Don’t Lie to Your Vendors

{This is a long one but I will throw in a few pretty pictures so you get a reading break along the way!}

An article was posted today on Huffington Post Weddings with tips on how to save money as a bride or groom.  One of the ‘tips’ doesn’t sit well with me (and based on the discussion on Facebook, it doesn’t sit well with a lot of people):

Don’t use the ‘W’ word

Resist the urge to refer to your wedding as your wedding when you’re talking to vendors. Fees go up 20-30 percent as soon as they hear that word because they know people will pay big money for their big day, Finney warns. “When you go to the florist or the reception hall, just say it’s a party. You’re having a party instead of a wedding reception,” she coaches. “If you can, have the flowers delivered to your house because it makes a huge difference in terms of cost. That’s the number one rule: don’t mention ‘wedding.'”

Really people?  Seriously?  That’s your money saving tip?  Lie to vendors?  I have a couple of issues with that little piece of advice even beyond the whole dishonesty angle!

First, regardless of what people tell you, I PINKY SWEAR that the vast majority of wedding vendors are not out to screw over brides and grooms because they are getting married.  Most of us are in this business because we love it, we love working with couples and truly want to help them have the best day possible.  There are some bad apples in weddings, sure – but there are some in any industry so it is annoying that wedding vendors get painted with a broad brush so often.

Second, weddings are more work for your vendors than an every day party and they cost more.  There, I said it.  This should not come as a surprise – they’re also more work and more money for you too because weddings and birthday parties are completely different animals!  Did you rent a location, have a formal ceremony, rent tuxes and make your best friends wear matching gowns, hire a DJ, photographer, baker, caterer, limo, florist, hair stylist, harpist, videographer, have an entire paper suite designed for your last birthday party?  If so, I really want to be your friend because that sounds like a heck of a birthday party!  Will you throw me one too please?

Reading break #1 – ooooh, romantic!


Still with me?  Okay, let’s get to the root of why weddings might be more work and therefore cost more.  If you work more, you’d expect to be paid more, right?  Why are wedding vendors any different?  I posed the question on my Facebook as to why weddings are more work for vendors – here are just 2 of my favorite answers, both from photographers:

Corey: I shot a wedding this weekend that was a 1 how vow renewal thing. In 1 hour portrait sessions I generally take around 200-300 images and I control the lighting, most of the posing and location. The wedding was around 600 images and I just have to roll with it. LOTS more stress, more wear and tear on gear.  Also, I can reshoot a portrait session if something goes wrong with gear, light, people etc. I can’t restage a wedding.

Stacy: For photography, weddings mean way more photos and editing. For example, in a two hour portrait session, I usually only deliver about 50-100 photos. A large amount of the time during a portrait session is spent looking for the best light, perfecting the pose, and walking from location to location, which is why there are fewer photos. Also, since I have more control over lighting, location, and content during a portrait session, that means less editing work afterwards. With a wedding, I can easily deliver 300-400 photos in that same timeframe because there’s so much more going on, and because I usually have little control over the subjects during a wedding, that can mean more editing. On average I spend about two hours editing a portrait session, and about 20 hours editing a wedding. Often weddings also mean album designs or rehearsals or venue walkthroughs are involved, which mean extra work. Also, weddings often happen indoors, which means I need to pay assistants to come and help me with lighting. I also bring a LOT more equipment to a wedding, because I have to be ready for anything, and I want to make sure I have backup after backup after backup.

Reading Break #2 – oooooh, handsome men!

IMG_0314Photo: Chelsie Burkhart

Back with me?  Onto florists – florists are often pegged with adding a mark up fee for weddings.  Think about it though – when was the last time you carried the bouquet of flowers you got from the grocery store around for an entire day?  Or wore a bloom or two on your shirt for 10 hours and hugged everyone you saw?  Wedding florals also involve a lot more design and structural work than a simple pick up bouquet.  In addition, florists often have MULTIPLE meetings with brides to get it just right.  Delivery, set up and pick up of all the flowers takes time and people – larger arrangements must often be built on site which also means extra time and people.  If you want to pick up your own loose flowers and throw them in a vase and put them on a table, that is a valid choice but that isn’t what florists do and so they do (and should) charge accordingly.

