The Wedding Tax: Vendors Charging More for Weddings

“You’re looking to rent our venue for an event? It will be $3,000 for the day.”

“Oh, it’s for a wedding and you need the exact same services? I meant to say it’s $13,000 for the day.”

Couples planning for weddings may have already noticed just how expensive their special day may be. According to a 2019 study, the average cost of a wedding (not including the honeymoon or rings) is around $28,000. What may come as a bigger shock, though, is that venues and vendors may raise their rates for identical service just because they know it’s for a wedding. Does this really happen? Is it fair? Is there a good explanation? We dig into all of this for you.

Do Wedding Venues and Vendors Charge More When You Tell Them It’s for a Wedding?

Yes, some venues and vendors do, while others do not. Let’s take a look at some examples.

In the picture posted above, you’ll see the minimum spend requirement for a particular food vendor. We won’t share who the vendor is, but we will share our findings. If you put in that you’re looking to feed 65 people a main course for a corporate event, the minimum you are required to spend is $900. But, if you change that to a wedding (assuming everything else constant including date, location, and time), that minimum spend increases by 300% to $2,700.

According to a study done by Consumer Reports, this is not an isolated incident. What they refer to as the wedding tax appears to be present at a lot of venues and vendors all across the country. According to the study, photographers, limo drivers, and food vendors were the biggest culprits. They do also point out this was not the case with every provider, as many were willing to work with people to help save on costs.

Here’s another example. As you can see by this email, a wedding client reached out for on-site hair styling before a wedding. Except in this instance, the client didn’t immediately disclose that the hair services were for a wedding. They just called it an event.

Same service. Same date. Same time. Same supplies. Difference cost. Why? Because the event is called a wedding.

Possible Reasons Wedding Vendors Might Charge More

While we’re not going to bend over backwards to come to the defense of these vendors, we do want to be fair and look at a few possible reasons why they might be charging more based on what you decide to call your event.

If Additional Services or Customization Is Needed

There may be additional services when it’s a wedding. If that’s the case, it makes sense that they would need to charge a different price. If you’re require unique customization because it’s a wedding, you can’t get upset if you get charged a bit more.

Bridezillas

Wedding clients may be a bit more difficult to work with than corporate event planners who have experience planning events. If a venue has had too many experiences with bridezillas, they may charge a premium because they know that the client is going to require more work.

Because They Can

The real reason we think that a lot of these venues and vendors charge more for weddings is because they can. They know that thanks to TV, reality shows, social media, and past weddings, people already assume weddings are expensive. Because of this, they think they can jack up their rates and make more just because it’s a wedding. The problem? People continue to pay these higher rates, so there is no incentive for the vendors or venues to stop doing it.

How You Can Save Money on Your Wedding With This Knowledge

While we don’t like places that try and financially take advantage of couples just getting started, there’s not much we can do in the bigger picture. Wedding venues and vendors can charge what they want, and will continue to do so until they can’t get away with it. That being said, there are a few things you can do to try and save some cash.

Don’t Volunteer That It’s a Wedding If You Don’t Have To

There’s nothing wrong with telling a vendor that you have a special event coming up instead of telling them it’s a wedding. Obviously, you don’t want to lie if asked, but most places aren’t going to ask for too many details at least in the beginning. If it comes out after contracts are signed, there really isn’t going to be much they can do. As you can see with the hair example above, the client accidentally capitalized on these savings by calling the wedding an event.

Support Vendors Who Support You

If people stop shopping at vendors and using venues that gouge wedding guests, the industry may change. Sharing this article with everyone you know that is getting married soon will help with awareness and maybe, just maybe we can get something accomplished.