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Old February 13th, 2019, 05:16 AM   #1
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Wedding Guys, What's Happening?

There doesn't seem to have been much wedding chat recently, so just wondered how everyone was doing for the coming year.

Last year was our busiest ever, but we took on too much as we hate to turn work down, but it slowed up our editing and led to delayed deliveries compared to normal years. We kept everyone informed of delays, but it meant no time for a life for us and a decision to cut out the double wedding bookings for 2019.

By the end of last year, 2019 was looking a bit thin on the ground and although we had a roll over into 2019, we were beginning to think it would be a very quiet year. We exhibited at 3 wedding shows over 3 weeks in January with our favourite one being the last of the 3. We have a policy of engaging couples in conversation about their wedding at shows, but won't take bookings as we always visit them first. Before we had arrived home from the last show, we already had 5 email enquiries from it. We had decided this year that Claire would take over the visits to potential clients and has made 11 visits in 16 days. 10 of those were from the same show and she has converted every one to a full booking. We have a further 9 reserved dates from the 3 shows and so far they are the best results we have ever had in such a short time. The dates are split between 2019 and 2020 and we have just had a couple of new ones for 2021.

We have found that couples seem to like the sound of 2020 rather than 2019 and we have turned down 5 enquiries for 20/06/20 which seems to be the must have date. It also appears in the UK that weddings seem to be becoming more popular again, perhaps as a result of the Royal weddings.

We have also found the Facebook has been good for us, with regular enquiries, usually from friends of couples we had previously filmed. People also seem to like the fact that they can see a lot of reviews and follow a blog about our weddings. We have also decided to increase our prices considerably from 2020 as new and past couples have regularly told us that they think our service is worth more, so who are we to disagree :-) We will include some extras that won't really cost us more, but will sweeten the packages for the higher prices.

So that sums up what we are doing, so how how is everybody else finding the wedding business?

Roger
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Old February 15th, 2019, 04:44 AM   #2
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Re: Wedding Guys, What's Happening?

Hey Roger

I noticed too that there wasn't too many people saying much on here as well! As I reach my 73rd year I feel more that ever that I need to not over commit on weddings and keep some time for myself. I'm a water baby so if I cannot take my kayak out at least once a week I get withdrawal symptoms!!

My first course of action which I put into place in early 2018 was to stop doing these crazy weddings that finished at 1:00am so I ended up getting to bed at 2:00am!! The next day I was a zombie so our maximum time now is up to 9:00 - 9:30pm when they do the first dance and after that we are out of there!!

My second course of action also last year was to stop editing footage ...spending the weekend shooting meant spending the week days editing so I really had no time to myself so we went the live stream route and edited live via switching software ... the bride gets a live video, an online video and a copy the next day on a USB. You cannot imagine how good it feels to complete your shoot on the day and you are actually FINISHED ..no editing at all! we can even create the USB drive direct from the computer.

Lastly I take preference to brides who just want the ceremony so that eases up the shoot even more and gives me even more free time to go and play in the ocean!!

Has this affected our bookings ..not at all! WE are full for next month as we always are and booking extend right into 2020 as well ... We don't make as much money overall but our hourly rate is now way better so we are working smarter not harder or longer and down under our aged pension system pays you the difference between your generated income (weddings) and the normal pension rate so we get to do what we still love and still make a nice income!!
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Old February 15th, 2019, 02:51 PM   #3
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Re: Wedding Guys, What's Happening?

Like Roger, 2018 was a big year. Not my largest for number of bookings, though close, but workload was phenomenal and likewise I didn't get a holiday. I rely on Google for my advertising and I dropped the ball in 2017 July to August, where I lost my Google ads due to some technicality, but didn't pick up on it till September. Thankfuly, 2018 benefited from both an early Easter and the Chinese believing the number 8 is lucky. So I got loads of Chinese Weddings last year and my Wedding season kicked off early due to the early Easter break. I did very well in profits, my highest ever.

