I said it. Have a wedding EVERY year.
You wouldn’t, right? You aim to have a wedding once. That is the goal. As fun as a wedding is, the entire year or so before, from the moment someone “puts a ring on it”, there is a snowball of planning, coffee drinking and the crazy curve ball of high stress.
On the other hand, the far other hand, we celebrate ourselves every year for surviving all of this. The weddings, the engagements, the pregnancies, the births, the career changes, the promotions… the things that don’t happen every year.
So how sneaky is it of us vendors to jack those prices up for these little soirees we call weddings?
Where do we hide your money? We take it all, then go out for coffee, right?
(Well, there is a bunch of coffee involved. Let’s be clear on that.)
As a vendor, the moment I get an inquiry email (that’s from you- newly engaged!) here are just a few of the things that go down:
- Reply with a list of packages and details. (yes, even though they are listed on the website)
2. Be sure the date is available and someone will be able to watch my son. (This is not applicable to every vendor, but it should be noted!)
3. Schedule a meeting at Mozart’s or the Driskill (coffee… give me all the coffee) on the next Monday or Wednesday available at 2pm or 9pm. That is when my child sleeps and I can have someone watch him.
4. Spend time putting everything together for said meeting. That means albums, contracts, package options, outline to get details of the wedding, etc.. Get put together for the meeting, since it’s not acceptable yet to show up in my pajamas. The meeting is about an hour, but driving there and back with Austin traffic is always a guessing game.
- Got the gig? Now it’s time to customize and help the client fill out their contract. Factor in tax, mileage and travel fees where applicable. Be sure everything is filed correctly for their day nine months from now even though I will shoot 30+ weddings between now and then.
- Stay in contact, answer questions as the couple receives them from other vendors. This includes timeline questions, family portrait questions, DJ timeline compared to the catering timeline, emailing the wedding coordinator who has a million things to think about as well. These questions come in every single day from different couples and vendors.
- Week of the wedding- send out family portrait reminder emails- be sure the wedding party knows when to be dressed for photos even though step 3 included that information- that was a year ago. Everything has been forgotten on their end which is completely understandable. Remember- you are aiming to do this once! I do this every weekend.
- Night before the wedding: set every battery on a charger. Want to know how many batteries it takes to shoot an 8-12 hour wedding? I have: 4 LP-E6N Lithium- Ion Batteries. 26 rechargable DoubleA batteries (it takes 16 at a time to run the flashes and triggers during a reception to get the images I take), 1 NP-F550/570, and a video light charged by USB. Also, my phone must be fully charged to be able to keep up any “must have” images that the client wanted but might forget about until after the fact.
- Day of packing. Pack up 4 bags. One Pelican case with most of the heavy duty camera gear, one bag with light attachments for night photography, one bag of light stands, and one bag to keep on for lens changing that holds the go to things I need during the day. Also need to pack granola bars and water, even though my contract says to feed me I need to be prepared for things to not be available when I have the time to eat.
- Show up. Assure the bridesmaids and moms and aunts that I will take photos of the ______. Insert anything. Bridal bouquet. Shoes. Her dress. Her hair (which will be on her head all day, but, ya know..). The wedding rings. A photo that they had at their wedding. We have about 7 self entitled bosses at any given wedding. It’s our job to be sure everyone feels heard. That is where I shine. I actually love people. People are trying to make this day the best day ever. I am not going to be the one to take that from them.
- Sweat through it. I carry everything I need. I wear all black. I am not going to miss the moments running to the back of the church to change a lens. I want you to only worry about wiping your tears and watching the vows. (I’ll even show you how to wipe your tears to not have raccoon eyes during the ceremony- but we’ll get to that on the day of).
- Obey the Rabi, Priest, Pastor, Officiant, Family Member who is performing the ceremony. That means staying within every set boundary that you’re given. All the while still getting that angle they saw on Pinterest.
- Get family portraits done. That is another fact I am proud of. With all the prep that goes into the wedding- hopefully Uncle Joe knows to wait until after family photos to go to the rest room. I also have to politely but efficiently get the wedding couple back into the ceremony space without greeting every guest who tries to stop them. I am happy to be blamed for the “I-have-to-wave-instead-of-hug” look as they are helped back for the portraits. The family should already be back inside ready to go. These are a few of the tips I give to be sure we get to have time for portraits. We only have a certain small window and I will get every combination of extended and immediate family, including multiple babies/divorces and remarriages. That should be worth the price in and of itself.
