Q: I don't understand why our vendors are not willing to give us a price break since we're having a small wedding. Why do we have to pay the same as someone with twice the number of guests?
Rev. Ann Fuller: Let's break down two components of this question. First of all, the definition of small is relative. I consider a small wedding to be one that has less than about 20 guests. I have encountered oodles of couples who seem to think small means less than 100. Eighty guests comprise a hefty gap in our mutual understanding. Keep in mind that what you consider small may be a medium-sized, or even large, wedding to someone else. Here's my general guideline....but mine alone.
Private: Two Witnesses (opt. in FL)
Intimate: Less than 15 Guests
Very Small: 16 - 25 Guests
Small: 26 - 40 Guests
Medium: 40 - 75 Guests
Large: 75 - 125 Guests
Very Large: 126- 150 Guests
Huge: 150-199 Guests
Massive: 200 - 399 Guests
Seriously?: More than 400 Guests
Smaller wedding festivities that are short in duration may enable you to save money with the vendors who charge by the hour. Since economies of scale are lost, you may end up paying more per guest than someone with a longer guest list for some things. Overall though, inviting fewer guests still remains one of the best ways to reduce wedding expenditures.
Please don't be offended when wedding vendors cannot accommodate discount requests just because you consider your wedding to be small. The size of your wedding may have little to no impact on the degree of work necessary for them to be part of bringing your dream wedding to reality. Even if it is a modest affair.
Q: We just want it short and simple, can you cut us a deal?
Rev. Ann Fuller: This question also contains vague and relative terms. What is short and simple to one person isn't necessarily so to someone else. You can indeed find wedding vendors who charge less for shorter wedding celebrations. Hiring a photographer for an hour to shoot just the ceremony and take a few portraits is less expensive than hiring one to photograph you for eight hours from getting ready to last dance.
As far as offficiating goes, most couples who tell me they want a short ceremony have in mind a fifteen minute wedding. It doesn't sound like a long time, but this is actually about the length of an average ceremony. Even many religious Rites of Marriage in a house of worship rarely exceed twenty minutes or so. Therefore, "we want a short ceremony" is virtually meaningless to an independent officiant because they are almost all "short" by this standard.
For me personally, the difference between an "average" and a "short" ceremony is perhaps a reduction of 5 - 15 minutes of my time over the minimum of at least six hours of work that go into officiating a typical wedding.
Q: I'm only planning just a small, short, and simple wedding. I'm trying to find vendors, but no one seems to be returning my emails or phone messages. Am I not worth their time or courtesy?
Rev. Ann Fuller: Contacting vendors with that sentence as your opening line could be the problem. I love small, short, simple weddings and most vendors do too. The emotional energy of these occasions is generally a little more relaxed than larger celebrations.
However, I have long since realized people who inquire about my services with "just a small, short and simple..." are uttering code for "I'm not prepared to pay you what you are worth, so get ready for me to try to beat you down in price." I do sincerely apologize if that sounds a bit crude, and I promise I never let an email or voice mail message go unanswered, but time and again this has proven to be the case. Often times, further conversation reveals the wedding in question is actually not what I would personally consider small, short, or simple.
When you make initial contact with vendors, just tell them you are planning a wedding and inquiring about their availability and services. The resulting conversation will allow both of you to arrive at a mutual understanding of your expectations and enable the vendor to provide you with a realistic quote.
A truly Small, Short, and Simple Wedding is spot on perfect for many couples, but some considerations need to be made. While they are less expensive as a general rule, they can take the same amount of planning (i.e. stress!) as the average wedding. Particularly if you are maintaining all of the common traditions, just inviting fewer people.
As for cutting deals because you have a 3S Wedding, think of it this way: You are paying the same for your dress whether twenty people or two hundred get to see you in it. By contrast, you're going to pay a lot less for twenty dinners than you would for two hundred. Your other vendors operate under the same conditions, it just may not be as readily apparent. By all means inquire if your prospective vendors have price breaks depending upon the scope of your festivities. But please do not be frustrated or disappointed if they do not, keeping in mind their overall effort may not be dependent upon the number of people in attendance.
Photo Attribute: Shannon Perez of Florida Beachside Weddings