There have been a plethora of articles and TV news segments recently about deceiving wedding industry professionals and tell them that you’re having a party instead of a wedding. Everyone from news.com.au to the Huffington Post, Australia’s Choice Magazine, ABC America, Globe & Mail and even Mamamia are telling you that you’re being ripped off. Don’t forget the great satirical pieces by places like Petapixel as well.

So should you lie about having a wedding to save money?

No!

But are you being ripped off?

I’m not going to answer that question, because that’s for you to decide. You probably aren’t though.

Instead, in this article I wanted to pull back the curtain just a little and let you see in to the big (not that bad) world of the wedding industry.

The top 80% of wedding industry professionals in any country are pretty crazy about this little thing called love. We love seeing people in love and each one of us has found a place for our talents to live and breath in the wedding industry. There’s always the bottom dwelling 20% that are amateurs or ripoff merchants. You know how to spot them.

We, the professionals, have spent years, decades even, learning how to do something really well. And then on top of that, we’ve learned how to do that thing really well, but differently for different people because each wedding should be unique and individual.

Then we’ve somehow managed to market our services somehow in this noisy world, and we’ve managed to convince one person to hire us to do this thing we think we’re ok at. And we’ve made mistakes and learned new skills along the way. Then we convinced some other people to do the same thing. That’s pretty much all business is: people convincing other people to give them money. And then we all pay rent and eat food and have an awesome time with life.

I was thinking about my first 200 couples I married, they are lovely and awesome people, but they really paved the way for the couple I’m marrying this weekend. R&A are getting married this Saturday and I’ll grab the microphone and talk about marriage with the confidence and experience of having done it hundreds of times. I feel sorry for Fiona and Clayton, my firsts, they really got a rotten deal in retrospect! (Disclaimer: they are family and they thought I did pretty good! Plus they got me for free!)

So when you enquire with a wedding professional and mislead them on the service you want them to provide, a few things happen:

  • You’re discounting their ability to quote you or deal with your enquiry properly
  • And you’re assuming they’re a terrible person that wants to rip you off
  • You will sit on a throne of lies

When the truth is that a wedding photographer will most probably cost more than a portrait photographer because their whole life is centered around being awesome at weddings and there’s a cost to that. Between paying for insurance and tax, being in business is a bitch! Plus for every hour spent shooting at your wedding they probably spend 2-5 hours in the studio editing etc. And then on the day they probably spend 12-15 hours travelling and shooting. They’re worth it!

How to actually save money on your wedding

Before you pay any money for anything:

  1. Know what is important for you if you are celebrating your marriage. Are seats important, photos, video, styling, cake, drinks, food. Know what is valuable to you for celebrating an awesome event.
  2. Google, google, google. Search, read, blog, review, ask around. Ask all those stupid questions.
  3. Be honest and clear about what you want. If you only want 39 guests but there’s a 40 guest limit, ask why, ask how you can get around it.
  4. Know that there are different “wedding celebration configurations”. I mean, there are other times than 3pm Saturday to have a wedding.
  5. Read the service contract, or the terms and conditions, or the package inclusions. Simply put: know what you’re buying and what you’re getting and what you’re paying for. And if you don’t want it, or do want something else, speak up.
  6. Know that you have full choice of who you hire. If that photographer doesn’t offer the package you like, choose someone else. If that venue doesn’t do that thing you want, choose somewhere else.
  7. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
  8. Hire the best … if you’re being wise with your money you’d only hire the best, because they became the best by being really good at their job and you know you’ll be getting your money’s worth.

A word to the vendors

I wanted to end with a few words for vendors though, because some of us need to up our game.

If a wedding cake and a party cake has a major price difference, you need to be able to explain why the marzipan is chipping away at my credit card. And if a wedding photography package costs more than a portrait session, explain to brides and grooms that a portrait session takes you two hours and a wedding takes you 30. I know that running a wedding business has it’s own unique business structure and costing, but your couples need to know as well.

A little bit of open and honest communication would go a long way.

There’s talk of venues fining couples if they book for a family party but a wedding party turns up. If there is an extra cost for you to host a wedding, make it known, otherwise using your room for a party should be the same price as a wedding. I’m probably going to get in hot water over this but I’d really love to hear from wedding vendors on this subject. Email me and I’ll share your input below as it comes in.

The feature image for this post is from Ben and Leah’s wedding at Sydney’s Vaucluse 12ft Amateur Sailing Club near Watson’s Bay and was taken by either Amy or Milton, probably Amy because she’s cool, and you can say hi to them at Milton Gan Photography.

Wedding vendors chime in

Candice from Once Upon A Dream Wedding Photography says:

Weddings do take a lot more time than portraits and other events which is why prices tend to be higher. The easiest price comparison I can make would be between our portrait sessions and Essentials wedding package. Our portrait session is $350, includes up to 2 hours (shooting and driving to different locations), editing time, generally 25-60 edited images on usb, and a few e-mails. There isn’t a whole lot of extra work going on and it’s not as physically/mentally draining as a wedding. Our Essentials wedding package is $795, includes approximately 2 hours coverage, and 100+ edited images on usb. You may think that’s a big jump in price, but notice where the base is 25 images and generally capped at 60 for a portrait session, the wedding coverage guarantees a minimum of 100 images. More photos equals more editing time which results in a higher price….no one wants to work extra hours for free right? Unless it’s a true elopement, there would also be more people which increases editing time too. There is also the consultation which takes around an hour to get to know each other a little, shout you a drink, and chat about the wedding plans (and you may not even book, leaving us out of pocket). There is also a chance we will need to go visit the location if we haven’t shot there before so we can make the most of the limited time to capture your wedding images. Elopements and small ceremonies also tend to result is short ceremonies meaning we have to get those legs moving to capture every aspect of the ceremony before it’s sealed with a kiss, keep running through the checklist in our heads, keep an eye out for candid moments you may miss, and then move onto the portrait part of the wedding. Extra equipment not needed for portrait sessions will also be used.