Friday, October 3, 2008

The first wedding rant

Here's the thing about wedding planning: I'm a sane, busy person who wants a reasonable, enjoyable wedding. I have NO desire to custom-dye my linens. I have no interest in hanging new chandeliers or even concerning myself with "lighting."  I want a fun wedding with a good DJ and a minimal amount of fuss. And B agrees, though he might want a rhinoceros or Optimus Prime somehow involved, which I am leaving in his capable hands (and saying "no." regularly)
But - see - there is no "easy option."  And, I learned this with step 1.
Step 1 is "set a date."  Of course you can't do that without a location. So step 1 is really "find a location with open dates in the month you'd like."  Of course, there are many types of locations in this world. There are fields and four-star hotels and yachts and resorts and country clubs and barns and very small gazebos...
Okay, so Step 1 is now "pick a month that looks reasonable and canvass locations in a geographic proximity for basic dimensional and stylistic qualities that appeal to you."  BTW, regardless of what theKnot or say, there is no comprehensive list for these things. There is only word of mouth.
But WAIT. Lest you thought you were done with Step 1, someone forgot to mention, Step 0 - Set your Budget. Well, okay, except I don't know how much things really cost. And believe me, wedding planning guides aren't specific in saying that if you're in Wyoming, a barn is effectively free, whereas in Boston, it is 4500/night. Oops. Okay, so Set a Budget that is.. near reasonable, and then go find out what things really cost. Back to the locations.
Okay, Step 1 - now, let's get pricing on all the barn-type locations in the greater boston area (yeah, Barn. I said it. Barn.) What? That's not easily gotten? True. So, call, and send emails to contact info on web sites. 80% send email packets. 20% send snail mail packets. 80% respond rapidly. Some still haven't replied. 10% seem to not have packets and send you tidbits of information on an on-demand basis.
Now you have 90% of the packets. Great. In them are a range of options. And you're culling for price here. Just answering the question "Can I afford this place? - or should I throw it out right now?"  But WAIT - there is not just one price...
There's the location fee, possibly augmented by a ceremony-on-the-location fee, extra-hours fees for late-night affairs, and random additional fees like "dance floor." With seasonal discounts.With undefined seasons.
There's catering fees, which may or may not be directly associated with the location, or might constrain you to a set of caterers (who also don't post any prices), and which may be buffet style or table service and may or may not include a cocktail appetizer sampler, and may or may not pass those or leave them on a table. And the pricing is per head, with potential minimum heads, which may or may not match your invited/actual guest list headcount. Or there's a total "food minimum" that may or may not include drinks. And some items are not per-head but per-set-of-heads, like "Turkey on table - feeds 35". GREAT. So that means we get to roughly estimate food at some figure between 60-85/head. which, given a multiplier of 100, is not a small range. That's over 40% or $2500, which is more than I'd like to spend on a wedding gown. But I expect that's another blog entry.
Okay. BUT WAIT - there's also Drinks. Open bar, nearly open bar, limited open bar, bring your own liquor, champagne toast, cash bar (no!), bartender fees, corkage fees, and whether anyone in this game has the glasses, limes, grenadine, or anything else. FANTASTIC. Sometimes it's easy - they say "30 bucks a head" and call it a day. Someone it is hard... a PER DRINK PRICE LIST.
Did I mention kids count differently? And there are 20 kids on my guest list. I kid you not. no pun intended. TWENTY. And growing. so that matters.
So, now, I have a location spreadsheet with a variability of about 25% on each location. A few I cut out just for being over the top. I cut out one for being insanely unresponsive and totally packetless (I can't deal.) I think it's time for a visit or 3...
But the part that bothers me most, I think, is THIS IS ONLY STEP 1.
Thank you, Blogosphere, for listening. And if anyone wants a business idea, here it is:  standardized wedding pricing. Munge the crap everyone gives you into a standard pricelist and do a deal with Make it all XML based. Do the math. Enter headcount, get a range. Go home happy.


Priya said...

I have so many things to say about this post.

first, don't forget the chair covers, which, if you want them, cost $4-8/per. also a friend told me an egregious story about his wedding where they charged an extra fee for using extra electrical plugs. you know how, when you go to the days inn you get free wifi but when you stay at the 5 star hilton they charge for it? i think weddings are sort of in that model.

second, if anyone can handle this multivariate equation, it's YOU. the rest of the wedding planning industry is designed to tsk tsk at the 'bride who just can't make a decision'.

third, if anyone tells you that this isn't a wedding but an event, punch them in the face immediately.

fourth, while a great business idea, find a way to work in the thongcharms.

Cat, Galloping said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim said...

Elope! I wish we'd eloped. Well, had something very small anyway. All that money, ugh.