be up front and honest with us. If you are a low fuss bride, just tell us that you don’t need the hand holding. Being secretive will create such an uncomfortable relationship and bad blood on either side is good for no one. Even if I can’t help you, I always know someone starting out that can help you. While some vendors can be greedy and seedy, the rest of us are working our tail ends off to make you so happy with our work that you tear up and remember it forever. Throw us a bone, be honest up front and we’ll take care of you!

          • Wedding are harder. PERIOD.. Clients demand more service, and more attention. Also, to be a “wedding” vendor, your reliability and backup crews have to be through the roof. If you miss out on someone’s birthday party, that is bad. Miss out and do not show for a wedding, that is a nightmare.

          • It would be better to charge for the extras as extras regardless of venue. SO, for x amount you get x level of service and guarantee. Like, for the basic rate we will drop off pretty much what you asked for more or less on time, or stay for one hour and develop the pictures, or serve something resembling your chosen entree for most of the guests counted. If you want want more time, effort, keeping of contracts than normally offered, you pay for it. So, for an additional x amount we promise to get the order right, show up at the right place and time, produce the number of plates contracted for of the actual food you requested. Then go on and charge thru the roof for extras like changes after 2 days multiple redos, whatever it is brides are doing that makes weddings so horrific. SO me of us just want the meal we tasted at the place we’ll be – why would I pay for someone else’s bad manners?

        • The issue with ‘educating the public’ is that a lot of brides don’t want a photographer doing all of this, nor can we afford it. You can sit down and explain all day why you’re charging me x-amount of dollars, but if that’s what your price is, that’s fine… I’ll just have to find someone who does it cheaper than you. And here’s the thing… I will. Many brides now aren’t looking for hundreds of posed and candid shots where the photographer busts their butt all night long and then spends hours and hours in photoshop. I asked my photograph to snap a few photos of me alone, a few of me with my family, a few of the groom and his family, then one or two group shots. At the reception, after he ate his meal, he snapped a few more here or there.

          And they came out great! He went into photoshop and touched them up a bit. Because he charged a cheap price, we gave him a hefty tip. He had the exact personality I was looking for. I told him what group shot I wanted, he snapped a few, showed them to me, and then I either said I liked them and he agreed they were good, or he told me the lighting or background was off and we quickly moved elsewhere.

          I think everyone understands that weddings are difficult to shoot, but that doesn’t mean we can afford you. Clearly no one should lie about it being a wedding. That’s terrible and wrong. But I had one photographer try to lecture me on why their prices were $5,000 just to come out and shoot for six hours, telling me it was because of photoshop and equipment prices. Like I said, I understand that, but I had just politely told them that I unfortunately couldn’t afford anything price with four digits in it. I didn’t need the lecture. I completely understood. I get why the price was high.

          But my budget was $500. I found someone who said they’d do it for $300. I liked his work. He’d shot events before. I threw in the extra $200 as a tip. Because of what I did and didn’t want, I am so glad I went this route, and I would never go back and pay thousands of dollars for photos. Many brides would, so they SHOULD tell their photographer it’s their wedding day, so they get the best shots possible, rather than scamming the photographer out of their price tag.

          Before you think you need to educate the public, realize that we probably know why your prices are so high, and we just can’t afford them. We’d rather pay someone ‘less professional’ and have nice photos of our wedding day than no photos at all.

          • you contradict yourself.
            We’re not saying that you HAVE to pay 5k per wedding. We’re saying that if you’re lying to get a cheaper wedding, it is a problem.
            If a couple can’t afford 5K photographer.. they should do exactly what you did – move on to a cheaper one.
            And – i’m sorry – I will not buy into the whole “our 500$ photog did a better job than the 5K one “thing. Unless, this was a price tag to scare you off, that is.

      • I couldn’t agree more that it’s wrong for service professionals to charge different prices for different events. I charge what I charge for gowns, regardless of what it’s for. From my understanding, many vendors charge more for weddings than reunions because reunions can happen any time, but each wedding is usually intended to be the only/last, and so want to milk it for all they can. I find it hard to call bridal couples unethical for lying given the very unethical inflation at the W-word. But, for certain types of vendors, knowing the true event ahead of time will help with prep.

        • It’s not about milking anything – weddings are typically a one day a week thing for us too – we have to make a living wage in order to stay in business. You do not have that issue because you do not provide a service on the day of. The gown is deliverable at any time. Read my other post above for more of an explanation too but there are so many variables that you haven’t thought about.

      • me being a hair stylist i couldn’t agree more we always give out deals & mostly get gipped. we need to know what your event is for and especially your wedding. My shop does not charge more for an event, we charge for what style u want, wedding,prom,a night out. a style is a style either way. but for your wedding we take that extra step towards perfection!
        Do not lie to the ones that are trying to help you! most of us like what we do thats why we are independent contractors. If you do not like the pricing either talk to them about it or go elcewhere

        • With all due respect, you appear to have contradicted yourself when you said that you don’t charge more for events but charge according to style, and then proceed to call “wedding,” “prom,” and “night out” styles when they are, in fact, events. For my wedding, I simply want my hair all down and curled, but you would charge me the same amount as someone who wanted an elaborate updo for their wedding. I don’t think that’s a very fair practice.

          • I think alot of people don’t understand that most wedding hair packages are compensating for the fact that we’re doing the hair more than once. There’s a consult, a trial with your veil or tiara or whatever, possible photos on a separate day, and then your wedding. And perfection is expected, because your wedding pictures are a bigger deal than your 8th grade dance, right? Mostly, I determined the price based on the amount of hours you needed. And curling an entire head of hair is not necessarily less work…

      • hi!!!
        pleeeeease tell me how you managed to stay under $5k? also what city this amazing feat took place? I feel like I have to sacrifice so many things in order to make our wedding even a tad bit affordable. Thnx!!!!!!

        • The best way to handle things if you have a tight budget is to keep the bridal party very small (if at all), a small guest list – this saves money on food, the venue (you can use a smaller place), less rentals, etc. I know you want to include everybody but unless they are helping with cost sometimes you have to cut. The other easy thing to do (if possible) would be to allow yourself more time to plan the wedding and save up for it. You can contact vendors now to get a ballpark estimate (don’t expect a detailed quote for weddings more than a year out) so you know what to expect. DIY what you can but you’ll have to be willing to let go of perfection on some things. Make sure to delegate on the day of so you are not overwhelmed with being a planner and not a bride. Good luck to you!

      • Totally agree. I’m an invitation designer, but I charge the same for wedding invitations as I do birthday invitations or anniversary invitations or any other invitation. That being said, I do want to make sure I am charging enough. It’s a tough balance. I want to charge the lowest price possible, but I’d also like to *make* money!

  3. I agree with your take on it, Ariel.

    There are times I’d advocate being economical with the truth (I used to work in a hairdressers so I don’t necessarily buy the ‘we only want to make the bride feel extra special’ line) but be smart and thoughtful about it.

    If anything, the crazy mark-ups would make me think, ‘Is this really necessary?’ and see if there was anything I could do myself (i.e. make my own bouquet/cake/gifts for guests etc) but I’m creative and slightly loco so I wouldn’t mind that! I

  4. So this is what we did: if we were worried about price issues, we’d price something twice, once as a “family event” (which it was) and once as a wedding. We figured if the vendor was going to mark things up because it was a wedding, we really didn’t want to work with them.

    And you know what? We never had someone mark things up when the word wedding was introduced. I don’t know if that means that we had good judgement in vendors we trusted in the first place, or if people are more honest then they are given credit for.

    Side note: there are vendors that I think *should* mark up prices for a wedding. It’s much more stressful photographing a wedding than photographing a random picnic for example. And it’s fair for prices to reflect that. As far as i’m concerned though, feeding 100 people X is feeding 100 people X. I’d need ar eally smart justification from my caterer of the markup to be willing to let it slide.

    • I agree with what you said about photographing a wedding. I’m not a photographer, but I know that when we got married, our photographer ended up having to wade through family to get some shots. Not only are you dealing with the bride and groom, but in a lot of cases, you end up dealing with pushy family members, too. At one point, I had to go bridezilla and tell some of our family to back the hell off and get out of her way. I mean, I paid HER to take the pictures, not them! And most of the family who took pictures, never bothered to show us what they got anyway. So yeah, there are definitely some acceptable occasions to upcharge, in my opinion. Food, venue, and DJ I would say no, but photography, makeup and hair – absolutely!

      • Being a professional DJ for over 20 years, I disagree with your statement that a DJ should not charge more for a wedding. If you are hiring a true professional DJ, you are paying for extra services that a DJ would need to do at a wedding, that would not apply to other DJ-Required events (such as a party, school dance etc). Most professional DJ’s also take on responsibilities of MC duties, announcements, making sure the reception flows well, perhaps even entertaining the guests with games etc during dinner. At other events where a DJ is required about 90% of the time used is actually DJing. For a wedding I would say from personal experience it’s anywhere from 40-60%. We also spend a lot more time in general planning out for a wedding as opposed to other events. I can easily spend a minimum of 10-15 hours extra time for a wedding on planning things out, scripting, assisting the bride/groom with event timelines, event flow, music discussions and much more. Most people have no idea the amount of time a professional wedding DJ puts into an event when booked, and just assume the time we “work” is when they see us at the event.

        • I disagree about the DJ charging more simply because a wedding is a wedding. As has already been mentioned, if whoever is hosting an event wants more from the service provider, in this example a DJ being more involved in a wedding, then price according to what the clients want, not simply because WEDDING. Not everyone wants the DJ to emcee or play games. Some might just want music for dancing and nothing more, and they should not be charged the same as another person who wants much more.

      • Like Bill, also a long time dj here, and I disagree strongly that you lump in dj’s with the venue and the food, but not with the photography etc. There is a great deal more work involved with dj’ing weddings, both during the function as well as planning before. That’s why I flat out refuse to do them.

  5. If I contacted a vendor for a particular service or product, and told them it was for a family reunion, and then later contacted the SAME vendor for the SAME product or service for a wedding, and got two different prices, I would be pissed.

    And if I found out that a vendor was doing this, I wouldn’t care about the karma or alienation – I would spread the word as far and as wide as I could.

    There are too many people that do the “wedding markup” for me NOT to check out everything, and too often they get away with it. Vendors, suppliers, service people, stores, etc. My wedding should not be your opportunity to screw me over.

    At the same time, there are LOTS of vendors and service people that do a GREAT job, and who go above and beyond to make your day special, and charge you the same whether it’s for your wedding or your birthday party. THEY deserve my business.

    • I agree with this SORT OF.
      I feel like the “wedding” markup tends to apply to being a little extra calm, doing things that are a little extra complicated and being willing to doitagain-no, this isn’t right–do it again!!
      So that said?
      If I’m not a bridezilla, why should I pay a bridezilla markup?

      Still, my general advice to everyone remains–if you don’t like someone’s prices, either don’t use their business or try to negotiate. “My budget is tight” isn’t a valid reason for negotiating the price–try reasoning that you’re willing to be squeezed in very early (when they’re unlikely to be busy) or that your fuss-factor is fairly low.

      • I disagree – any reason is a valid reason for negotiation. Maybe I’ve just spent too much time in Asia where you bargain for everything, but really, there’s no reason to feel ashamed for trying to honestly get prices down. Vendors will try to get prices up (yes, they will) so it’s our duty as consumers to stay on watch and do what we can to keep them reasonable.

        It doesn’t have to be mean or anything, like “Pshah, my budget is tight, make it cheaper!” but there is no shame in saying forthrightly “Hey, sorry, it looks great but my budget just can’t accommodate that. Are there any options within what I’m willing to spend?” That’s negotiation too. The vendor can always say no.

        • Yep, the worst any vendor can do to you is say no to your negotiations. And unless you’re living in some teeny tiny town in the middle of nowhere there’s another vendor down the line for you to negotiate with next.

        • Have you seen Ariel’s post about negotiating with wedding photographers? I think it’s got some great points about the “my budget’s tight” argument. Basically, you’re assuming that the service you’re hiring isn’t also on a tight budget. For freelance photographers and many other professional services, their prices are what they are for a reason. You should never feel bad about seeing what your options are–ask if there is any flexibility in package options, for instance.

          Asking for a discount based solely on your finances just puts you on a poor footing with a lot of vendors–you’re insinuating to someone you’re about to enter a business transaction with that you have financial difficulty. A lot of people don’t think of “haggling” that way, but you’re sort of sounding like you’re worried about whether the cash is going to be there later.

          I don’t think throwing out the budget concern at SOME point is a total nono, but it shouldn’t be the main point of your argument for a discount. You should definitely demonstrate interest in the work that you’ll receive and prove that you’re in it for the long haul.

          • Eh, if you mean it, then say it. “Your work is beautiful and I really wish I could work with you, but your prices are out of my budget. If there’s anyway we could make this cheaper then I would gladly hire you, but as it is, I just can’t afford to spend $xxx over my budget.” And if they say “That’s too bad, good luck finding someone” then walk away and find someone you can afford. If they’re willing to work with you, then awesome! I don’t think this makes them worried you won’t be able to pay. Quite the contrary, it shows that you know exactly how much you can afford and aren’t going to get yourself into trouble by going over it. Unless you live in a small town where a vendor doesn’t have many options in clients, they shouldn’t feel coerced to accept a price that isn’t enough.

            I told my photographer that I didn’t think I could afford him, but he was the person whose work I loved the most and I really wanted to work with him. My photographer told me the price of his packages. I told him my budget. He told me what extras he could cut and how low he could go. I shuffled some numbers in other categories and we made it work. If he hadn’t been willing to come down in price I simply wouldn’t have been able to hire him. It doesn’t matter how much I loved his work or how many ends he had to meet. I trusted him not to accept a price that didn’t cover his overhead. He trusted me not to accept a price I wouldn’t be able to pay.

          • At the same time, I’m not going to pretend I have the money to spend on a fancy package when I don’t (our photography budget was $500. We bumped it up to $650 because a photographer we loved offered us a fair package for that amount.) Once again, I clearly have lived in Asia too long, but it doesn’t bother me to be honest about my budget.

            If it is a freelancer whose prices are what they are for a reason, fine. I’m not going to push too hard or get nasty or demanding. But I’m also not going to lie, or pretend I have money that I don’t have.

            Is there really any difference, anyway, between “Do you have any flexibility with packages?” and “My budget can’t accommodate that – can we work out a package more within our means?” In one you don’t admit openly that money is the key issue, but frankly it’s not that hard to work out that money *is* in fact involved.

            Plus, I’d think some vendors would be happier to hear that you honestly like their work (I agree that you should demonstrate some interest in the work itself) and are looking for a way to hire them than just hearing an outright rejection.

            And, I mean really, budget is ALWAYS the central reason for a price negotiation. Always. There may be other reasons (not wanting this or that service even if you can afford it) but it all comes down in the end to money. What does it matter if the difference is how much you can spend vs. how much you want to spend?

            If the vendor’s prices are what they are for a reason, the vendor is free to say no. But, come on, can we stop with this painting all vendors as super honest small business owners who only want what is best for their clients and wouldn’t dream of jacking up prices? Because it is FALSE. Many vendors are great people, but so many are not that I find it a bit rich that I should not negotiate with any of them based on my budget because *some* of them are honest freelancers with reasonable prices.

            It also bothers me that we, as brides (and grooms), are admonished not to use all the tools available to us to negotiate – “oh, you can’t negotiate if your budget is the reason!” – and there’s no such lecture to vendors in their networking circles. They are free to try to charge us out the wazoo, and we get a stern finger-wagging if we resist. Honestly, this really bothers me. It’s not OK!

          • There’s also the fact that if the vendor IS trying to overcharge you and does this regularly, if you say straight up “that’s more than we were looking to pay” (which is nice: it keeps it vague whether that’s due to not having the money or not wanting to spend it) then it’s feedback: it’s telling that vendor that some people will find his/her prices too high. If he/she is genuinely overcharging, then that may be the catalyst to get them to lower their prices, when they realize people won’t pay them.

            If the vendor is honest, he/she always has the right to say no.

            Plus, I shouldn’t have to prove to the vendor – who is working for me, and I am paying – that I will be around to pay. If I sign a contract, I am doing so under the trust and confidence that I will be able to pay.

            The vendor should be proving to me that he/she can give me a fair service at a good price.

          • I couldn’t agree more if I tried. I’m both a bride myself, so understand the importance of bring thrifty, but I also make wedding gowns, so understand the importance of being a vendor needing to make sure that what I charge both covers fabrics and makes it worth my time. If I will make $1 an hour for my time, and have to hire a mother’s helper so I can dedicate the extra time to a rush order, then it’s not worth it.

            It’s just a dream that more brides would DIY what they could to open up funds to hire fair-wage vendors (in other words, not buying Chinese sweat-shop knock-offs of things) instead of trying to negotiate vendors down to the point of negative profit.

      • This seems wrong to me, on one level…….I agree that if I’m a demanding client, who insists on things being done over and over until they meet my exacting standards, then charge more. But don’t just assume that BRIDES do this and charge more automatically for weddings. Rather, tell clients upfront that if they insist on things being changed last-minute or done and redone over and over again, then that privilege will cost them, regardless of if the client is a bride planning her wedding or someone planning some other event. It’s not only BRIDES who can be righteous pains in the rump.

      • As a wedding professional, I actually find it very hard to identify at a first meeting whether the client is going to be very demanding and take up lots of my time- as a result, I use the same pricing structure for everyone. Some become a nightmare, some are easy-going and trust me to get on with it… I take the rough with the smooth, and the fuss-free brides and grooms leave me more time to help the ones with a more particular vision 🙂

        In reality, I make very little per hour for the work that goes into weddings- JUST enough to live on. I deserve to be paid properly for my time and years of expertise; If I charged any less I couldn’t pay my (not particularly large) mortgage! And if you can’t afford me, go elsewhere or adjust your expectations…

    • So I have fallen in LOVE with this venue that I’ve visited. The quote they gave me only space rental was $4000. Now a couple days later, called and asked for the same amount of time and same place but as a reunion and they said $800!!!! that is much more affordable! I don’t know what to do now! I feel like I am being cheated out of my dream wedding because of this! What should I do? Please help!

  6. This is interesting because I’m planning my wedding now and my mom and I were just talking about this.

    My brother and his wife did exactly what is being discussed – they told all wedding vendors that it was for a family reunion.

    My brother said, reflecting on it, that while they did save money this way (they saved at least $1000 on the photographer) he felt like it wasn’t worth it in the long run. Bottom line, he said, is that all the vendors did find out it was for a wedding and were *pissed*. The photographer, for example, was clearly angry and unhappy throughout the wedding. So were the servers provided by the caterer. The food arrived for everyone incredibly late and he felt like the two things were related.

    He says now that he doesn’t think the savings were worth the ill-will.

    For my two cents, while it doesn’t always seem fair that they charge more for different events, the reasons for doing so aren’t always clear and may be legitimate. We always jump to: “They think they can rip us off because it’s a wedding!” But in reality, not all vendors are unethical like that. For example, taking pictures at a family reunion – which I imagine entails one group shot and then wandering around a party capturing candids – and a wedding, which entails photographing a ceremony, getting several family shots, several bridal shots, and so on – really are two different beasts. The photographer may even be charging more because she knows she will need an assistant or second photographer for a wedding which she then has to pay.

    Ditto for the caterer – a family reunion is not usually as formal as a wedding and might require a different number of servers and a different level of service.

    • Holy WOW — it never occurred to me that people might mislead a photographer about what kind of an event they’d be shooting. To me, that sounds like a quick way to get some pretty spite-tinged photography … and honestly, I could see a photographer just walking out on the gig.

