Two weeks ago, the long-running ABC TV show 20/20 ran a special called “Wedding Confidential”. This one-hour program featured matrimonial mishaps, tips from the pros, unique love stories, and many other featurettes to coincide with January being the top month for wedding planning across the country. I found most of the stories were entertaining and at times, a bit shocking – like the couple who had never kissed before they were pronounced husband and wife on wedding day, or the bride that faked having cancer so she could get her groom to love her more (I’m not making this stuff up).
What I didn’t find too entertaining was the piece they called “Wedding Markup”. The basic premise was that wedding vendors intentionally mark up prices just because it’s a wedding as opposed to some other type of party. They claim that most florists, DJs, photographers, and cake decorators inflate prices just because these clients have more money to spend – after all, the average wedding budget is supposedly $27,000. ABC claims that many wedding vendors treat couples like “human ATMs” and they even mentioned something called the “Mercedes Syndrome” where some merchants will base their rates on what car the bride and groom drive up in.
ABC went as far as to go undercover and call DJs about their rates. They’d call once for a wedding and again for a 40th birthday party on the same date. Of the 13 DJs they called, 10 quoted a higher price for the wedding. On average, the price was 46% higher for the wedding quote versus the birthday party quote. The problem was they really didn’t investigate WHY those DJs charged more. They spent 10 minutes on an earlier segment about a testosterone-filled Long Island groomzilla but they couldn’t ask a few more questions on this matter?!? I felt ABC dropped the ball big time.
Back when I used to DJ all types of events, I spent far less time planning and preparing for a birthday party than I did a wedding, and my prices reflected that. I didn’t feel comfortable treating a bride and groom’s big day the same as I would a birthday party. When I made the switch to 100% weddings in 2008, I did so because I wanted to give my wedding clients 100% of my attention and time, not to mention the fact that there are plenty of DJs in my area that specialize in these other types of non-wedding events and do a great job at them.
The bottom line is…most wedding vendors invest much more time preparing to service a wedding than they do for any other kind of event they are hired for. Yes, there are unscrupulous business owners out there looking to extract every dollar they can from a couple’s budget, but I’ve encountered very few in my years as a wedding professional. If anything, the opposite is more common: vendor charges a low price, then realizes how much time is involved to pull it off in the weeks leading up to wedding day, and then they cut corners. Any DJ (or other wedding vendor for that matter) that charges the same price for a birthday party as they do a wedding, is doing the bride and groom a huge disservice. Weddings deserve more time, caring, and preparation than any other type of event. So the next time you contact a wedding vendor for a price quote, ask if they have a higher price for weddings…and don’t be upset if they say “YES!” Unless you want them to invest the same amount of time on your wedding as they would a 40th birthday party.
On a lighter, less controversial note, I attended the annual Estes Park WinterFest last weekend. The three day winter carnival is held at the fairgrounds and features live music, an Irish ceilidh dance, craft fair, beer and wine tasting, and a huge chili cook-off hosted by local restaurants and businesses. I helped out at the Estes Park Wedding Association booth handing out chili. We didn’t win but we sure had fun. Co-helpers Meghan Russell from Visual Poetry and Hillary Hanson from Wild Basin Lodge dug out some old bridesmaid dresses for a bit of a wedding costume contest. It was Halloween all over again!