Weddings are a Luxury

Everyone tells you how expensive weddings are, but until you actually start planning one, you really have no idea how much celebrating your nuptials can really be. It catches you off guard and can easily overwhelm any couple wanting to say "I DO". So why is getting married so expensive? Well to be totally honest……it isn’t! The act of getting married has very little cost. A marriage certificate, a legal officiant, and some witnesses are all you need to start your married life together. But if you want to celebrate that union with a wedding, then you can expect to pay a lot of money to do so. This is simply because weddings are a luxury! Yes I said it, and I’ll say it again, weddings are a luxury. To be frank, if you threw a party for any large group of people with great food, live music, and epic decor, and then, had it all documented in photos and film…..yeah that’s going to cost you! 

Weddings are a Custom Product

But a wedding is not just any party. Weddings are a whole other ball game, which requires a variety of different skill sets from your vendors. There are a lot of high expectations and importance resting on our shoulders. So before you start bargain shopping for vendors, or haggling over the price, please remember a few things. 

  1. These individuals likely specialize and focus their talents on specific wedding services. They are trained to do their part to make your wedding dreams come true! This takes a lot of their own time and money to accomplish. 
  2. Most wedding vendors are small business owners and even small businesses have expenses. Equipment, business license, websites, courses, supplies…. it all adds up! We pay out of our own pockets for everything needed just to keep our business going. We also don’t get vacation pay, sick days or health benefits. 
  3. Many vendors often have a full or part time job to supplement their income, and they give up their weekends,….. their summer weekends, to work weddings. Ask yourself, what are your days off worth to you? What are your summers worth to you? 
  4. Many people assume vendors only work a few hours on the actual wedding day, but there are many long hours before and after a wedding that go unseen. For example, my price includes the many hours it takes to go through and edit all the photos I snap. Not to mention, all the emails back and forth between clients, consultations, creating timelines, answering questions, marketing and advertising….. and the list goes on and on. When you break it down, many vendors only make a minimum wage but are expected to provide perfect results.
  5. More experienced vendors will likely be more expensive because they understand that their knowledge is worth a lot! I am not saying that vendors who are just starting out are not good at what they do. On the contrary, there are many up and coming wedding vendors who are amazing at their job! But people get better at what they do the more they do something. I know I am a heck of a lot better at photography than I was when I started 13 years ago.
  6. Weddings are a custom made product, because each couple wants something different. And just like any custom made item you purchase, they are more expensive than a “one size fits all” type of service. That’s why it's cheaper to get married in Vegas, where they use the same decor, same Elvis officiant and same photographer for each couple, than lets say... at vineyard in Napa Valley, with hand chosen flowers, four tier gluten-free cake, designer gown and live music. 

The Cost of a Wedding

So what is the actual cost of a wedding? This depends where you want to get married. In Canada, the average wedding with a guest list of 100 people, costs roughly $30,000. In the Okanagan, this number is closer to $50,000. This seems like a staggering amount of money but let's break things down, shall we. 

For a lovely wedding venue to host the ceremony and reception for you and 100 guests, the average cost is between $3000- $12,000+ which often includes chairs and tables, set up and take down service for seating and perhaps a day of coordinator. These venues need to pay their staff, some of them working overtime hours to make your wedding awesome. Certain venues, such as wineries and golf courses, also need to make up for any lost revenue, as they may lose regular business to accommodate your wedding day. 

Food and drinks will be one of your biggest expenses. We have all felt the sting of rising food bills, and so have caterers. These costs get even higher when trying to accommodate a variety of dietary restrictions. vegan, gluten free and allergy free foods generally are more expensive and harder to find in some cases. Besides the cost of groceries, caterers need to hire staff, put in long hours preparing food before the wedding day, and must have portable equipment for food prep and storage, not to mention plates, cutlery, serving dishes… etc., etc. Providing a delicious meal for your hungry guests will range between $50 - $100+ per person.

Having a variety of wine, beer, and cocktails for guests costs will cost between $2500-$4000. This includes champagne for a toast, cocktail hour and open bar at the reception. Hiring a bartender is extra, some venues provide that service for you. 

Documentation of your wedding with video and photography costs an average of $2500 - $5000+. Full day coverage will have photographers and videographers on their feet for roughly 8-12 hours, with few breaks and constantly on the look out for memories to capture. Then there are the hours of editing that comes after the wedding is over.

Wedding attire and accessories will be another big part of your budget. The average cost of a wedding dress ranges between $1500 - $2000 without alterations. Adding a veil, lingerie, jewellery, shoes and other accessories will increase this total by a few hundred dollars. Men's suit rentals sits between $400-$600. Other accessories such as shoes, tie, cuff-links, suspenders, and fun socks will add a bit to that price as well.

The costs mentioned above makes up half of your wedding budget. Have you been keeping track? We are already between $15,000 - $33,600. Other costs include flowers, decor, rentals, makeup, hair stylists, music, officiant, transportation, honeymoon, rings, accommodation, stationary, tips, and many other small things that are sure to add up quickly. 

Saving for a wedding Day

So how do couples manage their wedding budget to keep from over spending? First, start saving ASAP! Many people start a wedding savings account when they get engaged, but it is smart to start sooner. If it is your desire to be married and have a dream wedding then start saving now, perhaps even before you are in a relationship. Second, prioritize your spending! What is most important to you when it comes to your wedding day? My main focus on my day was food. Much of our budget went there, while other parts of our wedding were compromised or omitted entirely. Third, ask for help. Though many couples would prefer to pay for their entire wedding themselves, many parents do help with some of the cost. Some parents even have a savings account in place allotted for just such an occasion. However, anyone contributing to your wedding may want a say in the guest list or other aspects of your wedding day.

Weddings have transformed from a religious formality to humble celebrations, and have now become the biggest event of a persons lifetime! Couples dream of their wedding day and want the best for the most important day of their love stories. As such, vendors began to offer specialized services for their clients, and this in turn has driven vendor prices up. It's the same for any other business and it's called supply and demand! The wedding industry rose out of a demand from clients wanting a similar experience to the rich and famous. And as weddings have gotten more lavish over the years, wedding vendors have upped their game to match. We are in this industry because there is a desire for us to be here. And I am forever grateful for it, because I love my job and I am only here because of my amazing clients!