Can lying to vendors help you avoid the ‘wedding markup’?

Budget-conscious brides- and grooms-to-be may have come across this tip on blogs and in social media forums: When planning a wedding, avoid telling vendors, such as your florist, baker, hairdresser or DJ, that you’re celebrating a marriage.

Here’s the logic for that omission: If vendors hear the word “wedding,” they’ll charge more than they would for other kinds of parties. Wedding vendors, the reasoning goes, know that engaged couples have big budgets and limited time for comparison shopping. So, that $25 steak becomes a $75 steak. That $500 portrait shoot becomes a $3,000 wedding shoot. That $50 bouquet becomes a $150 floral arrangement.

So, should you lie to your vendors, or at the very least, exclude the news that you’re hosting a wedding?

The short answer from wedding experts: No way. “I definitely would never recommend that anybody not tell their vendors that they’re planning a wedding,” says Anne Chertoff, trend expert with WeddingWire, a global online wedding-planning resource.

Here’s what to know about why experts caution against this strategy — and what soon-to-be brides and grooms can do to save money without telling a falsehood.

[See: 10 Big Ways to Boost Your Budget — Without Skimping on Your Daily Latte.]

You’re paying more … for a reason. Experts argue that the reason a similar service may be priced differently for a wedding than it is for, say, a charity event or birthday party, is because that vendor is being asked to provide a different product and level of customer service.

“People get frustrated by the cost of wedding inflation,” says Maddie Eisenhart, chief revenue officer at A Practical Wedding, a wedding media company based in Oakland, California. “But there is an inherent markup with everything associated with weddings because the deliverable is different.”

For example, putting together a bouquet for a wedding requires a different level of service than it does for a birthday party. After all, the bouquet has to last all day, it has to be comfortable to hold and it has to satisfy the couple’s specific requirements, which might include offseason or expensive blossoms. “The level of construction that has to go into creating personal flowers doesn’t go into a pickup at a grocery store,” says Emilie Duncan, owner of Emilie Duncan Event Planning in Columbus, Ohio.

Other experts agree. “We don’t think of all the invisible labor costs that go into producing a wedding,” Eisenhart says. There may be multiple phone calls, complex setup and tear-down instructions and extra staff on hand to serve guests and deal with meltdowns. “A lot of the upcharge for vendors is service,” she says.

[See: Here’s When You Don’t Have to Tip.]

It could backfire. Chances are that the vendors will eventually learn about the nature of your event. It might be when they show up to the party and you’re wearing a flouncy white dress, or it could be when a waiter at the venue lets it slip. But once they find out, it might spell trouble.

“There are definitely contract clauses that talk about [how] if you’re violating a vendor’s policies or keeping something from them, it would violate that contract,” says Wendy Kidd, president of the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners and owner of Each & Every Detail in Dallas. If you lie about your event, “you absolutely run the danger of enacting the clause in that contract,” she says.

Even if you don’t void your contract, you still stand to lose trust and enthusiasm from your vendor. “That’s just a very dishonest way to go about business … and you’re going to leave a bad taste in the mouth of whoever that vendor is,” says Ashlie Lynch, social catering manager at Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas.

Experts note that couples may work with their wedding vendors for a year or more during the wedding planning stages, and basing that monthslong relationship on a lie is risky. While the choice to tell a falsehood might not backfire with every vendor, “you might not get the same level of service you might have had [if you’d told the truth],” Duncan says. A good vendor will tailor his or her service toward the wedding, reminding you, for example, that you ordered a cake but no cake knife, or bringing an assistant to get candid shots of the wedding guests reacting to your first dance.

There are legitimate ways to avoid the ‘wedding markup.’ Couples can find legitimate — honest — ways to work with vendors outside the boundaries of the wedding industry, experts say. For example, couples can purchase bridesmaids dresses, accessories, suits, even an off-the-rack wedding dress at a department store. They may be able to pick up wedding favors, decorations and other supplies that aren’t earmarked for weddings at a local crafts store or boutique.

Many supplies are purchasable outside of wedding-specific retailers. But if the vendor is showing up to your event or creating a specific product, such as a three-tiered cake, it’s wise to divulge that it’s for a wedding.

[See: 7 Signs Your Romantic Partner Is Financially Unstable.]

Work with vendors to stay within your budget. Nobody wants to feel price gouged or cheated by their wedding vendors. But if staying within your budget is a major concern, experts recommend working with your vendors, not against them, to keep costs low.

A helpful vendor may be able to help you bring costs down by, say, working exclusively with seasonal flowers or reducing the number of appetizers. Good vendors may be able to refer you to a more affordable vendor if their services are simply out of your price range. And while it may sound counterintuitive, working with a budget-friendly wedding planner can be a route to scoring better rates with vendors and discovering cost-efficient planning strategies, experts say.

Couples can also look into saving money by booking a wedding in the offseason, such as the cooler months between November and March, during which vendors may be more willing to negotiate or adjust their rates for a laid-back affair. Or they could try booking on an off-day, such as a Friday or Sunday. They could limit the open bar to beer, wine and champagne. Or they could skip wedding expenses that are less important to them, such as the quality of the invitations, in order to make room for the aspects they want to splurge on, experts say.

The bottom line is this: You don’t have to lie to plan a budget-friendly wedding.

More from U.S. News

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Can Lying to Vendors Help You Avoid the ‘Wedding Markup’? originally appeared on

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