There’s no denying that weddings are expensive. Hosting this major life event often requires a major investment to put together all the details, from the venue to the fashion to the teams of vendors who help orchestrate the day. “It’s not uncommon for couples (and often their parents or a significant other who contributes financially to the celebrations) to have a bit of ‘cost shock’ when they start planning their wedding,” shares Tracy Taylor Ward, president and principal designer of Tracy Taylor Ward Design. “So if you’re in this boat, don’t worry. You’re not alone. What many don’t realize is how much production and attention to detail goes into a wedding day (and even more for a full wedding weekend!) compared to other types of events.”
So why exactly is that price higher? “First and foremost, a wedding is one of, if not THE, most anticipated and important milestone in one’s life, and therefore many want to make sure it’s a memorable experience for their friends and family, which often leads to more resources (time and money) dedicated to bringing such an important celebration to life,” says Ward. “Many couples want to incorporate unique and detailed elements throughout their celebration, such as elaborate floral arrangements, custom lighting installations, headliner entertainment, bridal stylists, dance instructors and beautiful, personalized paper goods.
An event of this caliber truly requires an army of talented and supportive vendor teams, who all put so much love and passion into bringing each wedding to life.”
Wedding planner Chanda Daniels adds, “It’s important to understand that each couple needs to spend on their wedding what feels comfortable for them. It is very important to be careful not to judge or shame others for what they decide to invest in their wedding. The amount you invest in your wedding has nothing to do with your marriage, do what makes you comfortable and enjoy it!”.
Next, we have wedding professionals detailing the details that come together to give weddings that great price tag.
The amount of events
While most regular events have a few functional parts, such as a cocktail hour and sometimes dancing, a wedding can have days full of different components. “Weddings traditionally incorporate several different ‘events’ within the wedding day or weekend,” Ward explains. “At a minimum, it includes a ceremony followed by a reception, making it longer and more complex than most other landmark events. In addition, the type of event format a wedding typically entails can lend itself to higher costs compared to other event styles. For example, weddings typically include a fully seated table, which is much more expensive than a cocktail event with passed hors d’oeuvres, which is often the preferred format of other social events.”
“Photography is a great example of increased cost for a wedding versus another event,” she shares. “Wedding photography often includes an engagement shoot and over 10 hours of coverage with multiple photographers to capture the entire duration of the events, resulting in thousands of images that need to be edited in post-production, whereas other major events typically last three or four hours and therefore only require coverage of that duration, resulting in only a few hundred images that need to be edited in post-production.”
It’s also important to note that a wedding can have several events during its course. “The wedding style is the core of the cost, which means the celebration is a one-day celebration, a destination wedding or a multi-day wedding weekend,” Daniels says. “Each of these wedding styles comes with additional costs related to its format. For example, with a weekend wedding you have the cost of three events potentially hosting all the guests you’ve invited to the wedding.”
The expense that can lead to the biggest sticker shock is the venue. With a larger number of guests, you need a space that not only matches the design you want, but also has enough capacity for your guests. “The number of guests will drive what venue you can choose,” Daniels explains. “So the larger the number of guests, you’ll need to select a venue that can accommodate your guests. The final number of guests will determine the cost of catering, rentals and centerpiece flowers.”
The total cost of renting the space for an evening can be high, but it can also come with a few extra fees. “The venue, depending on what you choose, may require additional set-ups to accommodate your wedding,” shares Daniels. “For example, a private property may require you to bring in power, lighting, restrooms, building a kitchen for the caterer or transportation for your guests. That’s why it’s important to look at the total amount of what it costs at each location before you fall in love with it.” Even hosting a wedding in a place you don’t have to rent, such as a family home, requires bringing in a lot of rent to get the space ready to host a major event.
The work of suppliers
The biggest contributing factor to the high cost of a wedding is the number of hours vendor teams spend planning and producing the event. “In most cases, weddings require managing and incorporating exponentially more vendors and elements than other events,” Ward explains. “Vendors pour hundreds if not thousands of hours of labor between wedding preparation, the large amounts of labor and staffing required to produce the wedding, and the post-production work required by many vendors as well. So while the wedding itself might only span a day or a weekend, it’s the labor of love that goes into producing it that requires more resources (i.e. time and expense) than any other celebratory event.”
“Because a wedding is ultimately the celebration of two people and their families coming together in most cases, this means that there are many more (for lack of a better word) ‘stakeholders’ involved in planning a wedding compared to other events,” she continues. “Navigating each individual’s priorities, expectations, and financial contributions takes a lot more time and energy, leading to longer meetings with vendors, more attention to detail, an increase in calls and emails, and more emotional support. In addition, most couples and their families see a wedding as a prime opportunity to celebrate and thank loved ones who have supported them on their journey through life thus far.”
One thing many couples quickly realize is the high cost of decorating their event with flowers. Not only does creating floral arrangements for your event require skilled labor, but the actual cost of flowers these days has risen due to inflation. “Brides and flower consumers everywhere – the price of flowers has gone up almost 20 percent since the pandemic,” shares floral designer Kristen Griffith VanderYacht. “What was once considered a luxury price is becoming more and more commonplace in the floral industry. I don’t say this to discourage you. I say this to empower you to make thoughtful choices when it comes to your flowers.”
VanderYacht encourages couples to consider this investment. “Just like clothes, makeup or entertainment, consider flowers as you would consider any other product,” he shares. “From bargain finds to luxury brands, you get what you pay for. The one defining factor that sets florists apart is that each piece is a unique, handmade creation. Nothing is made in bulk. Everything is made to order.”