I read a great article last week by Lauren Grove, the editor of wedding blog Every Last Detail. In the article, she addressed 5 Wedding Truths and today I want to share one of those with you: The word "wedding" isn't the reason that wedding photography is expensive.
To be perfectly honest, this was a misconception I had as a bride. I had not started my photography business, so I looked at my wedding purely from the bride's perspective. I read a lot of wedding blogs and forum posts, and although I didn't try the tactic myself, I read frequently about people who booked vendors for a "big family party" only to tell them later that it was actually a wedding.
Now that I've had the opportunity to shoot a big family party and weddings, I can state without a shadow of a doubt that there is a HUGE difference in the amount of work that goes into planning these two events. For the family party, I chatted with the client a few times and we sent a few emails back and forth. And then I showed up a bit early and made sure we were all on the same page since the party was a surprise. Then I shot for a few hours, edited the images, and sent her the files. That was it. Now let's look at a wedding in comparison.
For the average wedding, I spend at least 3 hours planning the event with the client. In addition to the booking meeting and lots of emails back and forth, I also have a final meeting to go over last minute details. And that's not counting travel time or the engagement session.
For the family party, I shot for 2 hours. For weddings, I tend to shoot 7-9 hours.
For the family party, I took candid shots and a few family pictures. Everything is very casual. For a wedding, I'm shooting details, candids, family portraits, romantic bride and groom portraits, and the ceremony. All in different lighting situations. Candid shots and the ceremony photography is very hands off, but portrait time is very involved. I'm in charge of gathering and organizing a large group of people. Oh, and did I mention that all of this is very high pressure? Friends and family members of the bride and groom have gathered from all over just for this one event. There's no redo. There's no room for error. Everything has to be done right the first time. So it takes a lot more experience to shoot a wedding well than it does to capture a casual family event.
Because of all the different kinds of photography involved in a wedding day, a 7 hour wedding would produce many more final images than a 7 hour family gathering. Which means more culling and editing time.
And as I mentioned, there are many different lighting scenarios with wedding photography, which requires more gear and more expensive gear. My weddings were the sole reason I upgraded my camera body. I didn't need to upgrade just to shoot family events.
And these are just the major ways that weddings are more expensive to shoot than other family gatherings. Much more time goes into making the wedding day and the wedding images perfect for the bride and groom and all that time (and additional gear) means that I have to charge more for weddings.
So even though it looks like a wedding photography package might be jacked up in price, you're getting much more for your money than just the hours that I'll actually be shooting the wedding.