Why are weddings so expensive?

So it turns out weddings are super expensive.  We’ve already talked a little bit about why wedding planning sucks and the average cost of weddings in the US but now that I’m fully ingrained in the process, I’m seeing a bit more of the nonsense than before.  In this day and age, I’m used to looking up the prices of whatever I want online.  Want to compare prices of surf lessons?  Not a problem.  Skydiving quotes?  On it.  Cost of wedding venues?  Hah, forget about it.  Most wedding venues do not put cost information online.  Neither do caterers.  Why is this?  Why wouldn’t they want people to be able to find out more about their costs?

Because we’re young, dumb and in love!  That’s why.  The wedding business is a big business, $50 Billion a year in revenue, and thrives on the lack of information and efficiency.  Most of these places don’t want people to be able to know the itemized costs without meeting them.  Some places like to adjust the costs based on the people that are getting married.  Some places even make you fill out a form that includes your yearly salary.  All of this so that they can size you up and figure out how much you may be willing to pay.

Now, I’m not saying that all wedding venues are bad.  The truth of the matter here is that the wedding industry has one fantastic advantage over other industries that stands out among all else: almost everyone is a first time buyer.  You may be a great negotiator but if it’s your first wedding (and it likely is), then you don’t know where the best areas to push people are.  Maybe it’s the flowers.  Maybe it’s the chairs.  Maybe you need to hire a coordinator (more money) and let them deal with the vendors to get the best prices.  Everything costs something.

Another big problem is just random fees that seem to appear.  Maybe a caterer charges $40 per head for food, plus tax, plus service charge, plus gratuity.  So $40 a head can quickly turn into $60 a head (although a good budget SHOULD account for tax and tip.  Who knows what this service charge is).  Maybe the place is great, has a food and drink minimum that’s in your budget, great band, perfect view.  Then, boom, rental fee.  Some places charge a separate fee for the location.  Normally, this is fine.  I’ve seen them range from $500 to $2000, all of which makes sense to me.  It’s your place, might as make some extra money!  But sometimes, sometimes, the fee is outrageous.  I’ve heard of some places where the food and drink minimum can be north of $25K with a rental feee over $10K put on top of that.  At that point, things are starting to get ridiculous.

All I really want from any of these vendors is a list.  An itemized list of costs.  How much do the forks and knives cost?  Are linens included?  Is there cake (the answer best be yes)?  These are simple wishes and demands and as I trudge along, looking for a place that won’t send me to bankruptcy, I’ll be sure to keep you all informed.  I know that at least a couple of you are enjoying the oncoming insanity that seems to be brewing!

I'm just saying, Vegas wedding...

I’m just saying, Vegas wedding…


Photo courtesy of Andy Baker

2 thoughts on “Why are weddings so expensive?

  1. I think weddings are so expensive because they sell the day. “It’s the most important day in your life” they all say. They play on this emotion to get you to buy more and spend more. I’m lucky in that my wife saw through many of these things. The wedding was still expensive but I’m just glad it wasn’t as much as some peoples we hear about. Even what some girls spend on the dress alone gives me heart palpitations!

    • I was reading about this actually. They use your emotions to get you to spend more, just like you said. Apparently the FTC has rules against this for funeral homes, requiring them to provide itemized lists of options. They feel that individuals in mourning need protection from financial predators. Now, I’m not saying that weddings and funerals are the same but hey, I wouldn’t mind a little protection over here!

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