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Will you spend more on venues, vendors, and virtually anything just because you’re specifically looking to hire them for a wedding? Probably. Are you surprised about that? Probably not. While all events are expensive, weddings are easily the most expensive of them all. The “wedding tax” is no conspiracy theory, it’s simply capitalism at play. The wedding industry is just that — an industry. But knowing about what the wedding tax is can actually help you avoid it in certain scenarios. Knowledge is power, oui?
As soon as you mention the big “W,” you’ll start to see markups for everything from blow outs to DJs. “You should expect to spend 30 or 40 percent more on a wedding,” a high-end wedding planner who works in New York state told Racked. The only thing is, you might not notice these markups, because, after all, you’ve come to, let’s say, your baker with the request for a wedding cake, not just any cake.
Of course hiring a makeup artist to take care of you and your bridesmaids for an entire morning is different than heading to your local Estee Lauder counter for a makeover, but are there vendors who capitalize on weddings more directly? What if you were having a Bat Mitzvah instead of getting married? Or a Sweet 16? Would the venue cost the same amount?
The bad news: sometimes no, the venue cost would be higher if you were hosting a wedding. And there are plenty of vendors who provide the same service to brides and non-brides, but include an added cost as soon as they realize the service they’re providing is for a wedding. The good news: there are also plenty of vendors who are a bit more democratic about things.
In 2016, Consumer Reports sent out “secret shoppers” to see out figures from 25 wedding vendors in five regions, and not all of the news was bad. While limousine companies and photographers did often charge more for weddings, the investigation found that “a number of those same vendors willing to work with our shoppers to reduce costs. Some even volunteered money-saving solutions.” Bargain, brides, bargain!
The report also sent out shoppers to five major metropolitan areas to seek out prices for an anniversary party, as well as for a wedding. The research found that 28 percent of vendors did markup the price due to the fact that it was a wedding.
Of course, in the end, it probably wouldn’t be worth it to lie about your wedding being an anniversary party, especially to your venue. There’s an entire Reddit thread about how ethical this is. Plus, how awkward would it be when you showed up in a white ball gown?
All in all, the lesson is this: while you’re entering into a commitment that will bring you a major tax break, the wedding tax does exist. It’s something to understand and accept, but not feel defeated by. Talk to you vendors about what they might be able to offer you in terms of a discount, had your event been say, a 60th birthday party? (Also very important!) You can also head to your salon and ask for an updo without mentioning the occasion. But at the end of the day, it’s important that you enjoy yourself, feel comfortable, and keep things honest. Weddings are expensive, but they’re also the time of your life. It’s not just one night, it’s likely the one night all of your friends and family will be together to celebrate you, your partner, and your love. Enjoy!
Written by: Kimmy Foskett