What the hell is wrong with the “Wedding Industry“?Yes, I will call it an industry because that’s what it is. According to www.weddingindustrystatistics.com, “For the first time since 2008, wedding budgets are on the rise,” said Carley Roney, cofounder of The Knot. “In 2011, one in five US couples spent more than $30,000, and 11% spent more than $40,000 on their weddings. Our research shows that couples and their families are less concerned with the economy and are increasingly comfortable investing more in the once-in-a-lifetime occasion of their wedding.” So most “average” couples would rather go into debt over a wedding than eat for the next 6 months. Wow…..genius.
It’s not hard to see why. As you may have gathered from previous postings, I am currently engaged and set to be married to my lovely fiancée in September. As a result, we have spent the last few months scouting venues, talking to caterers, DJ’s, bands, photographers, florists and the like trying to plan our special day. It’s amazing how much things cost, and what a huge business this has become for so many people trying to sell you crap.
This is nowhere more evident than at a wedding show. If you haven’t been to one of these, it’s just like it sounds. It’s a damn wedding show…..basically a collection of vendors get together and decide that they’re all going to get in your pocket all at once. It’s fantastic. We also had to pay to get in, so now I am actually paying out money for people to sell me things. Doesn’t that seem backwards? Now I would expect certain vendors to be there…..country clubs, dance halls, florists, cake shops, etc. What I did not expect are all the other losers that really have nothing to do with weddings that show up. Wow, I’m a wedding show…I’d love to look at some closet organizers while I’m here. Awesome. Hey, check it out….I was actually thinking about getting laser hair removal, tattoo removal, and personal training. I’m so glad I came so I could knock all this out in one place.
I guess all these things do have a very very loose connection to getting ready for a wedding, but seriously folks. These weddings are getting out of control and you’re the reason why. I talked to my mom, who has been married to my dad for over 30 years. She didn’t get laser hair removal before her wedding, and she didn’t have a personal trainer. I am pretty sure that things were simpler then, and all this nonsense is just something that we’ve created over the years as a way for even more people to make more friggin money. I’m all for the free enterprise system….please save your nasty emails, but sell your crap to someone who wants it.
My fiance and I decided that our wedding was going to be simple, memorable, and affordable. We are not taking on a mountain of debt to get married. We are cashflowing the whole thing ourselves. We have been smart and frugal about hiring our professionals. Here’s a couple tips that we’ve discovered to keep the cost of your wedding down. No big surprises here, but maybe there’s something you haven’t thought of:
1. Plan Early – Sure, the idea of a whirlwind engagement sounds like fun, but if you’re planning a ceremony and reception this is not the way to go. We’ve had months to plan and it’s still been a headache. Giving yourself plenty of time will allow you to have the most flexibility in your decisions….more people will be available and not yet booked out to help you. Also, with many vendors, if you book well in advance, they will give you a discount if you just ask for it.
2. Try Some Different Sources – Did you know that you can find service providers for these types of things a lot of different places? I would actually say that somewhere like a wedding show is the worst place to hire people. Maybe go there and get some ideas on what you want to do, but seek out better deals elsewhere. We found scads and scads of DJ’s, photographers, and the like on Craigslist. Yes, Craigslist. Now, these people are not pre-screened so you have to do your due diligence in checking their references and abilities, but if you’re willing to spend the extra time, you can find a smoking deal. Make sure you call their references, do not give them more than a reasonable small deposit to reserve your date, and ask them to see lots of examples of their work.
3. Make Things – We found that the materials to make a lot of items like centerpieces, invites, place cards, menus, favors and so forth are available online for a fraction of the cost you pay to buy them. Websites like www.tablelinensforless.com and www.koyalwholesale.com have a lot of great products to make just about everything you need. In conjunction with Item #1, if you give yourself enough time to make these things, you can save a boatload of cash.
4. Ask For Discounts – Do not underestimate the power of negotiation. Obviously, some people are just flush with work and will not negotiate at all with you. That’s fine. Look for the skilled vendor that you want that’s maybe not as busy as the others. Then ask them to lower their price. Then ask them to lower it again. Make this job the job that they want to take. This job is going to be a showcase for them to build their portfolio. Anything that you can use as a negotiating tactic is to your advantage. For example, our wedding is at a secluded mountain lodge. We sold this as a chance for our vendors to have a nice relaxing weekend getaway as well as do our event. Room and board was included in their package. Of course, we offset the cost to put them up with highly discounted rates for services. We made out in the end.
5. Be Smart – Do you really need that many flowers? Do you really need that particular candle or napkin or whatever? Making unnoticeable substitutions and cuts that no one would ever miss is a good way to make yourself some money. Remember, you’re into the details of the day during planning. On that day, your guests will be into seeing you get hitched and then downing as much free food and booze as they can. They won’t care that your beautifully arranged candle ensemble came from Pottery Barn. Keep it simple….elegant can be simple.
Guys, we know that we’re not geared towards this sort of thing. We don’t plan weddings. Take it from me, if you’re there to support your fiancee and help her as she goes through this, it will make your life a lot easier. Don’t fight it. Just drink a lot of beer samples at the wedding show, and you will get through it.