Dispelling the ‘wedding tax’ myth
Venue, celebrant, photographer, gown, suit, florals, entertainment, stationery, décor…. the list goes on and evidently, so too can the price tag.
Weddings are known to come with a bit of a hefty dint into your savings. The average wedding in Australia these days costs couples around $32,000. And that’s just the ‘average’ wedding. We know when you first set your sights on the total cost figure, it can be daunting and a little tricky to manage, especially if you consider other day-to-day expenses of life – saving for that house deposit, raising a family or simply squirrelling away those acorns for a rainy day.
There’s also a common misconception that as soon as the word ‘wedding’ is mentioned, the elusive ‘wedding tax’ is tacked on.
Whilst this may be the case for an extremely small, teeny tiny portion of the industry (to be honest, we’re yet to come across them!), most wedding vendors are simply quoting you for a job well done – which is something you want when it comes to your big day.
Wedding suppliers are incredibly talented at making things look effortless, that’s their job, after all. So it’s only natural that some couple’s expectations might be a little skewed when it comes to budgets and the quotes they receive.
So what exactly are these quotes and price tags dependent on?
Read on, and hear from some industry experts as to how and why you might be paying what you are.
You’re going to be enquiring with a plethora of vendors to help make your wedding day vision come to life and of course, there are going to be price discrepancies between each and every one. You may start to question what exactly is the difference between their services and why are their prices so different.
Well, it comes down to a range of factors. Some vendors have been in the business for 10 years so their price point is higher as they come with a wealth of experience. Some may be just starting out and trying to get their foot in the door, meaning they are happy to have lower price entry points in order to start generating leads and building a business portfolio.
As a wedding photographer, Jess from Elk and Willow can certainly tell you that “weddings are high stakes work, and there is only one chance to capture it well,” adding, “you want someone who knows just the right place to stand, has the confidence to kindly ask someone move over, or knows the right thing to say to put an awkward family member at ease. All of this comes from the experience of capturing wedding after wedding, learning and tweaking with each one.”
Adding to this is Pop Up With Style, who say like most things in life, you get what you pay for. “The wedding industry is highly saturated with a variety of different suppliers in their respective fields and because of this some suppliers are more competitive than others, depending on their demand and quality of product.”
“Many of our couples are booking our services because they are time poor, which gives us the benefit of working with people that recognise that wedding planning is called a ‘process’ for a good reason! Honestly, we do this all day everyday & it still takes so much time, attention to detail, knowledge, patience & passion to bring it all together for an event we can be proud of, and our lovely couples can enjoy memories of forever.”
Similarly, wedding entertainment is another area that can be somewhat misunderstood. When chatting with our entertainment gurus One More Song Entertainment, they too highlight time and experience as key players in the wedding day mix. “Our DJs are experienced in playing weddings so you are paying for that peace of mind,” they share. Adding, “weddings are our favourite type of party, but they’re not for the faint-hearted! You’ll want a DJ who can handle the pressure of the day and get everyone – from shy work colleagues to the over 80s – to bust some moves while keeping the tunes classy. So rather than work with DJs who play background music at bars or sporting events, we’ve hand-picked DJs who regularly rock weddings and have done so for years.”
Regardless of experience, you’re still paying for a professional service, not the job that your best mate’s Mums’ friend who dabbles in photography here and there may do. These professionals have put in the time to develop and hone their skills, purchase the proper operating equipment required and have the right procedures and protocols in place to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible.
When you are sent a quote for a service, that quote entails so much more than you might realise. What is probably not included on their itemised service list is the hours spent behind the scenes – maintaining clear communication with emails and phone consults to ensure you’re both on the same page, or the time and effort that was put into researching and scouting for your flowers, furniture or table decorations.
Kath from Bow Creative; a Melbourne-based event planning and styling business can spend upwards of 130 hours on planning weddings for her couples. “From the moment we meet you we are emotionally invested in making sure you have the most amazing wedding day possible and that may mean putting more hours than we expected in (and working it for free!) but trust us that we will make sure that the day of your dream happens!”
“Couples love the magic and the beauty of a wedding but rarely know how much effort goes on in the background to get it up and running, with unrealistic expectations of the hours put into make the magic happen,” she explains.
Teagan, the marriage celebrant behind Melbourne-based Panache & Co, adds that there is also so much more to her role than an on-the-day presentation.
“It takes time to create the perfect ceremony, she explains. Many couples underestimate the time that goes into penning the perfect ceremony, the bulk of which comes from your ‘love story’.
Celebrants will ask couples to respond to a questionnaire and it’s our job to create a cohesive, witty, engaging and damn right memorable love story from this. There’s a fine art to writing a ceremony that has your guests crying happy tears and it takes hours.”
Those same hours your celebrant might spend poring over your love story, One More Song tell us that your DJ is also working hard behind-the-scenes to get prepped. From liaising with your venue, testing equipment, arranging song lists and even a quick trip to the dry cleaners to ensure their on-the-day ensemble is fitting with your dress code – these are all things clients don’t often see, because they want the music to be one thing they can get excited – not stressed – about.
So don’t just think about the face to face time that you’re spending with the vendor, do try and take on board the countless hours they are investing into providing you with a completely personalised service, after all – no two weddings are the same.
TRANSPORTATION & LABOUR COSTS
Let’s not forget about those setup and transportation costs now. The beauty of weddings these days is the amount of choice on offer with suppliers. You can formulate and choose every single vendor to encapsulate your whole wedding vibe, however what you need to consider is that wherever your wedding may take place, these vendors follow suit. This can ultimately mean, you need to cover the costs incurred for their travel to and from your venue and perhaps the additional time and people required to arrange and organise tables and place settings, set up floral installations or even organise the team needed to get that marquee up and ready to rock ‘n’ roll.
As explained by Kim of Dear Henri, when it comes to something like florals, the hours are countless. “multiple consultations, emails, liaising with flower suppliers and a wedding venue (and often other suppliers to ensure we are across everything) driving around to flower farms, flower conditioning and processing, designing, transport and delivery, set-up, pack-down…and just when you think we might be done, there is the clean up, where everything is scrubbed clean and packed away ready for our next event. A lot goes into creating a stunning event. It’s a deeply satisfying process but it does require a ton of energy and time.
Kim puts it beautifully when she says, “I can empathise with couples trying to budget for their wedding. Pricings do vary a great deal and it can be hard to know whether it’s worth spending the extra bucks. Here’s the thing – you will always find a cheaper celebrant, florist, photographer, videographer. But to find an experienced supplier who is pumped to work with you and will really invest their time and energy into making your day incredible – they are the suppliers you want on board! They will have your wedding day rolling along smoothly, leaving you to relax and soak it all in.”
Every person involved in your day, in some way is getting properly paid for their job. Everyone from the waitress, to the venue manager, to the DJ and the assistant who helped deliver the flowers. There’s a lot of pieces to this wedding pie, that’s for sure.
All in all, you’re putting together a team to accommodate a number of friends and family, so yes, the costs are going to add up quite quickly, but don’t forget… it’s your wedding and you can do it your way. You may not want the wedding favours or epic floral installations, or even printed signage, but for some people these are absolute wedding day necessities.
As long as your day is a reflection of you and your partner and you’ve got a stellar team behind you to help pull it all together, that so called ‘wedding tax’ will be a long and far gone distant memory, whereas your wedding will honestly be a day you’ll never forget.
To help keep it all in check, we’ve put together a post on how to budget for your wedding, click here.
Written by Ivory Tribe contributor Kathryn Brandt.