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Your time lost in wedding planning is money lost | Wedding MBA

What’s an extra stress-free weekend spent with your spouse-to-be worth? How about several girls’ nights out / extra football games with your guys? How about 5 extra hours a week to work out? A wedding MBA invests in vendors who generate positive ROI, understanding that the biggest expense they had to give up in wedding planning is their own time. Here’s how this wedding MBA would look at an investment in a vendor.

[Emotional return on this vendor] + [time savings compared to your next best alternative * your wage] – [vendor price] = X
If X is positive, buy

Did that sound like gibberish? Here’s the translation: at the end of the day, the couple wants to be married, with as little stress as possible, getting the most value for their investment, at the lowest cost.

(hanging with the super-fun ladies of Gracie Lou Events at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center)

Wedding planning – If you are two working adults both earning $20 an hour or higher, you can likely afford a wedding planner. Or at the very least, a day of coordinator (the name is misleading, they act more like month-of-coordinators). For most reasons given by people as to not having a wedding planner, Every Last Detail has a great blog that gives a good answer. If I ever get married, I will be hiring a wedding planner, just so I can enjoy being engaged and never get to the point of saying, “I wish I could elope”. My boyfriend and I had the silliest fight a couple months ago over how we viewed weddings and their ROI. Bottom line, we are never talking about weddings again until that time comes, we’re focusing our time on developing our relationship. Can you imagine spending your entire year of engagement getting into fights over the small details of your wedding? How much damage does that do to your relationship?

I’m not saying that you aren’t talented, or that you’re bad at logistics, I’m arguing for giving you a good mental break and giving you the most bang for your buck, that a wedding planner can be positive ROI financially, physically, and emotionally. Here’s how a wedding MBA will think about a wedding planner:

I’m using a bride and groom who are each earning a salary of $48K a year at 50-hour work weeks (because most people I talk to don’t work 40-hour weeks anymore!), 48 work weeks a year (assuming you get ~3 weeks paid vacation). That amounts to, pre-tax, $20 an hour. See what that amounts to if each of you earn even more than that.

Here are some simple calculations to show you why a wedding planner is worth it:

Take 7 days prior to your wedding off to plan full-time and run errands = 70 hours

Spend 10 hours researching your venues, then visit 5 wedding venues at 1-hour visits + 1-hour transportation time each = 20 hours

Meet with 3 photographers, 3 DJs, and 3 florists each for initial consultation  = 1 hour in meeting and 1 hour in transportation each = 18 hours

We just spent 108 hours on the wedding!! 108 hours x 2 people x $20 = $4,320. The cost of a wedding planner.

It is not unusual for a couple to take a week off before their wedding. And the above 108 hours still don’t include all the online research, emailing vendors, negotiating, reviewing contracts, calculations, and designing you have for other details. This doesn’t include the time making seating charts, folding together invitations, choosing gifts, coordinating bridesmaid dress shopping trips.

I’ve seen friends take up to 3 weeks in unpaid vacation to plan a wedding, that’s a lot of lost salary! Remember that $4,500 will get you a pretty good wedding planner in Boston, and $1,500 will probably get you started on a Day of Coordination package. Let’s not forget how much farther a wedding planner can usually take your creative vision. And how smoothly your wedding will run on the day of. Almost every wedding I’ve shot with a capable planner, I’ve called perfect, because they take care of so many of the logistics so that the couple can focus on getting married and mingling with family and friends, and I can focus on photography.

Some people argue – “oh but we spent that time planning outside of work hours”. Well, what else do you use that time for? What could your parents and friends – the people you’ll be asking to help you with wedding planning –  be doing with that time? You all could be spending that time studying or working towards a promotion (more $$$!), sleep (longer life!), care for family (more memories!), spend more time with your future spouse to develop your relationship prior to marriage (more love!). How much are wealth, health, family, and love worth to you? To your loved ones?

Be smart. Think like a wedding MBA. In many cases, a wedding planner can be a super smart decision.

(with the fabulous Emilie of Pink Orchid Weddings at a Gibbet Hill wedding last year)

Wedding photography – The couples who choose to hire me, truly value photography, because it’s one of the few things that remain, and I’m not going to take up an entire post explaining why I think my job is justified. Some people won’t care about photos, and this paragraph is not for you. For those who do care: the aim of a good photographer is to help you remember your wedding with the same positive emotions, years down the road. When I hear all these sad stories from my friends who did not invest in their photographer, I feel like something got stolen from their day. A bad photographer who messes things up, gives you spoiled memories for a lifetime. There is no way of getting that back, no amount of money can really fix it.

