Wedding Budget Priorities – Why Photography should be at the top of your list
If you’re planning a wedding, congratulations! You have probably set a budget (if not, do!), and you are trying to decide how to slice the financial pie amongst all of the things on your list for “dream wedding day”. There is no doubt that weddings can be expensive, and every bride wants the day to be the stuff of her dreams. I want to help you use your wedding budget so that you can achieve that wedding of your dreams.
The number one question asked of professional wedding photographers is “how much do you charge?” This is an important question, and a surprising number of brides choose a photographer based only on price. But this is a choice based on only one value: dollars, and the purchase of an important and lifetime investment should be based on other factors – most importantly, quality and long-term meaning.
Let’s think about your photographs from a different perspective. Before choosing a photographer, or worse, choosing not to hire a photographer, think about your wedding day priorities. What do you consider to be the most meaningful components: the venue, the decorations, the food, the flowers, the guests, being surrounded by friends and family, the intimate moments, the promises made? Then think about which of these components you want to last beyond your wedding day. The venue is left behind, the decorations are temporary, the food is eaten, the flowers fade, the guests may be with you for a long time but over the years dear ones will move away, … pass away.
And the experience of the intimate moments will sometimes be tough to hold on to, especially over a lifetime when the “for worse” parts of your promises sometimes trespass a little too loudly on the “for better” parts. Set your priorities for spending on the most important components of the day. Those should be the day’s intimate moments, the sharing of the most important day of your life with the people you love most, and the promises.
How do you hold onto these intangible things? Professional photographs can certainly help.
There are all kinds of resources available to help you save money on the more fleeting parts of your wedding. Arranging flowers is a skill that most of us can master. We all have family members that are great with making decorations.
Some of us are lucky enough to have family members who can make unbelievable cakes. This doozy was made by my niece for a nephew.
And there are some incredible resources for finding less expensive wedding gowns. I found some great tips at Real Simple, The Knot, and Canadian Living, for example. None of these resources suggest that you save money by NOT hiring a professional photographer. In fact, several of them encourage brides to find ways to save on everything else, just so that you can afford to ensure that your dream day is captured with professional photos.
Check out Rock ‘n Roll Bride, a great U.K. based site on which I found perhaps my favourite quote about why professional photographs are important. There is a very poignant cautionary tale on the site from a real life bride, who talks about why she is sorry that she decided to forego a professional. She talks about how her photographs captured by guests and family do not inspire the memories she had hoped they would; that they only make her reflect on what a poor decision she made. She summed it up brilliantly in: “you can’t polish a turd.” That may sound a bit crass to some of you, but wedding days are fleeting, and bad photographs cannot be retaken when the day is over. A more genteel way of putting it: there are no silk purses made from sows’ ears.
One of my favourite wedding sites is Off Beat Bride. It’s a site for brides that are a little unconventional … my kind of bride. A recent post asks: “What do you wish you spent more money on?” The most popular answer: photography! A bride called “Lucy” commented:
“YES YOU WOULD BE COMPLETELY SAD LATER … we went cheap – completely cheaped out on photos – for the same reason – and so we ended up with mostly lousy shots and cellphone fuzzy pics …. thing is you think you can remember stuff, but you can’t and every time I look back at some of the pics I just feel so warm and happy remembering – and seeing some of the people who have now since passed on – it really is important – spend the money for a photographer – and have them get shots of every 150 of your guests and several of you and your spouse – and stupid things too like the greenery or the feet of your friends – anything interesting or unique about your wedding – and one day you will indeed be so HAPPY you spent that cashola on the photographer!!!”