Monday, March 22, 2004

Just don't tell them it's a wedding

Hi-De-Ho Rene,

Some advice from one who's learning the hard way: When you decide to get married, don't tell anyone.

Well, I really don't mean that. Just don't tell the various retailers and other vendors you have to deal with that the stuff you're getting from them is for a wedding. Because if you do, you can count on jaw-dropping markups.

Trying to plan an economical wedding that will be enjoyable for all is harder than I thought it would be. I've planned more complex fundraising events for larger audiences in much less time than this whole wedding thing is taking. Perhaps that's because vendors don't believe the words "wedding" and "economical" can be used in the same sentence.

If we were planning a big party with identical details to a wedding, without it being an actual wedding, I'm convinced that we'd be done already. But since I'm trying to do it at a cost similar to a big party with identical details to a wedding, it's a little more complicated.

Take catering, for example. As this story reports, caterers will charge up to half again as much at a wedding reception than at another event with an identical menu. Accessories sold at bridal shops are easily 50% more than at a department store (and more than twice as much as I've found bargain hunting). Wedding invitations run somewhat higher than other invitations, and services like videography are marked up too.

Luckily for me, I have family members and friends who are so talented that some of the usual pricetag items are being given in-kind. I also have a legendary bargain-hound for a mother, and she's figured out all sorts of ways to save. For example, instead of using a florist for decorative flowers (other than bouquets), we're buying from a garden center. We're also using a toule rose motif, saving dough and ensuring no wilting.

Anyway, I won't bore you with more details, but suffice to say that when I call the jazz combo today to negotiate their price for playing at our reception, I'll try using the word "reception" without the W-word as a modifier.


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