One of the biggest hurdles I’ve run into while researching and planning my wedding is the “one size fits all” pricing structure of wedding vendors.

We’re having a small wedding: 50 invited guests. My fiance and I do not have tons of friends; we’re not social butterfly people. We are inviting co-workers, close friends, and close family members. We are not going to be pressured or feel obligated to invite distant relatives or pushy acquaintances.

I’ve explained this to caterers, location managers, wedding coordinators, and they just don’t seem to understand it. I honestly believe that wedding vendors cannot wrap their heads around guest counts smaller than 100. Several caterers that I’ve spoke with tack on an additional surcharge (i.e. penalty) for parties under 100 people. Luckily, I have found a caterer who is willing to work within my budget and can provide a creative array of cuisine options. (I still need to settle on a location and taste their food before I get under contract with them, but they look promising.)

The ceremony/reception location rental fees in the Northern Virginia / Washington D.C. metro area are shockingly high and are not scalable for a small wedding. Finding a suitable location to host a ceremony and reception for under $1500 is nearly impossible. Plus, most of these locations are booked a year in advance. (I am aware of county parks and recreation locations. I have been looking into them. They are more affordable than business locations, but many of the locations have their own unique limitations.)

I have been the most disappointed by wedding coordinators. At this point, I believe their role in the wedding is to scare the brides into believing that the wedding will go totally awry without them. By preying on the fears and insecurities of inexperienced brides, they routinely shake down brides for hundreds, even thousands of dollars. I’ll accept that not all wedding coordinators are manipulating, control-freaks. I bet there are really sweet coordinators out there who you can call at 3 AM the night before the wedding, and she’ll come over and help you hot glue ribbons on your favors.
I was expecting day-of wedding coordination rates to be about 10% – 15% of the total cost of the wedding. In my case, $650 – $975. However, in this area, for day-of wedding coordination *only*, I have received quotes, from various wedding coordinators, in the range of $1400 – $3500.
I understand that brides (and their families) are not a joy to deal with. Seriously, I get that. But, jeez, I want you to make sure the music is queued appropriately and make sure the chairs are moved from the ceremony configuration to the reception configuration, not find a cure for cancer.
Why do I even care about a wedding coordinator, you ask? Because, at the end of the night of my first wedding, I was sweeping the reception hall in my wedding dress, so I would get my deposit back from the venue. I manage projects and investigations everyday at work. I do not want to spend my wedding barking orders at people.
I’ll keep looking for a day-of coordinator. I’m tempted to contract a project manager for the day. Worst case, I’ll entrust (and compensate) a friend of mine with these duties.