As a venue owner, the first three questions I ask someone when they contact me about touring the property is when they want to get married, how many guests they would like to have, and what their wedding budget is. People are always happy to answer the first two questions and understand that it would be a waste of our time to talk further if I don’t have any available dates or if my venue is too small, and yet somehow many people find the budget question offensive and invasive. In researching this online, I was horrified to find message boards where brides were telling each other that vendors ask your budget because they want to “milk you for all you’re worth” and that its “none of their business”, or that it is a “red flag” if someone asks this right off because they are only concerned about money. Some even went so far as to advise people to lie to vendors about their wedding budget!
I can’t speak for ALL vendors, but in my case and the case of many vendors I know, this could not be further from the truth. Just like asking date and number of guests, I ask this question to determine if my property is a good fit. My rates are clearly posted on my website and they do not change according to someone’s budget, but having done this many times I know how much money it takes to throw a complete wedding here. I would much rather share this information up front, and recommend a more appropriate venue if necessary, than waste their time and mine.
In the case of vendors who offer a range of goods or services at different prices, it’s true that they may try to “upsell” you if you have a generous budget. But keep in mind that this is not always a bad thing, and you can ALWAYS say no. Chances are if you have a larger wedding budget you are probably expecting nicer things. I once had a bride tell me that she was offended by the “cheap” table linens a vendor offered her, but as it turns out she was really willing to spend considerably more on her wedding than she had told that vendor, who was only trying to respect her wishes to stay on budget. A planner I know was recently told by a bride that she wanted to spend “as little as possible” on her reception. But what does that mean? The planner could have taken her to a state park and rolled out some plastic on the picnic tables and brought in buckets of KFC, but I’m pretty sure this is not what the bride had in mind. Likewise, if you inflate your budget just to get a vendor to take you on as a client, you risk ending up in a big mess. Early on in running my venue I didn’t ask people about their budget, and I had some unfortunate situations where people would sign the contract and pay the deposit without having any idea what rentals and catering would cost. When they found out on down the road that they couldn’t afford what they wanted, they were upset. I avoid repeating this situation by being very upfront about expenses with all potential clients.
Unfortunately there are shady wedding vendors just like there are shady people in any business, but for the most part people are on the up and up and are only asking your budget to determine if they have goods or services to offer that are appropriate for your situation. Its always a good idea to sit down with all parties who will be contributing financially to your wedding and discuss what you are comfortable spending BEFORE you talk to vendors anyway. Just as vendors shouldn’t change their rates based on your budget, you should not change your budget based on their rates. Of course you will spend more on some things than you expected to and maybe will need to trim other areas to balance it out, but you don’t want to start your marriage out in debt because you threw a wedding you couldn’t afford. The important thing is that you are marrying the man (or woman) you want to spend the rest of your life with. Everything else on your wedding day is just an accessory!