      I feel like there’s a big difference between not telling people who’ll never know the difference (dressmaker, florist, jeweler) vs. misleading a vendor who’s going to actually BE at the event. Not telling a hair-dresser feels mildly questionable but really, what difference does it make? But lying to a caterer or photographer feels like a recipe for serious wedding day friction … and possibly even a breach of contract? Not sure about that aspect.

      • Wow. Lying to your photographer is just dumb, in my opinion. They are going to be there on the wedding day, which means that they’re definitely going to learn that you lied. And they’re going to be mad. Do you really want an angry photographer taking pictures at your wedding?

        On a more practical note, photographers have a whole different way of preparing for weddings. There are a whole different set of questions that they ask the couple. They may bring more (or different) equipment. Also, the shooting process is so much more high-stress for a wedding than another type of event, and the editing so much more involved and high-pressure, that the added price is usually justifiable.

        If I arrived at what I thought was a family reunion only to discover that I was actually photographing a wedding, I would be upset. I don’t like being lied to, and I don’t like being cheated out of money. My prices are low for a reason, and I work with virtually ANY budget, sometimes even shooting weddings for free if a couple honestly cannot afford a photographer.

        I understand that wedding-related prices are often ridiculously inflated (I was once quoted $120 for the use of a small meeting room for two hours. When I said that we were going to view wedding pictures and eat leftover wedding cake, I was told that it qualified as a reception and that the price would be $3000, FOR THE EXACT SAME SERVICES). I also understand that people often don’t have as much money to spend on their weddings as they’d like. But when it comes to people who are actually going to be AT the wedding, you’d be much better off if you tell them honestly what your budget is, that you’re willing to forgo some of the “extras,” and that you really want to hire them. Most people will work with you. I would.

      • agreed – I am not a professional photographer, but I have worked in catering, and if a client outright lied to me about what the event was only to have ‘surprise! it’s actually a wedding!’ I would be really upset. It’s just poor practise, and rude. For photography especially, the logistics and preparation and type of photos desired tend to be very different. I am currently tearing my hair out trying to figure out how to have decent photos for my upcoming super-duper low-budget wedding, but it would never even occur to me to deliberately mislead the photographer about what they would be taking pictures of.

      • In fairness to my brother, I think he and his fiance at the time saw it not-as-lying, but just leaving out the fact that they were also having a wedding and as justified since they felt people were overcharging just for the word wedding.

        But would I feel comfortable doing that? No.

      • As a hairstylist and make up artist with 300+ weddings under my belt, I’m going to have to say that things aren’t completely cut and dry with this. In salon (upon consultation) I will price your style based on your hair. Length, texture, thickness, and what I’ll have to do to get it to look the way you’re wanting to. Need extensions? Well, I’m going to have to prep those in addition to the hair on your head. Also, the difference I charge in bridal make up from other make up is 15 dollars because the bridal make up includes lashes automatically-if you don’t want them, I don’t charge the 15$.

        Also, if I’m coming to you there is a travel fee and I ask that you pay for parking.

        I do what I can to try to make anyone in my chair feel amazing, but I’m sorry. Your wedding day is more important than a family reunion. I book extra time with brides. Too many times I’ve taken a bride to a seperate room to do their hair or their make up because their friends and family were stressing them out. Would they rather me take less time with them and charge less? Why even get the service done then?

        If I had a client lie to me and I found out I would feel so completely disrespected and cheated. Any person who PHYSICALLY plays a hand in making sure your wedding day goes off without a hitch deserves to know what their hard work is going towards.

      • this exact thing happened to me this weekend.
        I was hired for an engagement shoot, but when arrived on the premises, found relatives and the couple dressed in the wedding attire.
        While I still went through with the shoot – they made a solid effort in looking great, and are a gorgeous couple, I feel it was extremely wrong of them. When I mentioned this to the couple.. You know the answer I got? “oops.. sorry…”

    • Absolutely. Even if the hours on the day-of are the same, the effort put in on the wedding day and the editing that happens after is a lot more work.

      It is a breach of contract with us, and it’s spelled out clear as day in our contract that we can walk away with no penalty if we are misled about the nature of any event.

      If we found out one of our “events” was actually a wedding, what would happen would depend on how early we found out. Scenario A: If we find out early enough, we’d ask the client to either pay the wedding rate, or find someone else. The retainer is ours for our trouble. Scenario B: If we found out the day of the event, we’d shoot it like any other wedding (and still be nice about it even if we’re PO’d!) but let the client know we would not do a thing except offload cards and back up the files until the difference between what they paid and what we charge for weddings is made up.

      Long story short, it’s a bad idea, and at least with us, it won’t work out in your favor.

      That is not to say that this strategy won’t work for the better in some situations, but be careful who you do it with. If you bust out your veil at the last minute with your hairdresser that was doing your hair for a “party,” don’t expect for things to still be OK!

      • I’m already married, so I’m not in any danger of misleading a photographer. And I am not one of the people who did this type of deception, which I agree is wrong. (My husband and I didn’t have a photographer, because it was out of our budget.) But since you said that you charge a different rate for weddings, unlike the other photographer above, I was wondering if you could explain what the extra charges represent. I think what people get upset about in dealing with vendors is never knowing which extra charges are due to the need for more equipment, extra hands, ect., and which ones are just milking more money from the client. Please, please, please be aware that I’m not accusing you of doing that. I’m just curious, really.

        • For event photography, I expect to show up and document the day. I plan to deliver properly exposed, candid photos that document the event. Most times, booking event photography consists of emails and possibly a phone call to confirm details. There is no location scouting, finding best light for portraits, trying to keep people on schedule, and my focus is on documentation, not creating artistic and timeless images. In the event that I was sick/otherwise unable to attend, the task of finding a replacement would be much less stressful/involved than if I were finding a replacement for a wedding.

          For a wedding, I meet with the bride and groom at least once or twice to get to know them and understand their goals/vision for their day. We discuss the schedule for the day, I make sure we keep to the schedule and that none of the shots they want for each portion of the day (getting ready, portraits, ceremony, family photos, etc) are skipped/missed. I make sure to have several poses planned/thought out that flatter the bride and groom’s body types & height ratios as well as compliment their personalities (how do they feel about PDA, are they more playful or serious, do they prefer more posed or natural looking photos, etc), I put the family photos in a strategic order, being sensitive to keeping people waiting, people with physical limitations, etc. I’m frequently working in a variety of lighting conditions (yes, more equipment & oftentimes an assistant to help haul it and/or wrangle people) and I’m oftentimes coordinating images rather than simply documenting what is happening around me. If I need to use the restroom or eat, I plan those breaks around ceremony, cake cuttings, tosses, etc. After the wedding, I spend more time editing & retouching the images because they’re someone’s wedding images and there are not only event photos, but also portraits involved.

    • I completely agree, with one caveat.

      I get that photographers charges more for a wedding because he/she needs all that extra stuff (assistant, back-up camera, equipment, time) – which I think is fair mind you, if it actually costs more to shoot a wedding, then it should be charged accordingly .

      What I think is unfair is when photographers and other vendors automatically charge more for those extra services that you genuinely may not need. Instead of being upfront: “if you want this level of quality in your wedding pictures, it costs $X. Here are some family reunion shots. If that’s the quality you want, it costs $Y”, which is fair, what you often get is basically treating the client like they’re clueless: “The event costs $X” with no explanation, no lower priced option for those who don’t need perfection, or worse, some blurb about how they DO need some “extra service” that is actually completely unnecessary.

      That really peeves me off. We were lucky: with home-grown flowers, hand-done hair, a DJ who knows my mom and a photographer who is super-cool and reasonable, nobody’s tried to pull the bridal markup on us. But it does happen, and it’s just as unethical as lying to your vendor.

      • Yes, I said something very similar in the catering portion of this discussion. I just think it is unfair to assume that every bride and groom are demanding the fullest package available. Why not give us the option to choose the more simple options available to someone planning a family reunion, grad party, or other event?

        If the bride and groom want a full-on package with every possible shot and tons of pre-wedding prep photography, then that is obviously a lot more work. But what if they just want candid shots from throughout the day, with no posed pictures? Isn’t that pretty much the same amount of work as a less formal event? Why not give us the choice?

        • Exactly!

          And I have to say that it really…gets me to see some comments, on Offbeat Bride of all places, saying “well they have to charge more or the bride won’t be happy because it’s not perfect! You NEED to provide these things at a wedding!”

          Um, to be honest, stuff like that makes me feel like we all just went through an Internet Wormhole and we’re over on that other website.

          • Um, to be honest, stuff like that makes me feel like we all just went through an Internet Wormhole and we’re over on that other website.

            Can I ask that we dial down the outrage a half-knotch? I want to leave comments open, but only if we can keep discussion constructive — Knot-bashing and belittling other commenters doesn’t feel constructive to me.

          • Fair enough.

            How about…”Vendors charge more because the bride won’t be happy if it’s not perfect, and people need that extra service at a wedding”…is something I very strongly disagree with, because it is not true (in my experience anyway) that every bride demands perfection. I know I don’t. My friends who’ve gotten married didn’t.

  7. I’m all for not getting screwed over, but as much as I try not to mention that I’m having a wedding…I just can’t help it. Invariably the people I contact will ask “what is your event?” and I just don’t have it in me to prevaricate.

    Which is another reason I have my wedding planner. It’s her job to find me ethical vendors who are not going to take advantage, just because I’m getting married.

  8. Speaking from the catering stand point and from experience. Weddings are more work. period. We may be making the same food but have to make it “extra” special so that this memorable event will come out with happy memories! We hire more help for weddings and make our presentations more unique for that event. Even our hall: we have to put special touches and more work hours in prepping for weddings and longer cleanup afterwards. Don’t lie to vendors!

    • Okay, I sincerely doubt this is what you meant, but, to me, when someone says they charge more because they have to make the same food “extra” special, this reads one of two ways. 1) They make the same food, and call it “extra” special or 2) if I hired them for a family reunion or graduation party, I’d get mediorce food, because it’s not an important event worth making memorable.

      Needing additional staff is a valid reason for higher fees. Using higher quality or more expensive ingredients – at the clients request – is a reason for higher fees. But it’s this “extra” special stuff that just smacks of a wedding tax to me. How do you itemize “extra” special on a invoice?

      • Yes! Thank you!

        For any catered event I host, I’d expect high quality food and sufficient staffing to ensure that people are not waiting an unreasonable amount of time to be served. If a caterer can’t provide that level of service for every event they put on, they shouldn’t be in the business.

    • OK I understand that if you need more staff or more decorations or more expensive ingredients, then you are within your rights to charge more money. But what if the bride and groom only want the level of service and quality of ingredients that comes with a more standard event?

      It just seems unfair not to let the couple make that choice for themselves. Why not offer, say, two packages one standard and one extra special, then let the planners select which one would best fit their events — be they weddings, grad parties, family reunions, corporate events, whatever?

      I think the “bridezilla” culture has pervaded our world so deeply that everyone involved in the wedding industry automatically assumes that everyone wants maximum levels of extra effort performed for their wedding.

      This is the exact reason that my husband and I chose not to use a caterer for our wedding. We met with several who offered the type of food we wanted, but they all had huge extra charges for weddings. Instead we went to our favorite restaurant, arranged in advance for a giant takeout order and, with the help of our parents, set up a buffet to feed our family and friends. It worked out great and we didn’t pay any more than standard menu price for everything.

      • I exactly agree with this. If I don’t want anything extra special and I want simple service, they should give me that option. And I’m also with the first replier, why do they do this extra special stuff only for weddings? Does this mean they will do a bad job just because an event is not a wedding? A good business will give great service no matter what they are doing.

        • Because the wedding is – HOPEFULLY – a one in a lifetime occurrence.
          we, service providers, want to ensure that we do the most amazing job possible to keep ungrateful people such as yourself happy.
          If you don’t think that you “need” the extras, it does not mean that you’re right. You are not a service provider, you have no idea what is behind the service. Let us do OUR job.

          • There are many once-in-a-lifetime events that aren’t weddings – children can only turn one, or sixteen, or eighteen, or twenty-one, once in their lifetime. You can only have one 25th anniversary, one high-school graduation, one Confirmation or b’nai mitzvah – those things are as important, if not more important, milestone events in a person’s life, when compared to a wedding – and unlike a wedding, you can only have one.

            Service providers should not lose sight of the fact that this day is important, but that other days, and other events, are equally worthy of extra care. And if someone doesn’t want an extra service, they are entitled to their preference.

            If I went to McDonalds and politely refused to add an apple pie or ice cream cone to my order, the kid behind the counter wouldn’t call me ungrateful – so why is a bride or groom ungrateful if they don’t want an extra photo album or fancy Champagne?

            I don’t have to do your job to have an opinion about which of the services you offer I do or don’t want. Yeah, a bridal couple who wants to skip that extra album isn’t going to bring you as much revenue as the couple that wants the whole shebang, but that doesn’t mean they should be punished – maybe they’d love to have that extra album, but he has crazy medical expenses and she has so much student debt that they just can’t afford it (and the parents can’t pay for it either).

            If you can’t slice up your service package to omit whatever they deem to be unnecessary or beyond their means, both client and provider have the option to walk away from the transaction. There’s no need to be rude if someone doesn’t want to / can’t buy what you’re selling.

          • My Bat Mitzvah was also a once in a lifetime event. In fact, I know only one person who had a second bar mitzvah (when he turned 83, based on the Jewish saying that life begins again at 70). I know several people who have had more than one wedding. So if “once in a lifetime” is the justification for charging more for the exact same products/services, why do most vendors charge more for weddings than Bar and Bat Mitzvahs?

    • I have a problem with this thinking. I may be a bride, but I actually hate all that “fancy presentation” shiz that some places seem to do. I want food that tastes good and will be enough for people to have a good feed. Standard service is fine, people are going to have fun (or not) regardless of what the damn food looks like!

    • But, see, here’s the thing….you are generalizing. Not every bride demands perfection and all those “special” touches that we can do without. Let us know, and if we WANT all those special little extras, fine, we can pay for them. But if we don’t, don’t just assume we do and charge so much. People who are getting married are not all the same, and we need options just as everyone else does.

      • One thing to maybe keep in mind about all those ‘extras’ though, is that while you don’t want them, there are other people at your wedding who might expect them, and some of those people are probably potential customers for the vendor. I would think that’s something they have to keep in mind when deciding what level of service to provide – obviously some things (the extra album from the photographer, for example) really are clearly options and you can leave them out and people will probably be aware you may have intentionally left it out because you didn’t want it, but when you’re talking about number of servers or experience level of servers – it makes a much worse impression on the guests if the food is late or service gets mixed up at a wedding versus say a corporate event. And that impression could be the difference for the vendor between landing the next job or not – there is a lot of word of mouth/personal experience with these things.

        I’m not saying you should just pay for everything they ask, no questions, but it does seem reasonable to keep in mind that it’s in the best interest of most service vendors to do the best job they possibly can, and the demands of a wedding may mean that costs a little more than doing the best job for a different sort of event, given the stress and emotional value people typically put on weddings. I mean, if things get messed up during the reception, are you going to go around to all the tables and say ‘our bad, we didn’t want to pay for the extra servers the caterer said we should have’ or are guests going to come away assuming that the caterer just doesn’t know how to properly handle the demands of a reception?

  9. I’m on board with the omission for non-attending vendors. What the hell difference does it make to a hairdresser whether this is a wedding or not, if you’re getting the same kind of hairdo that you would for any other special event?

    Now, for a photographer, there would be a difference due to the type of event, but then again, I wonder what the TECHNICAL differences are for a photographer who is asked for a bunch of candids of an event that turns out to be a wedding rather than a reunion? I mean, what if a bride and groom just wanted photojournal-style shots of the party, and not posed or highly edited photos of a ceremony/guests?

    • That’s an interesting point — I think having a photographer just at the reception would be a whole different thing than doing the full wedding.

    • Yes I said the same thing above. Why not give brides and grooms the option of having a family reunion-type package, where they spend less but only get candid shots?

    • Ann- I’m a photographer and while the photographs are TECHNICALLY the same (different editing DOES come into play for my wedding clients then a family reunion from a style standpoint), how we CREATED the imagery may be different. I bring strobes, a large assortment of lenses, etc. to a wedding because my experience says (1) I’m going to need them for a ceremony and (2) again, from a style standpoint different lenses yield different results. When I’m shooting a wedding, I have no less than 6 or 7 lenses with me. When I shoot a party, however, I usually only carry 2 which won’t give the same result as my wedding kit. I also don’t bring my second shooter along to parties but she comes with me to every wedding.

  10. As a Photographer, I would be upset too! There is soooooooo much more planning and work that go into a wedding than into a family reunion and I would not have brought my 2nd shooter! I would feel ill prepared and bamboozled and the photo’s would SUFFER! Be up front and honest with people, it brings good karma! 😉

    • See, I’m getting a lot of that from photographers (I’m being TOTALLY upfront about the fact that it’s a wedding), but I’m going with a pitch like this: the ceremony is on a weekday morning, less than an hour, in a courthouse, with ten guests. At the end, I’d like a disc of high-res, largely unedited images. What’s the lowest you can go on this? And nine out of ten photogs are like, “I start at $2500.” And I’m like, “Yeah, but I start at THE SMALLEST WEDDING YOU WILL EVER SEE IN YOUR LIFE.”

      Now, I can’t shoot a photo of my own foot without hurting myself, so I’m not going to pretend that I know anything about this, but it seems like a lot of wedding packages are aimed at larger shindigs; they start at a certain rate that includes two shooters and four hours of time. I feel like maybe someone could negotiate a lower rate if the event itself is small, in the winter, on a weekday, etc.?

      I imagine that travel costs, set-up, etc. probably involve a baseline cost, though?

      For the record, I have found someone who is being reasonable AND enthusiastic, but it took longer than I thought it would.

      • HI Ann D, I am so sorry that happened to you! There are a lot of photographer’s that will charge by the hour. If 9 out of 10 say that, go directly to the tenth one!! We charge 300 for the first hour and 250 for every hour there after.

      • Hey Anne D! Try and find someone who is just starting out with their photog. career. I try and find people like this for clients of mine with small budgets, small weddings, etc. You can do it, it just takes some time and energy. Ask around. Experienced photographers, who rely solely on their income (to run their small business) have some strict policies. Understandably. Good luck!!

      • Ann, they might have quoted you high because they didn’t want to do the dig. Especially if you’re doing it on a Saturday, that means the photographer has to take 3 hours of time (hour setup, hour shooting, hour breakdown) out of the day to make a very small amount of money, in the end. They may want to be able to make the money they normally would in a weekend for a large wedding, so they’re overcharging to either scare you off or get their money’s worth on a productive day.

        I agree with one of the other commenters — ask for either an associate photographer or find someone who is just starting out — an art student at the local college, perhaps.

        • That would make sense, yeah, except like I said, it’s on a weekday, and we just wanted candids – so, no special lighting or posing. Anyway, we found someone pro that is really psyched about the gig, but I can see why it’s hard for non-photographers like myself, for instance, to not see much of a difference between party pics and wedding pics, especially if what you WANT really is a bunch of party pics (not photos of the dress, shoes, prep time, adorable details, etc).

      • yeah, I have the same problem – the ‘trend’ these days seems to be for the photographer & assistants to arrive in the morning and shoot every single aspect of the day, candids, posed, etc etc. This produces some *great* images, and I’m sure is worth it for those who can afford this, but it results in a whole crop of photographers for whom it’s just not worth signing up for less than a 6 hour gig. And for my own itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny wedding, well, sure, it’d be cool to have fancy-schmancy pix of me doing my hair or whatever, but basically I just want a wedding picture. I want to hire someone for like, 1 to 2 hours. Because that’s all I can afford. I’m becoming resigned to not having a photographer at all. Sigh.

        • As a bride who decided to, more or less, go without a photographer, let me tell you that I have zero regrets.

