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?

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    Rensche Mari

    SPOT ON! Hope brides are reading and taking notes!

    July 15th, 2015 17:03
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    Rebecca – Runaway Romance

    Eve I must start by saying I admire the way you are fighting for respect for wedding planners. I love most of your posts and in my opinion planners are the third most important people at the wedding after the couple and the photographer but I must say I was surprised that you would say this.

    R250k is a lot of money no matter who you are or how long you have been in the industry!
    That is almost 3x the amount of any of my clients budgets! Now I know that I focus on smaller more non traditional weddings and I am newer to the industry than you but when did having a beautiful wedding become something that only higher earning people could do?

    I agree that expectations need to be balanced with realities…really I do! but to tell someone R250k is unrealistic is unrealistic in its self!

    We as planners are there to make our couples day work within their budget! Not the other way around.
    It is a sacred and honored role that is harder than it looks to pull off.

    I agree we as planners don’t make up prices and we do work to venue and supplier costs but if R250k isnt enough to produce a ‘reasonable’ wedding maybe you should be changing your venues or suppliers!?

    Your article really did make me think and I am grateful for that! Thank you…but what I am even more grateful for after reading this is MY clients because you must be working with some really tough cookies if these are the conversations you are having!

    July 15th, 2015 18:48
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      Rensche Mari

      You make a valid point, but remember a client comes with expectations, the amount of guests they want, and if a client comes to you with R250k and they want the works and fantastic services and the best photographer and band, the best wedding designer, cars and lavish gifts, and the only way you can give them that sort of wedding with that sort of budget is by cutting and bargaining with every supplier (making them feel unworthy of charging for their experience) and the planner walking away with a dent in income just to make a clients wedding day??? That means the planner and every supplier he/she deals with ends up helping that couple pay for their wedding?

      I’ve been there and done that and got to the wedding only to see that the bride got a vera wang dress and jimmy choose…but they couldnt afford me for additional hours and asked me to gove it free…

      I just think there is a standard safe wedding and then there is a lavish luxuiry wedding, under which do you fall as a supplier and are you happy with that? If you are, great, if not, then why not educate people on the standard that they want.

      July 15th, 2015 22:11
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    I hear what you say.But 250 000 is a lot of money and not everybody can afford it.What about people that doesnt have a qaurter of a million for a wedding?Mustnt they get married.It seems like the wedding industry is out to make HUGE provits.If you say you getting married every thing goes up in price….why?

    July 15th, 2015 20:58
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    Oh Rensche I get you and I agree!
    Suppliers should never be the ones cutting into profits or like you said making themselves/others feel less worthy of the work they produce. The products of beautiful weddings are only there because of the suppliers that create them/it.

    I 100% agree that people (couples and suppliers alike) need to be educated on what it takes, time and finance wise, to create exactly what a client has in their mind, so in a lot of ways I’m agreeing with exactly what you are saying…

    I think maybe my heart in this is personally I would prefer to be educating people towards the cutting down, enjoying more simply, you dont actually need those lavish gifts (and extra stuff) side of things. So yes, maybe my brand and my focus is not relevant for this ‘Luxury’ market conversation and I am more than happy with that. I actually love that fact.

    I suppose it all comes down to what each person sees as beautiful, lavish and enough, their focus and their priorities for the day… and thank goodness that will be different for every couple and every planner.

    Thank you ladies for the amazing conversation and the thought provoking ideas shared here. x

    July 16th, 2015 5:53

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