I sat on the floor of my living room playing with my puppy and eating my morning yogurt. It was our typical morning routine with the Today Show playing softly in the background. But something caught my ear, and I hit up the volume a few notches. I sat there with my mouth hanging open. I was horrified and hurt about what I was witnessing. What followed in the next few minutes left me confused, and bewildered at the naiveness of the news anchors and the Rossen Report. In order for this blog post to not be a hundred pages long, you can watch the video here to get a grasp at what I’m talking about.
Dear Today Show,
So many thoughts flickered through my mind as I watched the video accusing vendors of marking up services specifically for weddings, even when the service and package was the exact same as a normal birthday party.
Most wedding vendors fall into two categories: 1) We charge the same price for a birthday party as we do a wedding or 2) We charge different prices for a birthday party vs. wedding. You proved this in your video. But is it wrong that we might charge more for a wedding then another service? Absolutely not.
We as wedding vendors (a photographer myself), work our butts off. We’re constantly trying to maintain our business, personal life, and make our couples the happiest they can be. We worry about being booked for the following year, have the stress of a business on our shoulders and the desire to make our clients the happiest they can be in our hearts. Sometimes juggling a full-time job as well (*raises hand*), are stay-at-home moms, or are just trying to make a living.
We’re entrepreneurs, dreamers, creative souls, and the hardest workers. We’re constantly defending our prices, services, and final product. Daily we have people scoffing at the price of a wedding photo package, asking for discounts or deals and not respecting the hard work that is put into what we do. And today, that person was you, Today Show.
Your report proved nothing. The DJ was right in saying that a wedding requires way more than an average birthday party. And that’s what I’m saying here. What did your report do? It confused our potential clients and it made wedding vendors seem sneaky and greedy. The level of misinformation is going to make it even worse for us to defend our prices going forward. And to top it all off? Now we have to deal with clients sneakily sending emails about birthday parties to price check us and our integrity.
I’m not explaining the following for you. I’m explaining it for my future clients, my fellow vendors, and the general public so they can be rightfully educated on vendor pricing and why its different (if the vendor chooses it to be different at all). So let me gently explain the difference between a wedding and a birthday party, from a photographers aspect. A wedding, from start to finish, consists of the following:
A wedding and a birthday party are two different beasts. A birthday party might require one face-to-face meeting, possibly a second shooter, a few nights of editing, and we’re done. Even if both events have the same hours, same package, and same number of people. A birthday party is a birthday party. You have one every year. A wedding only happens once and is essentially “one of the most important days in someones life that rests entirely on your shoulders and if you screw it up your business and livelihood is dead.” It’s months of planning, preparation, and “behind the scenes.”
There’s a lot more riding on the shoulders of a vendor when it comes to a wedding. A lot more stress. More work. More risk. We have every right to price it differently, if we choose to go that route. Please don’t disrespect us and make running a business more challenging than it is already.
All the best,
Midwest based wedding photographers servicing Chicago, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis and beyond.
Thank you for blogging this. I am a Wedding and Event Planner. In a facets, weddings are much more complex and many many more details than a birthday party regardless if the same date, same time etc there is much more to a wedding. The Today Show report was reckless and not complete. They had the opportunity to report the full story and choose to leave it at wedding vendors are unethical in pricing with the "wedding markup". They could have reported the whole story and the whole truth by reporting the reason’s that the prices are different. Blows my mind!
Maybe Rossen should follow us around for a weekend and then we’ll talk! Ha! 🙂
Thank you for blogging this. i was thinking the SAME exact thing when I watched the show so I am glad to know that I am not alone in this thought process!
Never alone! We got this! 🙂
Thank you so much for writing about this! It’s all about educating our clients about why our services may be more expensive and that there are valid reasons for that!
You’re so welcome! Better education = better clients!
I LOVE THIS SO MUCH.
I hate when I get that response of:
Well why do you charge so much less for family pictures? Can we just pay the family picture price since thats all you will be doing at the wedding?
UM HELL NO.
I shared this on facebook by the way. Thank you so much for this!
Hahahaha TOTALLY different ballgame. Who asks that? And thanks for sharing darling!
YES! Thank you!
You’re so welcome!! We’re all in this together!
Thank you, Morgan <3 I have shared this, thank you for being a strong voice for the wedding industry. I am an event planner and it is my job to educate clients, which is increasingly getting harder to do because of irresponsible media segments like these.
