I too agree with just about everything you say but also with what Monica Looze says below. Many over charge and inflate prices to unreasonable levels counting on the bride’s emotional state and her desire to have everything perfect.
I am an event photographer and the best wedding I have ever photographed was a small 45 people dinner at a country side restaurant. Food was unbelievably amazing prepared to perfection. The location was stunning with greenery around and farm tools as props. The music was provided by two musicians, a violinist and a pianist. The pianist (a female) also sang beautifully so that was a bonus.
The budget was $10,000, they did it for $7,000. No limo, no church. The flowers were bought at a local farm and I still remember the bokeh, it was a simple grouping of flowers in a golden ribbon, very nicely done. The dress was a smashing but simple Dior dress that I know for a fact cost a fraction of what a cheap wedding dress would have cost. The two musicians were music students that did events on weekends. Probably more affordable than a DJ.
The wedding was so classy. That was one of my first wedding I ever photographed and I was hoping to have many more like those. However, just about all the wedding I photographed since took place at the more conventional halls with all the conventional trimmings. Each looks like the one before and cost a pretty penny no doubt.
The wedding industry does put an enormous pressure on the couple and many go into debt just for their wedding. But like Monica said, you have to really know what is overly charged and what’s fair. A difficult task no doubt.
Let’s see if I can explain my side of the business a bit.
As a photographer my rates start at around $1,500 for a wedding and that would include 10 hours of coverage, HOWEVER, the hours spent before and after the wedding tipple that number.
For example, I am doing a wedding next week and I was hired for six hours (the minimum I do for a wedding). I did not take one photo yet but I already spent six hours on the wedding. That includes an initial meeting, a rehearsal at the church, a walk through two parks, a second meeting to plan the day hour-by-hour and an hour previous planing the hour by hour before I met them.
That does not include looking at their Pinterest board and check every added photo to see what they would like. And of course the 30 plus emails between us.
I know already that I will stay at least one hour longer at the reception hall, no extra cost. Oh yes, did I mention that I am bringing a second photographer?
After the wedding I will put no less than 7–9 hours on selecting, editing, retouching the images, creating a web gallery and meeting for the last time to deliver the images and receive my final pay.
A 19+ hours for a six hour wedding….
Many of us photographers work hard, very hard, to make sure your day is a special one, regardless how much we get paid for the event.
That does not mean we should over charge but we also have to make a living.
I agree with Maria Konner, good for you for making it about you and what you want!! Too few brides ever do that.