The Wedding Budget Lie, & Why Pinterest is Your Worst Enemy

Carrie-Ann Kloda
7 min readJan 30, 2021
A sign that reads “love is greater than money” laying on top of loose change and candy hearts.
Priscilla Du Preez, courtesy of Unsplash

I have a bone to pick with Pinterest.

And I say that as a pregnant lady who has spent hours scouring Pinterest for virtual baby shower ideas, the perfect stationery suite, and inspiration for my nursery theme. I’ve found some great stuff. But I also know what I’m doing — I’m an event planner, and I know what costs I’m looking at if I choose the invitation with gold leaf and the ribbon and the tassel.

And this is my number one bone to pick with not just Pinterest, but so many wedding suppliers: there is a major lack of transparency around pricing.

There are definitely good reasons to keep your pricing private, like fear of competition, or wanting to get a potential client on the phone so they can understand why we’re worth what we charge. But that’s super frustrating for couples who have a wedding budget and full-time jobs. It means a ton of time spent on the phone calling vendors and trying to figure out:

  • The average price
  • The price you can afford
  • Whether this aspect of their wedding is super important to you or if it’s okay to go DIY

And Pinterest makes all of this so much worse.

Let’s start with flowers. Have you ever seen a pin that clearly indicates the price of that bouquet (which will drastically differ depending on whether the flowers are local to you, and in season)? Even if you did know the cost of the flowers, and you could figure out the quantity needed to make that gorgeous hanging arch over the head table… did you factor in the cost of labour?

I could do this little analysis for every single element of a design: balloons, place settings, stationery and signage, lighting, those massive pillar candles that burn for 100 hours…

But what really gets under my skin is the big picture that you’re pinning. The one with twelve elements (from twelve different rental companies) on the tabletop that I’ll get to break down and source for you. The one that has marble coasters as name cards with rose gold calligraphy and the chandelier dripping with orchids and hundreds of strands of twinkle lights lining a clear-roof tent. The wedding you think you can have for $30,000 because when you looked up wedding budgets on Pinterest… that is what you were told was the average.

So let me be really clear here:

You can have a wedding on any budget.

But that wedding you see on Pinterest?

That one was probably more like… $300,000.

And if you’re looking at a really intricate place settings, and carefully undone chiffon trailing through tapered candles… you’re probably looking at a styled shoot. Now, no shade to my fellow wedding vendors — I totally love ogling a gorgeous styled shoot. But here’s what they’re not telling you:

  • There is no way in high heaven they could actually make 100 of that invitation — each one was painstakingly made by hand and took time to assemble, and they would have to charge you $50 apiece to make it worth their while.
  • The cost of having that amount of candles and flowers on each of your fifteen tables would blow almost your entire budget — so don’t plan on having a photographer, or a band, or… food.

What’s more, I don’t know where anyone gets off giving you a magic number for your wedding. Most of these diagrams don’t even indicate how many guests you’re having at this price. And that’s a huge factor!

But… it’s not the only factor. And I ran up against this in 2020 when I was working with a couple who had to trim their guest list by seventy percent. They hoped this meant they could also save seventy percent of their budget, but in reality, even with a lot of changes, we were only able to cut it by a little over fifty percent. That’s because a lot of costs are fixed, or have a fixed base price, regardless of the number of guests you invite.

And then there is the emotional toll that Pinterest can take on you.

Pinterest is like all other social media: it lives and dies by the almighty algorithm. To start, you’ll really only be shown a few archetypal weddings: the rustic barn wedding, the bohemian/DIY-on-a-shoestring wedding (lies lies lies), the ethereal beach wedding, and the luxury fairy tale wedding. Once you fall down the rabbit hole of one of those paradigms, you’ll be knee deep in other people’s weddings (or styled shoots), and you’re going to very quickly start finding all kinds of things you love and can’t afford. Comparison is the thief of joy, and looking at other people’s weddings without knowing their budget is going to create unrealistic expectations that can only lead to disappointment.

What’s more, social media is feeding you a list of things you’re supposed to have at your wedding that may not be necessary or reflective of you and your partner. So, while looking at other people’s weddings can be a good way to figure out what you like and how you want yours to be different, it can also convince you that you “have to” do certain things, like have an abundant sweet table (a big waste of money — I worked for a catering company for many years and I promise you, a lot of it goes in the garbage!) or favours (fun, but not essential), or that you’re going to be able to have your photos done at a barn with horses all around (really depends where you live and how much time you have for photos!).

And all of this scrutinizing leads to decision fatigue.

You end up overwhelmed at the deluge of choices in front of you, and this leads to two outcomes (you will fall victim to one or both). First, you’ll have anxiety over choosing the right stuff, which means stagnation in the planning and asking too many people for their opinions (which only adds possibilities, rather than taking them away). Second, exasperated, you’ll overspend on something — that might not be exactly what you wanted — just to get it out of the way.

Don’t fret. I have no intention of leaving you hanging. Not only do I have an alternative to the time vortex that is Pinterest, I also have a brilliant way to maintain your sanity throughout wedding planning.

First, instead of pinning until your head is spinning, you’re going to make a better wedding mood board. Step by step, here’s what you’ll do:

  • If possible, talk to a planner and create a realistic budget. Some planners offer consultation hours, so you won’t have to decide if the planner themselves is in your budget right away.
  • Seek out proof: what can you actually get for your dollar? Be really intentional about the search words you use and you’ll find people who have actually had their wedding on your budget, and you’ll find out how they did it.
  • Work out a colour palette — I like
  • Use Pinterest to pull home décor pictures that inspire you.
  • If you already have some wedding stuff saved on Pinterest, or you just can’t help yourself, limit yourself to one or two pictures of each item (style of a centrepiece, type of arch, tablesetting).
  • And finally, make your mood board somewhere else. I love, but you can use Google slides, or any software or application that floats your fancy.

With your now limited selection of inspiration, which isn’t constantly feeding you more similar items, pick out what you like about each thing and note it within your mood board. Draw on it. Gather inspiration from all around — when you see something, you can easily add it to your mood board without finding a similar pin.

I really love this system because when I show someone one of my mood boards, or when they share their with me, it’s instantly clear what they’re going for, and easy to ask clarifying questions. From your invitations designer to your florist, every supplier will be grateful you didn’t send them 300 pins to go through. Plus, they’ll love that there is room for the to do what they do best, which is create, rather than copy.

Finally here’s some valuable guidance: hire a wedding planner.

Getting advice from people who have done something once is a pet peeve of mine. This is my second pregnancy, and I don’t feel like an expert. My doula is, though, and she saves me from needless worry. (We joked earlier that Google is to pregnancy what Pinterest is to wedding planning.)

As I said to my clients the other day, who are dealing with overwhelm from their parents and families weighing in on the wedding plan: you hired an expert, so you don’t need the advice of someone who had a wedding at your venue, your aunt who knows a caterer, or Uncle Google. And you don’t want advice from someone who has a vested interest in the outcome, unless that interest is that you are supremely happy on your wedding day.

So that’s my actionable advice: hire an expert. A good planner will actually save you a ton of money. You can find more about that, and about this particular expert over on Instagram, where I spend way too much time giving out free advice.

What? I didn’t say all social media was bad!



Carrie-Ann Kloda

The wedding etiquette fairy — here to solve your problems with my salty pixie dust. Find me on IG @kithkinweddings