a personal view on wedding budgets + shame
I feel the need to talk a little bit about weddings, which probably comes as no surprise, since I'm a wedding photographer and all. But I want to get a little deeper, and give my personal opinion (gasp!) on what a wedding should be.
I was that girl growing up who dreamed about her wedding (again, no surprise there). At 17, I started photographing them, and at 24, I am on pins and needles waiting to be able to plan my own. Weddings have my heart, and I love each and every single one that I am lucky enough to photograph.
Every wedding is different. Everyone's budget is different. Everyone's opinion of what they should spend on different aspects of their wedding is different. Some people have assistance, some people have it completely paid for by family, some people pay for it themselves.
There is no room for shaming someone on what they can and cannot afford.
There are posts going around about a local bride who hired a photographer for her wedding, who ended up no-showing. It's a nightmare situation that no one should ever be in. But there are now comments and posts about how she should have somehow expected this, seeing as she paid about $800 for two photographers, two videographers, and a ton of product.
She did her research. She saw a few bad reviews, but also saw more good reviews, and went for it. In her eyes, it was a great deal. She had never booked a wedding photographer before - obviously - and she didn't know that she would be taking a gamble on her wedding day being covered. Sure, there were some red flags, but she was hopeful and optimistic. Her low budget was not her problem. All blame here lies with the photographer, in my opinion.
When I first started shooting weddings, I charged $500, and I believe it stayed that way for the first year. And even then (though the quality of work has changed significantly), I handled myself like a professional. My clients back then could not have paid thousands of dollars for photography. Did that mean they deserved disrespect and unprofessionalism? Absolutely not. I like to believe that I treated those clients with the same love and service that I give my clients today.
There are photographers at every budget who will provide an excellent service - I believe this. Maybe they're just starting out, maybe they want to serve various clienteles. Not every low-end photographer is out to scam their couples. I surely wasn't, back when I was 17. I wanted to learn, and those couples gave me a chance. It was an honor, and I did not take that lightly.
If a couple comes to me and they cannot afford my services, I understand that. I will do research to find a reputable option that best suits their budget. I will not tell them that they are making a mistake, or guilt them into finding more room in their budget. I am of service to them, whether they are my clients or not, and I feel obligated to educate them on what they should look for, and what they should steer away from...because through that approach, I can empower them. (Not to mention, on a strictly business note, they may want portraits from me later in life. Who knows?)
When I get married, I don't know that I will have a lot to spend on my wedding. When I was young, my dad told me I could go through the drive-thru in Vegas, and he'd pay for my limo. (And, hey, for some people, that's exactly what they want, and good on them!) I don't imagine I will have the $35,000 wedding that, according to CostOfWedding.com, is the average spent on a wedding here in McKinney.
Is it a bummer that I will have to sacrifice some things in order to not overspend? Totally! I would LOVE to hire an incredible DJ, breathtaking videography work, and send everyone away with a pie from Emporium. But I know I won't have the budget for top-of-the-line-everything.
Will I do my research when I make those big decisions? Absolutely. It is important to know that the service/product I'll receive is appropriate for the amount of money I'll be able to spend. And the budget may be snug, so I will need to be realistic about my expectations.
Will I be shamed when I reach out to businesses for a quote, and my budget doesn't fit their pricing? I hope not. Even with more insight of this industry than your average person, there are some services I may not understand the expense of, and I don't want to be treated with disrespect. (For example: I recently took a little Pinterest Quiz for Live. Love. Flowers that went over how much we thought certain floral arrangements would cost. I was right on a lot of it, but SO off on others! Education is key.)
A couple with a $35,000 budget for their wedding will get married. A couple with a $3,500 budget for their wedding will get married. And isn't that the point of every wedding...to get married, and celebrate with loved ones?
Let's honor, respect, and educate every couple at every budget.