Budgeting Vs Investing In Your Ceremony

A Tale of Two Paths

Many of the decisions you will make when planning your wedding ceremony, will be made on strikingly unfamiliar territory. In other words, there will be a plethora of firsts; visiting bridal expos, florists, wedding dress suppliers, photographers, bridal cars, celebrants, event hire and so on.

Nothing can quite prepare a wedding couple for the bewildering array of questions and dilemmas that confront them, as they embark on their wedding journey. But no matter what demographic you fit into or how you decide to approach your wedding day, the subject of ‘price’ will almost certainly become a ‘point of conversation’.

You really need to decide your path right from the outset, in fact your entire wedding day experience comes down to just two (2) very simple questions:

1) Are you planning your wedding based on a ‘budget’?

2) Are you prepared to ‘invest’ in your wedding day

The second question is arguably more interesting than the first, for a range of reasons. The word ‘invest’ is not considered synonymous with weddings, since there is little tangible (financial) profit to be gained, unlike (say) investing in shares or property. The other point is that many couples (these days) are responsible for funding their own wedding, often resulting in the need to pursue question ‘1’.

Return on Investment

The big payback with question ‘2’ (ROI), is the immeasurable (and often underestimated) value of ‘experience’. This is a word that largely has no financial conotation, yet it’s life-long value is unrivalled.

Investing in your wedding tends to suggest that ‘money is no object’. Whilst this is rarely the case, what it actually (better) refers to, is a couple’s overall approach and desired outcome. Couples following the ‘invest’ path, generally design their wedding first, then seek-out suppliers and service providers who fit their design.

Whilst this doesn’t negate the need to be thrifty, it actually empowers couples to be flexible when trying to carve-out the perfect wedding day experience. In other words, price takes a backseat to ‘want’ (or need).

The other big win with question 2, is that it provides a benchmark for couples to determine if their dream wedding has been successful. Having researched and invested in the appropriate suppliers and services, the couple will be able to sit back after the big day, and assess if they received an adequate return on investment.

Weddings Driven by Price

Question ‘1’ provides a pathway for wedding couples who basically design their wedding in reverse. Couples in this category set a budget first, and then seek-out suppliers who fit that budget, often regardless of any other criteria.

There is a huge advantage in doing this, as it caps the overall cost of the wedding, and keeps it financially managable. The big problem here though, is a marketing term known as the ‘satisfaction curve’.

The Satisfaction Curve

The ‘satisfaction curve’ is an ideology where ‘too little’ investment in something may lead to a lack of satisfaction, and hence a poor (or dminished) experience (essentially negating any monies already invested). For example, a couple may budget $1000 for a wedding photographer, but find that (afterwards) the final product is so ordinary, that the additional investment of $500 would have delivered a satisfactory result.

The same applies at the other end of the price spectrum. For example, a couple may book a Hotel Suite for $500 a night, but experience the same satisfaction level as a Hotel Suite valued at $350 a night. This is called ‘over investment’, and can present a very real issue when planning a wedding.

However, the wedding industry (whilst being vast) generally has a way of categorising suppliers and services through natural selection. This means that much of the hard-slog (with regard to price) has been done for you. For example, the better (or more popular) the product or service, the higher the price. For couples on a budget, those products and services will often have less appeal, since their ‘satisfaction level’ can be reached at a different point on the ‘marketing curve’.

Like many markets the wedding industry could best be split into 3 price-based blocks. 15% (of suppliers and services) at the low price end, 75% in the mid-price range, and 15% at the upper price end.

Mixing Budget With Investment

There are arguably some couples who strike a balance between budget and investment, giving them more flexibility over their satisfaction level (as compared to couple’s strictly using the budget-based planning method).

There is certainly an advantage in having a wedding plan right from the get-go, negating the concern to make every decision based on price alone. Having said that, your satisfaction level (together with your overall experience) is of paramount importance.

This may ultimately mean going above and beyond your wedding budget. It may sound trite, but the most successful weddings, are those that deliver the optimum satisfaction level for the wedding couple, whilst being financially managable.