Today, we’re talking about something that’s very near and dear to my heart–Hiring professionals for your wedding. As someone who didn’t invest in a single professional vendor for our elopement, believe me when I say I entirely understand the appeal.
I’m not writing this post to complain or be negative, or shame couples who can’t afford professional vendors — I promise. I couldn’t afford professional photography for my own wedding – I get it. We simply get a lot of inquiries, who then explain they can’t fit professionals in their budget and decide to go with a family friend with a nice camera who’s offered to shoot for free.
I really understand – FREE! So hard to pass up. But what’s the real cost of free on the most important day of your life?
Let’s start off by reiterating that we didn’t hire a professional for our wedding day. We couldn’t afford it – we eloped (years ago, before elopements were an industry standard), but all the elopement quotes we got were in the $3,000-$5,000 range, and that avoided the entire point of us eloping. We were lucky enough to have our professional gear, and decided to more or less DIY our own photography. To this day, I love a few of our photos but it’s a large regret of both of ours. Granted, we were young and broke and knew we’d renew our vows and re-do our wedding, but it’s not the same.
Don’t just take it from me though, This Couple Found Out The Hard Way the risks associated with letting a family friend/non professional shoot their wedding.
To sum that article up, their friend had a nice camera, wanted to get into the industry and get some experience, but ended up losing all the photos. Because he wasn’t a professional and didn’t know what he was doing, they have no wedding photos and can’t even talk about their wedding day.
Again, I know it’s so tempting, free… saving thousands, it’s so appealing at first. Weddings are expensive! We get it. But far more often than not, hiring any friend to do any professional’s job almost never works out, unless they’re a professional who is also your friend — that’s lucky!
Here are a few of the top reasons we recommend reconsidering some of your budget and making space for professionals, not your friend…
1. WE ARE COMMITTED TO YOU.
Professionals are committed to YOU on your day – we do whatever it takes to get great images, make your day stress-free, easy & fun. We are guaranteed to show up on your wedding day, no questions asked. We’ve seen “friends” commit to photographing the wedding then flake out last minute, or just not show up on the day of. On the other hand, we are contractually obligated to carry out the duties you’ve hired us to perform!
2. WE HAVE EXPERIENCE.
What happens when your family friend’s camera gets broken the week before? Did they plan for extra batteries, extra memory cards? Do they have backup gear in case technology fails in the middle of the ceremony? Probably not. We do. Not only that, we have vast experience in how weddings go – we’ll be there helping you take deep breaths if something goes wrong, reassuring you that everything is okay, ensuring that people stay on track, and most of all, keeping everyone and everything in line to get the right shots. I could honestly go on and on about the crazy scenarios and backup plans that have been in place that end up saving the day – we’ve seen it all. We know when to be where, how to get people in line for those dreaded family photos, and have fun at the same time. The last thing you want to do is have to manage your friend and tell them what you want as it’s happening.
3. YOU GET AWESOME RESULTS (MORE OR LESS GUARANTEED).
Also known as, you get what you pay for! This is not a new concept in the slightest and I don’t even think I need to elaborate here. This goes for pretty much everything in life. Hiring the right people for the right job, even if you have to pay a little more, gives you the best outcome possible. It may not always be the most ideal option to spend the money for the professional, but in the long run you’ll more than likely thank yourself. This is especially true for something as once-in-a-lifetime important as your wedding day.
4. YOU WON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT STRAINING YOUR RELATIONSHIP.
When working with a professional, you BUILD a relationship together. Almost always, when working with a friend, your relationship gets strained in some way- whether in the beginning planning stages, the actual service stages when work is being done, or, most often, afterward. Take the people in the linked article who’s friend lost their images entirely for example, nobody was happy in that situation. You may be thinking that the article linked above may seem a little extreme, but you can’t ever be too sure. With a friend, you can’t guarantee they have a process in place to back up your images, to edit them with love, to know how to capture the good moments. You can’t really even ask any of this from them, you’re simply assuming they can work under pressure and eventually you should get your wedding photos. Friends have other things going on and won’t be putting your images on priority #1 after your day – it could be months upon months until you see your wedding images, if at all.
5. YOU WANT YOUR FRIENDS (AND YOURSELF) TO ENJOY YOUR WEDDING!
If they truly are your friend, you’ll want them to enjoy your wedding, not work at it. Especially with something as stressful as shooting your first wedding, they’ll be asking you questions, trying to keep up with the paces, and probably not having a very good time.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some instances where none of this happens and it’s a great way to save a little money at the end of the day. But is this something you really want to gamble on?
I highly recommend taking a look around the internet and read the many articles explaining the pros (price) and the many cons of having your friend shoot your wedding, and make an informed decision that works best for your needs.
I am biased, but if you are going to splurge on one thing for your day, it should be the photographer.
The photos (aside from your bride/groom) are basically the only thing you take away from your day. This is the only recollection and documentation of the endless time, money, and resources you’ve poured into the months of planning. If you don’t have the photos to prove it, why go above and beyond with details in the first place?
The photos are what you share for decades (and generations) to come, what you look back on fondly, what you have to share when a family member is no longer with you (yes this is difficult, but it’s true. So many of our brides ask for special photos with grandparents in their wedding attire, because they won’t be around forever) and once that day comes, it’s so special to know that those important people were with you and beautifully commemorated on your wedding day for eternity.
So, by now I hope you’re educated on the importance of hiring professionals for your day. But you still need to stay within a budget — what can you do?
Here are a few tips to get your dream photos in a dream budget:
1. BE HONEST AND RESPECTFUL.
This may just be us, but if you reach out to your dream photographer and explain how dearly you love their work, but they’re just a tad outside your budget, I am sure they will find a way to work with you (we usually do! Within reason, of course– 12 hours for $500 doesn’t really add up). Whether that means a little less coverage time, or maybe, your event is an ideal style for their portfolio and they’re willing to come down a bit on price for the fun of the event.
2. CONSIDER A PAYMENT PLAN.
Not all photographers/vendors will allow entire flexibility in this, as most require full payment to be provided by the date of your wedding, however, you can always request what payment plans are available and chip away at the cost.
3. ASK FOR HELP.
Guys. Throw the ego out the window. After our own elopement, I found out (had we asked) our parents would have chipped in and we could have gotten a professional photographer. Our parents wish they had amazing photos too. Everyone understands weddings are expensive, and most family members (parents, grandparents, close aunts/uncles) would be MORE than happy to assist you, especially if that means they get better photos as a result, too. Remember, this is your only wedding day. Do it right the first time and save yourself the potential lifetime of regret.
Need more tips to save on your wedding day? This is a GREAT article from The Knot: How To Save and Splurge On Your Wedding!
If you’ve read all of this, you are awesome. Again, I hope none of this comes across as complaining, whining or anything of the like. My hope is that this is an informative, insightful bit of information that doesn’t get shared (in my opinion) enough, and this is all information that was unavailable to me until spending 6+ years in the industry and learning/seeing it the hard way.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments below!