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Why Are Weddings So Expensive?

If you’ve been married for more than five minutes, you’ve probably wondered to yourself: Why are weddings so expensive?

I used to be a wedding planner and I’d like to let you in on a few wedding industry secrets.

First up, I agree. Weddings are expensive.


Being in the wedding industry means that I get to be part of some wonderful Facebook communities for brides. My favourite is HIGM ( – Help I’m Getting Married!). It’s a fab Facebook group for engaged couples in Ireland and an excellent support network.

Something I see in groups is posts from couples that look a little something like this…

“I’m trying to find an amazing photographer that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.”

“Does anyone have a recommendation of a wedding venue that isn’t super expensive?”

“What’s cheaper; a buffet or plated food?”

Do you see a theme within these posts? All of them are price-focused. Everybody seems to be wanting to find the cheapest or most affordable option for their wedding day.

Is there a way around this?

I’ve heard about couples trying something that I do not recommend. They’ll book a venue and pretend that it’s for a birthday party instead of a wedding, hoping that it’ll be cheaper.

Let’s think about this for a second.

A birthday party and a wedding are really not the same thing and shouldn’t cost the same thing either. A birthday party usually lasts a couple of hours, so hiring a venue for your birthday is a pretty relaxed experience. A wedding reception can last eight hours sometimes. Guests arrive for cocktails at 4pm, while you’re having portraits taken. Everyone walks into the main venue at 6pm for dinner and speeches. The dancefloor may open at 8pm and then it’s four hours of dancing, toasting and celebrating together.

Imagine how surprised a venue coordinator would be to arrive at a birthday party celebration only to find that it’s really for a wedding. All the preparations that go into getting a venue ready for a wedding are totally different and more time-consuming.

“But if I’m hiring a venue for my birthday, I expect the same service!” is what you’re probably thinking.

Yes, you certainly are. But “the same service” probably doesn’t include an elaborate table set up. It probably also doesn’t include additional waiters and bartenders, to ensure the smooth service of food and drinks. You probably do not intend to invite 100+ guests to your birthday party, all of whom would like to be served at about the same time.


Why is it all so expensive?

Let’s think about wedding makeup. Makeup is makeup, right? Well, not really. The average woman applies her own makeup every day with a handful of good products and a time budget of fewer than fifteen minutes. Wedding day makeup takes much longer to apply, it involves more expensive and reliable products, the advice and hands of a professional, and the ability to last the entire day without smudging, smearing or disappearing. In other words, if you want to look incredible all day at your wedding, you’re not going to apply your makeup the way you would for a birthday party.

How about photography. Anyone can take photos on their phones, right? But can anyone capture the intimate moments at your wedding ceremony without seeming like they are even in the way? Can anyone make you feel comfortable in front of the camera to the point where you end up with hundreds of incredible wedding photos that you can’t wait to frame and display in your home? Will your favourite uncle who owns a good camera produce high-quality images that you’ll show to your children one day?

What about wedding music. Well, surely you could put together a playlist and play it off your at-home CD player? Who’s going to cue the music? Who will fade the music out and hand a microphone to the person doing toasts at the ceremony? Will an at-home CD player produce good quality music that’s conducive to a dancefloor party?



Things in the wedding industry are going to be more expensive. There is a lot of preparation that will go into the planning of your wedding day and the details required to bring it all together. Suppliers often use expensive equipment, fabric or materials to produce exceptional wedding service.

Sure, save money where you can, but be realistic about what is expensive and what is standard practice.

Expert tip

If you are on a tight budget – and let’s face it, who isn’t? – here is a method of making sure that you STILL have the epic wedding you deserve.

Sit down with your Other Half and make a list of the three things you want to prioritise. I’ll give you some examples…

One couple may value having a big party with everyone and their list might look like this:

  1. A wedding band
  2. Lots of delicious food
  3. An extensive guest list of everyone we know and love

Another couple might want to have a more intimate wedding, with a focus on chatting around the dinner table:

  1. A cosy wedding venue
  2. A five-course menu
  3. Stunning views

And still, another couple may want things to look beautiful:

  1. Elaborate flower arrangements
  2. A high-quality wedding photographer
  3. A castle wedding venue in Ireland

What are your priorities?

The reason I’m sharing this with you is that everybody has a different set of priorities. I’m urging you to make a list of YOUR priorities, so that you can allocate money in your wedding budget to the things that matter to you. The first couple would spend a good chunk of money on an excellent wedding band, knowing that the professionals can really get the party started. The second couple would spend lots of time searching for the perfect wedding venue to accommodate an intimate guest list and feed them lots of delicious food. You’d see the third couple opting to spend money on all the things that make weddings beautiful.

This way, you can save money on the things that are less important to you.

And when you do spend a good chunk of money on a wedding supplier, it’s because you’ve agreed that this person is a high priority for you!

Have you explored the weddingsonine Service Finders? This is an excellent way of finding amazing wedding suppliers!

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Kelly Jane Hartmann

Kelly is a former wedding planner and a lover of anything pink. She believes that any bride can plan her own wedding, with a few tips and helpful tools.

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