- Wrap up before the reception starts! This includes wedding party photos and the couple’s portraits alone. I need to get the most out of the half hour I have (if I get that long) to create moments that will be printed and framed for a lifetime. No pressure!
- Capture every moment of the reception with those afore mentioned 7 bosses (see #10) letting you know that there is a grandmother dancing that you need to capture. I have already taken five photos of said grandmother, since I spent time with her during family photos to be sure I know who is family, and I probably already love this grandmother. Be sure to get food when the wedding party eats so I can possibly eat before the toasts begin. And then try to stretch standing up, because if you pause for a moment you will have 4 other guests joking to you in these exact phrases: “Man! I wish I had that job!” “And this is why they pay you the big bucks, ey?!” “I’ll take over with my camera (holds up iPhone) don’t your worry!” as they laugh and walk away.
- This one is only applicable to me and very few other wedding photographers. I need to find the perfect 4 minutes to steal the couple away for a night portrait. I need to be sure to tell the DJ and the wedding coordinator I am doing so. I check every timeline to be sure we have cut the cake, tossed both the garter and the bouquet, did any special parent dance, money dance, knife dance, etc.. and then run to set up my lighting, get it right, then get the couple and help them get outside to even take the photo.
- Prepare for the exit shot. I should already know whether they are doing a lavender throw, bubble blow, sparkler tunnel, tassels, towels or any other last hoorah! to send them off as a married couple. It is my job to run out, see what lights are still on outside the venue, set up my own, help drunk wedding guests form two lines and try desperately not to get burned. (That statement is not even exclusive to sparklers. Drunk guests with cigarettes are a hazard to any vendor!) Then try to pack up everything to drive home.
- Get home. Chances are this is not the only wedding I am shooting in a weekend. Whether I am shooting one or three, the process is the same. Park in the garage, explain to myself why I need to open the door when I can hardly move my feet or my hands. Get everything out of the car. Immediately pull any memory cards from the camera to upload. Then get out my hard drive to create a backup of every single photo taken. This takes hours. HOURS. Then try to get in the tub without looking at my phone. At this point I already have13 (an actual average for one day in a weekend) emails and 107 other notifications between Instagram and Facebook alone. (Yes, actual average, not an exaggeration, imagine the photographers who have thousands of notifications? I can’t.) Try to sleep when you are really thinking of what sneak peek the couple will want to see.
- Post sneak peeks to every media outlet. Facebook, Instagram, Website, Pinterest, Twitter and that list is ever growing. Include captions, website links and don’t forget to tag everyone involved. Three Instagram posts can take a half hour if every vendor is tagged and linked properly. Also be sure that every guest is linking your photos properly when they are sharing. This is about two hours a week for me. Every couple and every guest wants to share which is wonderful! But helping them know how to do it properly can be more than time consuming.
- Now I can edit. I have taken over a thousand photos and someone is blinking in a hundred. I have test shots to delete. I have colors to bring out and awkward faces to crop out. I have to view every single photo subjectively from the clients perspective. Then their mom’s perspective.
I would love to hear from the Today Show if they believe that any of these reasons can compare to a birthday party of 150 guests. There is a comment section below. My email is Amy@BirdsongWeddings.com and I am happy to take Skype Meeting on Monday and Wednesday. See #3 for available times.
Here is what they think about our wedding industry.
I don’t need a hidden camera for my business meetings to know exactly what it’s worth to do what I do.
Every single person who has worked through a wedding day has their own list (probably more than 20!) of why weddings cost more than a birthday.
I wouldn’t change a thing. I love weddings. Bring it on as long as I am able.
Thank you to EVERY client of mine who I cherish and hold dear. I have made life long friends doing what I do. I am proud to do what I do. Every wedding vendor who treated me wonderfully. Every mother who hugs me tightly at the end of the night. Every “like” and “share” and “tag” on the media pages. THANK YOU! You are why I love to show up. Even your extended family that might be a little rowdy. I love you all and I am thankful that you have encouraged me along the way. I am thankful that when I raise my prices I am always met with a resounding “you deserve it!” from people who have seen me work.
Leave a comment and give a shout out to other amazing wedding vendors!!! Let’s show our support for others who are “scamming” the wedding industry.
Love and Honesty-