One of the most important facets of a wedding has nothing to do with the day itself but is your memories years and decades later. This is why the photographer and videographer are so important. The images they create, edit, and deliver to you will be the tangible record of one of the most memorable days of your life. A combination of experience, quality equipment, and a professional lab really does make a difference in the results. For those reasons, many are of the opinion this is the one area where you DON’T want to scrimp.
Bobbi Brinkman of Bobbi Brinkman Photography explains, “My service and products are the only thing, aside from the rings, that are more valuable after the wedding is over. Documenting your wedding day moments should not be haggled over so that you can have that trendy cake (for example) that, if lucky, lasts an hour.” She goes on to point out, “We tell your story with our camera and when the day is done these, your photos, will gain value and become more priceless when someone in them passes or the location of the photos changes dramatically or is torn down. We capture today’s history so that when you look back on these photos they tell the whole story—the who, what, where, and when. Do not haggle or make a deal with your wedding photography. It is your legacy.”
At the same time, both still and video cameras, as well as corresponding social media apps for sharing, are more accessible than ever before to anyone with a smart phone. This makes the DIY route an attractive option, especially considering the price of an experienced photographer. The answer to this dilemma may liessomewhere in between full service and DIY and/or in photo selection.
To help you decide if a particular photographer is right for you, perform a side-by-side comparison of DIY versus her photos. Do this by first taking a few photos with the camera(s) you are considering using (you could get the wedding party together for an informal photo in a setting similar to the location where many of the photos will be taken, but that is not strictly necessary). Then, have the pictures developed or print them on your printer, whichever you think you might do if you decide to go that route. These photos will represent the DIY option. Take them to an appointment with your “short-list” photographers, and do a side-by-side comparison with their edited photos. This will give you a true idea of the difference in quality. You can do a similar exercise with video.
That said, your choices are not limited to only a full-blown professional package or complete DIY. There are myriad options in between. Here are some ideas for getting the quality of an experienced pro with high-level equipment, while also curtailing spending.
Stick to the basics
It is easy to add hundreds (or thousands) of dollars in incremental costs with a few attractive extras, so keep it basic when you select your professional photos and videos.
• List your core photo requirements (e.g., which shots you would cherish most ten years from now) and get a basic package including those and little else. You will be able to gather more casual, in-the-moment shots from others at the wedding. Or, if finances allow at a later time, buy a more comprehensive package from the photographer then.
• Skip the special video effects, music, or other add-ons, and purchase the raw or minimally edited footage. Aside from the time a videographer spends shooting footage, editing is the most costly component of the video.
Look for the best value
Once you know what style photography and videography you prefer, your priorities, and your approximate budget, you will be better armed to find options that offer the most value. After you identify a potential professional, one of the first things to find out is her price range for basic packages. This will allow you to screen out those you can’t afford.
In addition to the techniques for saving through vendors, here are some additional tips:
• If there is a particular photographer whose work you adore but is outside your budget, ask if you can get a referral to someone she respects who has a similar style but lower pricing. While it is unrealistic to expect her to drastically cut her prices, she is very likely to have less-experienced assistants or colleagues who may be able to shoot or record your wedding for less than she charges.
• Look at both package prices and á la carte costs based on hourly rate and number of prints or copies. You may be able to cover your top-priority shots for less by going piecemeal.
• Look for additional discount opportunities from your favorite pros. You can often get deals by monitoring their newsletters and social-media posts for specials and book at that time.
• Have only one photographer and one videographer cover your wedding. While the best results are the outcome of two or more professionals, the second person also costs you more money.
• When you consider costs, be sure you are comparing “apples with apples.” Make side-by-side, itemized lists that include events to be covered, hourly rate, total number of hours, enhancements, exact number of prints, and add-ons such as albums, frames, or cases. You may find a vendor you had considered to be more (or less) expensive but who includes more (or less) in the price than others.
• Consider hiring both a photographer and videographer from the same company. It often costs less than sourcing separately.
The above is an excerpt from the Dream Wedding on a Dime; 7 Secrets for the Budget-Savvy Bride ebook.