          We had a fairly small budget and decided that we wanted to spend as much of our money as possible on elements of the wedding that would be memorable to our guests, not ourselves. So photography went out the window.

          Like you said, this option wouldn’t work for someone who wants every little detail before, during and after the wedding documented. But I figured I’d be happy if we got 10 shots I really liked from the whole day, which we did.

          Our plan:
          1. I asked a friend with a really nice camera to shoot pictures during the ceremony only. I knew from previous weddings he’d take pictures anyway, so really all I was asking for was edited versions of the pics he would already take. Then I said he could take as long as he wanted to edit them. (It’s been more than six months and he still hasn’t gotten around to it and I honestly don’t care as long as I get them before, let’s say, our second anniversary.) I told him that once the ceremony was over, he should put the camera away and tell anyone asking for a picture to eff off. I also offered to pay a small amount, which he refused. But I did get him a nice thank you gift.

          2. Sent out an e-mail to our closest friends and family members about a week before the wedding, making sure everyone knew that we didn’t have an official photographer, so could they please share their digital files with us through a special Flickr account that I set up for the wedding.

          3. Used Flickr to order prints of my favorite photos from the pool.

          Like I said, zero regrets.

          • If you do this…. or even if you don’t….
            Since most people shoot digital pictures now – you can easily buy a multi-card reader (I think I got mine for $25) and bring a lap top. One of the bridal party can man the computer at the end of the night… a simple “hey, if you took/ are taking pictures today/night please grab me before you leave. We would love to get them from you for the bride and groom.” I’ve done this for the past 4 weddings I was in and have always gotten at least a couple hundred extra pics. It’s so much easier than running after people later.

      • I shoot weddings like this – courthouse weddings with 10 or fewer guests – as the majority of my clients. I would never hand over unedited images.

    • Thing is, some couples are perfectly happy with no 2nd shooter and photos that are good, but reflect the fact that there was only one person taking pictures.

      What I’d like to see is instead of vendors telling us what we NEED (“you need a 2nd shooter or your photos will suffer!”), they give us options about what you can choose to have if you want (“if you want better images, you can pay $X more and bring a 2nd shooter”).

      I mean, my grandma’s wedding had one person, who was barely even a pro, taking pictures and while they weren’t the masterpieces we see today, they were fine. Some of us are happy with that. It shouldn’t have to be “fork over for the masterpiece…or get nothing”. It should be “I’ll take some pretty nice photos for you, or you can pay more and I’ll deliver masterpieces”.

      I think that right there may be why *some* couples lie to vendors.

  11. The thing about all this is that a lot of it has to do with assumptions.

    For example, one vendor might say: “We may be making the same food but have to make it “extra” special so that this memorable event will come out with happy memories! We hire more help for weddings and make our presentations more unique for that event” (thanks to Sarah, above).

    But that is all based on the assumption that the couple wants those special touches, those extra decorations. What if the people who are ordering services really are minimalist? Or are planning on doing their own special touches entirely differently? The truth is, it is a little unfair to mark something up (be it catering, or whatever), based on what you think someone meant to order extra, but didn’t.

    Why not just be up front about all associated charges? Like, “We could charge $200 for these extra decorations we usually do for weddings, would you like that included?” Leave it up to the customer, since they’re the ones paying the bill.

    I realize that the “wedding charges” in some cases (photographers, for example) are legitimate. But photographers can also clearly delineate why those costs exist. If a vendor can’t itemize that extra wedding cost, and if it can’t be negotiated, I say that’s a crappy vendor.

    • I was just about to make this exact point! Thanks so much for posting it. If what you’re really offering is a “Tier 1” high quality service and a “Tier 2” everyday quality service, why not just let people pick what they want? I mean, there could be some family reunions out there that would really like those “special day” touches.

  12. My future husband and I discussed this too. He was all for it – if it was someone that wouldn’t find out in the process, but I just couldn’t do it. The thing is though, I’m doing most of the things one would hire others to do. I don’t see the issue in not saying it’s a wedding cake, if you’re going to go pick it up, and the same with flowers, or even your dress, if you are wanting something simple/low-key/not a typical wedding dress. Personally I told my dressmaker. She does wedding dresses! But also, I’m too damn excited that I’m getting married to hide it.

    But as Ariel said, your venue, your photographer, your caterer, your DJ, these people are going to find out, and you know what, their services are going to be different for a wedding than just some party. Also, I can’t imagine them not being pissed that you lied to them. I mean, even if it didn’t change how they would service you, if I was in their shoes I’d be pissed just because it’s a shitty thing to do to someone.

    As others have said, if you don’t like their prices, look for someone else. I personally found a venue and a photographer with amazing prices!

    OMG, I am in love with my photographer! She offers SUCH an amazing wedding package, and we’re only having her for 4 hours!! Yet still she wanted to give us all these wedding extras. She rocks! And I think she’s worth every penny. So you know, it’s not all bad being up front with people!

  13. As a wedding photographer and a previous off beat bride. I’m all for not disclosing the information to non-service vendors when it’s small. Like you’ll need just your bouquet or need to reserve a block of rooms at a hotel (we did this because they would only block out for weddings held at their venue, so we said family reunion – but I got ready on location so they had no way of knowing). I think eventually vendors will catch on.

    As a wedding photographer I would be fuming to show up to an event that the bride and groom lied about. I wouldn’t give them sub-par service however I’m sure my mood & upbeat attitude wouldn’t be what it usually is. The reason why wedding photography costs so much is because it’s a once in a lifetime event. I’m on my toes from the minute I arrive until the minute the bride and groom leave the reception. I’m absolutely crazy about my memory cards and backing files up. I also bring a lot more equipment to a wedding – so you might not get the wedding images you see on my site that require extra lighting. With “family reunions” and “large birthday parties” our prices are cheaper because we’re not shooting continuously and organizing groupings of people or giving the guest of honor about an hour long private portrait session.

    As a word of warning to any bride who would try this with a service provider, it’s most likely in your contract with your vendor what they’re providing the service for ie “family reunion”. If you had a really crabby vendor they can claim you breached the contract and refuse service. You did after all sign a contract for a different type event – They don’t have to honor it. And it could potentially lead to a lawsuit for you because if your reception site had to purchase & prep the food, hire waitstaff, etc.

  14. I am a photographer and don’t typically shoot “parties” , but like you said – they would be COMPLETELY different things with totally different coverage, and MUCH more editing and post production time involved. I feel like if some one did that to me, I would almost want to get out my contract and just say I was only hired to shoot group shots and the party – and that they could pay me my wedding fees to shoot the actual wedding. I mean, I cant imagine I could ever do that to some one (even if they did it to me) since I would not want to put them in that terrible place. But it would be pretty heartless to lie to people to save money – just for them to get underpaid.

  15. we told our caterer that we were having a family reunion because we got engaged. One month out, we told them we were getting married. We already had our price quote and knew what we were getting. The caterer thought it was clever that we decided to get married and didn’t get upset at us. She tried to make us change our menu at the last minute but we were dead set on what we wanted (gourmet pizza buffet!)…No hurt feelings! Plus, we didn’t spend an arm and a leg…

  16. I’m a photographer and if I came up against this I think I’d be extremely angry. I try my best to cater to what a couple wants on their big day – if you don’t want me to photograph the bride getting ready then the price is less than if you want me there from beginning to end. If I’m just photographing a family reunion the price is less than a wedding because I foresee less of a workload. That doesn’t mean to say that I don’t put in any effort but I’m not expecting to do a ceremony, bridal shots and everything in between.

    If I was to turn up and find out that what I imagined to be a family party with a few group shots and a lot of candids had suddenly turned into a lot more I can imagine I’d feel pretty shafted by the couple. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to cause a scene on their wedding day but certainly a quiet word off to one side to try and sort out any miscommunication.

  17. I feel that lying to someone like my photographer about what I’m paying them to do by pulling a bait-and-switch is highly, highly unethical. Different events call for different types of photography, and weddings are definitely Big Deals, and I know if I were hired to do something casual and I found out I’d been lied to, I’d be very angry because working a wedding is WAY more intense than a simple family BBQ might be.

    Lying by omission about a tent rental? Meh, whatever. Just ask to rent a tent. Lying to someone who’s going to be putting forth work for you specifically on the day by working WITH you? Bad karma and very unethical.

    As for hairdressers, I wouldn’t mess with them either. They’re performing a service for you — treat them the way you’d like to be treated. If you’re getting really fancy hair done, pay what they’re asking you to pay, or find someone who will do what you want for less *honestly*. Plus, if you have an appointment for wedding hair, they may be more on-time with you, they may be sure to be running on time whereas if it’s a regular appointment, they may not realize that rescheduling at the last minute isn’t possible for you. You get what you pay for — if you try to wheedle around paying the proper price for what you want, you may pay less……and not get quite what you wanted.

  18. Holy Cow is right! I don’t even see how it is possible to lie to a Photographer like that. It is absolutely a breach of contract and just flat-out-wrong! Wrong. I feel so sorry for him/her. I agree whole-heartedly with Sarah: weddings are nothing like any other event. The stress level of the bride, groom, families, etc. is nothing like that at a family reunion. Not even close. Vendors have extremely strict deadlines/timelines, everything has to be perfect and in no way do they want to risk their reputation or disappoint their clients by doing a poor job. The stress, energy and the hours alone for creating something/providing something for a wedding warrants the price (in most cases).

    As someone who helps others plan events (mostly weddings) I only recommend vendors who are hard working, ethical people who love what they do. If you feel you are getting a shady markup, don’t go with them. There are plenty of people who would love to help you, and who will explain their prices for doing so…

  19. As a wedding photographer, the last thing you want to do is annoy the person who can airbrush the other way 🙂

    I understand the need to save some spendula on your wedding but a part of being professional is about being prepared and if I showed up to an event not knowing it was a wedding then I would feel a little, well annoyed but the couple really do not do themselves any justice as ultimately its them who lose out, you need an honest relationship with your clients to get the best out of them on film…….it takes a lot of talent and skill to be a photographer. Having said that my prices stay the same regardless what type of event it is because I still put the same amout of passion into all my jobs.

    • HA! I like that. “Oh, you wanted me to show your LEFT side, did you?” (mwahahahahaha!)

  20. “Having said that my prices stay the same regardless what type of event it is because I still put the same amout of passion into all my jobs. ” Amen, Kitty.

    I’m chiming in from behind the hair stylist’s chair here…if one of my clients lied to me about their wedding, I would be hurt & offended. I have a good relationship with them and they usually tell me their good news. It would especially sting if they did an aha! reveal…almost to say “YOU’VE BEEN HAD!” If anyone plans on doing this to their stylist, I recommend not telling them at all, ever. Especially if you plan on having that person do your hair in the future.

    Personally, my updo prices are the same for everyone, whether you are a bride or not. And it would really be their loss, because when I know someone is getting married, I come in early with bagels, muffins, and juice. 😉

  21. Not cool. I would be upset if anyone in any situation lied to me and misrepresented themselves.
    I can’t speak for other wedding photographers, but in my business Saturdays in May-Oct. are at a premium because it is wedding season in New England – it is simple economics – supply & demand. I reserve Saturdays for weddings with an 8 hour minimum.

    Unfortunately, I think when most people look at prices for wedding photography, they assume that they are paying for 8 hours of the photographer’s time which is usually not the case.

    I photograph about 25 weddings a year in addition to the photography I do for commercial, portrait and boudoir clients. I’ve given a breakdown of the average time I spend on a wedding.
    Please keep in mind that every photographer is different and has a different way of working and different standards for editing which may require more or less time.

    Pre-wedding – avg. 5 hours:
    Initial consult and in person meeting, travel to and from in person meeting.
    Conversations via email, phone & in person meetings regarding cost and contract, details and timeline for wedding day. Send confirmation emails and letters upon receipt of contract and payments.

    Wedding Day – avg. 15 hours:
    Clean lenses & cameras, load charged batteries into cameras, format CF cards,
    double check location and print directions, print contract, timeline, lists of bridal party & family names. Load gear.

    Travel to event. Quick survey of site.
    8 hours of photography including, but not limited to preparations, ceremony, formals & reception.
    Return trip from event.
    Recharge batteries.
    Download images from CF cards.
    Back up files from Wedding day onto second external drive.

    Post Wedding – avg. 15-20 hours:
    Organize image files from 2 photographers (2000-3500) into editing software.
    Sort files, choose best images to tell the story of the day.
    Select 20 favorite images for blog and/or social media site.
    Edit initial favorites, post to web.
    Color correct and edit about 800- 1000 image files. Convert RAW files to jpegs.
    Create lo-res jpegs for online gallery.
    Create online gallery of edited image files, upload images and personalize gallery settings.
    Send email to client with gallery info.
    Create hi-res jpeg files for client disks. Burn client disks.
    Package and ship client disks.

    Additional time not included in averages above:
    Design Album, book or prep custom prints for professional lab extra.

    In addition to time, photographers have many liabilities in their field, and with the increased crowds and multiple locations often visited on a typical wedding day, all of the liabilities are increased. On a wedding day, I may need to go to 3-4 locations, drive 100+ miles, shoot in rain or inclement weather and risk having my gear damaged by intoxicated or clumsy guests – conditions which don’t usually come in to play on a portrait or boudoir session.

    Other factors to consider are:
    – product credits, prints or albums that may be included in a package.
    – payroll for assistants, second photographers or both.
    – material costs for disks, packaging materials, costs for online galleries, etc.

    I hope this sheds some light on how some photographers base their wedding prices.
    I love photographing weddings and have a blast doing it, but I generally make less per hour on wedding photography than I do in other areas of my business. Good luck with your wedding planning!

  22. See, now I’m stressing about my hair, hardcore. I already have to pay the “long hair tax” on my updos, and I’m dreading paying the “wedding tax” on top of that so much, that I haven’t made an appointment yet.

    Having said that, any of you OBBs that know of any good, ETHICAL hairstylists in the vicinity of Seneca Lake, NY? 🙂

    • I’m a photographer, not a hairstylist so not a hair expert but I have long hair. It’s not a “long hair tax” long hair takes longer to style therefore costs more. And it’s not a “wedding tax” it’s called if you want your hair to look like this all day and night through sweating, dancing, partying, pictures and hugs from every relative you’re going to have to pay more because a lot more work goes into it than if you want fancy hair for your dinner date that lasts maybe two hours.

      • Excuse me?

        If that’s the case, why is there no “bridesmaid tax?” OR, worse, why is there no “prom tax” or “homecoming tax”?

        At my current stylist, on their website, it says that regular updos start at $65, and BRIDAL updos are $85. No explanation of the extra $20. I’m not getting married in this city, so it’s moot, but you can be sure I’d ask why I was getting a $20 surcharge for what is the exact same service.

        And, also, regarding the “long hair tax,” I still call BS. I’ve never once – once! – been charged more to get my hair COLORED, and that I would understand (my hair needs twice as much color and takes twice as long). Yet I’m almost always charged significantly more to have my hair put up, AND usually not quoted a cost when I have sat in a chair. (Case in point – a few years ago, I was a bridesmaid and we were all quoted $50 for updos. When I cashed out? $65. And at the time, my hair was not NEARLY as long as it is now.) I’ve sat next to people in the chair with shoulder length hair (mine is halfway down my back). It generally doesn’t take my hair any longer. So, forgive me for not understanding why one thing costs more than another.

        Also, forgive me for being a bit put off by what would potentially cost me over $100 that may cost my bridesmaid $65.

        • My hair is very nearly down to my waste and I will also say it is TOTALLY a long hair tax for just a simple cut. Girls with super long hair generally don’t have complicated hair cuts (all one length, all one length with bangs, or long layers). My cuts are always finished before the girl beside me getting some super involved pixie cut.

          I am personally having my a hair very simply styled (half up, enhancement of my already present waves/curls)- like HELL am I paying $100 for something that would cost me $30 for any other special event.

          • ME TOO. My hair is not as long as yours (I can’t seem to get it to my waist – I wish!), but same idea. My hair is long layers, and I only cut it every 3-4th time I go to the salon. I want a similar style to you, too, hence why the whole thing is stressing me out!

        • I feel your pain about the hair! I paid the “normal” up-do price for my trial run, but will be charged nearly double that for my day-of hair. My hair is super long, but I would hope that you would put just as much effort into it for the trial run as you would for the day of (probably moreso)! I understand that more hair means more work, but the stylist is spending the same amount of time with me as the other girls. Charge for a 30 minute session or for an hour session, but don’t charge me extra telling me you want me to look perfect. Guess what – I want my maids to look perfect too!

          For Irisira above, I have been charged extra for highlights before, but I’m not sure about color. I was so knocked over by the price for highlights that I never got full color! : )

          • FYI, full color is actually cheaper than highlights, because it is A LOT less work (slapping color on vs. carefully separating the hair). Actually, too, for highlights I think charging more for long hair makes less sense than all over color – it’s not more work to highlight long hair than short hair. If anything, it’s more work to highlight thick hair than fine hair. But, the “using more product” adage technically applies here as well. Even still.

          • I’m a hairdresser with 16 years experience and I would like to respectfully answer to as many of your comments as I can. First and foremost what I charge is based on my years of training, education, skill, experience and expertise.
            That said, I charge the same price for an updo regardless of the event OR the length of hair. However, if anyone wants a practice updo I charge seperately for that. As a matter of fact Brides hair tends to take more time, as much as 30-45 minutes more in some cases, because I think the expectations of the client are much higher and specific.
            As far as hair cut prices, your assertations that long hair is simpler than short hair, or that you only cut half an inch at a time, so should be charged less is simply a mis-understanding on your part. A large part of what you are paying for is my skill and knoweledge about what is best for your unique head. Also, maybe it takes 3 minutes to dry and style Ms. Pixie, and I have spent 45 minutes blowing out Ms. Mid-back. If there wasn’t some skill there, wouldn’t you just let your best friend cut your hair in the kitchen and hang on to all your cash? For color, its somewhat less technical to ‘slap on’ some color, but you are paying me to know enough to mix the perfect shade, that won’t turn green, or break your hair off like you did in your bathroom that time. Hilighting long hair takes far more time and product than short hair. Sometimes thick hair takes a lot more than fine hair because you have to take tiny sections, etc. There are TONS of variables that you aren’t privy to, cuz part of our skill is to make it look easy.
            I suggest you ASK your stylist why they charge what they do, instead of assuming its some kind of conspiracy. Any professional should gladly talk with you and help you understand where the value is. If they can’t, or won’t, find someone else.

  23. Wow! From yet another photographer’s standpoint, trust me when I tell you that weddings are much more intense than a family picnic/renunion. Not to say that I don’t put my all into both types of events..I do..it’s just a different level of work. Nothing wrong with trying to save some money, but perhaps try to work with your photographer or find another one if the price isn’t working with your budget. Ditto to the posters above, it’s just not right to lie.—->Kitty said it right “As a wedding photographer, the last thing you want to do is annoy the person who can airbrush the other way”

  24. If the vendor won’t be at the event, don’t specify what it is.

    If they will be, tell the truth.

    As a wedding coordinator and a florist, you cannot screw around with vendors just at will–they also have budgets to meet, rent to pay, mouths to feed.

    Ask for price cuts when and where you can.
    Most vendors will be willing to lower their costs at least a bit–and if not, go to someone else.

    But for heaven’s sake, if the vendor will be at your event, tell them that it’s a wedding. Not doing so is rude.

  25. My wedding hair and make-up stayed the same price whether I was getting married or having a “big” party.

    My husband occasionally does wedding photography, and I know he wouldn’t be angry if someone lied, but he would be very uncomfortable. Even the equipment he might bring can change, and the price he quotes people would HAVE to change, due to the amount of postprocessing he puts into wedding photos. It is one thing to go to have a couple ugly buildings or a beer can in a pic in a family reunion, but a lot of people wouldn’t want that in their wedding photos. Removing that can take a lot of time.