2019 is so far proving a tougher sell. I concur with Roger that couples are holding out for 2020 and next year is looking set to be a great year for bookings. I've met a few Photographers who have felt the same about 2019 and 2020. I'm still getting a great deal of bookings, better than 2016, my toughest year so far to date, but it's not going to turn as healthy a profit as the last 2 years. January to May is about 15 bookings down, though Autumn is looking better than last year. I wonder if Brexit has also impacted on early year bookings. Maybe knocking couples confidence. I'm not sure if last year's Royal Wedding has helped much. Feels too early to see the affect of it to my Business.

Being in my mid 40s, I'm not so keen to settle down and am looking to expand if anything. So am going to launch a 2nd Business more targeted to Business and may even use it to test the waters with more high cost Wedding Video services. At the same time I am looking to lower my workload by dropping DVD production as an included extra for my packages. Frankly DVD is feeling old fashioned now. I use to get 600 of extra DVD copies a year and that was on top of offering a healthy number of copies included in my Wedding Packages, but each year requests for extra copies goes down. Some clients don't even have a DVD player. And frankly sending a USB is much easier than preparing a DVD.

I'm going to use the lighter start to the year to sort my Business out top to bottom and work out some things I am not happy with. Wedding Industry is good but I'm keen to branch out and not put my eggs in 1 basket.

It is quiet on there forums these days. Facebook pages has stolen I think much of this forums chat. Alas I don't have much regard for Facebook as a location for good information exchange.

Last edited by Steve Burkett; February 16th, 2019 at 12:05 AM.
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Old February 16th, 2019, 06:06 PM   #4
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Re: Wedding Guys, What's Happening?

Hey Steve

I do agree that a lot of people are using Facebook but information exchange is still way better here ...Yes I use Facebook but only to advertise my services. It's not by choice but a simple fact that that's where 99% of the brides hang out ... what really annoys me is if you find something on Facebook and go and grab a cuppa it's gone forever because it's been replaced with a thousand new posts ..so not my favourite place!
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Old February 16th, 2019, 06:17 PM   #5
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Re: Wedding Guys, What's Happening?

Facebook is a pain but the brides are on there so I think we're stuck with it - I promote posts through facebook but haven't bothered too much with google after spending way too much for little result some years back.

I'd certainly be interested in hearing about methodology and success with google & other forms of advertising.

I'll end up doing around 30 this year, same as last year but 2020 is looking promising.
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Old February 16th, 2019, 07:17 PM   #6
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Re: Wedding Guys, What's Happening?

Hey Paul

I found a good idea is to create your own generic wedding group. The issue with even a local group is that every Tom Dick and Harry is posting furiously so your post ends up out of sight very quickly and brides miss it. Some vendors will also watch posts and wait for others to do their post before adding their own so you are "pushed down"

Now, if you create your own group called say "Wedding Suppliers Central Coast" and invite all other vendors to join it it grows quite fast ...just make sure its a public group so all brides see it! The secret here is to then create your own ad but then mark it as an "announcement" and also "pin to the top" That way your ad is always at the start of the group and only you can do this cos it's your group. It gives you a lot of exposure and works well for me!!

Can't see the point of using Google any longer as most brides seem to have their smartphone permanently glued to their hand and are on Facebook 23 hours a day ... I don't really like it BUT if you want to take home dinner you need to go where the fish are feeding!!
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Old February 17th, 2019, 04:19 AM   #7
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Re: Wedding Guys, What's Happening?

Over the last 35 years, I have tried just about every type of wedding promotion, from wedding magazines, to newspaper ads, Yellow Pages, specialist Facebook promotion companies, Google ads, wedding shows etc. Most have been a waste of time and money, with the two noticeable exceptions being Wedding shows and our business Facebook page. Our FB page started as a simple blog of weddings we had been filming, and new couples we had visited. We later added stills from the video and photos from our photo packages as 'Taster Pics', which Brides love. We don't use any FB promotions, relying on the couple's friends and family all wanting to see the taster pics and passing the link to others. It took a couple of years for it to really work well, but it is much more personal and direct than some other ways of using Facebook.

