Wedding reality shows, that is.
Last night I was watching an episode of Battle of the Wedding Designers over on TLC. For those of you lucky enough to be unfamiliar, this is a show where a couple gives an idea of how much money they have, how many guests they expect, and their general preferences for a wedding. Three wedding planners are then given said budget, size, and taste restraints. Each planner comes up with a plan for how to spend that money and presents said plan to the couple. The couple then pick one planner’s dream and hand over the bucks. The audience gets to see how it all turns out.
Last night’s couple, Xenia and Ezra, had a serious budget crunch. Xenia lost her job right after Ezra proposed and hasn’t been able to find another yet. They’d managed to scrape up $5,000 and hoped to have a tropical themed wedding with 75 guests.
I won’t go too far into the gory details, but the first two designers (Summer Simmons and Linda Ly) both came up with weddings that looked more or less like they might fit the budget at hand. Intimate venues (Linda’s did have a pesky problem that it was a rooftop and helicopters apparently fly overhead fairly regularly), limited alcohol, simple food, etc. Each managed a couple of fun glam design touches, but all in all these weddings did reflect the budget of the bride and groom.
Then came Michael Willms’ design. He started off with a gorgeous formal garden complete with LED lighting built in and a Calypso band to play as the guests arrived. I thought the man had hit gold with this site. Then he took Xenia and Ezra inside to show them the spectacular room where they would be married… and then he showed them the huge ballroom where they would hold their reception… and then he sat them down to their plated salmon dinner and poured them the wine they would serve with it… and then he introduced the DJ… and then he showed them the five-tier cake they would serve. Looking at everything he put together, all I could think was that the flowers alone cost far more than this couple had budgeted for their entire wedding.
When the couple asked how he could do all this on a $5,000 budget, he admitted it was a little bit more than that, but would never be pinned down on numbers. He just kept insisting that when you’ve been in the business and built up relationships with vendors you can get some great deals. In fact, he said that the cake (five tiers of Tiffany boxes with the top one open and spilling out strands of pearls, which I took one look at and estimated was worth half the budget) ought to have cost $2,200, but because of his relationship with the bakery, he could get it for them for $650.
Seriously? He got that cake for less than a third of the usual cost? He could serve salmon for seventy-five on a $5,000 budget? The flowers (huge arrangements of roses and hydrangeas with nary a filler in sight) are free because he can them palm them off on another bride the next day? The venue is both a brand new place that desperately needs advertising and a place with which he has a longstanding relationship that allows him to get two huge rooms and a garden on a $5,000 budget?
By contrast, Linda’s cake was beautiful, but she said flat out that two of the three layers were styrofoam dummy layers and guests would actually be served from a sheet cake hiding in the kitchen. She was able to get this deal because the baker was just starting out and needed some references.
Back to Michael’s wedding design.
The Calypso band alone probably runs half the budget of that entire wedding. The wedding design overall looked like it would be right at home on Platinum Weddings. Even Michael admitted this was a wedding that ought to cost $100,000.
Of course Xenia and Ezra chose the massive extravaganza that couldn’t possibly fit into their budget. It was pretty, but I have to say that seventy five people in that massive ballroom with the twenty-foot-high ceilings with the huge chandeliers looked… sparse.
No word on what the wedding actually ended up costing. All we saw were Xenia’s happy tears.
What I want to know is how hard she cried when the bills came in.
Don’t drink the Kool Aid, brides! These weddings cannot be done on these budgets. And if a vendor tries to sell you a deal that’s way too good to be true, run – do not walk – to the nearest exit.
I call such shenanigans.