The Wedding Tax

Mention the word ‘wedding’ and the price increases.  Or so it seems!

Why is it, that weddings just seem so expensive?  Does the word Wedding mean suppliers can increase their fees?

First, let me explain why it’s not possible for a wedding supplier to just increase their prices when the word wedding is mentioned.  The wedding industry is highly competitive.  Alongside full time professionals, are a growing band of ‘part time’ suppliers, who have a full time day job and run their wedding business at the weekend (which works, with Saturday being the most popular day to get married).  Many part time suppliers operate to supplement their income – or even operate as a hobby, so often charge low fees that leave little profit after costs are accounted for.  Post on any wedding group on Facebook for recommendations for a photographer or a DJ and watch the hundreds of responses pile in within minutes.

The wedding industry is highly competitive.  There simply just isn’t the room to ‘name a price’, due to the sheer amount of competition.

But that doesn’t explain why planning a wedding still seems to be so much more expensive.

The reality is that usually, a wedding is the first time you’ve planned such a large event.  It’s not often you pay for 100 people to enjoy a 3 course meal, and entertain them, often for up to 12 hours!

Compare a typical birthday party to a wedding:

  • Finger buffet vs three course meal
  • Friends taking photos vs a professional photographer
  • 5 hours of entertainment vs 10 hours of entertainment
  • Local mobile disco vs specialist wedding DJ
  • Sponge cake vs 3 tier fruit cake
  • Community centre vs listed mansion house

In many respects, the standard of supplier you book is considerably higher than those of a party – in many cases, the suppliers will be wedding specialists and only cater for weddings.

And when you deal with wedding specialists, they will do everything possible to ensure your day is perfect.  After all, you only get one chance to get the day right!

  • Many wedding make up artists won’t take on any other work during the morning of your wedding.  You wouldn’t want your make up artist delayed at a previous appointment!  Compared to a prom, where they can dash between a number of people over a period of a few hours.
  • A wedding photographer will carry a minimum of 2 – often 3 cameras with them, just in case a camera should fail. And each camera can be in excess of £3k each!
  • Your wedding bouquet is designed following an extensive planning stage where you exchange emails, images of designs you like, and in person  consultation so that your bouquet of flowers can be designed to meet your exact requirements.

Ultimately, you’re paying for professionals who are experienced in ensuring your day goes perfectly.

Expectations for weddings are much higher than for any other party or function.  Every small detail has to be right.  A 12 hour day is choreographed to perfection, with a number of wedding suppliers coming together, often for the first time, on your wedding day, seamlessly working together to create a smooth day.

The Backup Plan

At a wedding, nothing can go wrong.

Imagine your wedding where the DJ didn’t turn up.  What impact would that have on your entertainment?  Can you afford for the DJ to not turn up?

Here’s an outline of things I do to reduce the risk of anything going wrong

  • My equipment is stored in specialist storage. Not only does this reduce the risk of it being exposed to extreme cold/hot temperatures and therefore rusting, as it would in a garage, but also reduces the risk of theft due to the increased security.  You don’t want a DJ phoning saying that their equipment was stolen the night before your wedding…
  • My vehicle is modern, regularly serviced and has full business break-down recovery in place.  I also aim to leave for your venue with enough spare time for any unexpected delays or diversions I may come across on my journey.
  • I’ve purchased professional, high quality equipment from new that is less likely to break down.  You can pick up second-hand disco equipment easily off eBay.  But how long will it last?  I’ve also designed my equipment so that a failure won’t stop the music!
  • I network with lots of other high quality Wedding DJs.  Everything that is planned for the day is documented.  Should I fall ill for a wedding, I have other suppliers that I can call upon that I can trust to execute the plan that I have created for your wedding.
  • And should the worst happen, I have equipment insurance, to ensure if equipment is stolen or damaged at a previous wedding, it can be quickly replaced.

So those are just some of the measures taken to ensure everything runs smoothly for you.

The Best Wedding Ever

But beyond a smooth running wedding, you also want your day to be amazing.  You want the best wedding ever!

So here are the additional steps I’ve taken to enable that:

  • I’ve invested in training and personal development.  This is so that I can host your wedding will the skills and knowledge to not only command the attention of your guests but create moments that are fun and memorable.
  • Typically I won’t work 2 weddings back-to-back.  You don’t want a tired DJ at your wedding – for peak performance, it’s best that I’m refreshed and ready.
  • I spend time in advance understanding your dreams and desires so that I can make them a reality on your wedding day.  I won’t just turn up and play the same old playlist at every wedding, I’ll create a bespoke playlist that matches you and your guests’ tastes.

It might surprise you, but I can earn less per hour than a budget DJ, who turns up at the last minute with very cheap equipment and just works the 5 hours of the evening, with no preparation for the wedding.

Budget Suppliers

So what about budget suppliers?  If you ring around, you’ll find a variety of prices, including some very cheap prices quoted.  How are these suppliers able to provide the same service for less?

Ultimately, corners have to be cut.  And sadly, in most cases, you don’t get to find out what they are until something goes wrong.  I’ve seen suppliers with very old vans, that struggle to start.  They don’t fill me with confidence that they can get to every wedding in the year without a breakdown!  Some suppliers take on more work to generate enough profit to live.  I’ve seen venue dressers try and cover up to 5 weddings a day!  Their tight schedule leaves no room for delays, and should any timings be out at any venue, everything starts to go wrong.  There are photographers turning up with budget equipment which doesn’t produce the same exceptional results as the ‘pro’ equipment.  And even DJs doing a kids party in the afternoon before heading for a wedding reception party – already tired after entertaining for 2 hours!

Sadly, many suppliers struggle to compete on any aspect of their service other than their price.  So desperate to get clients, they quote as low as possible to get the work.  Then when a piece of equipment breaks down, they don’t have enough profit retained to be able to replace it.  Soon they’re unable to fulfil their contracts, run out of money and cancel on your shortly before your wedding.  When you’re booking suppliers a year – or even 2 years – ahead of your wedding date, you need to be confident that they’ll still be in business by the time your wedding comes round.

Don’t be afraid to ask your suppliers questions.  Find out what happens if they were to break down, or if they were ill.  Do they have a contingency plan in place?  What vehicle are they using?  What equipment do they bring with them?  Anyone who tries to avoid answering those questions is sadly likely to be hiding something.

A Big Bash!

A wedding is a ‘large scale’ party.  Even just ordering 100 invitations can seem expensive when you see the total price.  But consider a basic £4 birthday card at Clintons, buy 100 of them, and there’s £400 worth of cards, along with £65 of stamps, and that’s nearly £500!  So in comparison, the quote from the stationer for 100 bespoke hand-created invitations is likely a very good price!

Specialist wedding suppliers have lots of experience.  If your budget is running tight, be honest with them about what you can afford.  They can make recommendations to help fit your dream wedding into your budget, such as helping you decide what are the priorities, which aspect you could drop and changes to the packages to suit your budget.

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