    • I agree that you should be honest with service providers. I would be too afraid of them either cancelling or doing a subpar job if they found out, and I don’t like to do business that way. But I do think photographers should offer different options regarding retouching rather than automatically build it in based on the type of event. I own a copy of Photoshop and know how to do a lot of the retouching you describe myself. If your husband would offer me that option for other types of events, shouldn’t he also offer it for my wedding?

      • It doesn’t work that way, Laura.
        Your photoshop skills will do little good if you’re not getting RAW files. And, if your photographer is any good, you will NOT get those unless you pay a serious premium.

  26. I worked for a catering company for a number of years, and I can’t tell you the number of times we would say to each other, in our recap meetings after events, “how can we charge enough next time for all the extra work we did for this wedding?” I agree with Sarah’s above comment: weddings always mean more work for the caterer than other events, period, end of story. Additionally, it’s not always easy to itemize in advance what those hidden grunt-hours or costs are going to end up being, whether it’s opening the reception site at 7:00 on the morning of the event so that the bride’s cousin’s wife can decorate, providing meals for guests who didn’t r.s.v.p. but ta-daaa! still show up, or orchestrating a grand entrance for a disorganized bride and groom who really want one, but didn’t arrange with the d.j. for it.

    Having said that, I think that this type of disingenuous behavior on the part of brides and grooms has a lot to do with the perceived disingenuous wedding taxes that so many vendors exact, whether legitimate or not. Fight fire with fire? Yeah, maybe sometimes.

    • Having spent part of my collegiate career working for a restaurant which did a lot of both on and off-site catering, I feel your pain on some of these things (7am, especially). However, I do think things can either be itemized or else simply not allowed. Otherwise, costs become very murky and subjective (IE: “weddings always mean more work for the caterer than other events, period, end of story”).

      For example, I worked the easiest wedding in the world, as well as the most epically awful breakfast birthday brunch craptastic extravaganza ever. The birthday was harder, the people were needy, awful, wanted in at 5am, etc. than any wedding I’ve ever witnessed. But that doesn’t mean all birthday parties are horrid. It”s just anecdotal evidence… and that’s the thing. Saying all weddings are harder is equally untrue. It’s like saying all weddings are big shindigs, which they’re not.

      My caterer knows I’m getting married, but believe you me, if she hadn’t revealed all costs, I would have dropped her like a hot potato (in fact, I almost did, for that very reason).

      Also, I don’t think that the “wedding tax” that goes to caterers usually goes to the bulk of the employees. I know when I worked catering jobs it didn’t.

      • Thank you for recognizing that not all weddings are big, elaborate affairs. (And not all non-wedding events are simple.) Itemize your costs and set strict rules and then everyone will be happy.

  27. I have heard this on Bride boards before about “As soon as you say Wedding the price goes up”, well for SOME Brides the Drama level goes up as well! (Not all!!!) So does our Workload, Stress level, and basic Business bottom line….and here comes Momzilla to the Fittings to add MORE work and stress to the entire picture for all…
    It’s just not the same as someone who wants to have The Custom Order Gown of her dreams made so she can go to many social events and not go shopping constantly.
    Our minimum $ is X regardless of Wedding or not. But our Contract states many little things that can add up for any type of ‘Zilla Customer regardless of her intended use. I’ve had several Brides cry poverty to me asking for deals and then found out they’re marrying Royalty (literally!) or other big $ scenarios, so crocodile tears don’t work with me anymore.

    If I were a Photographer or Caterer, it’s a lie and unethical of a Client to play that hand. Period.

  28. I can see both sides of this. Photographers do need to know the kinds of things they’ll be photographing, how much time & energy, what kind of equipment. But I fail to see why a caterer would need to know, or a rental company.

    For me, when I went to one local vendor to look at renting chairs & tables, as soon as I said it was for a wedding, the salesclerk starting trying to steer me to limousines, photographers, caterers, the whole thing. Very annoying! Maybe for some people that would be helpful but it immediately made me think, “Oh, over here is our kickback table with business cards…”

    • Yes, we ran into this when pricing chair rentals. All of a sudden, there was tons of pressure for a tent, lights, a dance floor all this other stuff we didn’t want. So when we rented speakers we just said they were for a party. We picked them up and dropped them off ourselves and no one was the wiser.

  29. I have to say, I’m in the same camp with those who said that they’re just too excited to lie to their vendors about the event.

    I’m not against lying by omission per se, but in any case where you will have more than a 60 second exchange with the vendor, you will probably find yourself in a situation where you either have to come clean or run the risk of it developing into a much more elaborate ruse, because most decent people in the service industry are friendly and curious folk who will try to make conversation and find out about your event in order to give you the best service they can.

    As it goes I’m lucky enough not to need many vendors as I have a very talented bunch of friends but if I felt I was being exploited for the old ‘wedding tax’ I would be up front about it. It doesn’t hurt to make a friendly enquiry as to what this extra money actually gets you. And if you don’t like the answer, find someone else.

    I initally wanted to hold my reception in a live music venue above a cafe/bar which I know on a weekend night hires to music promotors for around £600 tops. For the wedding they quoted me £2000 for the room hire alone, with additional charges for everything else from tables and chairs to decor to bar staff. I walked away then and there as you might expect, and luckily managed to find a really great venue at a fraction of the price. I couldn’t afford the venue at that price in any case, but it was more the principle of the thing that put me off.

    I think the same principle applies to wedding vendors as to every other major purchase in life – know what you’re getting for your money, be it material goods, piece of mind or excellent service, and if you think it’s worth it then that’s all that matters.

    Personally I would always prefer to go with principled vendors even if it meant paying a little bit more with them. Then again, if I’d done my homework and was pretty damn sure a vendor was shady and I thought I could pull off the lie (I don’t think I’ve ever pulled off a lie in my entire life) then I might quite happily skank them back.

  30. I’m a full time wedding photographer. I charge the same for family reunions and other events as I do for weddings so I can’t see any advantage to lying to me. Between the contract and planning meetings I’m going to figure it out anyway. I’m just going to think people are nutty, and won’t take the job.

  31. I definitely think this could be better avoided with on-site vendors like caterers, bakers, and the like by being more aggressive and researched going into contract negotiations.

    If you hear a quote for the wedding food that you think seems high, it’s much smarter to ask what exactly it entails that incurs greater costs than a general ‘party’ package. If the vendor is able to come up with an itemized list of reasons why the wedding costs more, then you’ll understand the legitimate reasons for the extra charge and can make your decisions from there.

    The excuse that “we work harder” as vendors at weddings rather than parties is NOT a legitimate reason to overcharge. We should be working that hard all the time, consistently, at every party. If the “wedding package” comes with butlered service, higher quality ingredients, and more preparation time on the part of the vendor, that vendor had better be able to explain why that isn’t included in a “normal” package.

  32. I’m a photographer, too, and want to say that I’ve got two points of view. Yes, I think that for things like supplies… why does it matter what the purpose is for? I wouldn’t lie about what I was purchasing something for. But if it didn’t come up, I wouldn’t feel the need to mention that the chair rental was for a wedding.

    But really, if you are having a weekday ceremony for 1-2 hours, then a typical wedding package wouldn’t really apply to you. I’ve been asked to do a couple elopement packages. As long as it’s not a prime Saturday date, I’m okay giving them a “portrait session” that happens to be their wedding. To me, it’s about the same amount of time as an engagement session, and takes about the same amount of work. They are still paying the same amount per hour, there just isn’t a minimum number of hours they have to purchase.

    (Yes, my hourly rate is the same for EVERYONE.)

    • See, THAT’S what I was hoping to see a photographer say! Especially given how incredibly low-key we are trying to make the wedding and the photos. Lord knows if it gets to pose-y, my fiance will start making that FACE that he makes in photos. 🙂

      • Oh Lordy, your fiance is the one that makes the face? I’m the one in this couple. My man calls it my “picture day” smile. You know how little kids don’t know how to fake smile yet so they just show all their teeth and it looks kind of frightening? My man will literally look at some photos as we’re taking them and say ” awww come on you’re getting a little picture day-y” and I’ll be like I’m sick of taking pictures ._.

  33. Okay, I’ll chime in. *Puts on my wedding photographer hat*
    I might be a rare case where my wedding package price is less than my hourly rate. Even so… I would be really pissed if someone didn’t tell me that I was going to be shooting their wedding. Even though I’d be making more money for the time, there’s just a pre-wedding ritual I have, a headspace that I need to get myself into, certain clothes that I’d need to wear, not to mention the extra gear! I’d probably be SO thrown off and, well, confused, that the photos would not be as great as they could be. It’s hard to be artistic when you’re in WTF!? mode.

  34. If you can’t find a service in your price range, has any ever thought of just not having the service? Do your own hair. Have a potluck wedding. Put disposable cameras on tables. There is always an honest way.

    • I agree with this. There comes a point where you have to ask yourself, “Should I be trying to con someone to get what I want or should I just find an alternative to what I want.”

      • But it isn’t a con. You want an updo. Person X is offering the updo you want. You get an updo from them and are thrilled with their level of service. You did not want them to do a thing different or special. Why is it wrong for you not to tell them you are getting married? You paid for exactly what you got.

        • I absolutely agree. What this describes is not a con.. in fact, if you really think about it, it’s not even dishonest. If I walk into a stylist’s place and ask, “How much for an updo?” and she replies, “$75,” then that’s how much it costs.

          If it’s for my wedding, prom, my birthday, Wednesday… who cares? That’s the cost.

          • And that’s where the “Keep it to yourself” issue comes in for offsite service vendors. You don’t want to tell and they won’ fine out? Fine, don’t tell — but don’t do a big ol’ GOTCHA.

  35. In looking for a venue for my vow renewal, I found a place that had everything my husband and I were looking for. For an “8 Hour Private Event on a Weekend” the rate was $375. For a “12 Hour Wedding in High Season” the fee was $950.

    I don’t want to lie to the vendor. I don’t know if they consider a vow renewal with reception, separate from a wedding, but I am going to find out. It just saddens me greatly that potentially, our literally a 5 minute ceremony, could cost us almost $600.

    • Couldn’t you say it was an anniversary party with a 5 minute vow-renewal at the beginning? Maybe if you stressed the anniversary part, it would keep them from automatically assuming wedding. And after all, it’s true. A low-key vow renewal is nowhere close to the same thing as a full-blown wedding!

  36. It is rude to lie to vendors who are going to find out or who may need to know the difference to do a good job. Completely agree. And those vendors will be pissed off, of course.


    It’s JUST as rude / crass / unacceptable to stick a markup on prices in the first place, and that’s what so many people do. I mean, yeah, it’s good to get out and say “no, you shouldn’t lie” but then, there is very little equivalent respect on the other side – how many vendor conventions where weddings come up end with an admonishment by a speaker to “not lie to brides”? It’s been proven that, in fact, the opposite is true (“Upmark your services because you can! Tell the brides they NEED that service!”).

    So while we’re not lying to any vendors, and we wouldn’t lie to any vendors (we don’t need to lie to any vendors, which is good), I have a hard time feeling sympathy for many of the vendors who may be lied to: sure, many of them are decent, honest folk but it is absolutely not true that they all are. I also have a hard time judging a couple who would do this…even though it’s not something I would do. I agree, it just feels icky, but then marking up prices and/or tacking on services things that may not be necessary ALSO feels icky. Those services may be strongly advised or useful, but can I tell you how many vendors we vetted told me we “needed” some extra level of service that we absolutely did not need?

    In the end, it still sucks to fight fire with fire. There’s really only one clear path, but at least it’s honest: for every single thing you’re hiring a vendor for, you need to do your homework, find out what the true costs and benefits of any service are – not just “what’s the average price” because even advice websites will lie to you about that, but “what does this extra service cost to provide? Do we really need it?”, “What does it cost to do this for a party instead of a wedding?”, “Why is it higher for a wedding?”, “What do most people pay for it?” “What’s the value added?”

    Then, be ruthless.

    I mean it – use your newfound knowledge about what a fair price is and what you are getting for your money to vet, interview, analyze and question each one. Not in a bitchy Dragon Lady way (though honestly, I think that stereotype has its roots in some serious sexism) but in a frank, competent, “I know what I am talking about” way.

    On the website of one vendor we were looking at, it had two clearly different prices for a “corporate” package vs. a “wedding” package. I e-mailed (calling is better, but I live abroad so it’s hard) and asked what the difference was and why one was literally twice the price of the other. The response I got was a bunch of “make your super special day even more super duper special” drivel. They didn’t get my business.

    It takes a lot of extra time and effort, but then if you are thinking of dropping hundreds (or thousands, or even tens of thousands) of dollars on something, it’s worth it. You’d do it if you were researching plumbers, so why not photographers? You’d do it if you were hunting for a new car, so why not a caterer or a dress? If anything, these things aren’t really as weighty as a new car on the “prudent ways to spend money” list – they’re extra things you can tack onto a party if you want, and that’s all – so they deserve *more* scrutiny vis-a-vis how you spend your cash on them.

    It’s also a good job to give to a relative or friend itching to help or the part of a couple who is less “into” weddings: anyone can sink their teeth into researching prices and figuring out how to best spend money. (I don’t mean this in a bad way – most couples have one person who is more into wedding planning than the other. Doesn’t necessarily have to be the bride who’s into it and the groom who’s not). Don’t be afraid to negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Pretend you’re traveling in Egypt, India or China where you have to bargain for every last penny. It’s good practice.

    Side note: negotiating works. We love our rehearsal dinner venue, but in initial talks with them, I noticed that their contract had a “private dining room use fee” tacked on, to the tune of $150. Err? I thought the money they were charging us for food, which costs more than if I were to make it at home, would cover things like cleaning and prep work for use of the room. So my next e-mail to them said “We love your restaurant. We’d love to hold our dinner there, but I can’t help but notice this $150 ‘private dining room use’ charge. Other venues we’re looking at don’t have such a fee. Is there something that could be done about that?”

    “My manager says we can waive the fee.” Poof. Gone.

    Don’t be afraid to be upfront with vendors, either. If you are being quoted a price that all of your research tells you is a blatant rip-off – because it DOES happen, this isn’t hearts and roses fairyland where everyone’s sweet and nice – say so. Not like “You’re ripping me off!” but in a cold, efficient, “I’ve looked into this, and found that the average price for X service is Y dollars. Can you tell me why you’re charging Z dollars? What’s the value added for that increase in price?”

    If they argue with you (“No, it’s not Y, you heard wrong, it’s Z”) or try to sell you something you don’t need (“I charge Z because I provide useless services A,B and C”), bid them good day and leave. Find someone else. Try to negotiate if you’re good at that. If they have good reasons – be very, very ruthless in what constitutes a “good reason” – you might consider it.

    If every vendor in your area quotes a price that seems high to you (if you can’t justify an “oh, if this were my profession, I’d charge this”, it is quite possibly too high), well, it IS true that vendors know each other, network with each other and attend conventions with each other. It is entirely possible that the average price in your area is a result of everyone knowing what the competition charges. It may still be too much. At that point you get the fun job of looking into alternatives (do it yourself, do without).

    And it is absolutely OK to have someone else call each vendor to get a quote for a “birthday party” or “corporate event” or “family reunion”. It keeps ’em honest (because they DO know that people make such calls) and there is nothing immoral, unethical or illegal about calling around for price quotes, even for a party that doesn’t exist. Then call about a wedding. Sure, it means twice the work, but it’s worth it considering the sheer audacity of some markups.

    So, in the end, research, research, research. You’d do it for other big purchases so do it for this. Negotiate negotiate negotiate. Be steel-wool tough about prices. Don’t lie, but don’t take any BS.

    Make your vendor calls out with your balls out.

    • There’s also nothing wrong with taking a price quote, asking for the breakdown, and negotiating from there – your average vendor won’t always tell you up front why they charge more (if they do).

      As in, “Well, I charge X for weddings because I need to hire more staff/do more editing work/make it perfect/spend more time” can be met with “Well, we are happy with pictures of the same quality as a family reunion.” / “We don’t need that.” / “It’s OK if it’s not perfect. It just has to be good and professional.” / “I don’t need tons of editing or special photo effects. Just the basic editing you’d do for any other event is fine. It’s OK if we don’t look perfect.” / “The food doesn’t have to be some big fancy production. We just want food, like at an anniversary party or corporate dinner. Really. You can even put it in the contract.”

      …and see if the price goes down from there. That’s how we got our photographer. (“We love your work, but we can only budget for 4 hours of shooting, and we really need just the basics. No special blurred or jiggered photos, just basic editing. A CD is fine, no album or proof book needed.” We got a photographer who charges $2500 for an all-day shoot for $400 for just four hours of professional pictures, which is more than enough for us.)

  37. The idea that I would need to bargain makes me nervous. I’ve worked retail for years, and its always irritated me that people who ask for a deal sometimes get it (in some places, and in others, never), and people who don’t, don’t. There have been a lot of times when I’ve had clients essentially demand lower costs – including regular ones, whose incomes are well above the owners of the stores – even in situations where we can do absolutely nothing, and the attitude disgusts me.

    Because of this experience, I am simply not the bargaining type. I know that people who as for less *sometimes* get it, but I want to believe in a world where we charge people an honest price to start with, and I sympathize with the comments here from those who have had couples lie about their ability to afford things like photography. It bothers me that this works, and that as a society I feel we sort of endorse the behaviour.

    Our wedding’s still a couple years off, so this isn’t an issue yet, but I’m already nervous about having to feel cheated right from the get go for not trying to bargain. I have NO intention of lying, or even omitting the information, but there seems to be a correlation to me between concepts I find misogynist and stereotypical (like ‘bridezilla’) and the assertion that weddings are absolutely always so much more stress and work than everything else. I know I’m vain enough to want good photos, and hair and makeup and dress in them, so I’m happy to pay for extra attention from those service providers, especially the photographer. But just ’cause I’m a bride, doesn’t mean I’m going to cry or scream if the flowers or the chicken dish doesn’t have that extra something to it, and I do not want to pay for the assumption that I care about those things.

    I really appreciate some of the solutions here, like simply calling around and getting quotes for different events, and asking about the price difference. This might be a good way to ease myself into bargaining…

    • I understand that you just want to pay an honest price for the work and I sympathise. Don’t look at it as bargaining – look at it as research.

      Talk to the vendors, find out how much they charge and why they charge that much. Then look at at least two other vendors in the same area – get an idea of what you feel is a fair amount for the service that you are buying. You are then in a position to speak to the vendor that you feel most fits your idea of the wedding.

      If I feel a vendor is overcharging I wouldn’t go with them in the first place. I feel that I wouldn’t want to give my business to someone who is taking advantage – even if they were then to lower their prices.

    • I don’t think weddings do involve any more work than anything else: it’s true that vendors will try to squeeze more money out of a bride than a corporate contract, but in terms of the research you should do for the amount that you’re spending, it’s about the same IMHO. I’d research a potential new car or house or other major purchase just as voraciously as we’re researching our wedding vendors.

      It’s true that bargaining sucks. (I do it, and I still think it sucks). But it’s really not about – or at least not always about – trying to squeeze every last penny out of some poor honest hardworking vendor by lying or demanding unreasonable discounts. It’s the way things are in a world where you have to bargain just to get the *fair* price. For me, anyway, I bargain because I want to pay what’s fair. I won’t be overcharged. (Upselling is different – that’s all on me to resist).

      I appreciate the comments from honest, “no double pricing system” vendors on here. It’s great to know they’re out there, and we’re working with similarly awesome ones…but the vendors who read/comment on OBB are not the type to overcharge methinks: it’s the ones who don’t, the ones who read WIC-ier websites than this one who do. So while hearing from honest vendors is great, it still doesn’t mean they all are (I’d like to think most of them are).

