- 7 years ago
- Wedding: September 2014
I’d like to preface this by making clear that I am in no way bashing friendoring or DIY. If a bride is informed about what her choice entails and is ok with that then I say DIY it up. I even already know that when I get married I’m going to DIY some Sam’s club flowers because frankly I prefer the look of a few stems here and there in an array of different vintage containers as opposed to expertly constructed center pieces. I know what I will be sacrificing, but the idea of a slightly wonky bouquet just doesn’t bother me.
So, I’ve seen around here many brides complain that as soon as the word wedding is attached to their event that the price of things suddenly sky rocket to highway robbery proportions. I agree with this statement in many cases. I’ve had friends tell tales of getting quotes from a caterer, and then once they say the word wedding the cost suddenly doubles, or getting charged three times as much for the WHITE tent for their backyard affair. However, it isn’t always an over charge, it’s often them just trying to make a reasonable living.
For starters, as a self employed photographer I am not just covering my salary. I am covering advertising for my business (otherwise I don’t have any work), insurance (so I can cater to your venues requirements and everyone can feel at ease), and pricey equiptment (to capture your big day). On top of this overhead I have to make a salary working a job where I am on average contracted to 2-3 weddings a month. I consider this the average as this would allow a photographer to offer their prospective clients weekend exclusivity, and accounts for the fact that many weekends in the off season simply are not booked in many cases.
While a rate of say $250 dollars an hour may seem extravagant when considering just the time spent shooting the actual wedding, there is also preparation work (consultations etc) and many many hours after the wedding spent on editing photos and designing an album if one is purchased. I’d estimate each wedding reqires give or take the same amount of work as an average work week to do the job in a manner that exceeds client expectations (which is what a great photographer will strive for). And that isn’t even really including the many hours spent putting together advertising material, or maintaining a website for the business in general.
When all is said and done if I were to charge $250 dollars an hour for a ten hour wedding, this comes to a salary of about $75,000 a year (if I book 30 weddings.. for those doing the math it comes to about 62.50 an hour once the pre and post work is factored in, and we haven’t yet included business overhead costs or hours spent working on basic things to maintain our business). Subtract at least ten thousand dollars of that for business expenses (this being a low end estimate of overhead costs), and I couldn’t reasonably cover the costs of owning a home without a live in significant other or a roommate. In fact, I generally pick up seasonal work at a local mall around christmas to make up for the off season lull.
So, while it may seem like a gross over-charge when a photographer or DJ is charging 2,500- 3,000 dollars for your event, really they are just covering the minimal costs for this to be their full time job. If you are hiring someone who charges much less, this is not their full time job. Their attention to every detail won’t be the same as someone who devotes their day to day life to this. It is a strong possibility they are not spending top dollar on their equipment. They may take longer to present you with edited images as they are likely working around the schedule of a day job, or they may cut corners in the editing process due to lack of time to devote to it.
I’ve addressed this on other boreds but I’ll say it again, if booking a top notch photographer or hiring the perfect DJ aren’t all that important to someone, I urge them to DIY or Friendor it up. Hire the guy on craigslist offering 8 hours for $400. However, this route is just not going to provide you the same result as hiring someone who lives the profession in question. It is a reasonable statement that there are going to be occasions where a bride may spend 3,000 dollars on her photography and STILL not like her pictures, but the margain for error is much narrower when working with someone who has done this job hundreds of times and who’s reputation rests on doing it well, as opposed to trusting the job to someone who’s giving it their first go and hoping for the best.
I just urge brides to consider all of this when making a decision. An informed decision is the best decision after all. I think different aspects of a wedding are of different importance to everyone. Some photographers and DJ’s will say “don’t you DARE think of using an ipod/college student photographer etc” but really it’s about what’s important to you as a bride. If you believe your event would be just as nice or perhaps better if you just let a custom playlist play all night, then bust out your ipod! I just occasionally get a little tired of people thinking us photographers and DJs are over charging you by an arm and a leg when really we’re just trying to give you top of the line service while making a living 🙂