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Old January 2nd, 2013, 08:43 PM   #1
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Expensive vs cheap weddings

Dave Partington recently wrote:

"Actually, the more expensive weddings turned out to be both easier to shoot and to edit. Things flowed better, better material to use, more time & space when filming etc. Cheap weddings are totally different. Different venues, different people, different expectations and totally different budgets."

I've found this has pretty much matched my own experience. Often I feel as if budget clients are out to screw you, whereas the wealthy ones simply trust you to do your job and appreciate your artistry. The budget ones are the ones who haggle over prices, ask for extras at no charge, treat you rudely, feel miserable through the wedding day, argue over the edit, and then end up not paying you. The wealthy ones pay you in advance, produce better material on the day, continually offer you food and drink, make no complaints about the edit, then thank you profusely for the video. This is a gross generalisation, but I think there's truth in it...

On the other hand, it's not always the "production value" of a wedding that produces great imagery. I've been surprised, many times, by how many interesting/creative compositions are to be found in apparently small and plain rooms. And it's arguably part of the job, anyway, to produce beautiful imagery out of what you've got, to make the dance floor look like it's thumping when it's not, to make everyone look happy when they're not. Rob and Vanessa, in one part of their Creative Live course, talk about standing by the the door of the church for five, ten minutes waiting for the one guest who comes in with a smile and a hug, instead of just marching in stony-faced like the rest of them.
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Old January 9th, 2013, 05:02 AM   #2
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Re: Expensive vs cheap weddings

Hi Adrian,

Interesting topic, I've wondered about this myself, and whether shooting weddings at the top end of the market would be much different than the middle or lower ends. I also wonder some times whether shooting weddings at the higher end of things might result in dealing with a different breed of people, that are perhaps more interested in a quality product than the cost of that product? Could this also mean you're going to deal with nit-picky brides because the expectations are different? It's probably all relative to the work you do versus the cost versus your ability to communicate versus their expectations versus their cultural background versus their education levels versus their understanding of video versus the influence of their parents and family in general or on the day versus the weather versus they bride's menstrual cycle versus the other professionals involved.

You might be hired by a well educated, articulate, wealthy and tech savvy couple who appreciate the value of quality work, want cinematography and a great story, and you show up to shoot their wedding day and find that because of a range of things (cultural background plays a massive part), you're dealing with rude guests who get in the way, make noise during speeches, nothing runs according to schedule, the best man is a neanderthal who yells out obscenities during the speeches, the photographer is overzealous and annoying, the venue co-ordinator won't co-operate etc. (How many times have they told you they'd keep the lights on during the first dance only to turn them off as it starts!!).

Like I always say, you can take the people out of the village but you can't take the village out of the people. And that comes shining through at weddings so often. I like to think that shooting at the high end or the "expensive weddings" would generally result in a higher class of people who know how to behave and appreciate that a professional has been hired for the day, but it's not necessarily the case.

In terms of the work you can produce relative to the cost of the wedding, I think story telling is much more difficult at the lower end for obvious reasons, and I think Rob Adams, Stillmotion or any of those companies that are big on story telling and cinematic pieces would struggle to produce the work they do if they had to work with simpletons who can't string a sentence together. Fortunately for them simpletons can't afford them and most likely don't even know they exist :)
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Old January 9th, 2013, 07:11 AM   #3
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Re: Expensive vs cheap weddings

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Originally Posted by Adrian Tan View Post
"Actually, the more expensive weddings turned out to be both easier to shoot and to edit. Things flowed better, better material to use, more time & space when filming etc. Cheap weddings are totally different. Different venues, different people, different expectations and totally different budgets."
I have done small 50 people weddings in small venues with limited budgets and large 500 people weddings with what seems like unlimited budgets, the big expensive weddings are often doctor or lawyer families, they tend to be a lot more formal and people are much more "civilized" even after a couple of beers.

But in terms of shooting and editing they are about the same for me, I have been at large weddings where they crammed all people in a too small room leaving less space to move between the tables but also small weddings with all the space I need to work. I also don't see any difference in budgets here for the videographer, they all want it as cheap as possible, no matter how large the wedding is.
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Old January 9th, 2013, 08:15 AM   #4
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Re: Expensive vs cheap weddings

I did a biggie on Saturday ... over 500 guests at the reception and it was roughly the same amount of work except I go around tables one at a time so that took a little longer..the wedding had no formal speeches so you win on one side and lose on the other..Like Noa work wise it's much the same regardless. I did a tiny wedding a few years ago ... 15 people including the bridal party and seriously it was the same amount of work..they still did speeches, they still cut the cake and did a first dance so numbers don't really matter.

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Old January 9th, 2013, 09:57 AM   #5
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Re: Expensive vs cheap weddings

Adrian,
I truly don't believe that our focus should be on the size of the wedding, because generally what matters most is how important video is to them. There can be a wedding where there are 500 guests and a $75,000 budget and no videographer. Or a wedding with 75 guests where video is important and we can be a large part of the budget. I've been hired for very large weddings at my lowest package. Only to see the photographer who I know costs $6500 and the largest venue and $20000 in catering, Not because they didn't have the budget, but because video wasn't important to that couple (before the wedding but we know how that goes). I don't think it's budget that dictates how you are treated, I think it comes down to how important video is to them. I've had very low budget weddings where I've been treated like a king, and high budget weddings where I'm treated like a servant and it's like anything, it comes down to the individual and can't really be categorized I think.
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Old January 9th, 2013, 12:01 PM   #6
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Re: Expensive vs cheap weddings

+1 for you Bill. I truely believe the sme. I've done high end jobs where they don't even want to say "hello" and I've done lower cost jobs where they had me sit for dinner with one of the families and couldn't tell me enough "thank you for coming to the wedding and doing such a great job"! Of course I wonder about that last part since they haven't seen a thing but I know what they mean.
Cost of the wedding has nothing to do with the way you're treated nor does it have anything to do with the quality of the work nor does it have anything to do with whether or not they're going to be the ones to call you and tell you they don't like the work or they DO love the work. that's people, not the cost.
BTW, just as an aside, I've gotten more tips from smaller less expensive weddings than I have from the big expensive blowout. I've done $10,000 weddings and $250,000 weddings. To me they're all the same. Treat them the same, do the same quality workmanship, be who you are with everyone, what they paid for the wedding doesn't mean a thing to me.
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Old January 9th, 2013, 12:43 PM   #7
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Re: Expensive vs cheap weddings

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Originally Posted by Bill Grant View Post
I've had very low budget weddings where I've been treated like a king, and high budget weddings where I'm treated like a servant and it's like anything, it comes down to the individual and can't really be categorized I think.
I've been treated like king on low and high and weddings but also like a servant on low and high end weddings, but you can be sure, like you said, that where you are treated like a king they value their video much more.
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Old January 9th, 2013, 01:53 PM   #8
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Re: Expensive vs cheap weddings

Be very careful where you put your focus in this business; is it on you or on the client? Once you lose the desire to treat each wedding like your own and regardless of size or budget and simply put forth your best effort, it's probably time to go do something else.

I lost sight of that and lost the business and reputation I built over the years. Wise people learn from other's mistakes.
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Old January 9th, 2013, 04:59 PM   #9
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Re: Expensive vs cheap weddings

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I truly don't believe that our focus should be on the size of the wedding, because generally what matters most is how important video is to them.
Bill
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