      And, y’know? It’s not just weddings where you need to bargain. It’s an essential business skill. Granted, we’re not all cut out to be cutthroat businesspeople. I know I’m not (not because I can’t bargain, but because I hate workin’ for the man).

    • I think it’s worth bearing in mind that there can be a big difference between asking for a discount in a retail situation and asking for a cheaper service.

      I used to work in an electronics store and a lot of customers would try lines like “I’m spending over £100 here, what discount do I get for that?” which annoyed me, partially because £100 was actually a relatively small sale (electronics are expensive) and it seemed silly that they’d think it entitled them to anything, but mainly because they were getting exactly the same products and services as every other customer so there was no reason at all they should pay a different price just because they felt like it.

      That’s completely different to negotiating with a photographer or caterer and agreeing to leave out some parts of their normal wedding service that you don’t want in order to reduce the price. If you’re asking less from them you should pay less.

    • I felt the same way. I am honestly too lazy to do extensive research and too lazy to drive a hard bargain. Our solution was to do as much as possible ourselves, with the help of family and friends. We assembled and hung our own decorations, got takeout and set up our own buffet, rented speakers and had an iPod playlist, and had family and friends help with my hair and makeup. I know that wouldn’t work for everyone. But in my book, it was easier to do as much as possible ourselves than to spend forever looking for deals.

  38. Even though I’m using the term “wedding” with everyone in my family and such (because it is a wedding, dammit, even if the government doesn’t recognize it), I plan on saying to vendors that it’s a commitment ceremony. This is double edged – 1. it cuts down on problems that might happen down the road if they get weirded out that my wedding has two brides – sucks, but it happens and 2. so that maybe they’ll be confused out of giving us a needless wedding tax? Although I’m really curious to see if that’ll even work…

    I think I was going somewhere with this, but I got lost 🙁

    • If you go with Bed Bath and Beyond for a registry, say wedding. They have a commitment ceremony registry as well – without the 20% completion discount.

  39. “Not telling a hair-dresser feels mildly questionable but really, what difference does it make? …” It makes a big difference- I’m a stylist of ten years, and have dealt with many brides. Some so very mellow and a pleasure- some so unfortunately difficult, scene causing, etc… I know how myself and my co workers have a moment of panic when a guest sits down for an ‘up-style’ and says I’m a bride! No practice run, mom/sis/ brides maids critiquing to death, not enough time in the appointment (throwing the whole schedule off.). Anywho- we stylist love what we do and want to make everyone beautiful with as little drama, and hopefully not running late!

    P.S. LOVE this site- it’s made me feel so good about doing things my offbeat way!

    • ” I know how myself and my co workers have a moment of panic when a guest sits down for an ‘up-style’ and says I’m a bride! No practice run, mom/sis/ brides maids critiquing to death, not enough time in the appointment (throwing the whole schedule off.)”

      I get that. I really do. But honestly I think this whole “practice run” business, while something some people want (and that’s cool and all) is really unnecessary for many brides. They think they need it because everyone tells them that they do.

      Wouldn’t it be great if the average bride just wanted a pretty updo, didn’t demand an absolute realization of her “hairstyle vision” and could be happy as long as it looked nice? Does that strike anyone else as eminently reasonable? I mean, my mother and grandmother didn’t have “hair trials” at their weddings and they looked lovely. I don’t see why I need one (or need to pay for one). Then again, I’m doing my own hair.

      Another anecdote: a good friend of mine got married years ago and her pre-booked stylist never showed (shit went down. It really did). We all rushed to Curl Up & Dye or Hair By Medusa or whatever that place was called and got our hair done with no reservation (the awesome stylists rushed us in because it was an “emergency” and kept their cool). Her hair looked gorgeous. Everyone stayed cool. It was fine.

      It would also be awesome if moms and maids and grandmas didn’t criticize every little thing while the bride is getting something done, but I guess that’ll happen when pigs fly. 🙂

      • Well in my case I did a trial run and it was a life saver. I wanted really loose curls, and we wanted them to last throughout the day, so to figure out my “droop factor”, my stylist did tight curls and sent me home and had me call her when they were at the level I wanted. Two days later the curls had loosened to where I liked them and we were able to have a much better plan for the actual wedding day. (I paid for a wash/blowdry for the trial and my hairdresser did my hair for free as a wedding present).

        I didn’t wear a veil but to those who do, a run through is crucial because you really don’t want to be messing with the veil and the bride’s expectations (attainable or not) for the first time when she’s stressed out. Or the bride might want to incorporate pearls or flowers or something else, and the hairdresser can do a better, more efficient job if she’s prepared.

        My take on the whole “lying to the vendors” thing is get a wedding quote and an “every day” quote and ask what the difference is for. Try and give them the benefit of the doubt, for instance, one of the florists that we spoke to has a built in buffer in the price for out of season flowers, and if all the flowers are in season that drops off the bill.

        • And that’s great that you did a run through and it worked for you.

          But not every bride needs one. Maybe some do, or at least want them.

          All I want is a simple twist or chignon, with a bit of curl to the bangs I will leave down at one side. That’s why I am doing it myself: because I can. It’s that easy. No veil. I see no reason why, even if I do end up in a hairstylist’s chair (I may – Grandma really wants it and says she’ll pay but I’m resisting for now), I would need a trial run for that.

          I think the problem here is “messing with the bride’s expectations, whether attainable or not”. That’s just no good. It is true that some couples (I REFUSE to say “some brides”) expect the impossible, the perfect, the unattainable, the Platonic form of Perfect Whatever.

          But that’s really…THAT is half the problem. We’ve groomed ourselves as a society to expect this level of polish from weddings, and vendors have stepped up and charged accordingly, and couples are disillusioned by what it costs, and often the guests don’t REALLY care, and everyone’s just one big clusterfuck of unhappy, and it all has to do with “expectations, attainable or not”.

          On the part of the couples AND the vendors. (Vendors have expectations, too, about what the couple will definitely want…those expectations are just as ridiculous).

          But again, dude, a veil is a piece of net attached to a comb, clip or tiara. I can’t imagine it is SO hard for an experienced hairstylist to attach one without practicing first.

          • No not every bride does, I thought I wrote something but I guess I imagined it, LOL, along the lines of every bride has her things that are important to her and that’s her decision. I have crazy thick curly kinky hair, and didn’t want my hair to be a scary frizz fest on the wedding day. That obviously isn’t every bride’s priority. However we did our wedding in the basement of the church, something other couples might be horrified at because the venue is what’s important to them, or a live DJ as opposed to an iPod, it just depends on that individual couple, and what they’re passionate about. (Yes I guess I’m passionate about my hair LOL)

            When the wedding coordinator and I had our initial consultation she kept wanting to know about who stood where during the ceremony. As in how many inches apart, what angle, etc. I could not possible impart to her how little I cared about this, but apparently at her last wedding it was a HUGE deal that no one block the view of the bride and her dress/train during the ceremony. Again, priorities.

            I totally agree with having an issue about perfection on the wedding day. I’m all about celebrating imperfections, they’re what makes the world interesting. However, no matter how much the alterna-wedding is increasing in popularity its merely a blip on the wedding radar, the vast majority of couples out there getting wed are of the WIC variety, and right or wrong, that’s what the vendors are used to and what they have to deal with.

            *Assorted hair crap to follow*

            And this is just a side note based on my time working in a hair salon as a receptionist/Manager as well as the obscene amounts of time I’ve spent sitting in the chair. People all have individual hair, and the way it behaves is vastly different. My crazy locks can easily poof and turn me into a giant mushroom head if not cut correctly, and hair cuts take an extra half hour due to the amount of hair to cut and dry. Color can take up to an hour longer than the average person due to application to more hair and additional processing time, not to mention extra product. I have difficult hair, I’m used to it. My style for the wedding was simple, half up with loose tousled curls, top half pulled back in a barrette. What took my stylist a few hours to do on my wedding day (And this is with her doing my hair, for years and knowing it inside out) could have easily been accomplished on someone with more “low maintenance” hair than mine in probably 10-20 minutes.

            That being said, my hair holds a curl very well, and I could stick a wiffle ball bat in there on end and it’d hold still. Someone with finer hair might not have that option and it might take some serious hair engineering to make it work. To add volume so it doesn’t lay flat and make sure that it stays all day. Does the veil go in the front or the back, or on top or underneath? Is it an incorporated part of the style or is it an afterthought? Will it come off after the wedding? When brides don’t have a “usual” hairdresser, someone new has to learn all the nuances of their hair, the kinks, the cowlicks, what product works and what doesn’t, etc.

            At one salon I worked at the bride was obsessed with a certain look that necessitated TONS of hair, hair she didn’t have. Extensions were offered, but grossed her out, so the stylist was there for three hours trying to give this girl what she wanted, down to using wire mesh to try and support the shape she was asking for. Unfortunately, to many salons that’s the kind of image that “bridal hair” conjures up. Wrong or right, that’s the way it is currently. Hopefully that will change one day, but honestly I don’t see it happening any time soon.

            If you do want help with your hair, but are worried about the costs, an alternative is to find a cosmetology school, who charge very low rates. If you have a hairdresser you go to often, see if they’ll do something on their day off or if they can move shifts around to do your hair outside of the salon. Depending on the salon, it might not be the hairdresser’s decision what to set prices at, and going outside of the salon might give them the ability to be more flexible with pricing.

    • It just makes it very difficult for those of us who really, really don’t care. I picked the salon and stylist I did because she did my hair as a bridesmaid twice. They’re charging me $30 more for what will be exactly the same hairdo as one of those bridesmaid’s dos, except with a silk flower clipped on after. Plus they absolutely stonewalled me when I said I didn’t want a trial (to the tune of at least $40 more).

      I can’t stomach lying, nor can I do so with a straight face, so I didn’t, but the only reason I didn’t walk or was being a sucker willing to pay the “not doing another vendor search” tax.

    • I get what you’re saying and I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with those obnoxious-sounding situations.

      But I also sort of feel that someone who is super high-maintenance is more likely to book a trial and have a long convo about what she wants. Someone showing up the day of the wedding should kind of be more low-key or expect what she gets, right? I mean I’ve had my hair done as a bridesmaid before where the first time I met the stylist was when I sat down in her chair and I’ve always ended up happy.

      But maybe some people are just super entitled and never satisfied. Sigh.

  40. I just wanted to give a shout out to my hair stylist who gave me tea, croissants, and lots of attention (in the nice calm and un-crazy way) the morning of my wedding. And when it was time to go, she said “You don’t need to think about money today–just go, enjoy, and come back to pay me.” When I did–she charged me about a third of what I had expected it to be.
    I found that the more offbeat the vendor, the more willing they were to really go out of their way to make things amazing when I used the word “wedding”.

  41. I’m lucky. I’ve always had a good relationship with my hairdressers and I always know I’m getting charged a fair price (I also refuse to pay more than $40 for a haircut and style, so I admit I’m not likely to run into major problems). I would never go to a stranger for a fancy hairdo without testing them out beforehand, knowing them and how we interact. So I would also expect not to get overcharged for being my usual self.

    I think rentals are rentals when it is things like chairs, linens, tents, etc. I choose what quality I want, and should not have something else thrust upon me just because I’m getting married.

    Equally, I wouldn’t lie to someone who should know. Hearing the recommendations to get everything priced out is awesome. I completely agree. Find out why they charge what they charge, and whether you actually want that or not. If they can’t explain (and that includes “We charge this extra $150 to cover unexpected issues such as opening doors early, unanticipated guests, etc” being stated) then I am not interested. There are ways to deal with that. Have a buffet rather than plate service, and then there is always budgeted extra food. Plan decorating times and deal with what you need to do to stay within a cost.

    I’m lucky, my wedding will be very low key. But I will definitely be finding out what I’m paying for in those situations when I am not just buying or hiring something from someone who has no reason to know what I’m doing with it. Really, who needs to know if my potato salad is going to a picnic or a wedding?

    I have to say, that “extra special” add on is irritating. I really hope more vendors learn to be like the awesome ones who’ve posted on here. Communicate! Tell the clients what their options are, ask them questions you need answers to, and don’t just assume they want that super duper extra special option. I go to a vendor because they are an expert, and I like to think that they will ask me questions that I am too inexperienced to realize they need answers to. I will, however, be researching a bit more for this to avoid any surprises I shouldn’t be getting.

  42. Interesting article – a bride of ours forwarded this to me. Here are my thoughts – coming from a professional photographer, and they seem to be in sync with what a lot of you all are already sayin’

    1) Photographers vary in type and thought – but any “modern / creative” photog will tell you that finding out they were decieved would simply ruin the chemistry between us and our bride – the relational chemistry that is essential for good photos to take place. Not kidding – at least for me 90% of my work is based on a healthy and fun chemistry with the bride and groom. If I found out I was deceived? There photos would be really really really really hard to pull out, because I’d be pissed! 🙂

    2) I’m not the type of photog to have different pricing for my weddings / events – although there are lots of ways to work things out, this really wouldn’t fly with me – especially on a busy Saturday during wedding season!

    3) Contractually (someone mentioned it) this wouldn’t’ work with most photogs – my contracts specifically say what type of event I’m covering – talk about setting yourself up for legal trouble!

    4) Lying isn’t nice! Don’t do it – your integrity is worth far more than money 🙂

    Anyways – I’m addressing from mostly a photographer perspective, and thought you all might enjoy some thoughts – I hope its good for the discussion!

  43. One shot to make it perfect.

    I feel like that’s the difference between services for a wedding and say a family reunion. A family reunion can happen multiple times so the stress is low. Generally a wedding happens once, so the stakes are higher.

    I use this example with wedding cakes. Wedding cakes cost more for various reasons – level of decorative detail, exact due time, delivery, it’s photographed from all sides multiple times and the expectation is to be beautiful and perfect.

    On the flip side, if I order a birthday cake, it can be ready any time that day, generally someone picks it up, one top photo and maybe some candid photos are taken and if it’s not perfect as long as it’s tasty that’s what’s important.

    • I guess I feel – something about the societal expectation that it be “perfect” really bugs me. I do realize it IS an expectation today, and not just in America (you should see the big productions that Taiwanese and Indian weddings become). Just bugs me, is all. When we start to use verbs like “stage” and “choreograph” to describe a wedding, methinks something is not right.

    • But plenty of brides don’t really want fancy decorative details and don’t care if their cake is perfect, as long as it is tasty. And I’ve been to some fancy birthday parties where the birthday boy/girl would have freaked if the cake was late or ugly. It is so unfair to characterize all brides and grooms as needing perfection. Not everyone is like that and wouldn’t it be more fair to talk to each client individually about their expectations and desires and set the price from there.

  44. I know exactly how this bride felt. When I was getting my wedding dress dry cleaned before the wedding I got lucky and found an honest employee. When I called to get a price she told me if I said it was for a wedding they would charge me an additional 50 dollars for each dress being used in a wedding. I was told to say they were formals and leave it at that. Since my dress was white but not the typical wedding dress instead of paying 78 dollars a dress I paid 28 for the 4 non matching dresses worn by my bridesmaids. She said it was company policy and not something she could change. As for the photographer we couldn’t afford the rates for a wedding so we had our guest bring digital cameras and we downloaded all the shots, we ended up with 400 pictures and so many we had a really tough time picking out which ones to keep and which ones to toss. We had coverage of everything including our rehearsal, preparations, and the actual wedding and reception. I agree its wrong to lie but at the same time its wrong to fleece brides on their special day.

  45. I also want to give a big shout out to me awesome, reasonable vendors. Our venue and caterer are expensive but each gave us a really reasonable and justifiable breakdown of why it costs what it does. Which is great – when we are sinking five digits worth of cash into something, I expect no less. Our photographer created a simple, reasonable package for us for four hours of shooting and a CD. Our DJ agreed to a very good price for a bare-bones “just show up and play music” package. Nobody’s pulled any BS. (Well, the rehearsal dinner venue tried to, but their prices were fine once I got rid of that dumb “dining room use” fee).

    Plus, vendors that read and advertise on OBB are more or less universally awesome.

    It’s too bad the rest of ’em can’t always be so good. Because while lying about having a wedding is bad, it’s just as bad to lie about prices to upcharge for a wedding. Worse, IMHO. Couples wouldn’t feel that they have to lie if upcharging weren’t a problem.

  46. It’s more than all right not to tell and then do so!!! Good karma??? What do you mean??? A GOOD vendor would give you the SAME price for a venue say for having 50 guests for 9 hours *regardless* of whether it’s a wedding or a graduation party. What counts should be them amount of people, tables cutlery and tablecloths to hire, meals to serve, for how long. There is NOTHING that says that weddings should cost more regardless. They simply do cost more because nobody in their right frame of mind invites 250+ people to a birthday bash but they do to a wedding, and I’m alright with higher prices when there are more meals, more stuff to clean, more people on the premises. But it’s ludicrous that a 50 guest wedding party should cost more than a 50 guest graduation party.

  47. I don’t mind paying extra for extra service, or if the vendor has higher costs. I DO mind paying extra because they’re trying to screw me and, with apologies to the vendors on here, that has happened to me a lot.

    Generally, I opened negotiations with vendors by talking about a big family event, then specified that it was a wedding after I had an idea of their price. At no point did I lie (a wedding IS a family event) but this way they would have to explain their reasons if the price went up. I felt that some vendors who knew it was a wedding from the start charged an inflated wedding rate, and I had no way of knowing how inflated this was or why. My way meant we had to discuss the reasons.

    In the end, all my chosen vendors charge the same for weddings as for any other kind of event and that openness about pricing and quality was a big factor in my choosing them.

    In contrast, I spoke to several hairdressers about an up-do. Past experience tells me that this should cost £40. All vendors wanted to charge £100+ despite the fact that I wanted something really simple. Their argument was that I ‘might want a tiara or something more complicated’ – even though I didn’t. That’s just a wedding tax, plain and simple. I decided to wear my hair down!

    • Is adding a tiara to a wedding hairdo really so complicated that it’s worth sixty pounds of a person’s time?

      I mean, I have a play tiara here at home from an old costume, and I just went and put it on. Took me about 4 seconds. I am sure a real tiara, set into a hairstyle in a flattering way with combs and pins, will take longer than that – 10 minutes maybe? Is that worth sixty quid?

  48. I can definitely understand that for the normal ‘wedding’ experience, there are some extra logistics to consider and I agree you need to be upfront with anyone who will actually BE there. But not everyone wants those special touches. I’m guessing that a lot of vendors may have been burned in the past by people who say they don’t want the extras, but expect them anyway because it’s their “special day”.

    I’m definitely in the minority (in the normal wedding vendor world) because a ‘traditional’ wedding is just about as close to hell on earth for me as possible. I’m still holding onto hope that i can convince my girl to elope before it’s too late.

    I’ve nearly given up on finding a photographer who will work with what I would like: a flat hourly rate for ceremony and campfire/cookout/reception and then just hand over the photos, untouched, unedited in hi-res on a dvd with a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

    I don’t want a fancy book; I don’t want proofs out the wazoo. I want my pics on flikr, emailed to my family, and about 6 total prints.

    Anyone know of a creative commons loving photog in the Philly area?

    • Not sure about Creative Commons specifically, but our photographer indicated we’d have rights to the photos, and could use them wherever we wanted. Her packages are listed with photobooks, but you can get a reduced rate if you just want the images.

      Here’s her site, I’d shoot her an email to ask about licensing.

    • not sure about Creative commons either, but we have a family friend who is a ‘hobby’ photographer, very talented, who will be doing something for us like you are after.

    • Karen, I have some honest questions for you.

      1. Do you know what a RAW file is? Because that’s the format of images you’ll be receiving if you want your photographer to hand them over, unedited, at the end of the wedding

      2. Do you plan to have your photographer stop shooting at least 30 minutes before their “end time” to allow time to setup your computer and transfer the images from their camera cards onto your computer? Do you have a compact flash card reader (computers do not have a ‘slot’ for this type of card)? Did you bring more than 1 DVD?

