Why Are Weddings So Expensive?

Why Are Weddings So Expensive?

Oh, budget. Pretty much everyone’s least favorite topic.

But, pretty much one of the most important foundations to planning a wedding.

The problem is, you probably don’t understand:

a.) Precisely what goes into a wedding budget. And 

b.) The actual reasons why weddings are so expensive.

This is why part of my job as a planner is shedding light on how much, on average, everything for your wedding will cost. And from there, helping you understand what it may take to get you the wedding you envision {Ideally, before you get too far along in the process.} 

But, I find that before we can even dive into this, we’re often still stuck on why it’s all so expensive. 

So, I thought I’d spend some time sharing a little insight from a planner’s perspective on some of the reasons behind wedding costs. As well as debunking some of the myths and misconceptions people have about the costs of a wedding.

Because yes, no one can deny that weddings can be expensive. But, when you understand some of the reasons behind the higher price tag, it might help ease the sticker shock a bit. 

Intimate wedding at the Folktale Winery Vineyard House
Image by A Tale Ahead Photo at Folktale Winery


Unfortunately, many people think that weddings are expensive simply because they’re, well… weddings. 

And if this is your impression, you’re not alone. In fact, most people believe in the “wedding tax”.

You know that hidden up-charge, where you say the word “wedding,” and suddenly the price for the service or product you’re inquiring about immediately increases? Yeah. That one. 

But, here’s a simple truth: The wedding tax does not exist. 

Bottom line: Weddings are more intricate, complex, and complicated than many other types of events. And the more difficult and complex the event, the more expensive it’s going to be. 

Let’s break that down further.


The day itself is often longer and much more complex than many other types of events, but the planning and preparation before the day require more time, thought, and detail. 

For example, as a full-service planner, I spend, on average, 400-700 hours in advance of the day. So, when you do the math, you can easily see that most of my time and work is before the wedding day! 

Even a “Day of Coordinator” spends a ton of time sorting out details and confirming logistics all in advance of the day. {Which is precisely why a day of coordinator doesn’t technically exist. Feel free to read more of my thoughts on that here.}

But, it’s not just wedding planners that put in the hours before the big day. From caterers, florists, and DJs to stationers and photo booth vendors, wedding vendors first have to take the time to connect and communicate with you and/ or your planner. And then put in the time to confirm the details and logistics. This is all followed by internal planning to ensure they deliver successfully for you on your big day.

The time it takes for internal planning, designing, and creativity could be a whole another blog post for a whole another day! Which means there is a whole lot that goes into it! 

Bottom line: A lot more goes into a product or service for your day than just the 3-10 hours they are present on the wedding day.

Couple sharing their first dance at Gardener Ranch
Couple during their first dance at Gardener Ranch. Image by Ivan Makarov


Most wedding costs are tied to your guest count.

So unlike that fancy birthday party for 25 you put together last year, your wedding for 300 guests is going to cost a tad {er… a lot} more.

And that cost per guest doesn’t just apply to food and beverage. That goes for flowers, stationary, cake, rentals, and more. 

Bottom line: the more people you invite, the more money you will spend. It’s as simple as that. 


When it comes to a day as important as your wedding, hiring professionals is the best way to go.

Because by hiring reputable and experienced professionals, you not only get a higher level of expertise, talent, and skills, but you get the peace of mind that comes from hiring someone who knows what they’re doing. And most of the time, that expertise comes with a higher price tag. 

Take planning, for example. You’re thinking, “I am resourceful and creative. I have a TON of support. I’m pretty sure we can plan this wedding on our own. It could be fun!” And to that, I say, unless you and yours have experience planning and managing a wedding or complex event and know how to deal with all of the details, logistics, and potential hiccups, hire a professional.  And let’s face it- do you really want to go it alone with {insert mom, controlling BFF, know it all cousin…} without a professional to weigh in? ​​​​…I didn’t think so.

Part of the reason you hire a wedding planner is for my vast knowledge of the industry and my ability to save you money. As a planner, I know all the best vendors, all the venues, and I know how to get things done for a reasonable amount. Because of this, my fees are easily offset by what you save in other areas. 

That same concept applies to every vendor involved in your wedding. 

Bottom line: when you’re hiring people to pull off the most important day of your life, paying more for expertise and peace of mind is worth every penny. 

Speaking of pennies… Let’s talk a bit more about budget. 

Head table at Monterey Peninsula Country Club in Pebble Beach
Long Head table at Monterey Peninsula Country Club in Pebble Beach. Image by Nikki Ryan Photography


Nothing makes my heart sink more than a couple who hasn’t properly thought out or understood their budget. Because if you go into planning mode without a complete understanding of how much you have to spend and what your top needs and desires are, you might be setting yourself up for more stress and some major disappointment. 

Think of it this way, your vision for your day might be different and significantly less expensive than those weddings you’re following on Pinterest. Or, on the flip side, it might be that your concept of how much it takes to pull off that dream wedding you’ve been eyeing on Instagram is unrealistic. And quite frankly, undoable. 

Either way, it’s crucial that you build a budget around realistic costs and expectations!

I recommend narrowing things down and aligning your budget with your top priorities. You’ll be able to assess better where you can {and should} spend more and where you can save. 

Which is where I come in. 

I’ve done this a time or two and utilize my vast industry knowledge, and experiences to guide you and any other decision-makers involved. So that you have a better chance of getting things done within, and maybe even below, budget.

It all starts with a conversation about your vision and dream for your wedding.
And then together, we can figure out how much it will cost to get you there.

So let’s start there.



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