Does ‘Wedding Tax’ really exist? 

What is wedding tax and how can you avoid it?

Whatever you do, don’t tell them it’s a wedding! That’s right, your wedding vendors, your beauty stylists, your dry-cleaners, your dress stores, or the people you get your stationery from; don’t mention it’s a wedding you’re planning. Though it feels like you’re lying or being unethical by not telling people involved in your wedding planning, it may actually benefit you (especially your bank account) more than you know.

Have you ever heard of a bride paying $250 at a hairdresser and then go in yourself and only pay $100? That, my friends, is a fine example of someone being ripped off by wedding tax.

A woman by the name of January Jones decided to investigate wedding tax herself. Jones contacted her and her partner’s desired venue (the same venue a friends’ engagement party was held at). Jones was told the minimum price for her to hold her wedding there was $25,000. Her friend only paid a minimum of $6,000 for her engagement party. That is a difference of $19,000! All because it was a wedding and not an engagement party. Jones was not told about the other prices, just that $25,000 was the minimum for what she wanted.

Jones then tried the “white dress” test with a dry-cleaner. She rang to ask for a quote on dry-cleaning a long, silk formal dress. She was told that the price would be around $30. Jones later walked into the same dry-cleaner and asked for a quote on a wedding dress, making a point that it was a simple style. The dry-cleaners told her the price would be between $280 and $500. Again, another example of a bride copping wedding tax.

Jones tried this test again when booking a DJ. She contacted one business saying she was organising a 21st birthday party and was quoted $600 for five hours. Her partner contacted the same company and mentioned it was for a wedding. They were quoted $1000 for five hours. An unnecessary addition of $400.

Your Money presenter and business journalist Chris Kohler recently planned his own wedding and also discovered that wedding tax was alive and well. The average cost of an Australian wedding is supposedly $31,368 – which shows almost 12 percent of an increase within two years. Kohler empathises with the costs and stress most people face during the wedding planning process.

“Wages are not increasing at all … and inflation in the wedding industry seems to be taking off very quickly,” he says. “It’s not getting any easier for people who want to have the wedding that they’ve always pictured.”

An interviewee says that people these days are competitive, and it has possibly got a lot to do with Instagram. People want to live the dream and have the dream wedding.

This doesn’t mean the wedding industry is no longer guilty. Though social media may be the cause of added pressure to have a bigger, better wedding than anyone else, the way some companies in the industry treat their customers is unethical.

Kohler breaks it down to a lack of honesty around how the industry communicates to consumers. “I think the lack of transparency is what bugs people in this whole process … For [vendors] to say ‘Look we’re charging you extra but it’s because of the following reasons and we understand you have a right to know why’ I think that’s a step that’s often missed.”

After being confronted with this issue of elevated pricing, a spokesperson from the Australian Competitor and Consumer Commission stated: “Businesses are generally free to set the prices for the goods and services they supply as they see fit, but they must set their prices independently of their competitors and any representations they make about applicable prices should be clear and upfront and not mislead consumers.”

However, this is not to say all wedding suppliers do this. Some companies have multiple reasonable motives as to why they up their prices. For example, there is added stress when catering for a wedding, there is more pressure to perform professionally without hiccups, and dealing with brides can be tricky. Fancier food also requires a higher cost, and weddings usually involve a larger amount of people to cater for. Most suppliers will be happy to explain their reason for price if you ask, and some may even be willing to negotiate.

This is not meant to terrify you about ever purchasing items for your dream wedding, but simply a warning for all the young couples out there who are soon going to be planning a wedding. Stay alert and watch out for those sneaky overpriced costs! Wedding tax is real and it may affect your plans for your ideal wedding.

Know your rights, and realise you have a voice. If someone is trying to up the prices simply let them know you are aware of wedding tax and you don’t want to be a victim of it. OR, just between us, simply forget to mention you’re planning a wedding and receive a standard price!

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