And what to do if you think you're being overcharged.
wedding topper cash
Credit: Getty Images

Planning a wedding comes with a lot of unknown territory, including a great deal of mystery around what a "normal" budget is. People love to say that there's an automatic upcharge for weddings, but every big-day vendor will tell you that their fees are fair, competitive, and appropriate for the amount of work they put in. So, how do you know if you're getting overcharged for something? And if you suspect you're being overcharged, what can you do about it? Here, we address suspicious pricing and ways to get to the bottom of it.

Do you trust this vendor?

Trusting your vendors not only helps you sort through whether their pricing is fair and accurate, but it enables them to put their best work forward. As wedding planner Liz McKellar, owner of The Nouveau Romantics, says, "When the clients trust the professionals, it allows us to over deliver, and make you beyond happy!" If you have a good relationship with your vendor and you trust them to be fair, it's likely that the pricing is high because of the vision you've created together. If it's out of your range, lean into your trustworthy vendor and ask them what you can do that's within your budget. If you have doubts about your vendor's honesty and integrity, it might be worth doing a cost comparison with a similar company. Just because you received a quote from a company doesn't mean you're obligated to hire them.

Ask questions.

Don't be afraid to challenge the quote you're given. Part of your vendor's job (or your planner's, if you have one) is to educate you around the costs of different elements. Things like customization and upgrades may seem simple when you request them, but they could cost the company more than you imagined. Find out what's driving up your costs and what you can do to minimize these factors. Remember that thing about trust? If you can't get through this conversation comfortably, it may be time to look into an alternative vendor.

Research alternative vendors and their pricing.

When it comes to things like décor, tenting, and lighting, costs tend to be very similar across different vendors. This makes getting a comparison quote fairly straightforward, though time-consuming. This is also where working with a wedding planner can be really useful, as they know what average rates are and why some things cost more than others. For vendors like photographers, wedding planners, florists, and musicians, the pricing can vary greatly depending on the company's experience, location, overhead, and where they fit into the luxury or non-luxury market. In this case, it's sometimes best to approach the pricing differently. Rather than doing a cost comparison, you might ask the vendor if you can chat to former clients as references and scope out whether those couples were happy with the work that was delivered. Find out if the value is worth the price tag.

Check your priorities, and then check them again.

Ultimately, you'll always be able to find someone who can do what you want for a little less or a little more. If photography is your number one priority and you're willing to spend more than your budget to bring in a photographer whose work you've been following for years, go for it. Just keep in mind that you might have to give a little on something else in the budget to make it work.


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