A couple of days ago, I posted an item about the differences between money (price), value, budget and result. It generated lots of traffic, a comment or two, and plenty of direct email. It also caused me to consider the phrase, ‘budget bride.’ Along with DIY Bride, these are two of the most annoying and poorly used descriptors in the wedding industry.
To a great degree, I lay that at the feet of my friends in mass-media for the wedding industry. Mass media tends to be a popularization tool as much as an information source. If you repeat a phrase, such as ‘budget bride,’ often enough, it becomes part of the wedding lexicon, for better for worse. The problem with these phrases is they paint the bride’s resources with deep gray brush strokes. At the risk of being more precise, I’ll break it down from my experience.
- DIY Bride: (Budget: under $5000) Someone who probably doesn’t have the resources to get married just yet and is likely to turn most of her wedding into an Arts and Crafts project.
- Low Budget Bride (Budget: $5000 – $14,999) Has the resources, but will have to make some tough decisions on the reception. The big conundrum is whether to economize across the board or cut in specific areas, and not others.
- Statistically Average Bride: (Budget: $15,000 – $34,999) Has the resources to do a nice job on the reception. Her biggest decision should be ‘How many guests can we invite without losing control of costs?’
- High Budget Bride (Budget: $35,000 – $60,000): Has more than enough money to do great things. Her biggest challenge is not to make bad choices among wedding vendors, irrespective of money.
- Luxury Bride (Budget: more than $60,000): Big Daddy has wads of cash and she wants to be awash in greenbacks. Not all brides in this financial category are Bridezillas, but the risk and tendency is greater than in any of the lower tiers. Bridezillas almost always make bad decisions. It’s in their DNA.
A budget is not:
- … throwing a dart at a target.
- … the total amount in the parent’s bank account or your bank account.
- … what one or more girlfriends spent on their wedding.
- … necessarily what you see on Platinum Weddings (those are inspirations).
A budget is:
- a study of the range of what wedding products and services cost in your area, balanced against your tastes, inspirations and fantasies.
- factored by the number of guests you choose to invite.
A line budget item is not described, thus.
- “I only have $750 left for videography. Will you take that?”
- “Oh, my third cousin, Oscar, is going to take the photos.”
- “Granny is going to bake the cake.”
A budget is:
- $1 Million
Budget does not necessarily mean low-budget. A budget may be…
- A specific dollar amount or less
- A specific dollar amount or more
- A range from $X to $Y (this is the preferred budget)
- Money is no object (must be the truth)
The Wedding Report publishes ongoing data about spending in the wedding industry. It consistently reports that brides spend close to 50% more than they had budgeted for the wedding, with an average wedding expense running just under $30,000. This shows a major discrepancy between the original money allotted, from reality of their desires. I would assert the reason for this is that their original money allotment was not a budget at all. It was dart throwing at a bank book. It is a bankroll, not a budget. Here’s the challenge from every wedding professional, wedding media outlet, and industry trade association:
- Clearly delineate what it means to be a professional in your category of the wedding industry, from the standpoint of ‘benefits to the bride.’
- Explain the relationship (if any) of your business category to others. Such as the interactions between entertainer, photographer, videographer and caterer/venue. Or flowers and cake.
- Explain the Truth or Consequences and effect of making a sub-standard choice.
The naked truth about satisfaction vs. money spent: When a wedding day is over, either the bride and groom are happy with a particular product or service or they are not. A vendor is not wearing a price tag around their neck. There is not a dollar cost at your place card, showing the price of each dinner. There is not a little flag in your slice of cake, showing its cost-plus a cake cutting fee. In retrospect, most wedding couples can point out decisions they made, that were off-the-mark. There are hundreds of decisions, big and small, involved in a wedding. Amazingly enough, it only takes one or two really bad decisions to create an unhappy outcome. And, amazingly enough, a really bad decision is often not related to money. It would be outstanding if all wedding industry professionals would embrace educating the bride to realistic and exciting expectations, rather than just fanning the flames of fairy tale dreams. It is true that if the wedding budget is spent disproportionately, bad things usually happen. A bride with $12,000 to spend, should be able to experience as much happiness on her wedding day as one with $50,000. But that supposes she has enough information, common sense, and critical thinking to make consistently good decisions, and then does so. Come to think of it, that’s a pretty good operational mission statement for the wedding industry. Don’t you agree? Andy Ebon The Wedding Marketing