Thank you for sharing! We’re doing our best! 🙂
I am not a professional photographer. I know of a couple who have done some personal work for me. I can tell you they work there butts off! With the issue of having a family aside that they give up time to make a extremely important day a once in a life time perfect event and make sure they capture every possible thing is a huge responsibility! It only happens once… When the shot is gone it’s gone. No posing for pictures all the time. They think on there feet, run on there feet. And run themselves ragged all day and night to make sure every perfect memory is caught. I do not think they ask a unfair price for what they do! A wedding from beginning to end is exhausting for the photographer as well as the bride and bridal party wo are having fun while they work on the most precious momdnts of your day! You can find a huge spectrum of pricing for photographers but if it’s cheap that’s what your going to get. A photographer can take over 800 pictures. The professional ones I know are worth every penny they quote and go above and beyond for there clients. You guys know who you are❤️. Abbigale and Andy.
Sorry for the misspellings! Darn auto correct…
Well said! Thank you! Maybe we should do an expose on why TODAY show talking heads get paid hella-more than local anchors. I mean…they’re just sitting in front of the cameras and talking, right?
Haha you’re so right!
Good for you for putting this all in writing. May smart brides and grooms check all the sources of information — especially your blog — before they judge wedding professionals harshly for asking a fair price for their labors.
Thank you! And lets hope so!
This is perfect! I was this article and started my own blog post! Such a great way to respond and share the truth behind why it costs more!
YES. Thank you!! Not to mention the cost that goes into running websites/galleries/outsourcing/paying a second shooter/camera upkeep/gas/gifts/insurance and on and on. PREACH!
PREACH is right!!
Thank you a gazillion times over! Wedding photog here. It’s not like you can tell the bride, "hey, missed you walking down the aisle so can you do that again?" The stress is real. The endless days of editing and prepping are real. I tell clients all the time that a decade from their wedding, their guests won’t remember white glove service for their salad, or fancy bows on the backs of their chairs, but they WILL get to relive so many details and memories if they spent the extra money investing in a quality photographer.
Often we lose a client to someone charging only $750 for the wedding photos. That’s generally because those clients don’t realize that the ability to capture beautiful, creative, meaningful AND technically accurate images on the fly, in any weather, in any crazy lighting, and getting only one chance to do it…and then doing well enough many times over to be able to deliver at least 500 great photos to their clients takes more than luck and raw talent. It takes careful planning, nerves of steel, improvisational skills, and most of all, experience. And then having an editor who can properly enhance those images with professional editing, whether it’s merely boosting contrast and doing a little color correcting, or removing that evil zit that popped up in the middle of the bride’s forehead when she woke up on game day.
So many factors to consider. So much time spent keeping up with the trends, keeping your skills sharp and your gear in good shape, researching and visiting the venues, and then pouring every ounce of your passion and love for your art into the whole wedding experience.
Thank you for your insights and passion, Morgan. All the wedding vendors out there salute you! 😀❤️📸
Wow, and after all that, I spelled my own name wrong! 😂 McCall Doyle
Well said! Maybe Rossen should shadow us for a day and then spend the next month with us photoshopping zits out of pictures! Thanks so much for your compliments too, they mean so much! <3
As a not only a wedding photographer but a portrait and birth photographer … Thank you for writing this. What a same, the Today Show really needs to reevaluate throwing creatives under the bus. Our time is just as precious as the Executive Teams that run The Today Show and all the other big Fortune 500 companies. We are putting food on the table just as they are, making sure our bills are paid and that our creative business lasts more than a couple years as most get burned out or killed by those charging a much lesser rate because of people like The Today Show who brain wash creatives and clients a like. They will kill our industry if we don’t continue to educate our amazing clients.
Pretty sure everyone else commented my thoughts. But yes. Every tiny and large bit of this!!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this!! I’m appalled that they even made the comparison, and as a wedding planner, I completely agree with every single point you made. There’s a HUGE different between a birthday party (or any other event) and a wedding, and you can bet I charge more for a wedding. They should apologize to wedding vendors on the air for their disgraceful mistake.
This times a million!!!! Sheesh, even if you point out one thing, it’s the risk of taking on a wedding. That’s why I spent an extra $1000 on my camera that backs up as I shoot, $1000 on a hard drive that is high quality to reduce the risk of it crashing, the reason why I have way more cards than I actually need so I can save one until the photos are delivered. And that’s very much behind the scenes of what I do. Goodness, there is SOOO much more that goes into weddings!
You forgot to mention other things like the cost of insurance. And oh, also that we could get SUED for missing anything on wedding day. Don’t think anyone would sue over birthday party photos but someone, somewhere probably has (smh).
I was about to sit down and blog about why my wedding childcare services are expensive — I hate that word. There is a lot of costs in being there watching the kids.
AMEN! Thank you for posting this. As a fellow wedding photographer, I truly appreciate reading your take on the wedding process and seeing that we match on every point made. It is such a beautiful process but the amount of grief and exhaustion we endure is unbelievable. This false feature from the Today Show will only make matters more difficult. I hope they read this, among the other posts I’ve been reading today, because they need to rectify that segment ASAP.
