The question “Is this a good deal?”, the statement “I’m paying X dollars for a photographer and second shooter for eight hours, 1000-1500 edited images, and engagements, is this fair?”, and “I’m suffering sticker shock – the venue I just looked at just cost X. And that’s not including the food minimum!”. Most of these statements are followed by the comment “Well, when you attach ‘wedding’ to anything, the cost goes up”.
When you’re looking at venues and photographers and caterers and invitations, and you’re reaching out and getting quotes and suddenly there’s a lot more money involved and it’s surprising you, here are few things to keep in mind.
There’s a lot more than just the wedding day as far as working for your vendors. Leading up to a wedding I am coordinating, I spend roughly 50-75 hours speaking with vendors, clients, and everyone involved in a wedding. Broken down to regular work days, that’s about 6 to 10 days spent on the phone, coordinating site visits and final walk-throughs, rehearsals, and the day itself (which for a 5:00 pm wedding, starts at about 9:00 am for my staff and I). For a photographer, not only are they making sure their equipment is ready, but purchasing additional cards, straps, repairs, talking with vendors, and after the day itself (if they’re starting as early as I am for a 5:00 pm wedding), editing and culling thousands of photos to present you with the very best. On average, most photographers in the Baton Rouge area spend 4-9 weeks editing photos and galleries, and more so if they’re assembling prints and albums.
The vendors that you're getting quotes and proposals from are full of knowledge, but everyone's knowledge is different, and that's a part of the cost. A caterer fresh out of culinary school, or even if they’re based in their home without formal training, is going to provide a menu and offerings than a caterer who has been in the field for 15 years, has a diverse staff, and gives advice or includes floor plans and food displays. With photography, live music, calligraphy, and other fine arts that are services, generally the more you’re paying should be reflected in the quality, service, and presentation. You will be hard pressed to find next to free photographers that have experience in the wedding industry, provide fully edited images, process culling, and best and most importantly of all, ensure that every shot you want on your wedding day is taken.
Fun fact: you’re paying for the experience of working with these vendors. That’s right – the way that they treat you is something you’re paying for. You’re investing into your vendors, you’re giving them a substantial amount of money to work with them, and how fast they respond to emails and phone calls, send back and forth contracts and edits to floor plans, menus, and timelines, how little stress you feel while working with these amazing and awesome folks…that’s a big part of what your money is going towards. You’re paying to work well with a vendor, and if there are bumps in the road or in your relationship, then you are most certainly not getting your value in with them.
But wait, what about when someone is offering a deal or discount? What does that even mean? Well, it can mean a variety of things. It could be just a celebratory discount to appeal to clients who normally couldn’t afford their services, or maybe they just want more bookings. It varies, and you can’t put a lot of stock into why a discount or deal is being offered other than it is. However, when this deal or discount is repetitive is when you need to be cautious about the vendor, and take a hard look at their portfolio and what others are saying about them (especially other vendors).
At the heart of it though, what does it mean when you’re getting a deal or there’s a lot of value? Value and deals are subjective to who is looking at the overall cost; for instance, the services of Poppy Lane Events may seem like too good of a deal to some, but other potential clients may see them as a great value for the cost. Keep it all relative to what your budget is, what you’re looking for as an experience, and what is all included in the overall cost (asking for an itemized and detailed quote is a great idea). With that in mind, what’s a good value and deal will be easily answered, and you’ll be well on your way to having the wedding of your dreams.