LA not L.A.: A Look Into NOLA Wedding Costs (And My Revamp)

New Orleans wedding cost.  How much does a New Orleans wedding cost?

OMG, I'm back again.

Brothers, sisters, everybody sing...

First things first, if you got that reference, it probably means you break out into 90's song and dance as much as I do. No judgements!

Now, on to the important stuff....I'm back! I took some time to do a revamp and really hone in on my wedding business (you may have noticed). And, while there were a lot of things that inspired this change, today, I'm going to focus on a major one that effects every future New Orleans couple.

Dun, dun, dunnnnnn... (Kidding, it's not that dramatic.)

You probably didn't notice, but something recently happened in the local wedding industry. And, fittingly enough, it also highlights the purpose on why I chose a different direction for my business and my couples.

Let me explain...(story time, ya'll).

Every year, the Knot does a real wedding survey that samples couples from all over the United States to gather logistics and trends of weddings. And, every year, they determine the national average cost for weddings. This year (2015 data), the national average cost was $32,641.

Now, given the nature of the wedding industry, this sadly isn't all that shocking; especially considering that they've factored in marriages from all parts of the U.S., including expensive states like New York and California. (Where absurd prices are generally expected.)

You know what's unexpected (at least from my point of view)?

The fact that Louisiana landed among the TOP 10 MOST EXPENSIVE STATES TO HAVE A WEDDING.

Let me reiterate: TOP.TEN.

As of the 2015 data, Louisiana now shares the costly spot light with the states of New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois, Rhode Island, and California.

Let that sink in for a minute.

If you're having trouble seeing the disparity here, consider this: in California, the cost of living is about 64% higher than in the rest of the country; compared to Louisiana, where the COL is about 1% lower than the national average.

The real kicker? Despite the difference in expense between California and Louisiana, the average cost of a wedding in New Orleans is now $44,178; that's almost $5,000 more expensive than the cost of a wedding in L.A. (Yes, that L.A.)

Basically, LA went from not even being on the budget radar in 2012, to landing in the top 10 in 2015.

Annnnnd, if you're still struggling to see why this is an issue, think of it this way: $44,000 is a new car. $44,000 is a nice down payment on a house. $44,000 is an insanely awesome start to your nest egg. $44,000 is a great jump on the college tuition fund you'll start for your future child (or, in my case, future vet bills).

An extra $10,000 up from last year, NBD, right?

I'm sure you've already alloted for a $10,000 buffer in your budget! (I'd insert an eye-roll here, but honesty, it would hurt to roll my eyes that hard.)

How did we get here?

I can speculate for days on what caused this increase- generally speaking, the wedding industrial complex and the fact that even the mention of the word 'wedding' can cause a price gouge; locally speaking, the popularity of our destination as a vacation spot and the rich history and culture of our wedding traditions that make NOLA unique- but in it's simpliest form, I'd chalk it up to the good old theory of supply and demand. Thanks, freshmen economics! The more couples that want a NOLA wedding, the more the industry sees an opportunity to make a profit.

Now, this is not to say that there are a lot of wedding professionals who do amazing work, and the blood, sweat, and tears that they put into their events are worth their price. On the contrary, many vendors who care about your wedding as much as you do are well worth their salt, and there's nothing wrong with hiring them, if you can afford it. But, just like the saying, one bad apple spoils them all. Unfortunately, there are vendors out there who charge insane prices without the care or the work ethic to back them up; trust me when I say I've had my fair share of experience with them (which is a story for another day). Be weary of who you hire!

Sadly, I would also blame this on the wedding industry's strong domination of the market (compared to other, more unconventional sources), and the fact that many couples go into planning with the assumption that spending a lot of money is normal. EVEN IF THEY DON'T HAVE THE MONEY. Just a part of life, guys!

No. Just, no.

Okay, end rant.

What are you supposed to do with this information?

Well, first of all, don't freak out; almost anything in life can be worked around! Just because this is the new trend, doesn't mean it has to apply to YOU. (I can tell you right now that it certainly did not apply to me!)

To start, follow these tips:

#1) KNOW YOUR BUDGET. I've said it before and I'll say it again, but don't go into planning your wedding without having a budget. If you're serious about saving, having a clear outline of what you're comfortable (and capable) with spending is key.

#2) BE WILLING TO CUT OUT THINGS THAT AREN'T IMPORTANT TO YOU. If you're like me, flowers weren't that big of a deal for my decor (I opted for pumpkins!). Those alone can be a huge part of your budget! If a big send off isn't something you had in mind (local guests tend to leave early anyway), don't bother investing in sparklers.

#3) Probably most important: BE REALISTIC ABOUT WHAT YOUR BUDGET CAN ACHIEVE. A $10,000 budget won't get you an affair that rivals the Met Gala. I'm sorry, but it just won't. Going into your wedding with realistic expectations will help you avoid any unneccesary disappointment brought on by shopping outside your budget!

#4) Keep this in mind (actually the most important): This is your wedding, and THE POINT OF YOUR WEDDING IS YOUR MARRIAGE. A long, happy life with your person is the only thing that really matters in the scheme of it all. Remember that, and all the little blunders brought on by cost, family drama, and missing vendors (kidding!) can be faced a lot easier.

And, if all else fails, give me a call. Realistically priced services that embrace your uniqueness as a couple is my jam, after all! (Speaking of which, if you're my email buddy, you got a special surprise in your inbox today.) Simply put, I don't believe you should have to take out a loan, go into credit card debt, or borrow from your parent's 401K (yikes!) to have an amazing wedding. There is no right way to have a wedding; it's not a one-size fits all type of deal. And just because things are done a certain way by the majority, doesn't mean you have to follow suit. Always, always, always do what works best for you and your fiance. And if this means throwing out a tradition that doesn't serve you, have at it! (Bonus points if it helps you stay under budget.)

When the going gets tough, just have a seat, take a couple of deep breaths and repeat this: I get to spend the rest of my life with my person!

Honestly, what's more important than that?

-Casey

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Casey

Sidekick to NOLA brides planning an epic wedding on THEIR budget. Lover of dog-friendly weddings, to-do lists, and Halloween as a lifestyle.