The Least Helpful Wedding Planning Question



"Looking for some reasonably priced wedding vendors! Drop your recommendations below!"


If you've ever been a part of a Facebook group for wedding planning, you've either seen this question asked a dozen times, or you've thought about asking it yourself. At a glance, it's a totally harmless request; you don't want to overspend on vendors, so you're asking for some recommendations.


Seems fine, right? In essence, yes. But unfortunately...asking this question doesn't actually make wedding planning any easier for you! In this blog post, we're going to chat through:

  • How this question doesn't actually do anything for you (even though it sounds like it should)

  • What you're really asking for when you ask this question (hint: it's not what you think!)

  • How to ask this question in a way that makes planning easier on you and those helping you out!

If the thought of finding "reasonably priced" wedding vendors has ever crossed your mind, read on to find out how we can approach this discussion in a more productive and helpful way!


The Question Is... Well, Useless


As a wedding photographer, I've seen this question hundreds of times in the local planning groups. And as much as I don't love the question itself for the reasons I'll be explaining here, I also totally get why people ask it so often!


Let me paint you a little picture:

You're ready to start planning your wedding and booking all the services you'll be needing for the day, so you begin searching up a bunch of different types of vendors on Google. As you're perusing websites and pricing info, you realize a lot of these vendors are expensive...like, really expensive. So instead of spending more hours scouring the internet and making almost no progress, you decide to utilize your community and make a post on the local wedding planning groups. You ask for "reasonably priced vendors," and responses start rolling in almost immediately.


The next day, you start clicking on links and checking out all the vendors in the comments...but wow, there's a lot of them! Some of them just aren't your style (totally fine), but some are ones you realize you've already looked at during your last search, some don't have their prices listed (which means you have to reach out about pricing, and you just don't have time to go through an extra step right now ), and...what's that you say? Some are still too expensive? But how did that happen? You specifically asked for reasonably priced vendors!

Some are still too expensive? But how did that happen? You specifically asked for reasonably priced vendors!

And now you've just spent another few hours sifting through vendors that aren't even options for you...so did the post really help all that much?


Alright, maybe calling the question completely useless is a little extreme. I'm sure lots of people have found their vendors through these types of posts! But I think you can see from the example above how the question typically doesn't accomplish the goal the poster was hoping it would.


In my local Facebook groups, these posts can get anywhere from 30 to 100+ responses...within just a few hours! And while that might sound helpful, in reality you still have to spend all that time going through the list, just like you would if you were Googling the vendors yourself. Sure, you might get a little more variety in recommendations, but is variety really that useful to you if they're not the right price point?


Asking for "reasonably priced vendors" is asking the wrong question!

And while we're on that point...how are these recommendations still too expensive? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but... If you're asking for "reasonably priced vendors," you're asking the wrong question!


So... What Question are you Actually Asking?


There's this funny thing about the word "reasonable"... It's completely, 100%, wholly and entirely subjective! That means--you guessed it--everybody has a different definition of what a "reasonably priced vendor" is!


Everybody has a different definition of what "reasonably priced" means.

Let's do one of those fun little math word problems, shall we?


Hailey thinks $18 is a perfectly reasonable price for a scented candle. Brittany thinks $36 is a reasonable price, and buys them from a cute little shop downtown. Kendra knows $142 is a little pricey, but they're totally worth it if you get them from her favourite place! So what does Cassidy think is a reasonable price for a scented candle?


Just kidding, I know that's an impossible question to answer... We don't know, because Cassidy hasn't told us! If Cassidy asks these girls for recommendations for reasonably priced candles, she's going to get recommendations from all over the map--because people's individual budgets, incomes, and expectations are unique to them!


You're really asking for vendors that are in your budget.

You have your own idea of what a "reasonable" price is. You know what would be unreasonable for you to spend on a florist, but the people you're asking don't have that information. If you're asking for "reasonably priced vendors," what you're really asking for is vendors that are in your budget.


If you don't specify your budget, no one can provide you with any real help.

I get it--a lot of us aren't comfortable sharing exact numbers of our budgets online. Maybe we're worried about being judged, maybe we don't know exactly what our budget should be. And that's okay! Typically, the people planning a wedding don't have a ton of knowledge about the wedding industry, which makes it difficult to set a budget for each service.


