Let's face it, you can pin thousands of images of your perfect wedding, but there are no price tags on Pinterest.
And a lot of the time you're researching and contacting potential wedding suppliers on your lunch break (because you wouldn't dream of doing it during work hours).
So why don't all wedding suppliers advertise their prices?
Because it sure as hell would make your seemingly endless hours of searching for the perfect florist/D.J./photographer sooo much easier.
And it would also reduce the chance of feeling embarrassed or 'put upon' when you get in touch with your dream wedding stylist and she tells you that her starting rate is more than your entire wedding budget.
So what's the story?
I have my own opinion around advertising my fees as a registered marriage celebrant, which are based on my obligation to abide by the restrictions around price fixing imposed by the Attorney-General's Department (in essence, my boss) and the belief that not all the services I provide are a basic 'money for function' exchange. As Daniel Priestley so eloquently points out: "Competing on price is a lose-lose situation for you and your prospect".
But, in the interests of communicating a balanced representation of the industry, I asked some other professional wedding suppliers' for their 'take'; do you advertise your prices, or not?
Firstly, I was blown away by how passionately people feel about the topic, and (which may be even more telling) how they fiercely defend their choices.
It would seem that most wedding suppliers' decision to advertise their prices are not only separated by the craft/profession/category that they operate in, but also by their personal brand, speciality and target market. This means that vendors are in a constant (and never-ending) quest to find the most effective method of communication for their 'tribe' in the most authentic way possible. And for you, this means that their answer to this question can change from season to season, which can be a little confusing for the average couple looking for a great supplier for their special day.
Let me break it down for you.
Some wedding suppliers strongly believe that the disadvantages of publicly stating their prices on their website or Facebook page far outweigh the initial convenience for both parties.
There are 3 main schools of thought..
1) Businesses seeking to make a connection before the sale.
Wedding venue: "We don't advertise our package prices to encourage conversation with Brides and Grooms. Couples can sometimes be too quick to look at the bottom line and miss the value and special inclusions that are offered in the package. Also, a dollar figure does not introduce them to the team that will conduct the event. It's all about the personalisation of the offering."
Mobile bar hire: "We seek to build confidence in delivering a service that exceeds our client's expectations. One of those expectations can include working within their budget planning. Many couples are unfamiliar with the planning that goes into running a mobile bar and we can only explain what is involved if we speak to them. We can then offer budget suggestions to assist them."
An international wedding and boudoir photographer has another perspective on this: "I always try to express the idea that I'm an artist, not a service. Price isn't negotiable and time restrictions aren't of any interest to me."
2) Businesses who need to discuss your individual circumstances to create a bespoke quote for their product/services.
Celebrant: "I don't advertise my prices as I feel every wedding is so different and the work involved can vary so greatly."
3) Businesses that are inexperienced or operate in multiple markets.
Wedding planner: "I don't advertise prices as I'm only new the wedding industry and I'm not quite sure what to set them at."
Hair and Makeup artist: "I don't advertise my prices [for weddings] as I also have corporate clients. [It can be] all too confusing to explain to my bridal clients."
Many wedding vendors are also quite protective about their pricing as some competitors will try and get hold of it to deliberately undercut them. So by holding this back, they can ensure they are only communicating with genuine enquiries.
On the flipside of this, it is well worth noting that there are many Bride and Grooms who will click right past a website if they can't easily find pricing.
An experienced florist describes how she gets around this problem; "I have some starting prices on my website. I want the brides who look at my price and deem me worthy of it [to] get in contact. Not the ones who fall in love with my work, come to me with amazing ideas that get me all excited [and then] they drop the 'budget bomb' and leave me disappointed."
So amongst all of these tactics, restrictions and personal philosophies, how can you (little Miss Bridey McBride or Mr Cool-Ass Groom) find the right products and services while still maintaining a decent credit rating?
Weddings, just like marriages, have evolved a heap over the last 30-40 years. Many modern wedding suppliers believe that their contribution to your big day should not just be about a simple transaction of money for goods and/or services; that your celebration should be as much about how you want it to feel, as how you want it to look.
Like in any industry, there are 'horses for courses'. Not every supplier will be on every social media platform or put their prices on their website or give you a gift of scented candles when you sign on with them.
But, if you like what a wedding supplier does (their work resonates with you and your values or you just think that what they do is impossibly cool), then start a conversation with them and discuss prices and budget early.
Remember, it's a relationship, not just a sale.
The bottom line being that you should feel confident in their skills and experience and safe in the knowledge that your wedding planning (well most of the 200+ hours of it) will be an exciting and fun experience.
So if it doesn't feel good, then guess what?
Find another supplier who gives you that feeling because you're only doing this once (right?)
We'd love to hear about your experience with wedding suppliers and getting quotes. Let us know in the comments section below!