      3. Do you know what kind of camera your photographer has, and if your software can read the images from said camera? Do you have the software that can read RAW files? Do you have the software to convert RAW files to JPEGs? Because you can’t upload RAW files to Flickr, Shutterfly, Walgreens, or any other website that you use to order prints or share images (including professional labs.)

      4. Before you’re ready to share your images, have you set aside time to go through 1000-3000 images and pick the best ones?

      • If Karen’s the kind of person who’s knowledgeable enough to want a Creative Commons licence for the photos, I’m sure she’s capable of a quick web search to find one of the many free bits of software you can use to convert RAW files to JPEGS, for instance IrfanView.

        My mum runs a photography business from home and the high-end camera she uses can be connected to a USB port, just like ‘bog standard’ digital cameras for transferring files. Or, quite a few laptops do actually have the SD slots, so just grab a micro-SD to SD adapter for 99p on ebay and you’re away.

        At the end of the day, photographers should offer what their clients want. If that’s a simple flat hourly rate for ceremony and then half an hour to hand over the photos, untouched, unedited in hi-res on a dvd with a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License, that’s what they should offer if they want that client’s business. If they’re just interested in the higher-profit, higher-effort brides, shooting all day and editing for weeks afterward to get the ‘perfect’ album, they should just say that. Not blind people with science about how hard it is to transfer files to a laptop.

        Presumably, Karen’s happy to go through the pics herself, even if there are a lot of them – otherwise she wouldn’t have asked for them to be handed over untouched. If she just wants 6 or so shots and there are lots of duplicates of almost the same scene, she can just pick a favourite. Believe it or not, some people really don’t agonise about these things!

        • that’s not how it works.
          Photographers offer a service that THEY provide. IF you don’t like this, move onto the next one.

  49. I’m kind of surprised to hear this is an issue at all. At the risk of sounding really simplistic, lying is bad. It’s pretty obvious to me. If you can’t afford/don’t like what someone is quoting for you, move on. Find another vendor, DIY, have friends do it, whatever works. Retain your integrity and good relationships, even if there are some vendors out there who wouldn’t do the same.

    Also, it is very enlightening to hear about it from vendors’ points of view. Thanks for sharing!

    • I think that what people are really up in arms about is that they shouldn’t “have” (because no one *has* to) lie… There should not be “special” wedding prices for most services. Limos for a wedding shouldn’t cost more just because they’re for a wedding. If extra costs are incurred, they should be for specific goods or services that can be itemized.

      The issue is that many vendors within the wedding industry take advantage, and people are tired of being taken advantage of. I get that lying is essentially wrong, but the vendors with a subjective wedding markup are lying as well. They’re essentially claiming that their wedding services are somehow worth more money/different/more special/etc., than their non-wedding services. And with a few notable exceptions (hello, photographers!), they’re not.

  50. This reminded me of an article I read in the New York Times ages ago, and it pretty much illustrates why I’m okay with lying in some cases. The highlight for me is the East Coast Limousine, which requires any wedding be booked with the ‘wedding special’, which includes a horn that plays Wagner’s Bridal Chorus, aka “Here Comes the Bride”, and is far more expensive.

      • This is another reason it’s a very good idea to ask what your extra money goes on.

        I hate ‘Here Comes The Bride’ and if I knew in advance they were going to insist on playing it, even for free, I’d refuse to hire them just on that basis. If I didn’t find out until the day…I wouldn’t say it’d ruin the wedding but it’d definately be the low point of the entire day.

        If I found out on the day I’d paid extra for that then I would be pissed off.

        • I’m personally a big fan of Wagner, but the Bridal Chorus is so over done, and it’s definitely not his best work ad not something I would want in my wedding, let alone my ride.

          • Another Wagner person here. I will be having the music from Lohengrin at the ceremony, but for the ride over, I’m thinking some Act III of Die Walküre may be in order 😉

    • Did you know that Here Comes the Bride is not allowed at many Jewish weddings because Wagner converted away from Judaism before writing it? At least, I think that’s why. Pacabel’s Canon in D is also not allowed because he was a known antisemite. I very well may have those reasons backwards …

      The point is, if I were having a Jewish wedding and someone rented me a limo that played that song (especially if I was told it was “required”) I would be furious.

      • It could also have something to do with the Nazis having Wagner’s music played often at the death camps. I could understand being opposed to it for that reason as well. I mean, how terrible would it be to hear that for someone who lived through those horrors?

      • I don’t know much about Pachabel, but it was definitely Wagner who was anti-semitic, and Meredith is correct about the music being piped through the death camps.

      • Wagner was the anti-semite. You are very correct that no one wants to hear that at a Jewish wedding.

      • I actually LOVE Wagnerian opera and I am having the Bridal Chorus played and sung at my ceremony (which will have lots of Lohengrin & Parsifal motifs in terms of the feel and decor) full-blast (to me, “Here Comes the Bride” is the melody played delicately on a violin or piano and no one singing–I want the lyrics and all the loud booming Wagnerian sound: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridal_Chorus). German Romantic period is actually our theme (specifically Wagnerian dramas). While I will agree that Wagner wasn’t a nice person and I certainly don’t agree with his antisemitism, I LOVE his music, and it sucks that Hitler did too b/c it makes me often feel like I have to defend why it’s ok for me to like it 🙁 I hate that it was used in such evil ways.
        That being said, I am SUPER PICKY about music and would be extremely angry if I had been charged for a music service I didn’t want/need! If you are are okay with a package deal, then it’s not so bad, but when you are having to pay for something you don’t want because it’s a wedding (and not opt-outable), that’s some really questionable packaging. And for goodness sake, that’s a flipping LIMOUSINE service??? Very impersonal for something that supposed to be “your special day”

  51. I went with a friend (bride) and her bridesmaids to a salon where they got their hair and make-up done. They did not agree on a price before the services were rendered. The hair prices seemed high but equal. However, the make-up lady was “freelance” and made her own prices. She charged my friend $20 more for the EXACT same make-up as the bridesmaids, because she was the bride. At that point, it’s your wedding day, and who wants to cause a scene? My friend just forked it over. I recommend settling prices up front to avoid such unpleasant situations. I am having a friend photograph for the same reasons everyone else mentioned–no photographer is willing to do a simple wedding package (a few portraits) because of the high demand for paparrizzi style documentation of every second. And why would they? They could be at another wedding making a lot more money. Also, one hotel would not let me reserve a block for a wedding, because they had bad experiences with other brides. I learned to just say it was a party.

  52. My caterer actually had package prices on his website for his regular event catering. I strongly recommend finding a caterer with listed prices. That way, when they create your custom menu, you can compare it to their “Lunch Package” or “Heavy Hors d’oeuvre” package. In the case of my caterer I was SHOCKED that the custom package he came up with for our wedding was actually *less* than the “Heavy Hors D’oeuvre” package I had based it on. If I had just gotten his standard reunion/meeting/event package I would actually have paid more.

  53. This has certinally given me a lot to think about. I’ve been lucky so far because everything I’ve bought has been ‘off the shelf’ and already had a price tag attatched. It would have been very difficult for them to tell me the prom dress with the £120 price tag pinned to it actually cost the same as the £700 wedding dresses because I happened to be wearing it at my wedding.

    Admittedly I’m paying far more for my venue that I would if it was for a corperate event but I’m happy to do that because they itemised the cost and I know I’m also getting a lot more for my money. (Longer hours, more space, far more beautiful room, alcohol in the catering package ect.)

    I think this is the approach I’m going to use in the future when negotiating with vendors. A photographer was my big concern because my fiancee really wants professional photographs but most of the prices I’ve seen quoted are way outside our budget. This article and a few other things I’ve seen around has made me realise that those prices also include A LOT of stuff we don’t want. All we want is a relatively small selection of formal group shots taken after the ceremony. Unedited unless they need to fix mistakes and delivered on CD. No all-day ‘photo journalism’ style shots, no reception candids, no weird editing, nothing like that. In fact my boyfriend would be more annoyed if they did do that kind of job becuase that’s the kind of wedding photography he hates and wants to avoid by hiring a professional. I’m hoping that if we can make it clear it will be a shorter, simpler job we’ll be able to find someone who will quote us a lower price.
    (I might also try getting different quotes for a wedding and a party and then asking for a comparison. I never thought of that because it never occured to me anyone would hire a photographer for a regular party.)

    Finally my opinion on lying vs. honestly to vendors is pretty much the same as Ariels. If they’re going to find out anyway then be honest from the start because it will save a lot of trouble, but if they don’t need to know there’s no reason to tell them. The people you’re hiring chairs from don’t need to know what they’re for and they definately don’t need to try and sell you ‘better’ chairs when you’ve already decided which ones you want because they think what you’ve chosen isn’t ‘special’ enough.

    I don’t like the idea of out right lying but there’s nothing wrong with not telling them at all. Would you feel guilty if you hired chairs for a childrens birthday party and found out later that they’d assumed they were for a retirement party? I doubt it, so why should you feel guilty because the same chairs would have cost more at a wedding?

  54. One thing I found incredibly frustrating when I first started my wedding planning was how many vendors don’t like giving you a price from the get-go.

    This seemed to be especially true with wedding photographers. I was SO appreciative of photographers that would put on their website something along the lines of, “Pricing starts at $1000.” From the very beginning I know whether you are close to my price point.

    But I found in my area photographers who stated this upfront were very rare. What was even more frustrating would be emailing a photographer, “Hi, I’m planning a wedding. Please send me pricing information on your packages,” and then only receiving an email back, “What’s your budget?”

    I just kind of felt like they were putting me on the spot. I hadn’t even decided my budget at that point and I was also wary that they would then try to price themselves based on a number I threw out.

    It shouldn’t be that hard to say, “Here’s a brochure. Contact me if you have any questions!” The photographers who did do this were the ones that I would talk to and eventually hire 🙂

    • Yeah!

      I looked at one – with rather boring shots I might add – not bad but not exactly going to get him an exhibit at a gallery anytime soon – with an “Investment” PDF linked to his site. That “Investment” thing is a bit jarring and irritating, but OK, I’ll bite.

      It had a list of packages A, B, C and D with the usual marketing ploys (the middle and second from the top tiers were made to look appealing, while what was clearly the cheapest option was meant to look unappealing and their seemingly most expensive choice was a bit over-the-top, so people would feel more inclined, from a marketing psych perspective, to go with something in the middle as opposed to the cheapest).

      Then it had a list of prices for add-ons to each package. Some seemed quite reasonable.

      Notice that actual prices for the base packages was not given. The entire sheet was confusing and clearly meant to push someone into actually calling to inquire. It also could lead someone to believe that the add-ons were the base prices because of how it was formatted.

      The entire thing was one big pile of bad. We didn’t go with them.

      I just feel like, if vendors would put prices on websites and stick to them – one photographer who advertises on OBB and seems super awesome has a pricing section on her site that’s more of a dialogue/FAQ style page that does explain that weddings often cost more, but also why, and that she’s willing to work with any budget to find a suitable package (I contacted her but she’s booked the day of my wedding. You can easily find her with an OBB site search – I recommend it if you’re in the market for a photographer and in the New York area).

      I liked that a lot. More vendors should do it. Then we wouldn’t have to question whether or not we should lie. We can all treat each other like decent human beings.

      • I agree.

        I had one photographer get outright nasty with me because I wouldn’t give him a budget number. Why the heck does it matter what my budget is, just tell me your price range and be done with it! Needless to say I didn’t hire him haha.

    • As a photographer, I do have a starting price on my website. I have no interest in wasting a potential client’s time, and my time, corresponding with someone who has a $500 budget.

      I would like to respond to your comment about photographers that say “What’s your budget?” when you ask for pricing. Personally, I do not ask any of my clients this. It’s their budget, and it’s their business how to decide to allocate it.

      However, as photographers we get A LOT of emails from brides such as yours: “Hi, I’m planning a wedding. Please send me pricing information on your packages.” For a photographer, this is a red flag that the person is a price shopper [or another photographer trying to see what your prices are] and most likely not worth their time because they’re only interested in who can offer them the best bargain, not whose work they like the most or who they connect with as a person. Your email doesn’t give ANY information – such as, when is the wedding (my prices are irrelevant if I don’t have your date open)? Where is it (my price is going to be different if I have to travel to another city)? Have you viewed my work (do you even like it)? How did you find me (so I can thank your friend/relative/wedding planner)? Is it a short elopement or a full day wedding (because I will price a 2 hour elopement like an event, and will not shoot it on Saturday)?

      99% of photographers have some kind of a brochure or price sheet that they will show you and you can choose your package and/or additional services off of that. The idea of of a photographer finding out your budget and then telling you a higher price is a MYTH (well, if I get an inquiry from Wills & Kate I might quote him a higher price 🙂 It may be true for vendors where everything is so custom it doesn’t make sense to have a brochure (flowers, for example, vary widely in cost.) If your budget is well below their starting price, they’re just going to reply back and tell you that, and maybe include a list of other photographers they recommend you contact who might be within your budget.

  55. Why not just ask a vendor what their higher price includes? “Oh, a wedding shoe fitting is $50 more than a regular shoe fitting? What does that include?” Maybe it includes something you really do want. Maybe it includes something you could live without, which gives you a great starting point for negotiation. (“So if I don’t want the 3 assistants fanning me with peacock feathers, it would be the lower price, right?”) And maybe they can’t come up with a specific reason, in which case you really don’t want to work with them anyway.

    Weirdly, the only place that charged me a wedding tax was the city park where we had the ceremony. And I grumbled about it, but I paid it, because you know what? If it had been a family reunion we wouldn’t have had 100 chairs on the grass, or people in and out for hours doing set up and clean up. If it had been a 10 minute ceremony with no chairs I sure wouldn’t have told them it was a wedding. Actually, I probably wouldn’t have reserved the park at all in that case.

  56. It’s been said on this site before and I’m going to bring it up again: if your vendor is charging you extra just because it’s a wedding, run!

    Many brides don’t seem to understand the kind of efford and work put into their flowers, their dress and their hair. If you say it’s a family event, you’re not doing yourself a favor. It just means the vendor will not present you the same options he would if he knew the truth. In a flowershop they want to know if your flowers will not be put into a vase so they can offer you flowers that last the whole day without the vase. At hairdressers they will want to know so they can offer you a bundle price if you bring in your mother and mother-in-law and bride’s maids aswell. The photographer will want to know so he can get ready for the different kind of pictures.

    So how do you know if you’ll be cheated or not? It’s so simple. Just ask for the price of a hair do, and after that tell it’s a wedding. If the price changes, ask for the reasons. After hearing the reasons, you can decide if you want to have something less so the price is lower. If you don’t find the reasons are valid, leave. If they won’t go lower on the price because it’s a wedding, leave. It’s that easy.

    I find it absolutely revolting that some people are ready to pay anything for the indie designer doing their handmade dress, but when it comes to hiring other professionals, suddenly everything should be free. These vendors are putting their time and their effort and their imagination on your wedding, to make it perfect, to fit your and your FH’s style. You should respect that and not bitch about the price of work: the vendors need money for bread too. If the price is not what you are ready to pay, find another vendor. Be an adult. If you’re old enough to get married, you should be old enough to find a vendor that’s not ripping you off. Please do not claim that all vendors are evil and will steal every penny they can get out of your pockets. The vendor is a person and you should respect his work enough to let him know what he’s getting into. The method I presented earlier is an easy way to find out if you’re supporting someone’s greediness or a genuine professional.

    /vent off

    • Very good points.

      There’s the sordid flip-side though, where if you say it’s for a wedding, oh, they’ll tell you about other options. All sorts of things you can have. And try to sell them to you, whether or not you need them. I don’t believe in lying just to avoid having to steel myself and say “no” over and over again to the hard sell on things I don’t want, but it is an easier road sometimes.

      I also did a lot of “We want this for a party – what will it cost?” to try and get the base price before specifying that the party is a wedding (this is not a lie – it IS a party, just not specified what it’s for). Sometimes that worked. Often, though, it would go like this:

      “We want this for a party – what will it cost?”
      “What kind of party?”

      Because then you’re put on the spot: you can lie, or not, or be super vague (my response would be “well…a party party” in an tone of voice that said “why does anyone need an excuse to party?”).

      The sort of vendors who would overcharge have long since caught on to the “for a party” thing and *will* do this. So, again, you have to be prepared. That’s why I preferred contacting about a family reunion or something first, then following up with a wedding inquiry.

      I don’t mean to say all vendors are evil: they’re not. Many are really wonderful. Our vendors (all four of them) are absolutely superb. Our venue’s director is hilarious (it’s a house from the 1870s, and I asked about wireless internet for Skyping people in, and he replied “Sorry, in many ways we’re still in the 19th century here”). Our photographer is phenomenal. Our caterer can do anything (but we’re paying accordingly). Our DJ is just what we want – “show up and play music”.

      But really, I am not going to pretend that *all* vendors are amazing, sweet, honest people. They’re not. They’re not all bad, but they’re not all good either.

      And, again, I feel that as a person providing me with a service, it is just as important for the vendor to show me that he/she is a professional with fair pricing as it is for me to be upfront and honest (which I am). I’m the one with the cash, so I want to see what they can do for me. The onus is on them to show their forthrightness. Not that I don’t try to be a good client: I do. But.

      • That’s the thing: if your vendor is trying to sell you things you don’t want to, YOU are the person who needs to say “no thanks” and if they persist, you can say you’ll take them if they’re free. I work in a business that brides come to occasionally: when I ask do you want ThisAndThat, I’m doing my job by making sure she gets everything she wants, and if she doesn’t want something, that’s cool with me and the firm. I’m doing this so she doesn’t have to come back later when she remembers she forgot something. I believe MHO ment this with “you have to be the adult”-thing. We tend to keep a price list on the wall where everyone can check prices for ThisAndThat by themselves.

        You can also avoid the “what kind of party” by asking “are there different prices for different kind of parties? What are the prices then?”. I can’t see anything wrong with this. You’re the customer, you’re allowed to ask questions and you’re allowed to demand explanations before you pay.

    • Or negotiate (fairly. Not nastily or bitchily).


      Negotiating skills are a good thing to have as an adult, too. And, as I outlined below, it is absolutely business appropriate to do so.

  57. If you’re very happy to lie to your service providers, then why bother being honest with your guests? Just invite them to a party and surprise it on them too. *tongue planted firmly in cheek*

    In all seriousness, I do agree that some services do not require a wedding day markup, however, others do if the wedding is being celebrated as a one-off ‘special’ event.

    And if it’s low-key, and relaxed, then DIY away and don’t pay people to provide services that you don’t require. But if you do need a service provider, don’t lie to them when you enter into a business transaction. It’s poor manners and may affect your overall service, esp if it’s a photographer.

    I think the rule of thumb is, if it’s important enough to pay for it on the day, then I think it’s important to be upfront and honest and play nice. Same for the vendors to outline what their prices are, esp if there is a differential for normal v’s wedding day quotes.

    • Actually, for a long time I’ve been fantasizing that I will in fact only invite my guests to what I will call an “engagement party” and then suddenly have the ceremony right then and there. I think that would save my family and I a lot of drama. It would be like a surprise party for my guests instead of my fiance and I.

      • Oh I’m soooo glad that someone picked up on this point abt surprise weddings, it’s a damn good point, but it also illustrates my point of *why* people want to know what they’re providing a service *for*. Purpose and objective is important.

        Generally, your guests will want to know what they’re turning up to in advance or why they’re putting time aside in their lives to attend an event; I assume that they want to know what the significance is.

        But back to the vendor thing – if it’s important to you and worth paying someone to provide an item or service, then pay for it. And pay a fair price where possible.

