Tackling The Wedding Photography Budget: Cost vs. Value

Having planned two separate receptions for our own wedding, we know all too well the meaning of the word “budget”. Every newly engaged couple will encounter this dreaded word; not only with themselves as they discuss their wedding plans over their 100th ramen dinner for the year (Karis and I sooooo did this), but also with the dozens of professionals they’ll prospectively hire for their big day. In an ideal world, we’d all be swimming in endless mounds of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck, but we all know this certainly isn’t true (for most of us anyway). The good news is that there are literally hundreds (if not, thousands) of wedding professionals in any given market who are ready to make that magical day come true. The bad news? There are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of wedding professionals in any given market who are ready to make that magical day come true. Yes. The task can be overwhelming, and we totally understand. But no, really…we really, totally understand.

I was initially a bit hesitant about writing this entry, mostly because budgets can be an uncomfortable subject between couples and their prospective creative team. And along that same vein, we didn’t want to treat it like some six-letter word that should never be mentioned in public…ever. But after speaking with so many prospective clients these past few years, I do feel its an important topic that bears some serious discussion.

Having spent pretty much my entire life in sales, I know with 110% certainty that purchasing decisions are not made on price alone, but rather the perceived value consumers feel they are getting when they’re making that purchase. For example, if prices were the sole deciding factor in people’s coffee habits, Starbucks would’ve gone out of business a long time ago.

Case in point:

I drink a ridiculous amount of coffee. As in, there are no words in the English any language that could ever, possibly describe the amount of coffee I consume on any given day. Here’s another fun fact, I’m notoriously cheap frugal. When I was younger (as in, all of 2 years ago), 7-11 coffee was acceptable to me. It provided me with a warm, caffeinated sensation at a cost that I was willing to pay. Though I could’ve certainly afforded Starbucks coffee at the time, I assumed that all coffee tasted the same. This made my coffee-purchasing decision very easy: I simply bought the cheapest one in order to accomplish the task at hand. Fast-forward to the present day, I now drink my coffee black (thanks to the birth of my second son, who’s made it nearly impossible to carry him AND fix my coffee at the same time). In the end, I did realize there was a difference between a freshly brewed cup of gourmet coffee, and a pot of sludge they’ve left on the burner since 7am that morning. My perception of quality changed as I realized they were not equal, and I was willing to pay for the quality product as long as I could afford it.

For $5, would you prefer: a few cups of convenience store coffee, or one cup of specially handcrafted nectar of the Colombian gods?

This simply meant cutting back on my other discretionary spending in order to get my caffeine fix. Because it was important enough to me, I was willing to forgo those delicious 2 for $2 tacquitos in exchange for a properly-made cup of coffee. The quality and taste were the values I perceived and desired with my Starbucks coffee, even though they were more expensive than the convenience store variety.

So how does this relate to wedding professionals?

Wedding professionals will come in all sorts of variety and flavors, with each promising the most awesome product that humankind has ever seen. They’ll also come in with different price points, reflective of what the market will bear for their quality of work. And just like my aforementioned coffee analogy, no two professionals are equal. It’s absolutely crucial for couples to evaluate what’s important to them on their wedding day, and to prioritize their budgets accordingly. This doesn’t mean that folks will end up booking a world-renowned photographers for their White Castle wedding, nor does it mean scouring Craigslist for a photographer for a paradise wedding in French Polynesia. These are all false choices of course, as I honestly believe that couples have the opportunity to create the wedding day of their dreams, regardless of their budgets. The secret is being honest about your budget with all the prospective wedding professionals, and allow them the opportunity to accommodate your budget and needs. Just kindly resist that urge of telling everyone you have no money (even if it’s quite possibly the truth). 1. They won’t believe you. 2. They’ve heard that line a million times :).

And for all those curious minds out there: YES! Ben Lau Photography offers tremendous value for the dollar, especially in the NYC market. And to all our newly engaged friends who contact us, the coffee will be most definitely be on us :).


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Northern NJ, NYC documentary Wedding Photographer, Educator & All-Around Nice Guy

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