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Old May 21st, 2007, 11:08 AM   #1
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Weddings - are they lucrative?

I have a couple of friends that want to get into the wedding business - videography. My only worry is that I am always seeing people selling their equipment "from a wedding business". Now, this makes me think that they are either getting out because it wasn't worth it or they are sick of it.
So, does anyone have any experience with weddings?
I am a little concerned about the editing as well. I know if you have a 3 camera shoot for a wedding, there is going to be a marathon in the editing room afterwards - when does it end up being a job that makes $5.00 a hour after all the editing time put in?

Any advice on how to get started - or if I should?
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Old May 21st, 2007, 01:20 PM   #2
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It's is like any other business.
I'd prepare a real business plan if I were you, based on:

Who's involved in doing this?
How much would it cost to get set up?
How much would it cost to run? Per month? Per job?
What's the going rate for a finished job?
Who else in your arena is doing it?
How long would it take to pull even?
How much return on investment is there?
What are the risks involved?
How do you put your money in? (partnership? loan?)
How and when do you get your money out? (dividends? sale of company?)

Be realistic in your estimates. Don't figure on eight jobs in house at the same time without at least two complete teams working on them, for instance.

Then, double your cost estimates for every job. Half your income estimates, then figure that half of the people who do pay will pay late or try to bicker about their bill, and how much you'll give in to their bickering just to get the cash flowing and move on.

Take the time you have estimated to pull even, and double that time. Or even triple it. Then take your electricity bill and taxes and double those numbers.

Then add everything up again.
Do the numbers still work for you? (are you still in the black and not the red?)

This is a big one: do not discount your own time and efforts.
It's easy to say "heck, this is my company, my time is my own, that doesn't count", and that works until the day you our someone in your family is sick or otherwise can't make it to work. Then you'll have to pay for your replacement or lose the job. Factor that in or pay the consequences.

I've obviously vastly oversimplified, and stacked the odds way against. The thing is, if you put yourself mentally in that situation (prepare for the worst, then double it) and you find yourself still smiling and enthusiastic about bringing a ray of smiles into the marriages of other people, then the business is for you and you should go for it.

Finally, you might do a lot worse than to go and visit your competition. Tell them you're getting married, or tell them the truth - they'll find out anyway, in the long run. See what it's like to be in their shoes.

Because, over time, every business has its ups and downs. And to build and maintain a decent reputation in the business you choose, well, it's better if you love what you're doing, at least a little.
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Old May 21st, 2007, 01:40 PM   #3
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Chris pretty well hit the nail on the head with his comments.

I can only add that in almost 24 years of video work with the biggest part of it being weddings I have made a fairly decent income. Not all years have been as good as others but since I also do other types of work in the end it all seems to balance out. I've supported my wife and 3 kids (at least until they all got married and left the nest) in a good lifestyle. Now it's my wife my dog and me I am slowing it down a bit.
The only way to make a living in any business you call your own is to get out and promote your business every chance you get AND to produce a good product in a reasonable amount of time for a fair price. Too many people want to get into the wedding business, do a few gigs, make *LOTS* of money and then go on to become the next big movie director. I beg of those, please don't. It can take a person a couple of years in the business to develope a style, a client base and something that no amount of money can buy; a reputation. Too many times all it takes is one bad videographer out there to spoil it for the rest of us. Doing weddings is a different animal, you get 1 chance only to get it right and it takes a certain kind of person to be able to put up with the clients. Don't get me wrong, most I have worked with over the years have been great but some have been...well not so great to work with. If you're going to get into the business do it 100%, all the way, not just as a way to make some fast bucks and move on. it can be a wonderful profession and yes you can make some pretty good money along the way.
As long as you're not in the Chicago area, Best of luck to you. :-)
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Old May 21st, 2007, 02:06 PM   #4
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Now that's what I'm talking about.

Don is the kind of guy who has earned his rep and actually gives a whatnot about his business, and about the people he works with, competitors included.

If you're on the fast track to fame and glory, then spec commercials or music videos are a much faster, better, surer way up the ladder. Those, peppered with the occasional very cool and artistic short dramatic film (also on spec, of course), will get you up and started along that road, pretty much every time -- all you have to do is to set a high quality (both technical and aesthetic) and maintain it, every time you do something.

Eventually, if you keep going for long enough, you will get work. The trick there is to keep going for long enough, and not to give up until you do get work. "Eventually" can include, well, a lot of events...

Not to say that life is any easier in the wedding trenches, but it's really another road, pretty much all its own. It helps if you actually believe in it.
Kind of like a family doctor's practice out in the country as against a nip/tuck operation in a big city. Both valuable to a sector of the population. Both valid ways of making a decent living.

It's just kinda hard being in one sector, though, if your heart's really set on the other.

Me, I picked the commercial route, because that's who I was at the time. However, a lot of my buds ended up all over the place, each and every one of them still shooting, though, and I can't help noticing that the ones who got into and stayed with wedding and associated (family oriented) work somehow were the ones who ended up with large and happier families themselves.

But that, as they say, is a story for another thread.
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Old May 21st, 2007, 02:51 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by David Delaney View Post
Any advice on how to get started - or if I should?
The way many of us got started was to videotape a couple of weddings for friends for free, to get a feel for what it's all about. After you've done that you should realize that making a good wedding video is a major challenge and responsibility which is not for the faint of heart. It's also not a particularly good way to make money unless you have lots of free time for editing and are persistent at marketing yourself.

Figure that a typical wedding video will take at least 30-40 hours to produce (including meeting with clients, recording the wedding, editing, making DVDs, etc.), and initially you'll be lucky to clear a few hundred dollars in profit for all that effort. Then when you go to do your taxes the federal and state governments are going to take as much as half of your profits (including self-employment tax), so you're down to making a few bucks per hour if you're careful with your time.

On the plus side, making wedding videos can be a lot of fun if you don't mind the challenges, and it can give you a sense of satisfaction you might not get with many other ways of earning money. If that isn't at least as important to you as the money, there are easier ways to make a buck.
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Old May 21st, 2007, 03:33 PM   #6
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Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that doing weddings reminds me of my time in the Army when I was overseas.

If you do enough of them you will find that there are 'Hours of boredom and moments of terror!'

Keeping the "moments" under control can and will cause many gray hairs or loss of the same! ;-)

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Old May 23rd, 2007, 06:53 PM   #7
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I directed and partially filmed my very own wedding for starters. Boy that was difficult! After doing a few more weddings I realized, it wasn't for me, LOL.

I compare it to being a funeral director -someone's gotta do it, but it is a difficult task. The bride and groom are never totally focused on one thing, and certainly not 100% thinking about their video! You have to be VERY careful with weddings, as said above, you get ONE SHOT. I only had one bad experience and that was when the groom told me that the family wanted LOW LIGHTS in the reception hall, 10 minutes before the reception!!! The rehearsal was done in great light, the actual reception, might as well have been in the dark!

Weddings -lucrative yes, easy ....NO.
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