        Don’t allow yourself to be ripped off, nor try and deceive others if there really is more work involved to deliver to your needs or more than what you originally asked them to quote for.

        • I know of a couple who a surprise wedding fairly recently. They figured that their real friends would make the effort to come to their son’s 5th birthday party and it would get rid of the freeloaders after a fancy dinner and free drinks. As I understand it, it worked out well for them.

      • I also think that this could be really lovely 😀 Have fun keeping it a secret if you can possibly do that hehehe I would have told everyone in advance by accident lol

    • “I think the rule of thumb is, if it’s important enough to pay for it on the day, then I think it’s important to be upfront and honest and play nice.”

      The problem with this is in a lot of cases it seems to be an all or nothing deal. Either you ask a friend to take photos or you get the full blown wedding package with two photographers there all day long photographing absolutely every aspect of the wedding, spending hours airbrushing out anything they think might be unattractive and putting them into an expensive looking album.

      Either you borrow chairs from friends or you rent chairs plus chair covers, plus a dance floor, lighting and a tent.

      Either you make a bouquet or you buy one for yourself, one for each of the bridesmaids and corsages for all the bridesmaids, the MOB, MOG and any other important female relatives who might be around.

      And so on.

      There is no middle ground which leaves people who for whatever reason can’t DIY something and don’t want/can’t afford the full-blown Big White Wedding version (which could be totally inappropriate for a lot of less formal weddings) stuck with nothing at all.

      From the other side I also feel like it’s pretty insulting of vendors to make a point of only giving their best for weddings. Reverse all the “it’s got to be extra special” comments and you’ve got “Oh well, it’s only a birthday party, you have one of those every year, it doesn’t matter if it’s not as good”.

      I just think it’d be much better for everyone if vendors would offer a range of packages to anyone who wants them and let the customers pick instead of dictating to stangers how their event should be run.

      • This! This this this!

        I just hate that it so often seems to be “buy this thing that is totally overblown that you don’t need” or “get nothing”. Maybe all we want is what you’d get for a birthday party.

  58. Further to this point, the people I ordered my wedding dress from, got really upset that I ordered a ‘bridesmaid’ dress to wear as my wedding dress and not a traditional wedding dress.

    This dress was perfect, came in over 75 colours, including 10 shades of white/ivory/cream (I had purle and white)and I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t think to order this $300 dress as a wedding dress, when it comes in white. Sure, it’s not a $2000 dress, but looks just as good on the day.

    I was upfront with the boutique, but they didn’t like how I was subverting their entire big pouffy white dress sales pitch. I outrightly rejected it as I HATED the idea of wearing a ‘BIG WHITE DRESS’

    What they ignored….they didn’t see the bigger picture. Nevermind the fact that I bought 3 evening dresses for myself (including the dress I wore for the wedding) and another dress for my bridesmaid – the total cost of my business with them, equalled the cost of one wedding dress, but I was treated like a 2nd class citizen for not buying into their traditional philosophy.

    I’m sure to spite me further, they almost missed delivery dates because my order wasn’t logged as a ‘wedding dress’ so it was somehow ‘less important’ and they botched the tailoring as ti was given to someone who does bridesmaids dresses and was somehow inferior. I had to have it redone at a significant cost with only a week to go before the wedding itself.

    So being upfront, didn’t help me there as such, so I can’t imagine why you’d bother lying about anything either. It’d only get nastier.

  59. This is something that we have been struggling with as a lesbian couple having an event in a state where gay marriage is not legal…

    We want to have a fabulous event at the best price possible but we are also terrible liars and want to be very upfront. We feel that if the state (let alone the nation) does not support legalizing our union then we should not have to pay vendors for a “wedding” when in their state it could never be a “wedding”… If by some miracle state or federal laws change then we would pony up the extra dough, but it feels like this should be something we negotiate…

    Perhaps we are being cheap or taking the crazy pricing structure of the wedding industry into the political realm, but we have a hard time choking down the price differentials especially if we don’t get the legal protections that come with the “special day”…

    How does someone gently approach negotiating with vendors about their pricing schematics?

  60. I think its completely unethical to charge more for something just because its a wedding and the old, ‘it’s a wedding it needs to be more special’ doesn’t wash – if I’m getting my hair done I would expect the SAME standard each and every time, wedding or not, otherwise what are they saying? Are they are happy to do a shoddy job for clients who are not getting married? The same goes for catering, I expect my dinner to be of the SAME standard every time – are you telling me I’m paying for crap as it’s NOT a wedding? You sould pay a fair price for the service you receive and my steak/ chicken, whatever should be of the same quality on any day I choose to order it! And a premium on flowers – now thats a complete joke – I’d rather do them myself.

    • What amuses me is that even if you pay a premium for wedding catering (as opposed to any other event), you still sometimes (heck, often) get shoddy food. Really. Can I just say? I’ve had so many bad meals at a wedding that the couple paid out the nose for, it’s just sad. There’s a REASON why wedding food is a running joke: Wedding Chicken in Beige Sauce, Potatoes Generiques, Green Bean Almondine, Vegetables a la Canne, Shoe Leather Steak…because so often, it’s actually that bad.

      And yet we pay more for it, to make it better. To make it “perfect”. And so often, IT’S NOT. In fact, it’s WORSE.

      What’s the deal, yo?

  61. And, y’know, can I just come out in favor of negotiating instead of lying?

    A few posts here have been anti-negotiating, but…think about it.

    Negotiation happens every day. Not only can you negotiate for salaries, raises, better workspace and responsibilities at work, you actually SHOULD. It’s encouraged. It’s expected. The business world agrees: negotiation is OK. Women are so often held back in terms of jobs and salaries not just because of a continued undertow of sexism in the workplace (though that is a problem), but because they don’t negotiate as much…and men do. Really. REALLY really. So telling a site aimed at women not to negotiate even for a wedding vendor might convince them they shouldn’t negotiate for a salary later on, which is, can I say, actively harmful?

    Beyond that, people within companies negotiate with each other all the time. What are mergers, what are sales, what are acquisitions and co-promotion deals if not piles and piles of negotiation? There is NO shame in trying to get a better deal. That does not mean an unfair deal: if the deal is unfair, it is your responsibility to say so, if it’s unfair against you, and if it’s unfair to the other side, it’s their job to speak up and keep negotiating. (Of course when it’s not company-to-company business but couples and wedding vendors, don’t propose “deals” that are unfair to the vendor. No reason to. The point is to pay what’s fair).

    If you ever find yourself in the position of negotiating a big / bulk deal at work, you’ll find that it is quite common and accepted to ask for and give discounts/better deals/extra perks to get the contract signed.

    Flea markets and yard sales are one big pile of negotation.

    If you’re considering buying something in a privately run store (not a chain) and are hesitating, it is not uncommon for a discount to be offered, or some extra thing thrown in.

    In a world where not all, but many vendors will actively try to upcharge you to have a wedding (YES, they will…not all of them but enough for it to be a problem), what exactly is wrong again with negotiation? It’s perfectly OK in every other business transaction. And, as a person getting married, it is absolutely your best tool.

  62. Everyone seems to pretty much agree; it isn’t ethical to charge more *just* because it is a wedding. But people do it; I have a friend who was buying several one-layer chocolate raspberry cakes for her wedding. She didn’t deliberately omit that they were for her wedding, she just hadn’t mentioned it. The bakery had quoted her a price, and when someone mentioned the word wedding when discussing the delivery, the staff member suddenly said “I need to call you right back”… at which point the price had *doubled*. No joke, they were that blatant, and wouldn’t come down. It’s unethical, but they do it, and they aren’t shy about it at all. My friend went to another bakery, and this time she had the cakes picked up by a member of the wedding party instead of delivered by the bakery.

  63. Wow, has this gotten a response!

    Another two bits from the coordinator/florist perspective:

    I don’t charge more for a wedding than for any other event. I charge more in accordance to what my client needs/wants, and in accordance to what my labor will be.

    Here’s the thing:

    No matter how low-key, non-drama, imperfection-loving a bride/groom wants their wedding to be, it *always* places more pressure on me than any other type of event.


    *Because It’s Bloody Important*, that’s why.

    You have birthdays every year. That’s not really true of weddings.

    I want to be a part of making my clients’ weddings the way they envisioned them–I want to be a part of those good memories.

    We place more importance on weddings because they’re the representation of two lives and two families coming together–I believe it’s a singularly beautiful ritual.

    I work my ass off for weddings because I care deeply about being a part of that history, and a part of my clients’ happiness.

    And? Many vendors feel the same way.

    If you’re uncomfortable with a price, talk to the vendor, and if they can’t meet you in a compromise, find someone else. It’s not worth *you* being unhappy, and the vendor feeling resentful.

  64. I’m a pastry chef and have done countless wedding cakes, and countless event cakes. I’ve had brides lie to me, I’ve had brides be up front. I use a flat price per serving system depending on flavor and frosting, and then I give a price quote depending on what kind of decoration they want.

    Two things- the first is that I am up front now with my customers that I will charge them a high-maintenance tax if they are a high-maintenance customer. I don’t care what the cake is for but if you’re emailing me every day and demanding updated pictures of every single step and so forth, then I’m going to charge you for sucking up more than your fair share of my spare time.

    On the reverse, as an OBB myself and a creative person, I absolutely LOVE when I get unique requests that allow me to do things and use techniques that I normally wouldn’t be able to do. I tend to knock off labor costs substantially if I really love a unique idea (I did a chess wedding cake, the toppers were a molded sugar king and queen piece!) I may give it to them at a fraction of the cost because it allows me to be creative and ‘play’.

    One thing I have noticed though and I caution brides in general about trying to drive a hard bargain- vendors have their own costs and businesses to maintain. You wouldn’t go to a grocery store and try to bargain to get 20 cents off that one dollar can of soup… I think it’s a little inappropriate to try to bargain instead of presenting your budget and asking what’s doable with that. I’ve been insulted so many times with brides (it’s only happened with wedding cakes, dunno if that’s just coincidence) who tried to drive a bargain and would unintentionally equate my work (I paid a lot for my culinary education and my cakes I think are beautiful and taste gourmet) with something generic you get at a grocery store. Tread very, very carefully when bargaining and IMO try to err to the side of just gathering information as opposed to “You will make me a 5 tier red velvet cake with spun sugar roses but I’m not going to pay more than 200 dollars for it!” bent.

  65. As a professional makeup artist, I always charged more for wedding day makeup because of the combination of challenge to get the makeup photo-perfect AND waterproof (as brides and others in the wedding party whom I may be making up tend to shed some tears). Also, there is frequently a great deal of pressure on a wedding day (and sometimes drama). There were times I was lied to about what was going on-it was clearly a wedding but I had been told it was a “formal dinner” or a “family reunion” or a “graduation”. Those times I did the same makeup I would for a bride and her attendants and charged less. I figured it was more important to maintain my reputation as a makeup artist than let someone’s mascara run. Sure, it alway made me angry, but people take advantage of service professionals. I always try to get as much information as possible before the event.

  66. I was a bridesmaid in my ex’s wedding, and all of the girls in the wedding party decided that we just wanted our hair to be curled for the wedding day. The price for the style was $15. However, since the bride and the other bridesmaid had arrived earlier than I had (there was no set appointment, so it wasn’t like I was late and inconveniencing the stylists) they left before my hair was done. The stylist that was doing my hair was having a hard time getting my sideswept bangs to not hang in my eyes, so she told me she would just pin them back with ONE hairpin ( I repeat, ONE hairpin.) I go to pay for the service, however, and was charged $45 because since there was the addition of ONE hairpin, that quite frankly I could have put in my hair myself, I was being charged for an updo as opposed to a normal style.

    I just wanted to share my horror story. All in all, if the hairstylist had been upfront with me and told me that adding a hairpin would qualify the style as an updo, I would have politely declined it. However, since it was thrust upon me as I was leaving, I was in such shock that I didn’t even think to dispute the charge, plus the fact that I was only sixteen years old and didn’t want to be rude by arguing with the stylist about the charge.

  67. A few weeks ago, I called a salon to make an appointment for me, my mother, and my bridesmaid for wedding day updos at my wedding about 3 1/2 hours away. At first, the stylist was very nice, asking questions about all of our hair, etc.

    So, then we talk money. “Okay, so your hair is going to be $200, your bridesmaid $75, and your mom, because she has shorter hair, probably around $50.”

    Um, excuse me?

    So, taking the advice of the commenters on here, I point blank asked why my hair was MORE THAN DOUBLE what my bridesmaid’s hair would cost.

    “Well, that includes your trial.”

    I had already told her that I don’t live there, but I repeated that I was not interested in a trial because I live far away and would not be making a special trip for that.*

    “Well, you know, your hair is going to take about an hour and a half. Oh, and we need to attach your veil.”

    “I don’t have a veil.”

    “Oh.” Icy silence. “Well, maybe you should call me back when you decide what you want.”

    Come on, SERIOUSLY? My cousin just got married this weekend, and the stylist showed the MOH how to attach the veil (she didn’t do it herself). It literally involved sticking the comb in the back of her hair and securing it with a couple of bobby pins.

    Anyway, so this salon, despite the fact I turned down a trial, was prepared to talk me into the $200 price tag by saying it was because of the VEIL. When I told her I don’t have a veil, she balked and didn’t even want to do it anymore!

    I called JCPenney’s, and the woman who scheduled me was so gracious, and didn’t quote me a bridal tax.

    My mother, upon telling her the story, “What the hell is this, rob the bride blind?” It was pretty egregious.

  68. holy smokes … to lie.. fib .. to whom.. when.. shall I keep my secret.. vendors no.. hair possible.. extra special = misc charges that cannot be explained… gotcha.

  69. I’ve only done one major booking– the horse drawn wagon from the parking area to the venue– and didn’t use the word “wedding” on the phone when I called. His prices, however, are flat rate, and I know that because I spoke to the man in person first and he was aware that at least one person would be calling him to book an autumn wedding. If he wants portfolio/advertising type pictures as part of the deal, I’m happy to oblige there too, as that’s the biggest downside for the service sector I can see with the “tell or don’t tell?” question. If your hair stylist is still building her book, then ffs tell her it’s a wedding so she can do a few pictures! She’ll appreciate that more than just doing “party hair” and might take the opportunity to get creative when she otherwise wouldn’t.

  70. I’m so happy someone wrote an article about it and so many have commented – I was definitely planning on only calling my event a “party.” I have had a few quotes from vendors, so I’ll be sure to tell the whole truth when it comes to service providers. I didn’t think it made a difference…so thanks for bringing this topic to light!

  71. Welp, whether I would lie about it totally depends on the product or service and whether the type of event impacted the cost to the person supplying it.

    For instance a photographer might have different kit to bring, want consultation hours, etc, if I book a wedding rather than just paying by the hour for something random so it makes sense that he might be a bit more expensive.

    It would also just be bad sport to lie to a person who was to attend the event, or find out some other way. That’s a great way to get spit in your champagne.

    BUT, that said, I am not going to pay a different price to aquire the various bits and bobs of paraphenalia just because they say “wedding” on the packaging. I have literally seen the same product packaged in white on one shelf and in colours on another, with a price hike on the “wedding” version. Um, no. That’s exploitative.

    It also depends on whether what I actually NEED aligns with the supplier’s idea of what “bridal” constitutes. I am unlikely to tell my hairdresser that I am getting married because I do not require a “bridal” styling session, with whatever else that comes with. I’m just getting a trim and wearing my hair natural, and that’s up to me, so I don’t see the point of paying any more because I mentioned my wedding. See what I mean?

    So it does not need to be a controversy because sometimes it can be appropriate to avoid the exploitative “wedding tax”, and sometimes it is not. Both can be true depending on the circumstances.

  72. We’re having a fairly laid-back backyard wedding this summer and my fiance has been ADAMANT that we never say the word ‘wedding’ when we don’t have to. But recently, my parents have been talking to tent rental services (and not following my fiance’s rule in the least) and one guy honestly said, “My tents aren’t nice enough for weddings.” It made me realize that the ‘little white lie’ really depends on the service. I would never lie to a photographer, but since we’re not going the tiered wedding cake route, I probably won’t have a problem placing an order with a bakery without telling them what the occasion is. They’ll never know that the Mr. Met or Yoda sheet cake they made is being served at a wedding and not 5 year old’s birthday party, so it doesn’t feel like I’m pulling a fast one. On the other hand, I doubt that I’ll be able to NOT talk specifically about that big ‘party’ I’m going to while a hairdresser is spending 40 minutes curling my hair, so I’m okay with that ‘wedding tax.’

  73. I would lie like a villain. It is ridiculous how stuff gets marked up just because it is a wedding. Their way of thinking is, well this is price they will be willing to pay because it is a special day. They have not met me yet. I have found so many bargains that it is unreal. For example, I am paying $300 for a venue to rents for $1500. I am saving $2500 by having my family help me with the food opposed to paying a caterer to do it. There are ways to save you just have to be willing to do some of the work.

  74. No, I have a thing called character and don’t lie 🙂
    As a professional photographer, if people tried the price match with me, I’d say, see ya later!

  75. We offer all the services under 1 roof that anybody would need for any event, wedding, bar mitzavah or backard BBQ. They all need the same things. As such our pricing is fixed online and anyone who gets a quote will get the same price with one caveat. You pick the level of experience you desire. With 3 levels, Apprentice, Expert and Master. Clients just pick the level of service they expect and the pricing is fixed across the board. Whether you want an DJ, Photographer or something as simple as a photobooth. BUT we do not let our our apprentice employees do weddings. For all the reasons all so eloquently stated already. Weddings will usually only happen once in a persons lifetime. There is no room for error nor is there any leeway from the client. So its a 2 way street, you can’t expect perfection on your special day, if your willing to lie about it.

  76. This has been a fascinating read.

    On one hand, I disagree with the “just because we expect you to be wayyyy high-maintenance” markups and think that vendors should offer, at the least, an explanation as to why a wedding would cost more than a family reunion. For example, Birthday Cake: $XX, tastes great! Wedding Cake: $XXX, tastes extra great, and then we keep it chilled/fresh/whatever until the last second so it doesn’t melt and fall over before dinner’s over. Or, $XX tastes great! + $XX extra tasty filling + $XX to make sure it doesn’t melt in your venue and it falls over. And then have in a contract that if you go above a certain level of PITA, you are allowed to tack on a fee to cover the extra time to take care of you. Really, people just want to know what they’re paying for, especially when they’re spending so much money. Obviously, itemizing every single egg or foot of ribbon isn’t necessary, but yeah.

    On the other hand, while I’m not a wedding vendor, I do create custom clothes and costumes. There are certain aspects of quality I WON’T compromise on, much like how a pro photographer won’t release untouched photos, even though it does cost more time, and thus money, to do those things. We have reputations to consider and stress levels to consider. I have a base and build from there. A bridesmaid or bride or cosplayer would get the same quality of tailoring and attention. Want an extra fitting? I’ll let you know we need to bump the cost a little. Don’t want an extra fitting? We’ll do the one and wing it. No fitting at all? I’ll do my best, but I cannot guarantee superior fit, despite the fact you gave me measurements. At which point I will make things somewhat adjustable (corset lacing, elastic, drawstring, etc)

  77. As a vendor…
    1. Shouldn’t all work be perfection? Why strive for less???
    That being said, weddings can be more work. Have a menu with different levels of quality. As far as supplies etc. Customer service should be the bes t whether it’s a budget bride or the St Regis girl.

