The Four Biggest Wedding Budget Myths and Misconceptions

Written by Katrina Otter
It’s a new year, and I’m thrilled to be back and gracing these pages for my 10th year in a row – how and when did that happen?!

This year, I’ll be covering everything from top tips and advice from a host of Wedding Planners to today’s hot and trending topic (and rightly so) of budgeting myths and misconceptions.

But before I jump straight in, here’s a little annual intro for those of you who are recently engaged and are new to this blog (congratulations, BTW, on joining the Coco community – it is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of/if not THE best places to start when planning your wedding)… I’m Kat, Founder and Head Planner at Katrina Otter Weddings, and since 2014, as Coco Wedding Venues’ Resident Planner, I’ve been imparting my industry knowledge, planning advice and top tips through a series of regular features.

Right, intro over. Let’s move on to why you’re here… Wedding Budget Myths and Misconceptions.

Full disclosure: this isn’t the first time I’ve covered the topic of myths (I first delved into the subject in 2018 – Wedding Planning Myths Busted), but this time, I’m specifically covering (and reiterating) what are, in my opinion, the four biggest wedding budget myths and misconceptions, and countering them with a healthy dose of truth and reason.

Don’t use the ‘M’ or ‘W’ Words

The term ‘wedding tax’ isn’t new; it’s often referenced in articles about the wedding sector and can be very damaging and grossly inaccurate. The idea/notion being, if you’re getting Married or going to your Wedding, suppliers will automatically increase their prices, so it’s best to keep schtum and not use the ‘M’ or ‘W’ words.

Let me start by saying just how disheartened this makes me, a wedding supplier (and the whole wedding industry) feel. I’ve spent my whole career hearing statements like the word “wedding” makes quotes more expensive, that there’s an automatic “tax” when it comes to weddings, and that weddings are overpriced – all of which are stereotypical fallacies.

As I said back in 2018, and I’ll say it here again in 2024, the wedding industry is not in cahoots to get rich and rip you off on the proceeds of your wedding. Only a portion of any quote is profit, and every supplier has a right to that. Otherwise, all the wonderful, creative and talented wedding suppliers out there would have to say goodbye to their businesses.

Suppliers charge in relation to their skills, experience, expertise, their own market value and the sheer amount of time, planning, service, customisation, communication and preparation that a wedding entails. There are suppliers out there to suit every price point, and yes, some (like any other industry) will be more expensive than others, but that’s not because they’re adding extra to your bill.

Saying the ‘M’ or ‘W’ word DOES NOT increase a quote: it’s EVERYTHING (looping back to time, planning, service, customisation, etc.) associated with and required to plan a wedding; that does mean that weddings (an incomparable event) might be more expensive.

I’d also strongly advise against keeping quiet on the fact that you’re planning a wedding as not only will you upset your suppliers when they turn up on the day, you might also run the risk of your caterer not costing for or providing the right staffing support, your hair and makeup artist turning up with the wrong kit or not allowing enough time in the schedule for bridal glam… you get the drift!

“Average” Wedding Costs

Every year, we see features and news articles on “average” wedding costs, but let me set the record straight: there’s no such thing as an “average” wedding or wedding budget!

These reports and surveys are highly misleading and do not tell the whole story of what most couples spend for the following reasons:

  • They’re based on averages, not the median.
  • The sample size is incredibly small (we’re talking 0.7% to 2% of the total number of weddings in any one year).
  • No corresponding or detailed data is provided on where these weddings take place, time of year, number of guests, etc.
  • Not enough information is provided on what you actually get for this “average” amount (i.e. what do you get for a £376 wedding cake?)

What I can tell you is this (and as my dear friend Chenai of ByChenai said in one of her informative Instagram Stories):

  • If you’re putting together an initial wedding budget, DO NOT use an “average” figure as a starting point. Instead, think about your ideal wedding, requirements, priorities, and what you can afford vs what you actually want to spend. Take the time and do your own independent research, manage your expectations and then go from there!
  • If you’re on a budget, PLEASE do not feel or think you need to spend the “average” – you don’t NEED to spend a certain amount of money to have the wedding that’s right for you (see myth no. 4).
  • If you have a Pinterest board dedicated to abundant florals, have an extensive guest list, and want to extend your celebrations to include pre and post-events, then you (probably) won’t be able to achieve this based on an “average”.

If you’re reading this and feeling disheartened, then this absolutely wasn’t my intention; I merely want to point out how misleading these figures can be. You CAN have the wedding you want with the budget you set; just don’t base it on what a report or survey suggests.

Planning an At-Home/Marquee Wedding is More Cost-Effective

Articles that state that the average cost of a wedding venue can be exponentially more than that of a marquee or that they’re a cost-effective alternative to venue hire are WILDLY inaccurate.

On average, at-home marquee weddings cost significantly more than a wedding venue as you’re effectively building your venue from the ground up.  Not only do you have the structure (which varies in price depending on the style that’s right for you), but you also have all of the additional ancillaries to consider – power, toilets, lighting and waste disposal.

On top of this, you’ll also need to factor in staffing, equipment, additional supplier equipment, i.e. catering facilities and refrigerated trailers for your drinks, parking, cleaning (if you’re hosting a multi-day event), a plan b space for your drinks reception, etc.

Like all the myths I’ve covered so far, please don’t let this discourage you from an at-home marquee wedding; personally, I adore marquee weddings as there’s something really rather charming and romantic about creating your own wedding venue to your own specifications and making it a real reflection of your style and personality.

If it does feel a little daunting, there are some wonderful tent suppliers in the directory who can advise on suitable locations with some of this infrastructure (generators, toilets, catering facilities) in place. But if you are considering the ‘at-home’ option, please bear in mind that it might/WILL cost you more.

to have the ‘Perfect Wedding’ You Must Spend a Certain Amount of Money

I touched upon this earlier, and I’m going to loop back to it again just so that we end on a positive note.

If anyone tells you that you NEED to spend a certain amount of money to have the perfect/best/most incredible wedding, then this is 100% NOT TRUE (and I give you full permission to tell them to jog on!).

The priority here is you and your partner; there is no right or wrong way to get married. How you choose to celebrate and share your love for one another and how much you want to spend is up to you.

At the end of the day, it’s your wedding and your priorities, and it will be perfect because it’s a celebration of what YOU want.

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