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The Wedding Industry Wants Your Money

Bride and Groom Outside a Drive-in ChurchI haven’t been doing too much writing lately. It’s primarily because I’ve started wedding planning and it’s an all-consuming endeavor. An all-consuming endeavor that makes me want to punch someone in the face. This picture represents what I’d really like to do right now.

Weddings costs are out of control. I’ve always known this. But now that I’ve begun planning my wedding, my eyes have been opened to all sorts of ridiculousness. From $200 bouquets to $100pp meals to $12,000 space rental fees, I feel as though I just want to give up. The fact of the matter is, unless you want to spend the time and effort to create a DIY wedding with creative food options and lots of help from friends to do things like photography, invitations, and DJing, you’re going to end up being robbed by the wedding industry.

Because I’m still in the early stages of planning, I haven’t done much research into photographers, florists, DJs, invitations, and the like. The first thing to do is get the venue and catering settled. Please, for the love of god, let it get easier once I’ve got those set!

I’d like to take a moment to rant on the horrors of wedding caterers.

Dear Caterers: I Hate You

In case the sticker shock of seeing menus ranging from $60-100pp wasn’t enough for you, remember that caterers also tack on a service charge of 18-22%. ┬áThat increases the per person cost to $70.80-122 before tax. What really gets to me is that the service charge is the same whether you’re doing a plated meal or a buffet. That’s just ridiculous. Clearly a served meal requires more staff than a buffet, and yet you have to pay the same service charge!

And what do you think would cost more, the plated meal or the buffet? It doesn’t matter what you answer, because half the time you’ll be right! Some of the caterers I’ve talked to charge extra for the buffet because they have to estimate quantities and they want to err on the side of caution by having too much food. That makes sense to me. Other caterers charge more for the plated meal because fuck if I know.

After many hours of perusing through caterers’ wedding packages, you might come across one that seems reasonable. After the horror of $80pp packages, $50 seems downright reasonable. I contacted one caterer who offered packages priced from $24-55pp for a proposal. When the proposal came in, I was shocked to find that their prices were not all-inclusive. Place settings, linens, napkins, staffing fees, and set up fees were not included in their advertised price. And they ask for a gratuity on top of the service charge. Isn’t the service charge the gratuity? Once you add it all up, they were just as expensive as all the other caterers!

I’m not the type who wants to plan every last detail of my wedding, so I need to outsource many aspects. But the difference between an outsourced wedding and a DIY wedding is MANY thousands of dollars. Anyone out there want to plan a frugal, yet traditional, wedding for me?

6 Responses to The Wedding Industry Wants Your Money

  1. Oh I feel your pain… and I’m Gen X! We’ve been trying to plan and are considering our local Chinese food take out place for catering. Yummy food, minimal delivery charge, buffet so everyone can help themselves. Disposable plates, cutlery, rented warming trays (or Goodwill crockpots), fun dollar store decorations and good mp3 music should make for a great reception, so we can splurge on pictures and fun :)

    • Gen Y Finance Journey

      I have a friend who did that for his first marriage and he said it was great. Of course they got divorced, so… I kid of course. It’s a bit more DIY than I’d like and definitely more DIY than my fiance or my parents would like, though.

  2. These are all fair concerns, and it’s actually a reason my wife and I would like to get in the wedding industry somehow. Our ideal goal would be to have a reception hall to rent, but we’d have to be pretty dang succesful to afford something like that ;)

    My wife my have some more hints, but as far as the caterer, we were finally able to find a reasonable one and it worked out well. We are in the midwest so I think we got it down to $25/pp or something like that, and they did a wonderful job. I think there is a fine line once you start dropping in budget to where you get really crappy catering. I also think that at some point it really doesn’t “improve” much. I would encourage you to just keep looking at options.

    • Gen Y Finance Journey

      Right. I’m sure the $100pp dinners are delicious, but are they really THAT much more delicious than the $60pp dinners? I highly doubt it.

  3. Wedding expenses make me want to elope. If bf wasn’t so traditional I’d just have a big fiesta (I might be able to convince him still). Burrito bar, big vats of guacamole, margarita machines. All I want is a big celebration of our love with our friends and family.

    • Gen Y Finance Journey

      Yea, my fiance is the more traditional one as well. Though in touring many venues, I’m discovering that I’m more traditional than I thought.

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