Why do wedding suppliers cost so much?
Cake topper in icon by Suzanne Oddy Design Limited (photography by
It’s the most prickly part of wedding planning, for sure – the pennies. Budgeting tips range from the unhelpful ‘don’t sweat the big stuff’ to the even less helpful ‘don’t forget the little bits’. Sometimes people throw numbers in there too – percentages and fractions – and allocate your budget out for you, making it sound oh so simple because it’s not their money to spend. At the end of the day though it’s all relative to you and depends on your priorities within the wedding. As such, we only have one stringent budgeting rule we advise all couples to follow:
Don’t ask the wedding supplier to reduce their prices.
There’s a nasty image of the wedding industry that always does the rounds, constantly bubbling just under the surface if not having the cheek to poke its full head out: that the wedding industry is full of selfish suppliers who want to capitalise on your big day and cash out, and don’t care about you as a couple. These honestly couldn’t be further from the truth, though. This isn’t even a case of us being a small little bloggy microcosm surrounded by unusually nice vendors, either – the majority of the industry are incredibly talented creatives who genuinely share an interest in your big day.
What this means, for clients and couples, is myth-busting time: there is no magic mark-up just upon the mention of the W word. If you ask your cake maker for a 3 tier cake with florals and ruffles ‘for a birthday party’ and you’re cagey about the delivery and set-up, just know that your cake maker a) won’t charge you any less than they would if you asked for it for a wedding and b) are massively, massively judging you right now. The same materials, skill and effort goes into an elaborate themed birthday cake as a wedding cake on the same brief, so the same cost applies.
So if it’s not the phantom mark-up, then what is it that’s making wedding suppliers so expensive? Especially when you could just take those supplies and make the thing yourself, quicker and easier?
Well, there it is again, you see. Many things can be done at home, it’s true – you could apply some make-up to your own face on the morning of your wedding, for sure, you do everyday and always look ruddy gorgeous – but the question is – would you want to? The fact that you’re looking at suppliers’ prices in the first place suggests that you’d prefer not to.
You’re paying someone to do something because you either think they could do it better or you don’t want to have to do it on the day – or both. Every motivation for hiring a supplier boils down to one of these two categories, and it’s totally acceptable to admit that; if you’d rather spend your wedding morning giggling with your girlies and sipping on bubbles instead of trying to perfect a cutcrease whilst you also attempt to tie some bouquets, we completely get you. But what you’re asking your suppliers for here is time and skill – which cost!
The more skilled and more experienced a supplier generally is, the higher their prices are, simply as a reflection of their demand. If you want a cheaper supplier, hunt around for one with less experience. There are some incredible suppliers out there with little experience – everyone’s got to start somewhere, right? – so just make sure you check out their portfolio first!
The other half of that, as mentioned above, is paying for their time. I know, I know, it’s the one thing we never run out of – apart from we do, all the time. Deadlines left right and centre can make time seem preeeeetty finite! Dedicated and skilled suppliers will spend the required time on your project, and whether they work their rates out per hour or as an averaged sum, it’s all worked out. It may still be more than you think because more hours go into most things than you may think. For example, Sam from Ancilla, a top-notch staffing supply company, notes that even seemingly simple things to clients, like changing shift hours or numbers, make her a slave to her phone and thus have knock-on-effects (and therefore knock-on costs.) Nicole Vogwill, a wedding photographer, also agreed, saying that lots of people sadly think that all photographers do is ‘push a button’, not taking into account the hours of prep, editing and delivering that go into wedding shooting.
And if you feel like you’ve got an accurate grasp on the costs of time, have you considered travel? For some Saturday set-ups, Katie from The Vintage House That Could has to travel to the venue on the Friday and return on the Sunday for take down, meaning a hefty amount of travel. Nikki, boss babe behind About Your Dress, and Nina, one half of the inimitable Occasion Queens also note the difficulty in charging for travel to attend consultations. Cakes, too – most cake makers have a certain radius within which they’ll travel free of charge, but outside of this make sure you think about the mileage. All of these are things your suppliers are more than happy to do - elated in fact in most cases! - but things that need to be taken into consideration.
Ok, so now we’ve done the sums – they don’t actually cost that much, at all. Huh. For what you’re getting, and what they’re doing, it does seem fairer than it originally did. And what do these costs go towards? Actual, tangible goals for small business owners – sportskits and class memberships for their children, and food and drink and lovely things, and big smiles and happy dances, and the chance to see their order books grow and their horizons expand. When you order through or buy from a small wedding business, you’re making dreams come true – so don’t ask them to rein that in, pretty please!