Let’s talk music.  Preparing for a wedding is quite a bit more work than for a party or other event – meeting with the couple to make sure the DJ has a vision of what they want, that s/he has the exact version of their special songs, that s/he can pronounce the 18 bridal party member’s names.  They also serve as MC for the evening and help to keep things flowing.  Those preparations generally aren’t needed for a party or high school dance.  Bands do all that plus they usually learn new songs for the couple so they have practice time to take into account as well.

Your wedding cake will be the most elaborate, most photographed cake you will ever have at any event.  Getting a sheet cake with little to no decorations from the grocery store is a valid option but again, that isn’t what wedding cake designers do.  Wedding cakes are decorated in a much different way than a sheet cake – all those swirls and dots and decorations that you found and love on Pinterest?  Those take a lot of time and skill and will absolutely cost more than slapping frosting on a flat slab of cake.  In addition, the internal structure of a 3 or 4 or more tier cake is different than a flat sheet cake with Dora on it from Kroger.  Wedding cakes are as much construction as creation!  Then that 3 or 4 or more tier cake has to be delivered to your location and set up all while NOT bumping or smearing or disturbing the frosting or flowers or sugar birds that you ordered.  I used to decorate cakes in college – really, I worked at the bakery attached to the MSU hospitality department – and to this day, I don’t touch a wedding cake unless I absolutely, positively have to.  I know what goes into those gorgeous, yummy creations and I don’t want to be responsible for ruining HOURS of work with a clumsy hand!

As far as planners, I absolutely do charge differently for weddings than I do for other events.  I also don’t spend hours and hours and hours before the event creating a timeline, working through to do lists, answering phone calls about crazy Aunt Shirley and the white dress she wants to wear, walking through the venue 4 times, contacting other vendors, and meeting multiple times about the smallest of details when I plan a corporate event or a birthday party.  All that time before the event doesn’t even take into consideration the wedding day details – the team I need for 2 locations, managing the needs of everyone involved on a highly emotional day, and all the other things I do on wedding day.  Again, parties and weddings are completely different animals and my fees reflect that – so does the intensity of my involvement.

Reading Break #3 – Ooooh, pretty Maid of Honor toast!

Final-0945Photo by Benjamin James Photography

I will close with these final thoughts, what you spend on your wedding is ENTIRELY up to you.  There is no right or wrong on this – just what you are able and willing to spend (and sometimes those aren’t the same thing either!).  There are vendors for each and every single budget out there.  Don’t assume because someone charges more than YOU are able or willing to spend for their services, they are gouging.  They are charging what they think their work is worth and there are a lot of factors to that number.

If you do decide to follow this fashion blogger’s advice (yes, she’s a fashion blogger and her ‘expert’ is as well, these aren’t wedding professionals so you might consider the source on this and any other time you decide to take advice) and you do lie to your vendors about having a party not a wedding – expect them to be upset when they find out.  They won’t be upset because they missed out on extra money, they’ll be upset because you lied to them and because you won’t be getting the level of service that a wedding often demands and absolutely deserves because you weren’t up front with them.  Would you like it if someone lied to you and hindered your ability to do the best job possible?  Then why do that to the people you are trusting on your wedding day?

15 Responses to “Don’t Lie to Your Vendors”

  1. Larissa Banting Says:

    Hear hear! Lying to a vendor is the surest way to have a sour relationship. Nobody wants to be lied to. Weddings ARE MORE WORK than a corporate event or party – period.

  2. Kimberly Says:

    Fabulous article Emilie! All great points and well written – thank you for taking the time to write and post this.

  3. Jean Neuhart Says:

    Amen Emilie! You are so right on all counts. Weddings are WAY different than a party, and they’re not just a party with some “wedding stuff” thrown in. It’s so sad when someone promotes lying.

  4. Janine Says:

    Very well written, and so true! There are totally different levels of involvement! Don’t lie to your vendors!

  5. Terrica Says:

    Absolutely awesome, Em! It’s like having a day care service, knowing that babies cost more than older children who are potty trained, can feed themselves, are mobile, etc., but still telling the facility you “have a child” to get the cheaper rate and popping the newborn up on them. People will do this for weddings, but these same people should not be surprised when their wedding falls to pieces due to poor preparation, planning and vendors’ lackluster attitudes after being lied to. But hey, it won’t matter– it’s just a big party!

