Raise your hand if you are utterly frustrated by wedding budgets at the moment? Make no mistake, I love budgets. I love spreadsheets, and I love working with numbers. What I am talking about is the unrealistic budget provided by the couples along with a pretty impressive dream wedding scenario and a specific list of requests.
In the last few weeks I met with a number of couples and everyone is mentioning the magic R250 000 budget figure for 140 – 150 guests. Did I miss the memo? Was there an article in a magazine, or a TV program that proclaimed that this is the stipuated budget for 2015 weddings? According to my past spreadsheet analysis that was a decent budget for 60-120 guest weddings in 2012 and early 2013.
Creating a beautiful wedding requires an appropriate budget for wedding related services and items. Wedding planners do not make up prices, we work according to what the venue and other wedding suppliers charge. We work with market related prices, often influenced by the exchange rates, fuel hikes and other economic calamities like the current crisis in Greece.
I do appreciate that R250 000 is a decent amount of money. I also appreciate that having a wedding is a luxury. Couples have various options of getting married without hosting a large wedding – church service and family lunch, home ceremony and a relaxed party, home affairs registry and a fabulous dinner or hosting an intimate luxury wedding experience for a smaller group of people. Having a wedding for 140 guests is something very different, it is a specialised event. The quality of an experience for all 140 guests is essential, attention to details is of paramount importance and a professional entourage to make it all happen is essential. Simply put, the bigger the crowd, the more resources and manpower is required and the higher the cost.
Clients cannot expect to provide a prescribed budget and dictate what they want. If they are on the strict budget, it is then the job of a wedding planner to propose a wedding plan they can afford and work out how many people they can invite.
Wedding planners, take charge of the conversation. Help your clients understand that their budget may not necessary equal what they want. Be patient with them as they have not planned a wedding before and at the same time do not waste your time if you already know something just cannot be. Sometimes, that’s just reality. I set down and worked out (on a spreadsheet) the best way I would recommend couples spend R250 000 on a wedding. Whilst I cannot produce a grand event for 140 guests at R250 000 budget, I have a few elegant and beautiful solutions. The question is, will the couples be willing to adjust their expectations?