Wedding Pricing and its Skeptics:

Catherine Rampell, in her NYT article, “The Wedding Markup”, discusses the hot topic of wedding pricing. The content may even be offensive to some wedding professionals, but it is important to read despite the potential for offense. Understanding how your potential consumers may react to your prices will allow you to better strategize how to market yourself and strengthen your business.

As Rampell states, “people who interact with the wedding industry so often feel ripped off.” Why is this? Part of the reason can unfortunately be linked back to some industry attitudes towards weddings. Rampell cites an example, “consumer advocacy group in Australia […] ran an experiment where ‘shadow shoppers’ found prices were often higher when requested services (venue rental, photography, etc.) were quoted for a ‘wedding’ rather than a ‘birthday party.'”

And yet, there must be a reason for this industry behavior too. Even Rampell points out, “when vendors engage in this kind of price discrimination, they often try to explain it away as being driven by higher costs. And maybe it’s true — brides are stereotyped as being pretty high-maintenance, after all, possibly requiring more time and hand-holding from the vendor, and maybe also less flexibility regarding input costs.” As Fiona Scott Morton, economics professor at Yale School of Management, says, “if the bride wanted beans, you have to have beans. Corporate clients on the other hand might just want to make sure there’s a vegetable on the plate.”

The bottomline is, any wedding professional knows that for the couple, this day must be special, and also, perfect. The promise of perfection comes with a price in any business (both for the consumer, and for the business), but even more so for the wedding business. For this reason, wedding pricing may often mean different pricing, even for the same merchandise or service. Service and good-providers anticipate this need for perfection, and try to respond accordingly by insuring what they need to do to provide their very best. Sometimes, that simply equals more money.

What many people fail to recognize who are not in this industry is that wedding pricing has a logic and practice that is specific to the wedding industry. Weddings are not like any other life event. They are unparalleled in their cultural significance. A sensitive wedding business, or business that services wedding, is often aware of this, and incorporates it into the functionality of their business practice.

Wedding pricing is the way it is because weddings in so many ways cost the industry that serves wedding much more. Whether it is making its beans and not broccoli, that the dress fits just right, that enough of a particular party favor is in stock with all the time taken for customizations, or making sure the photos capture each and every special moment, wedding industry professionals know that their work comes with a price.


Photo Credit: Dani Simmons