But if you want genuinely helpful recommendations, you'll need to specify your budget. This makes it so much easier on you and those providing the recommendations!


Still not convinced? Well, asking the right question (and asking it the right way) is the only way to make this search for "reasonably priced" vendors actually work for you!


How to Ask the Right Question


Now that you know the question you're actually asking, let's ask it in a way that's going to save you hours of searching through vendors that are non-options for you!


If you're not sure what the average spend for each service is in your area, start off by asking this question! If you first post something like, "What's a reasonable/average spend for ___________ service?" your comment section will be flooded with people sharing how much they spent on their vendors, providing you with a scope of what you can expect to spend.


Start off by asking the average spend for a service.

This might mean you need to adjust your expectations and budget accordingly; if you drafted a budget before knowing the average spend for each service, you might have some numbers that are skewed lower or higher than they should be. For example, in my area, you're pretty unlikely to find an 8 hour photography package for under $1000 (and most are quite a bit more!).


This might mean you need to adjust your expectations and budget.

If you consider it "unreasonable" to spend more than $1000 on wedding photography, your expectations might need to shift. Either consider going with a smaller package (such as 3 or 4 hours of coverage), or rework your budget to allow for the average spend.


When you've set your budget, you can get to asking your original question! Once again, asking for recommendations within your specified budget is the only thing that will actually save you time and work.


If your budget is $2000 for wedding photography, you'll only be getting recommendations of photographers who have packages for $2000 or less (even better if you can specify the hours of photography coverage you want!). Since a lot of vendors comment their own services on posts like these, you'll have way less responses to sort through if they already know that they're not what you're looking for!


Now, instead of getting 70 recommendations that are out of your budget, you'll be narrowing your search down to just the vendors you can actually consider!


And that, my friends, is how to take a question that does--well, kind of nothing--and turn it into one that accomplishes your goal!


Reasonable Prices and Small Budgets


Now that you know how to rework this question, I just wanted to have a quick conversation about the idea of "reasonable prices" and budgets in the wedding industry.


We already chatted about the word "reasonable" being relative to people planning weddings, but I think it's important that we recognize how this word is also relative to vendors. Wedding vendors understand all the time, knowledge, materials, and effort that go into providing services for your wedding. Therefore, they are the best judge of whether or not their prices are reasonable. To consider a vendor's prices "unreasonable" just because they are not in your budget is not only inaccurate, but entirely unhelpful.


Vendors are the best judge of whether or not their prices are reasonable.

Remember when I mentioned 8 hour photography packages in my area are usually over $1000? When I first started offering wedding photography packages, I had 8 hours listed for less than $1000. While that number may have been in someone's definition of a reasonable spend on photography, it wasn't a reasonable amount for me to be paid. For the equipment purchases and upkeep (overhead costs) and the time it took to shoot, cull, edit and deliver the photos, I was barely making any money. It wasn't reasonable for me to pay off my student loans on that income. It wasn't reasonable for me to continue growing my business and offering better service to my clients with that revenue. I don't share this story to make you feel bad about not being able to allot more than $1000 to your wedding photography budget, but to bring some perspective of why we need to charge what we do!


Secondly, I want to chat about the reality of smaller wedding budgets. I had a small budget for my wedding--tiny by some standards! So I'll be the first to say that I believe there should be no shame in having a smaller budget! It's absolutely possible to have a beautiful wedding without spending tens of thousands of dollars--however, we have to be realistic about what's possible with a small budget.


There should be no shame in having a smaller budget!

If you have a $9,000 wedding budget, there are so many options for saving money, cutting costs, and creating a beautiful event without purchasing more services. However, you'll likely have to choose your battles; choose a service or two that you want to splurge on (your dress, florals, venue, etc.), but be ready to make some compromises in other areas.


As I mentioned earlier, you may need to go with a photography package that covers 6 hours rather than 8 or 10. (Pro tip: don't try to convince photographers to give you packages for less than they are listed at 😉)


Having realistic expectations of what you're able to do with your budget allows you to plan the day of your dreams without devaluing the work of vendors by assuming their prices are unreasonable.

 

Thanks for taking the time to delve into this topic with me, and I hope you've found it helpful for asking these questions effectively!


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