The Wedding Markup Myth

I’m going to try to not turn this into a rant on ethics in journalism.  It will be a struggle.  I’m also going to allow the Today Show to be considered journalism for this….when in all honesty, it’s usually just entertainment with a twinge of reality.

Which is exactly what I feel the recent Rossen Report on the Wedding Markup is; entertainment (marginally) with a twinge of reality.  The point that he intended to make with his bit of investigative journalism is that when we vendors hear the word ‘wedding’, we immediately tack on a high price tag.  Just because.

As if our prices are arbitrary things not based on our own costs of doing business, skill set, training or experience, time required, or COL of the area.  As if wedding vendors just pull numbers out of thin air to develop our pricing.

In any case, the finished piece had 3 hidden camera interviews with vendors to request prices.  I was surprised that only ONE vendor had much of a price difference.  One out of three.  It would be a stretch to use that to prove a hypothesis.  (The photographer quoted a very slight price difference, which surprised me because I thought they might have the greatest variation in price.  $50.  In his later explanation he stated that he thought it was at a different venue, farther away.) As a filmmaker, I also wonder about all the other vendors who were visited that did not help to prove the point, and were not shown.  Experience has shown me that most of the film ends up not being used.

So the best they could do to prove their Wedding Markup was 1 out of 3 vendors had a price difference?  I call that a myth.

Right out of the gate, can we all just agree that birthday parties and weddings are not the same kind of event? Granted, the WV market for events is a bit different than larger cities, but when I think about the biggest, nicest, most important birthday party that I’ve EVER been to….and compare it to the most low key wedding that I’ve ever been to….well, even as an outsider, they just don’t compare.

(Um, going to exclude Quinceañeras from this example, because I know that they can be quite a big deal.  But most wedding vendors that I know offer the same pricing for a Quinceañera as for their basic wedding package…so the comparison still stands).

I could run down examples from every different vendor on why their jobs are so much different for weddings, how much more time, effort, and skill is needed than with other events…but you’re all smart people.  I think you probably see it.

Wedding Invitation SuiteBut if you don’t…and you decide to pair up with a friend and call vendors for prices and compare, be sure that the prices you are quoted are for the same services.

ps.  It may be a dead giveaway to your florist when you request a bridal bouquet, several matching smaller bouquets, all the assorted boutonnières and corsages in addition to your centerpieces for your BIRTHDAY party, and your DJ will probably think you’re a little over the top if you want choreographed dances with you boyfriend, you mom, and your dad (not to mention intros for all your family and friends) for your BIRTHDAY party, and your photographer is sure to google your grandma to see what kind of lady garners 5-7 hours of photo coverage, dozens of portraits with the whole extended family (plus her friends), some one on one sunset photos, and 3 albums from the event.   But even though they know your game, they will likely still be entirely too nice to you and provide you with the same quote for your opulent BIRTHDAY party as they would for a basic wedding.  Same price for the same service.

Because the wedding vendors I know are nice like that.  They’re polite even in the face of crazy requests. Their prices are usually well calculated, complicated equations (that they have spent hours trying to adjust appropriately) and reflect both their skills and the services they provide.


  • Good read! I agree that it’s unfortunate that people may think that wedding vendors just auto charge a bunch of money. Not true. We all charge what we feel our services are worth based on experience, education, time, etc. Also wedding vendors have to make a living as well. I’m happy you wrote about it! 🙂

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