Go with a professional for this one, up to what you can reasonably afford. Go with the one who has the most beautiful photos, not the most amount of products (even if it means to get the one with the most beautiful photos, you have to forego albums or digital files for a year), and go with one who moves your heart.

(Yay for Brits! With Nicole and Jonathan at their State Room wedding last year)

Videography, music, floral and event design, paper design – You can pretty much apply this equation to any other fixed investment vendor, and sometimes, it might mean, you don’t care enough about this vendor to hire one. Sometimes you have to cut a vendor due to affordability, as there are a couple more thousand dollars that we can put back in your wallet.

A lot of people look at the weddings I shoot and think that I did better on a wedding that had more expensive venue, design, and decor – even though my own photography technique did not change! To the untrained eye, most people perceive a wedding as “beautiful” because of the way it looks. If (and only if) you care about the way your wedding looks, here’s a money saving tip: Go with a less expensive venue (that hopefully still includes tables and chairs), but go with high-end florals, decor, and paper design. A less expensive venue saves you on the scale of thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. The difference between DIYing design vs hiring a professional is in the hundreds to low thousands.

Below: various inspiration boards I pulled from weddings that used mainly professional design vendors:

Florist: Bumble Bee Landing

Florist: Orchids N’ Blooms

Boston wedding photography

Cake: Konditor Meister; Florist: Jody Roffi; Invitations: Exclusively Weddings; Venue lighting: Boston Seaport Hotel

To date, one of my favorite bridal bouquets. Florist: Flou(-e)r

Rented linen and candelabras complimented the florals

A note about using friendors: Asking a friend or family member to do something for your wedding can sometimes work out awesome, and sometimes it can be a liability. This is part of the reason why I typically don’t shoot weddings for friends unless they are completely in sync with my style, and yes, I do charge my full rate. The risks I have to take on include the fact that I won’t enjoy my friend’s wedding, and if something goes wrong, we’ll have messed up a friendship for a long time. If a friendor isn’t a professional with no liability insurance, it might not even be allowed by a wedding venue. However, if you can swing a friendor, it could work out really well!

Above: the bride and groom used a family friend who was a professional florist for their bouquets and bouts, DIYed their centerpieces, and the bride’s mom baked the pie buffet

A note about DIY: DIY when you are GOOD at something. Otherwise, you could DYI (do yourself in… cuts on fingers, burnt mistakes, over-purchasing supplies). The time lost on the DIY may cost more than hiring a professional. However, I have seen SPECTACULAR DIY from very talented, creative brides, which I’m featuring below. I… also have seen DIY that might have been better trusted to a professional. Again, it is up to you to determine what level of appearance you’re happy with.

Below: Talented DIY examples

Did you enjoy this post? Be sure to check out other posts in the past:

1. Why most wedding budget tools are incorrect

2. The budget buster: the wedding guest

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Shang Chen Photography has rebranded to Saavedra Photography
she takes photographs of celebrations of love and life
Based in NYC | Open for select photography commissions on Sundays only

February 11, 2012 - 2:22 pm

Diana I love these wedding MBA posts! Super informative and a great perspective on wedding planning (even though my wedding has passed, haha).

February 12, 2012 - 12:29 am

Mellissa @ de Lovely Affair Shang, this is an awesome post! I also love the wedding MBA, great perspective we all need to see. No one else says it quite like you. The pictures of course are gorgeous and you have mentioned some pretty awesome vendors. Because we focus on practical planning as well as multicultural weddngs, I would love to share this with my readers if that is okay with you!

All the best,

February 12, 2012 - 12:30 pm

Jennifer @EsqEvents Love these posts Shang. A nice new perspective!

February 14, 2012 - 1:13 pm

DJ Yogz Love the post! You are so right. Customers spend so much time in doing their own research that they should focus on their requirements and let somebody else do the planning and coordination thereof. Reminds me of a customer that asked me the type of speakers I use. Time wasted. Just focus on the playlist and let the expert play the songs using the right equipment. Shang, you right on!

January 18, 2013 - 2:22 am

Tamiko This was a wonderful post and love the value a wedding planner provides.

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