  6. Tanis Jackson Says:

    I can’t believe the Huffington Post advised brides to lie! Not only is that ethically wrong, guaranteed to be discovered (hmm I wonder why my birthday girl is having 5 bouquets delivered to her house?) but it also completely destroys any chance of trust. As a planner I know that a relationship built on trust is essential for good wedding planning. As the planning relationship develops a bride is far more likely to convey intimate information such as “My parents are divorced and they act nice around each other but really they hate each other” to which I respond “Okay lets change that seating chart then” or “My Uncle Jim has a tendency to get sloshed at events” to which I respond “Okay lets keep an eye on that and let the bartenders know”. Brides who keep secrets from their planner and other vendors always have problems at their weddings!

  7. Nicole Mower Says:

    Great post! =)

  8. Kerry Jackson-Rider Says:

    What a refreshing change to read an article by someone, a Professional, who actually knows what they are talking about. There are so many people giving ‘advice’ online it is no wonder Brides to Be and couples are bemused and overwhelmed and the idea of lying in this way is simply ridiculous. Thank you Emilie for taking the time to write and share. Kerry. xx

  9. elisa | weditorial(tm) Says:

    Thanks for this terrific post! Isn’t it amazing that media sources recklessly tout ‘advice’ such as you mentioned…?!? Of course no one stops to think that they (media) are only trying to get attention and really could care less about anyone’s wedding. Unlike us – the wedding pros – who want our couples to have an amazing and memorable day, vs. a less organized, no-one-knows-what’s-really-happening event. Reminds me of the couples who want to hire a restaurant to deliver food instead of hiring a cater. I explain to them that caterers cost more because they bring plates, tables, linen and servers; not to mention that a caterer takes out the garbage at the end of the night.

    A birthday party, nor family reunion, nor an open house can even compare to the complexity of a wedding! I just think that brides and grooms do not realize the intricacies of the day: Receiving deliveries, setting up decor, overseeing installations, paying vendors, directing guests and running interference between vendors – o.m.g.! – how will you ever find time to enjoy the day??? Don’t cheat yourself out of the special moments that *could be* because you (think you) can save a few extra dollars.

    I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point. Suffice it to say that any money invested in wedding pros is well worth it! Start with a good, solid foundation -including seasoned professionals- and then look for creative ways to economize. (Your wedding pros may even have some ideas to share!)

  10. nicole Says:

    Wonderful article! There was a 20/20 story with a similar message, wedding vendors are out to get you. Why are these people out to get people in the wedding industry? Lying to a vendor is wrong period. I hope people are smart enough not to lie to their vendors because they will be the ones to suffer in the end. If someone is planning on doing a bday party and show up to a wedding, they will not be prepared.

  11. Steph - The Event Crashers Says:

    This is an amazing post and something I, too, wish I could put into calm words (instead of just yelling it out at someone!) I find it absolutely crazy that folks are actually giving this advice and even more insane that people are actually thinking “Hey, That’s an amazing idea, I will do that.”

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  12. Maria - A Sweet Start Says:

    I absolutely agree! Well said. Thank you for defending us. I would also add the hours of work it takes a wedding officiant to prepare for a wedding ceremony. Most people think I just show up and read a 20 minute ceremony but that’s only a tiny fraction of what I do for my clients. I wish more people understood that. Thanks!

  13. Gretchen Marie Says:

    This is a WONDERFUL & ACCURATE article! It is great to hear this, because we have been lied to many-a-time by “brides” who are NOT REALLY brides they are just having a “small party”. LOL. Thanks a million 🙂

  14. Becky Says:

    Thank you! Absolutely accurate and I cannot believe the Huffington Post would advise to lie to vendors! How would that even work anyway? As you talk to your DJ about your plans and you want a first dance you can’t still say it is a party and you certainly can’t explain to a photographer you want bridal portraits done at your birthday party. It is just stupid writing.

  15. Kristie Grey Says:

    This is fantastic! I’m a health coach just getting back into the bridal sphere and I’ve noticed so many couples that are leery of anyone working independently in bridal because they just assume that we’re out to leech their money off of them. Untrue!! And PS expect to get what you pay for. Sure you got a super great deal on that photographer for $300 but expect to get $300 of photography out of them. <3 Keep up the awesome writing!