We also rely heavily on building a very good relationship with potential clients and never take a booking without first visiting and chatting with them in a very relaxed and informal way. This frequently starts with wedding shows where we need to stand out from all the other videographers and photographers. We never 'Sell' to people visiting our stand, never try to take appointments and never just hand out leaflets before we have chatted to them. We are also the same with visits, where we leave a booking form but insist on clients discussing between themselves first. That may all sound like a recipe for disaster, but we find that couples love the fact that they can relax and not feel under pressure. We hear endless tales of hard selling and constant follow up phone calls, and that puts off a lot of couples. A lot of suppliers think it is too much time, cost and effort to travel up to 100 miles to see a possible client and instead rely on email enquiries and exchanges. For us though, the extra effort is worth it in secured bookings.

We feel that selling yourself is as important as selling your product. The product is either what they want or it isn't, but if you are going to be with their family and friends on what is an intimate and very personal day for them, they want to feel very comfortable with you.

The final clincher for us has always been that we take no deposit at all and full payment is made after the wedding when we are ready to deliver. Most suppliers hold their hands up in horror at that idea, but we are protected by a water tight contract with strong cancellation clauses, and penalty clauses for any delay in payment. We don't have payment problems, with only 3 difficult ones over 35 years and we still got our money. We did have a recent cancellation with 4 days notice and received full payment by transfer the next day.

Our way of promoting and working is probably unsuitable for most businesses, but has been very successful for us. This year so far, every visit that we have made has resulted in a booking, so we will not be changing our modus operandi.

Roger
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Old February 17th, 2019, 06:22 AM   #8
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Re: Wedding Guys, What's Happening?

Face to face doesn't work so good for me. I'm terrible at small talk and even good friends I've made have since admitted being unsure about me on 1st meeting. I'm quite shy meeting new people in person, so for that reason fayres and bookings where I do meet clients first are more miss than hit. So email is where i feel my strengths lie. I'm always good at responding quickly to emails and that does help when some services can take days to respond.

I'd be interested Roger in how you've laid down your water tight cancellation policies. Mine could use some work. I charge only a small deposit and get payment a week before the Wedding. Some pay in instalments leading up to it and I don't discourage that. I've had bad experiences with people who I did allow to pay after. Still my contract could use some work there.

I don't use Facebook as much as I should. Though I wonder if Instagram has taken some of its thunder too. Social media is a side to my business I don't explore as well as I should. Google Ads made a good difference to my Business. Back in 2016, I only had 35 bookings by the end of February that year, below my usual amount. However I started Google Ads that month and by the end of the year, I had 77 bookings. My usual amount to that point. Since then I got about 95 in 2017 and 2018, so up from my usual 75 to 78 annual bookings. A fact I attribute to Google Ads. It's clear when I'm not using it that enquiries go down by about 50%. A fact I should have picked up on in 2017 when it did, but being a busy summer, I didn't notice this till the September.

I suppose it all depends on your business and how you work. I've spend ages refining my Google Ad to make it work for me. Every few months I chat with someone to work through updates and make changes based on how it performs. May not work for some, but seems to be for me.

Still Chris, your Facebook group idea seems a neat idea and one I shall have to look into. Mind you, I want to put my focus on commercial work to. Wedding advertising is something you can put too much time and cost to, as there are only so many popular dates for couples to get married on. I could double my time and cost on marketing and only benefit in enquiries I am already booked for.
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Old February 17th, 2019, 10:11 AM   #9
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Re: Wedding Guys, What's Happening?

Hi Steve,

You are right about the face to face, it only works well if it suits your own personality and style. If it doesn't come naturally then it is always going to make you feel uncomfortable. Both Claire and myself seem to be able to make people feel at ease, but why that is I really don't know. I have been a musician and entertainer since 15 years old, so I suppose I am very comfortable being in front of people and talking to them easily. One of my sons seems to have inherited the gene as he is the international distributor liaison officer for Red Cameras, and spends his life taking distributors out and setting up massive new deals.

As regards contracts, we have very clearly stated cancellation clauses which cover cancellations from 3 months to 6 weeks before the booked date, with a sliding percentage depending on how close to the date the cancellation is. If we can replace a cancelled date, we would waive the cancellation fee. We also have penalty payments which start 7 days after the due payment date. They are based on a percentage of the amount due and accrue on a weekly basis, so the longer they are outstanding, the higher the amount due becomes. It's a very efficient deterrent to keeping us waiting. It also means that in cases of genuine hardship, we can choose to waive the penalties when the contracted amount is paid. However it would be difficult to add a non payment clause to an invoice for work delivered, which is why we put it into the booking contract.The contracts used to state 'Payment on delivery', but we changed that to 'Payment on completion' after a few clients some years ago were delaying delivery. We do not hand over any finished work under any circumstances until full payment has been made, which is also clearly stated in our contracts. I have only ever needed to draw attention to the late payment penalty clause on three occasions and all resulted in full payment, so the clause seems to work.

