I overheard a conversation today where a woman was explaining to a male co-worker that she spent $200 on a pair of shoes. His response was that shoes cost $20, where would you even find $200 shoes? It reminded me of when I was engaged and my grandparents were comparing the cost of goods and service for my wedding to what they paid for in 1945 when they were married.
Grandma thought my wedding dress would cost no more than $250 since her dress cost $25 and grandpa and his brother couldn't imagine why a cake would cost more than $50 since it's made of "flour and eggs."
Don't be surprised if your parents and his experience some sticker shock when it comes to meeting with and hiring your wedding vendors. Your parents were probably married 25 years (or more) ago when the average wedding cost no more than $10,000. And how often are your parents hiring caterers and photographers and musicians for an event with 100 people or more, right? They, and you, are probably not aware of what the going rate is for each type of vendor.
It's important to be upfront and honest with yourselves, your parents and your vendors as to what you can really afford. Look to wedding magazines and wedding websites as a guide on how much you should be spending on different details of the wedding. And don't be afraid to ask recently married friends and relatives for ballpark figures on what they paid so you can learn if you're being over charged.