    I am a makeup artist. They screw themselves if they lie to me! I specialize in media and digital makeup. All the makeup I do is my best work. I don’t want people seeing kmart makeup. All of it will last through an awesome party. HOWEVER , how I do the makeup will be different what I use is different. Brides have to look flawless in person as well as on camera on the most I portent day of her life! A party isn’t going to haveHD compatability. The colors might be different since I am assuming they are not getting pro pics done. I take the time to speak to the photographer to make sure the products I am using will work with their media….if I don’t know it’s their wedding they will still look great. Their pics might be ok….not bad but not magazine/runway quality. I charge more for brides because I include lashes, a full mascara for them to keep, a full long wear lipstain/gloss to keep. I prep their skin differently and use more expensive ingredients on their skin. It takes longer. I spend a lot of time emailing and phoning them to make them comfortable and confident. I love weddings and take a lot of pride and joy in sharing this day with them! I charge 150 for makeup and 50-150 for hair. More than some way less than others. I give deals on a case by case basis. I will give a deal to an awesome bride that just got back from war. I take the financial hit because I figure it will come back to me later; D
    Not everyone realizes how much “extra” goes into a special day.

  78. I am a makeup artist who specialises in doing onsite weddings but I do other makeup work as well.
    What I have not really seen addressed here is the fact that the majority of weddings take place on a Saturday. I have to make the majority of my income on one day of the week which makes that very precious inventory. (And Fridays and Sundays are fairly popular as well) When I get the occasional weekday wedding, I do not charge as much as I would for a Saturday wedding because there is much less competing for my time. Additionalla Wednesday courthouse bride is typically not going to be as high maintainance; they rarely request a preview session and there is much less pre-event communication. Wheareas a large Saturday wedding booked a year in advance? It is not at all unusual to exchange 35 or more emails, hammering out timeline, contract negotiation,exchanging Pinterest boards, tweaking head count, scheduling previews, etc.
    Doing makeup for a party someone is attending is absolutely not going to be the sane amount of work. For one thing they probably aren’t requesting service during the busiest chunk of our Saturday. Typically I can fit a party makeup in at 4 after my weddings. They don’t need a preview and they don’t email me 30 times. So yeah. Weddings are a completely different animal. And vendors have to make Saturdays worth their while. Which is why most of us require minimums and have up charges on the weekend. It’s not gouging, it’s supply and demand.

  79. In my experience a lot of the mark-ups are from a simple lack of communication. If someone were to quote me X amount of money for my wedding and I only had Y to spend, I would ask them (very respectfully) why they had quoted me this when any other event would be half that amount. If they could not adequately explain this to me I would just thank them for their time and be on my way, if there were some things they planned to provide me that I did not need (which is a lot actually i.e. silk and chiffon for a dress, fancy dressed waiters, special tableware etc.) I would ask if we could drop those services and moderate the cost accordingly. More often than not you will find that these service providers would be totally cool with giving you a better price for a service tailored for your needs, and I’ve noticed some vendors are even relieved! A lot of it has to do with your vision, and there’s nothing wrong with shopping around and asking questions in my book so long as it’s done respectfully! To me failing to communicate what kind of event they are preparing for is a little under-handed if they are providing a service, especially if they are going to see it unfold and a wedding is one of those days you want the best karma.

  80. I am a dreadful liar, so I would not lie about my event being a wedding. I go from ghostly pale to flushed, and an assortment of other blatantly obvious telltale signs, if I tell a lie. That said, I have a deep appreciation for vendors who are willing to work with my specified needs.

    In my area, the norm for a wedding reception is 4-5 hours on a Saturday evening (with Friday evening being second most popular/common), with at least 100-125 guests. My personal needs/preferences dictated a Saturday afternoon reception lasting no more than three hours, with no more than 90 attendees. We had reserved a time slot at our church to meet that requirement, and started venue hunting. We sent out RFQs to a number of places, and made appointments with the first two to reply. One was a wedding-focused catering hall; the other was a restaurant with an attached catering business.

    The wedding place insisted on charging us for services and goods that we did not want or need – and they also would not work with our timeline, predetermined by the start time of the ceremony and the travel time between church & reception. You’d think that in an area with a very large Catholic population (Catholics must marry in a church or the Church does not recognize the marriage), they would be accustomed to working with the needs of couples with a schedule determined by the church, but they were quite uncooperative, and insisted on a start time that would be physically impossible without a TARDIS. The place was beautiful, and I’m sure the food would have been delicious, but I was really turned off by their uncompromising attitude, and I left unhappy.

    When we went to the restaurant/caterer, I was so relieved that when I said “Saturday – lunch for 80-90 – start at two pm – three hours long” they were completely on board, and flexible on reducing packages that were standardized for longer/larger events. It was really refreshing not to have to meet any kind of minimum that was beyond our budget and guest list – and most of the “wedding” services were à la carte, so I could decide for myself that paying for champagne for toasting (that no one would drink) would be a waste of money better spent on additional hors-d’œuvres. I was so delighted by their attitude of “it’s your party, so do it your way” that I campaigned to have our wedding there. Based on the responses (or lack thereof) that we had gotten from other venues, I knew that we would receive a superior level of service, on our own terms, from the restaurant than from the catering halls, because the restaurant was not mired in industry standards that our wedding could not satisfy. When all was said and done, the services offered and the price were fairly similar

    • *Got cut off*

      The services and prices were fairly similar, but the restaurant’s attitude of cooperation really turned the tide in their favor.

      I also want to add that comparing competing vendors can be like comparing apples and oranges – both are fruit, but the similarity stops there. Of course it is important to know that you are getting a reasonable price for services offered, but I am far more concerned about the vendor having honest business practices and friendly, helpful service. I didn’t need to look at more than one or two venues, or photographers, to know that I would be satisfied with whatever prices were requested as long as the personal interaction side of things met my needs.

  81. How about their respect for me as the customer to not rip me off and charge more for the SAME item or service just because it’s a wedding? In my opinion, THAT’S what feels wrong. I plan on telling all my vendors except the photographer that it’s a family reunion.

  82. for things like venue and photography, I’m all about honesty. but when it came to my cake….man was I pissed! every baker I called I first said I was having a wedding and needed about 60 cupcakes. the cost was $3 to $5 per cupcake. the place I am having my wedding offered to bake them for $7 each!!! but then I called the places again to ask how much 60 cupcakes would be for my family reunion. guess what? 1.50 to 2.75 for the SAME thing!!!! and don’t even get me started to the rental prices for stands, so I am having a friend pick up the cupcakes for my ‘family reunion’ and putting them on my diy cupcake stand

  83. A local park in my area (Venue) charges two separate prices to use the Pavilion for weddings and parties.
    My wedding is just a party with a fancy dress. Why should I pay more?

  84. What business is it of anyone’s what you want the service or product for? You should be able to buy a service or product regardless if it is a wedding, a shower, or a party. There is a basic right, called “privacy.” I just don’t think everyone needs to know everything about my life. And if the hairdresser asked me, “what party?” I’d tell her, that’s my secret and wink. Then keep my mouth shut the remainder of the workup.

    And no, I don’t agree that because it is a wedding that it should be pricier. Regardless what the venue, the prices should be rated according to the supplies, food, etc. required, not according to the label tagged on it. That is just so backwards!

  85. I think there are probably lines, and it can be iffy to judge where they are sometimes.
    I mean I know if I was buying something like a dress then I definitely wouldn’t mention it was for a wedding as just typing in that search term or mentioning it to a designer would massively up the price and not only do I think that’s ridiculous but I really can’t afford it. I’d feel worse lying to a person outright but,
    I don’t see a wedding as something that should have to be more work than another event? If I was organising a party i’d want the standard to be just as good as if I were organising a wedding. If i had a specific and even intricate hairstyle I wanted for a party why would that be less money than one for a wedding? I’d still want it to be to my specifications. Perhaps for some, I loathe the word bridezillas but people who are that intense then maybe it is more work, but perhaps price it on a case by case basis instead of assuming I mean, it’s becoming more common that people take out loans to fund their wedding and that is almost terrifying. I don’t like the idea of decieving people in any way shape or form, but then I also don’t like the extortionate prices the wedding industry tries to force on us. It’s… a grey area to be sure

  86. Thoughts from a professional wedding photographer:
    (1) I only do weddings. If you lie to me and say it is for another event, my reaction will be “I don’t do those events. I focus only on weddings.” Why ? Because there are a limited number of days where couples get married in any given year. I am not going to throw away a saturday on a family reunion for someone who expects to pay less than a marrying couple.
    (2) Wedding are the only thing that interests me to photograph. Family reunions, or other parties, are simply boring, sorry, and I don’t want to photograph them.
    (3) If you want maximum negotiating leverage get married on a Thursday. Friday weddings are much more common now, and I am not willing to negotiate for Fridays either (because I’d honestly rather take that day off to prepare for my saturday wedding–it is freaking hard to do two weddings back to back and I price my weddings out so that I don’t have to do that to make ends meet). But a Thursday wedding, yes, I’d be willing to make deep discounts for that.

  87. Little white lies… I was just married 5 days ago. In hindsight, if you are ordering something to be handmade, lie about when the wedding will take place. The vendors making my wedding dress, cake topper, and caterer, all waited until the very last minute to confirm, ship or get to me, the products I was expecting. I knew the last 2 weeks would be a flurry and despite multiple attempts at confirming an aquisition date, I was put off by being told it would arrive in time, a few days prior. Needless to say I was super stressed out by not having these items ready ahead to time. It would have saved me a lot of heart ache to have these done so I could focus on the “mini-emergencies”, other snafoos that I knew would happen at the last minute.

  88. I don’t think any vendors or service people should charge based on the type of the event, but based on what you want. If I had catering and I wanted just a buffet, no serving, then it should be the same price whether it’s for a wedding or a birthday party and be priced based on what I want. As a profession, you would get the food made and set up on time the same as a birthday party as you would a wedding. Now, if I wanted servers or to have plates instead of a buffet, you charge for that premium service but again….if I wanted plates of chicken, mashed potatoes and greens on plates and served to guuest by a seating chart, explain why that service should be more for a wedding than a birthday party, banquet or family get together??? It SHOULDN’T. It should only cost more if I request fine China or extra trype of services that would warrant it.

    As far as dresses, if I brought in two of the same exact dresses and need them altered; one is green, the other is white and could be used as a wedding dress, why would the alterations not cost the same if they’re they same exact dress and work that needs to be done? Why must when I mention the white dress will be worn in a wedding does my quote go up? That insinuates to me you were never going to alter the green dress to the best of your ability and that you’re saying you’re gonna go above and beyond for the wedding dress, when really the same work just needs to be done!

    Now hair. For example. Not everyone meets with a hairstylist to practice the ‘do. Some people want some simple styles. If I just want barrel curls and to stick a tiara on top and call that a wedding ‘do, then it should be the same as if I wanted barrel curls to go out for the night. I actually do hair and instead of charging more for events (prom, weddings, graduation, etc) I actually do DISCOUNTS if you show proof that the hair style is for something significant as like a gift for an achievement (especially graduation) just a nice gesture. But the price is always the same by style, then like maybe $10-40 depending on what they getting/spending. But I would never charge by event. I don’t feel like if someone tells me it’s for a wedding that I need to go above and beyond to make it “better” and price by that. I get a photo, listen to any details they want or anything that varies from the photo, give a price based on the style and do the hairstyle to look JUST like how they ask. If they did want me to come before and try out the hairstyle (which I’ve had people do for just going out on a date, because they’re nervous and wanna look perfect) I do the tester style for a tad but cheaper because I’ll have them pre-pay for both days. If they liked the test style, wear it and show it off….that’s whatever. I don’t care. If they plan to test it on a day where they wanna go out and it saves them from doing their hair, more power to them because it’s notnmy concern. I’m simply not just gonna do their hair, then undo it lol. Plus also when it goes to testing the hair, they’lll wanna see how the ‘do upkeeps throughout the day, in the wind, in different environments, etc.

    As far as venues, I honestly don’t understand why many charge more. If I’m renting a venue for x-hours and x-amentities/addons, I expect it to be the same as well. I also don’t understand venues that I’ve rented for parties or public events where I charged for people to come to not care what food/alcohol I bring as long as I get the right event insurance and liquor permits, but then are up my ass and nickel and diming everything for a wedding. All of a sudden for a family reunion or graduation party I can bring my own food, but for a wedding i have to use their vendors or pay a fee for no reason. Or for my “staffing” I’m not allowed to have family/friends be a coordinator and they demand to see a contracted agreement with a professional coordinator or charge me $xxx to use theirs…..why? Traditional wedding or not, I I planned my ceremony to be just 30 minutes and my rental is 6 hours, 8 if you include cushion time for setup/tear down, what makes you think it’s *that* hard for me and my family to run through a 30 minute ceremony, rearrange some chairs/tables (same room ceremony/reception), serve some food, talk and party in 6 hours? But if we were just aimlessly having a family reunion, still with a schedule and timeline to follow, you wouldn’t care how we get through it?!? I think too many venues use trying to make your day perfect as an excuse to tax you for things you truly don’t need. Also trying to impose the idea that you don’t know what you want, how to run it and aren’t capable of doing so and that you have to do it THEIR way. I find that unacceptable. I hosted a NYE event at a venue in which I advertised online, sold tickets, hired a bar staff and door staff and paid static per hour prices for everything and just needed to submit event insurance and alcohol license as well as that everyone I hired was a licensed business. All the companies i hired charged by the hour and by the expected volume of people, no other stipulations. That same venue I rented again for a birthday party, private event. I didn’t advertise, it was a closed guest list of like not even 1/4 the amount of people at the NYE event and the venue rental was exactly the same because I wanted 6 hours for both. I got my event insurance and license to have alcohol, although this time it was just on site and not being sold, and I hired a bartender to make mixed drinks and everyone had a ticket to redeem drinks (to make sure everyone got stuff fairly, and there was also BYOB). This “cost” me more because it wasnt a for-profit event, but i paid less fornthr event as a whole because of less services, but the venue rental price didnt change. Now I inquired at the same venue for a wedding. I wanted 6 hours, explained I’ve rented before. Asked for all of the same tables/linens and services as my past two rentals and all of a sudden the price goes from $1,200 to the $3,000 range with stipulations about no outside food, using their vendors or get a fee, no homemade food or cakes, and all these weird rules. So I tested and sent another inquiry pretending to be someone else, asking for the venue on the same date/time as what I inquired fornmy wedding and saying the aspects similar to the wedding, but said it was a family reunion…..the price was $1,200 again. That’s honestly so messed up. Anyone who tries to say we are being cheap or don’t understand, explain to me why at the same venue I can have any type of catering or even homemade food and have my friends serve it for a public, ticketed event in which I’m serving strangers and making….but as soon as I mention it’s a wedding they are concerned about liabilities (someone told me you need licensed vendors so no one uses if they get sick) when it’s my own family? Doesnt make sense to me!

    And even photography, event photography should be the same and as so for a wedding. You should charge for your travel to come, price per hour for photo service, and leave it at that. Discuss with the organizer that at that price, you’ll just walk around and take photos. Then introduce premium services like if you want photography at multiple locations (bridal party and groom party photos before the wedding, sunset photos, just married shits, etc) will add. Then explain if they have stipulations as far as you needing to capture certain aspects (wedding ring exchange, first kiss, coming down the isle shots) to make a checklist of objects you have to shoot and capture these things, and itemize them out in your quote. From there, allow the bride to pick and chose. Explain to the bride that if you are a hired photographer, you will NOT battle through friends/family and that she must discuss etiquette wih guest to allow him/her to do their job. Explain that you will add to the price should you have to go above and beyond in the day. But don’t just jump and change your rates from $300 for average event photography to $5000 simply because it’s a wedding, and you haven’t discussed the details and needs for bride as well as what your main role will be. At that price, IMO, you better have your own staffing of at least 2 other photographers, have filters/reflectors, travel and visit multiple locations, and be dedicated to my wedding for the WHOLE day. I’d want “BTS” shots of me getting ready, video as well and photos edited, watermarked with my own “Mr and Mrs.” overlay in the corner, complimentary prints of iconic shots, poster print of the kiss and probably a lot more. Because honestly, I could still get amazing shots, get all the right photos and get multiple angles by hiring 2-4 individual photographers for like $200-$300 a piece and coordinate with them each other own duties and be more than satisfied. Also, just because someone mentions a wedding doesn’t mean what you have in mind is what they have in mind. Some may want you to just come, take posed shots, grab some shots of the isle and ceremony and be done. Some may want you to get everything from getting ready to after the reception dies. Some may want you all over town, others just for a few hours. I just can’t understand how people make quotes without sitting and discussing EXACTLY what is wanted/needed of their services. I’ve had photographer friends be hired to shoot photos of a singer/band at a showcase or something and have more difficulties for various reasons, working harder, than they did for a wedding. I’ve had photographer friends simply just be asked to attend a wedding and shoot what they find right, and it honestly not be as complicated as you guys try to make it seem. But there should be no excuse for a photographers price for party/event photography to just jump from one price to drastically different simply because wedding was out in there. For ANY event, they should always start off with “my base price starts at $xxx/hour or $xxx for x-hours block” and explain that base price is travel, service time by price, and basic walking around photos then ask to discuss further the details of the event, what they expect from him, itemize out prices for the detailed services, and allow the wedding party to see if they can continue forward and afford it. Allow them to say “oh well i don’t care too much about ____ shot, but I just want you to get the first kiss) or something. If you require the photographer to be at the rehearsal, shoot the rehearsal dinner, etc (which many photographers just include that in their prices, not everyone wants that), then know you’re not gonna get a cheap photographer. But one thing that’s kind of sucky about photographers is that photogroahy is an art and photographers need to learn how to seperate someone paying for their art and someone paying for a service. They need to learn that if you want to charge extra because you wanna get on the floor, grab angles, run around and try to do “more” to make the shot so-called perfect in your eyes, that’s not what everyone wants nor wants to pay for. You really have to discuss detials before you just throw out prices. Because for food, you can easily say you charge $xx/plate for people and be talking about steak and salmon, when the person may want chicken and tilapia which would be less because steak and salmon are premium dishes. You gotta have like a menu of services and allow people to negotiate. You have to understand you are a hired service based off of what THEY want, not just I can do this and I charge $xxx for it. They didn’t ask what you can do, they’re explaining what THEY want and what you’d charge for that.

  89. We’re professional caterers….and our price doesn’t change whether it’s a wedding, an LGBTQ wedding, a reuinion, corporate event, or anything else. We know what it costs us, and what we have to charge. If I offer you a discount/deal, it’s only because you asked really nicely and I like you/am being nice, but know that this discount comes directly out of my pocket.

    Now….I’m surprised this hasn’t been mentioned, in a post about lying to your vendors but PLEASE….pretty, pretty please….do NOT try to save money by giving your caterer an incorrect number of guests. We always build in a 15% overage/buffer to account for big eaters, or unexpected guests, or feeding the other vendors (which the client may have forgotten to include), etc.

    That said…we were told at one wedding that we had 130 guests. 180+ showed up.
    People were downright HOSTILE and my girls didn’t even want to refill the buffet trays, as a result. It was terrible. We never ran out of meat, but did run out of pretty much every single salad and side dish. Finally, the groom got on the mic and told the guests that it was NOT OUR FAULT, and that we had been given incorrect numbers. Suddenly the mood shifted, and everyone calmed down and went back to partying. In this case, it was an honest mistake/oversight on their part, so we didn’t charge them any extra. As a result, they’ve been super vocal about how happy they were with our services, and have recommended us heartily, everywhere.

    We HAVE had people try to pull this maliciously/to save money though. It makes us look bad, and it makes them look bad, and we WILL bill them for the extra plates/food after the event. So, not a good idea, if anyone is considering going that route because they KNOW that their caterer builds in an overage like we do, or whatever.

  90. I get why all the little twiddly bits cost more money, but the venue? If you’re renting an empty room and are going to be bringing your own caterers and food etc – what the hell does it matter to the owner what you’re going to be doing in there?
    As far as I’m concerned, the lady who booked the venue for “a party” was not lying.

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