0 comments / Posted by Mike Chow

Weddings are really expensive. Add the word “wedding” to anything and the cost goes up 3x. Wedding photographers are 3x the price of business event photographers. Wedding caterers: 3x the cost. Wedding DJs:  3x the cost.

You might think that people who get married are taken advantage of by greedy vendors. This is common in funerals where vendors often prey on grieved family members to pad their pockets. But unlike funerals, weddings are usually not planned in a week. In fact, they usually have lead times over six months – so there is ample time to compare vendors and get a good price.

The reason that weddings cost 3x the price, is that they are 3x the work. Let me explain...

A wedding is often the most important celebration in one's life. So people can be very concerned with some of the smallest details of the wedding. And it is an extremely emotional event that often has a lot of opinions going into the planning (including both wedding parties, their parents, friends, etc.) and where many decisions are made by a group rather than by one person. Plans are often changed multiple times and there can be a lot of stress put on both the vendor and the people in the wedding to get something done "perfect."

Almost all weddings are more work for the vendor than a corresponding business event. They are usually not 3x the work but usually at least 50% more work. However, ever once in a while the vendor gets a really high-maintenance wedding that it is 10x the work (the "nightmare" client). This high-maintenance wedding has a wedding couple that is bickering, dueling parents, and super high emotions.

Because of the occasional "nightmare" wedding, vendors need to increase their prices for everyone so that the vast majority of people end up subsidizing the few high-maintenance ones.

To get a lower price from a vendor, you need to somehow signal you are lower maintenance. I'm not totally sure how but here are a few ideas:
  1. Signal to the vendor that there is one clear "CEO" making the decision. Even if you are bringing both wedding parties and parents to meet a vendor, be very clear which person is making the decisions. When there is decision ambiguity, the time to make decisions goes up and it will take longer for the wedding vendor to serve you.
  2. Be really, really calm when you meet with the vendor. Show them you care about the most important things but that you trust the vendor for decisions made on the little things.
  3. Make sure the vendor likes you. Vendors will likely quote you a lower fee if they are excited to work with you. Remember, they know you are shopping around and if they really want your business, they may lower their price.
  4. Be up-front with the vendor. Ask them if they can lower their price if you can take things off their plate or make things easier for them.

You'll almost certainly have to pay more for your wedding vendor than a similar business event vendor ... but you can bring down the cost a bit by doing everything possible to signal you are not one of the 10% "nightmare" clients.

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