Image: Mathy Shoots People
Last Friday a friend and former client of mine tagged me in an article on Twitter. I read the article and couldn’t help myself (shocking I know) and ended up engaging in a mini-argument on Twitter about the things posted in it. The post was from a recent bride that “dumped” the wedding industry and mostly railed against its supposed wedding upcharging and other rip-off pricing.
And while some of her tips/advice I can get behind, there is a lot of the article that pissed me off. Pissed me off so much because I’ve worked in this industry now for 5 years and I just can’t get behind some of her sweeping statements that vendors in this industry are only here to upcharge and take advantage of your wedding day. There are also advice points in her post that, in my opinion, don’t show the entire story. Ie, yes you can hire outside staffing companies that might be cheaper than a wedding caterer, but they likely won’t provide all the services a full-service catering company would – like busing tables, making sure the food the restaurant dropped off is staying warm/re-stocked, helping with set up, coordinating with your rentals, and the list goes on.
So I’d like to respond to her letter here today, but let me start by prefacing that for those of you that know me, you know how I feel about the wedding industry. You know I think it’s expensive, too bride-centric, sometimes focused too much on details, and overall can be a total beast to deal with. I understand that – but that notion is also an easy article to write. Because within the 5 years that I’ve worked in it, I’ve also found the wedding industry to be AWESOME. Full of entrepreneurs and creatives, full of amazing couples & clients, and vendors have become some of my dearest friends. It’s full of people trying to make a living as a wedding vendor, people who do it because they love it, and mostly full of people who just love love and the un-matchable excitement and energy of a wedding day. Who are here to yes, make a living as a wedding business owner, but not to just make huge profits off your wedding day.
Images: Kristi Odom Photography
Let’s start first with the “Venue + catering = rip off” point. Yes, wedding venues are expensive in DC – but newsflash, this is not a wedding specific thing. ANY rental of ANY venue in DC is expensive – thank our real estate market or the insane cost of rent for businesses here. While it is expensive yes, it’s not necessarily a rip-off in my opinion. However her point to use a non-profit or arts space as the venue (think outside the traditional wedding hall/hotel box!) is certainly one I can get behind (though you need to also read this article on the truth about using offbeat wedding venues for your wedding to be educated). ALSO be aware, that decoupling your venue from everything else can add to your planning/coordinating list – sometimes it’s easier to pay a little more for something that has a lot more included in it.
Second point: select a catering or a restaurant that can drop-off the food. This will certainly be cheaper (as there is no service at play here), however there are a lot of things you should know if you want a caterer or restaurant to just drop the food off. First – who is at the venue accepting the drop off and where are they putting the food? Does it need to stay hot or cold? Who is doing that? When it’s time to eat, who is taking the food and putting it out – and where did you get the plates, bowls, and serving ware from (the caterer likely dropped off in foil tins, unless they brought rentals, be aware that you likely will have to CLEAN those and take those back to the caterer/restaurant)? Who is turning the food over – putting more out when tins empty? And who is serving the right food at the right time?
Image: B.O.B. Photography
And onto my favorite point: wedding vendors only charge more because you said wedding, so find vendors who’s main business IS NOT weddings.
Where do I even begin with this one? Guys, there is a REASON vendors might charge more the second you mention it’s a wedding and that is because there is MUCH MORE involved in a wedding day, than your average birthday party or corporate event. I attempted to explain this to the author via Twitter, and she called me sexist, because I shared that the emotion of a wedding day makes the day higher stress and there is more of a push to ensure the day is smooth, fun, “perfect”, thanks to all the expectations of the family, the couple, and the guests attending.
Personally I don’t find anything about calling a wedding day high emotion sexist. I did not say brides, I didn’t utter a word about a sex, I just said the emotions are high on a wedding day. Personally, my wedding day was one of the MOST emotional days of my life, and out of the 30+ weddings I have now worked as a coordinator or attended as a guest, I can tell you this is true because it’s one of the reasons I keep working weddings. I LOVE the emotion of the wedding day. I love watching two brides calmly get ready together. I love watching Dad’s see their little girls in their wedding dress. I love watching the couple walk into their reception space and seeing all their hard work come together. I LOVE THE VOWS (dear god, seriously – traditional or personalized, the vows are MY FAVORITE) and I love when grooms cry.
I LOVE the emotions of a wedding day, but I am telling you these emotions just don’t exist at your average corporate party and because of the emotions, there is a certain frantic energy to the wedding day. It’s not always the couple – sometimes it’s a parent, or a sibling, or wedding party members that want to ensure the day goes “just right” – regardless it’s there and it’s why “weddings cost more”.
Ok, onto hiring non-wedding vendors. That’s cool – I’ve worked with some great vendors who were “new” to weddings, however, if you are going to hire non-wedding vendors you better have a coordinator or planner that can help wrangle and manage them. There is a certain cadence to a wedding day – each vendor knows what I am talking about. And working in weddings gives you the ability to not only account for the cadence in advance, but it enables you to be prepared for most situations that likely arise on a wedding day. DJs, photographers, officiants – you guys know what I am talking about, and have likely written your own blog post about it…. working a wedding is different than other events. So while you can hire non-wedding vendors, don’t expect to get the same service you would, had you hired a wedding professional. Your DJ might not play appropriate music during dinner or cake, your photographer will likely miss moments you wanted captured in your wedding day pictures, and your cake might not stand up to 95 degree summer DC heat – but as long as you are OK with that, hire away!
Image: Liz Fogarty
Next point: using Task Rabbit. Oh man guys – I mean see above on the entire paragraph about hiring non-professional wedding vendors. I’ve written about hiring friends as wedding vendors before as well, but using Task Rabbit takes this to a whole new level. Sure this CAN work – and CAN save you money, BUT there is also a risk involved here. The author also mentions that with using Task Rabbit, YOU will have to create layouts, a wedding day timeline, instructional packets for your non-wedding vendors, AND run a paid training before your wedding to ensure they are ready & informed.
Ask yourself, A) Do you even know how to do these things? B) Do you have the TIME to do these things? Sure you might save money here, but there is a lot of TIME involved in creating these layouts, this timeline, and ringing in the vendors. How do I know that? Well that is essentially what I do as a wedding coordinator, so yes I know how much time is involved here. :)
Image: Pop Wed Co
Finally (if you are still with me): Get Appy & use technology – now this one I am 100% behind! BUT I still have one thought – know your audience here. Technology is AWESOME and yes, affordable, however, if everyone you are inviting is NOT technology friendly, an online RSVP might not be the way to go (because you will likely end up having to track all your guests down for RSVPs if they cannot figure out the website).
In short (hah!), you can certainly do everything the author outlines and likely still have a great wedding day. HOWEVER, you should not expect your wedding to be without hitch or hiccup if you opt for non-wedding professionals and fast-casual restaurants for catering. There is NOTHING wrong with this approach and a lot of my clients have mixed these budget saving tips in with the more traditional options, however, there is always a second side to these tips that I hope I was able to articulate that here.
What I ended with telling the Author on Twitter and what I’ll end here again today, is that I truly believe there is no RIGHT way to plan/execute a wedding. There is NOTHING that you MUST or NEED to do, there is only what you and your partner WANT. My job as a blogger and wedding coordinator is to simply educate you/my clients on what that want might cost or need in order to be achieved.
Happy Wednesday Romancers.