The joy of wedding planning
I have a simple question: How does anyone manage to organize a wedding without the use of the Google and Excel? I know in theory that it is totally possible, but I also know that in reality it simply couldn’t be done. There is simply no way, and I challenge anyone to even try it…. no over the top wedding planners allowed!
Wedding planning is a series of Google searches for estimated prices, independent reviews, followed by counter cross reference searches to ensure that the reviews and estimates you got the first time are actual worth anything and then a leap of faith that the information you are being given is a true guide for the crazy amount of money you are spending on what can only be referred to as ‘the biggest day of your life’.
Here is the basic the problem. Big money + high expectation = big stress. The wedding business in 2009 was worth $71,795,327,100 with the average wedding costing $30,860. Now not all of this is just related to ‘the big day’ but with that amount of money floating about added to the demand for perfection the stakes are high, very high. Every wedding costs different amounts and every couple wants to spend their money in different ways. The simple result of all this is a huge mass of confused advice that at best only relates to your own situation in some form of theoretical dimension.
Here is a simple example and one that we have just been through. For planning reasons we needed to find out how much flowers were likely to cost so could factor them in the overall budget.
Step 1 = Google search as many wedding florists in the area you can find and check out their websites. No website will give you a guide price because price is dependant on so many variables, this is both understandable and of no use.
Step 2 = Go to the forums on the wedding planning sites and see what other couples are suggesting. Here you find the following: Post 1 = ‘flowers were really important to me so we spent $5,500’ post 2 = ‘my friend is a florist so I bought the flowers off the internet and she made them up. It cost about $150’. We are neither looking to spend $5.5k and nor do we have a friend that can do it for us. So what do we do?
Step 3 = Go through about 10 different advice sites, planning sites, suggestion sites and then take a wild stab in the dark and pick a number at random because at the end of the day the very best you can hope for is a partially educated guess.
The saddest things about the flowers is that of all the elements it is probably one of the easiest is estimate. The real fun comes when you start getting into the ‘wedding vendors’. Now I will admit at this point that the word ‘vendor’ is used a lot more here in the US than it is in the UK. The UK restricts the use to simply ‘vending machine’ and conjures images of putting money in and getting nothing out, not exactly the prospect you want for a wedding (or perhaps it is for all you cynics out there!). A wedding vendor basically means the outside people that turn up on the day to do stuff for you: photographer, caterer, DJ, high wire trapezes artist, or who ever you want. For these guys the aim is to make every decision you make as totally complicated as you could ever want. They are also the reason that a good excel spread sheet as its the only real way to work out what the hell these people are talking about and compare them to their like mind friends.
Your aim is to get a guy to turn up, take good photos and provide you with a good quality album to treasure for the rest of your life. In order to do this you will need to balance the following:
Length of time you want them
Type of photography
How many photographers
How many locations
What style of photography
What type of album or even if they even offer one
What size the is album and are there choices
What type paper it is on and are there choices
What type of cover it has and are there choices
How much extra albums may cost
How long to spend on formal ‘V’ informal settings – they are artists and will have an opinion and how to control your wedding
Whether you get to meet with the actual photographer, or just their booking person
If you meet them do you actually like them and will they get on with your guests
Do you have the rights to your pictures or do they retain them
What specials packages the have now, and what they may have in the future
Do you want extra sessions before of after the wedding
Every single one these points will be an option that some will allow and some won’t. Some will allow choices when part of one package but not another, and I can guarantee that every choice when is possible will cost more money, but not always the same amount more… why the spread sheet? Because when it comes to wedding vendors there is no standardization, there is no apples to apples, at times you are trying make judgments between an apple and a new car, the entire system is designed for one simple and irrefutable reason. They want you to throw your hands in the air, declare that you don’t care anymore, force you to close your eyes and just spend whatever they ask… the vendor is always right!
The whole process isn’t as much fun as you think it should be and you will invariably over look one small thing that will make a huge difference – for me it is always forgetting the US doesn’t include tax in its prices, just how infuriating this is will be left for another day.
In the end the only way that you can even get close knowing how much you are spending is to do hours of research on the internet, a ton of phone calls, a bunch of meetings and write more spread sheets than you ever thought possible. Then if you are lucking you may be end up with the wedding of your dreams and a budget that is +/- 50% of what you thought it would be.
Can we just get married already? This planning is a pain in the preverbal!!!