Why the Heck Are Weddings So Expensive?!

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It's a fitting question--for real right?

I mean,come on, how many of you have asked yourself (or others) that question?

Why in the actual heck are weddings so darn expensive?!

Conventional Answers:

  • Well, you have to feed everyone...and that’s not cheap.

  • You have to find the PERFECT venue and the most PICTURESQUE views - that’s not free you know!

  • It needs to be memorable so EVERYTHING needs to be special.

  • It’s your wedding day--go all out!

While I agree that feeding over 100 people is no small feat, a beautiful wedding setting is key, and your big day should be memorable, I absolutely do NOT believe that you have to spend an arm and a leg making the above concerns come true.

If that’s the case, then why does everything add up so quickly? Let’s start at the beginning.

The Venue

The venue should be the first thing you research and book when starting the wedding planning process.  These bad boys are locked down as soon as a year in advance.  The venue can truly set the tone of your whole event--it’s the base of your design.  When you are booking a venue, you’re typically booking the entire space.  Imagine having an entire restaurant all to yourself--pretty cool right?  But you have to think of this from the restaurant owner’s perspective.  On a typical Saturday night, let’s say that restaurant makes a total of $10,000.  If you want to have that restaurant, on a Saturday night, all to yourself, you have to make it worth that owner’s while.  He, or she, is most likely going to charge you a “buyout” rate--a rate that covers the opportunity cost they associate with that date, time, and location.  Venues like restaurants and wineries have a lot of people coming through at premium rates, so the cost to rent these spaces for private events will reflect that (not to mention if there’s a nice view you can tack on a cool factor fee...i mean why not?).  We are both lucky, and unlucky in a way, that we live in the DC-Metro area.  That “cool factor” vendors like to charge extra for? We have a lot of that--historical properties, scenic views, monumental views...basically the works.  Due to these factors, venue prices as a whole in this area tend to be a bit on the pricier side.

Wedding Vendors

Wedding vendors (especially experienced, quality vendors) are extremely skilled and well-versed in their trade.  There is often an art form associated with their service which requires a certain level of expertise.  Most are solopreneurs so their time is extremely valuable (there’s no behind the scenes drone knocking out the administrative work for them).  For example, let’s take a closer look at a wedding photographer.  They are tasked with capturing every perfect, beautiful, key moment of your wedding day.  This is, as you’d imagine, no easy feat.  You have to make sure the lighting is correct, the angle is perfect, the shots aren’t blocked, you’re getting footage of pretty much anything and everything, you have to make sure you get all of the client’s desired wedding shots while making the families happy as well, and the list goes on and on….and that’s only on the day-of.  Once the event is over, and they’ve taken thousands upon thousands of shots, they have to correct and edit every. single. one. By themselves.  Holy moly! Talk about a shiz ton of work.  It’s easy to see why a wedding photographer can charge anywhere from $2500 to an excess of $5000 for a wedding day package--and this is only for one vendor.  You also need to consider booking a DJ, florist, ceremony musician, caterer, baker, decorator, wedding planner, etc etc etc.  They add up and they add up quick!  In addition to their time being valuable, it’s easy to add a little cushion to the price for the “glamour” that comes along with a wedding.  People will pay a premium price to achieve a certain look and feel, so it only makes sense economically to charge a premium price (it’s common sense peeps).

Decor and Extras

Hate to break the news, but Pinterest and wedding magazines have us brainwashed (I’m not mad at it because I love them, but reality kicks in real quick once you dig deeper).  In case you didn’t know, most of those featured weddings or styled decor photos are not in the least bit budget-friendly.  You know those beautiful, metallic, chiavarri chairs everyone loves? $7 bucks a pop--not a joke.  If you have 100 guests at your wedding, you--at a minimum--need 100 chairs (..duh).  Do the math and you see that’s 700 buckaroos...for only chairs and most likely wouldn’t cover both the ceremony and reception.  Those super sleek, clear ghost chairs? Even more than the chiavarris. I know….I hear heart’s breaking as I’m bearing this bad news.  Once you take common design elements like these and add centerpieces, wedding favors, invitations, save-the-dates, bridal party gifts, day-of attire, ceremony decor, guestbooks…..you get the point.  Ca-ching ca-ching!

Y’all, I Promise There’s Hope

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get out of the dark side and see that lovely little light at the end of the wedding planning tunnel.  All is not lost y’all! There are affordable, quality vendors in our area that are ready for you--you just need to do a bit more research and dig a little deeper to find those local, hidden gems and savvy decor secrets.


Too good to be true? Maybe...but here’s a little freebie to give you taste of what the Tribe offers.

Click here to access our FREE wedding budget template.  It includes an ideal percentage breakdown for each category of expenditure and allows you to plug and chug potential dollar amounts to your hearts desire.  Use this resource to ensure you start the wedding planning process off on the right foot.

Courtney David