Working in the wedding business in New York, one of the hardest parts of my job is telling couples who may call for information and tell me about their dream wedding, that their budget is not large enough to make their particular dream come true. The national average for wedding costs is somewhere around $27,000, but in a city like New York, that doesn’t get you very far. And, even in areas where that will buy you a very nice wedding, it is still a big chunk of change for the average couple or family.

Often, when couples start planning a wedding, the question soon becomes “Why are weddings so expensive?” This is typically followed by the thought “We could put a down payment on a house for this money.” And then, at some point, the question is asked, “Are they charging us more because they know that it’s a wedding!?”

Why Weddings Are So Expensive

I’m about to reveal a secret to you that isn’t widely discussed: the answer is yes. In seven of 10 cases you are being charged ever so slightly more because it’s a wedding. But, it’s not because you are suddenly “a mark” for markups. It’s because with a wedding comes a need to provide perfection (or something close to it), and perfection comes with a slightly higher price tag.

Let’s take for instance, a florist. On Tuesday, Mr. Flowers gets a call from Miss X, who is planning a fundraiser for her charity dinner of 150 guests. She lays out her needs to him: 15 centerpieces for the dinner and she cannot spend more than $4,000 including tax and delivery. She was thinking the color scheme would be all white. She has a personal aversion to lilies, but other than that, she’s open to his suggestions and is happy to take his input into how to get the most bang for her buck and make it look fabulous.

On Wednesday he gets a call from Miss Y, who heard from Miss X that he is a pleasure to work with. She is getting married in six months and would like to come in and meet with him about her reception flowers. She arrives with images from her Pinterest. She would like the centerpieces to contain blush garden roses, white hydrangea, pale pink peony and bit of sweet pea in pink and white. She explains her obsession with a certain mercury glass vase that she saw on a blog and would like the centerpieces to be in that same container. She’s anticipating 150 guests at the reception. Mr. Flowers tells her he will get her a proposal.

He contemplates the cost to him to create what the bride wants: he must build in the cost of obtaining those exact flowers that she requested, and build in enough room for both fluctuating flower prices AND his own profit. He doesn’t currently own the container the bride wants, so he prices out purchasing that container for use at her event. He also needs to add in bouquets for the bride and her bridesmaids. He knows he will have at least two more meetings with her between now and the wedding and will likely have to put together one or two sample arrangements, which are costly to him. Additionally, because the event is on a weekend AND he must pay his staff to return very late at night on a Saturday to clean up, he adds in that additional cost. His proposal to Miss Y comes in at $7,000.

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