Roger
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Old February 17th, 2019, 05:35 PM   #10
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Re: Wedding Guys, What's Happening?

Hey Roger

To be honest I threw my hands up in horror when I saw you take no deposit. We even had issues when we used to take 1/3rd to book and a second 1/3rd 2 weeks before the wedding and the final 1/3rd on delivery. I STILL have a couple of DVD's sitting in a cupboard from 5 years ago where they simply never paid the final 1/3rd ..It was a small wedding too so why someone would pay $800 up front and never pay the final $400 is beyond me. I even offered to let them pay the final amount in small installments ...We also had a couple of brides who offered to pay cash when I delivered and then, of course, never had the money when I arrived at the house) Sorry but now they pay 1/3rd to secure the date and pay the balance 2 weeks before the wedding ...I must admit it's nice to deliver a wedding once it's done and get a big bundle of money but I got tired of being ripped off!!

Nowdays on Facebook yes we only use a FB Business page too ..gave up on ads but one thing I did find was if I included stills (around 10 images) in my posts the engagements tripled and we got a lot more bookings so when I do a wedding now I take a second still camera so I can grab a few shots to use in my Facebook post! I guess brides like posts with images far more than those without or just with a generic image??
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Old February 17th, 2019, 06:24 PM   #11
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Re: Wedding Guys, What's Happening?

Hi Chris,

I think that your policy of deposit to secure date then balance before the wedding is common through most of the wedding industry, but I have to admit to being surprised that you were tired of being ripped off as it hasn't happened to me. I am not buying in materials for a wedding or making a dress that is unique for the bride, so I prefer to be paid for the service I have rendered, with clients being well aware of their legal obligation to us and vice versa. In the event of me needing to take legal action for breach of contract, the client would have received nothing at that point and be liable for the full amount plus accrued interest and legal costs, so I really have no concerns. I do like the big bundle of money on completion though :-)

Roger
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Old February 17th, 2019, 08:25 PM   #12
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Re: Wedding Guys, What's Happening?

Hi Roger

It probably was only half a dozen clients over a couple of years but it still annoys me that I have worked my butt off at their wedding (some of those were 14 hour days) and they never pay me ..then again they did pay 2/3rds of the total amount so it surprises me that they are happy to get absolutely nothing for their outlay! Maybe your clients have a lot more integrity??

Actually my photographer mate Richard only charges $100 deposit and he also gives them their money back if they cancel BUT he still insists on upfront payment before the wedding!

It's not really an issue nowdays for me as I just ask for the whole amount upfront unless it's a 2020 wedding as I mainly am doing ceremonies only now and broadcasting to overseas family ...Here that's less than an hour onsite which is a lot nicer than having to start at 10am and finish at 1am the next morning! Too old for that besides I'm enjoying my other "semi-retirement" activities!!
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Old February 18th, 2019, 04:51 AM   #13
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Re: Wedding Guys, What's Happening?

Hi Chris,

We all work different ways and how you work really doesn't matter providing it works well for you :-)

Enjoy your 'Semi Retirement' activities, I should be doing the same this year hopefully as I am the same age as you!

Roger
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Old February 19th, 2019, 01:09 AM   #14
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Re: Wedding Guys, What's Happening?

It's hard Roger!! This week I said "I'm going paddling a couple of days this week at least ..I have been shooting Realty yesterday and today (it's already 4:00pm here) and now another huge job for tomorrow.

Hopefully no-one will want me either Thurs or Fri ..fingers crossed!!
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Old February 20th, 2019, 02:03 AM   #15
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Re: Wedding Guys, What's Happening?

I closed my business 4yrs ago back in Greece, but I'm allocated in Netherlands atm since November. If anyone needs someone on the editing team maybe pm me to email my resume, sry for taking it a little off topic.
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