This is perfect! Thank you for taking the time to write this. I just hope it gets the same attention the report did. There is so much more to a wedding. You would think they would research some of this before airing it. LOVE IT!
God bless you this is awesome and shame on the Today Show.
Thank you so much! I saw the same piece and was furious with Jeff Rossen saying to just tell the photographer it is a party. Ugh!!
I am a floral designer and saw the same "report" this morning and felt the same exact way. Nicely put and I totally agree with you.
Thanks so much!
AMAZING REPLY! I wanted to vent my feelings and kept getting lost. After reading your post I have shared it to those I know. THANK YOU FOR SPEAKING FOR SO MANY OF US! 💕💕💕💕💕💕💕
Thanks for sharing!! <3
A great and refreshing read, thank you for sharing! It’s important to educate clients the value of what we do and the wedding photography service – it’s a tough job! And I totally know how you feel balancing a full-time job and a wedding photography business! Inspiring blog post. 😀
Thanks so much <3
Ugh, yes! You hit the nail on the head with every point. You would think the Today Show would know better. Guess not.
Thanks! One of them is bound to see this…right? 🙂
Sounds like you didn’t fully watch the Today Show clip. Yes – if you do all those extras you should definitely charge more. However, if they only want you to photograph the reception/party which would be all candid photos, like they said in the piece, then no there should be no difference in price. Slapping "wedding" onto a party shouldn’t automatically make it more expensive. #SorryNotSorry
Betty, actually I watched it multiple times to make sure I got all the information straight. A wedding from start to finish is in now way similar to a birthday party- its comparing apples to oranges. However, even if a client does want just the reception shot, a vendor has every right to charge more. Because it’s not all candid photos. A wedding reception has first dances, cake cutting, toasts, etc. Not only does a photographer have to capture those moments, but also the moments in between- the tears and hug between the bride and the father after the first dance, the groom laughing as he gently wipes the frosting off that he smeared on the brides nose, the laughs that the best man caused when he told the funny story about the groomsmen. That’s a lot of pressure and a lot of work for the photographer to capture. And every other vendor has their own ballgame, I’m not just speaking for myself. A birthday party has none of those things. Wedding photography, or wedding vendors themselves, are like insurance. You wouldn’t expect to pay the same rate for a high-risk insurance plan as a low-risk insurance plan. Lower risk = lower charge. And vice versa.
Those "extras" are just part of photographing a wedding. And any wedding photographer worth their grain of salt has to provide back up equipment and storage for a wedding, not a birthday party. So yes it actually does make it more expensive. #youdontknowwhatyouaretalkingabout
Betty, no one just wants reception.
You then wouldn’t be shooting the wedding
And I wouldn’t take clients that just want a "party" photographed over an entire wedding.
Oh and did we not mention why our costs are high? I have thousands in debt from college degrees (yes two) and the gear that doesn’t compare to the point and shoot Betty has that can shoot a birthday party.
I know what I need to do within seconds of things happening. I am well trained and WORTH my value, birthday or not. I keep the day on schedule and I fix thousands of problems that have nothing to do with photography because I’m GOOD. Not a birthday party photog
Amen, sista! Cheers to the next year full of wedding hangovers and the amazing clients who make it all worth it! 🙂
Boom, solid stuff Morgan!
AMEN! Very well written, very respectfully written, and very CORRECT!!! Thank you for stating everything that I was thinking while watching the clip. Media today is in the business of MAKING news and stirring the pot rather than just reporting.
Yes! So true! And thank you 🙂
I couldn’t agree any more if I wanted to. This is very well written and I applaud you for doing so 🙂 I will now proceed to share the crap out of this!
Please do! Maybe they’ll apologize to me live on the Today Show 🙂
…an apology to you, me (DJ/MC), and everyone else for their ignorance!
Very well written. So foolish to compare a wedding to a birthday in the first place… As wedding professionals you are creating memories tha will last a lifetime, handed down and shared with children and loved ones.
Yes absolutely + thank you!
Someone had to say it…THANKS MORGAN <3
Thank you so much for posting this on behalf of everyone in the wedding industry!
Thank you. The Today Show should actually do some research before reporting things.
The Today Show just proved that they are extremely uneducated. To knock down vendors that they don’t even know and put us all into the same category and make it sound as if we are greedy, conniving people is not only hurtful but very disrespectful. I have lost lots of respect for them. And I wonder how much he makes for bogus reports? Smh
I for one, will never watch The Today Show. They proved that they don’t do research before they come up with a "story".
I have been a wedding vendor for 20 years and there is a reason why we charge more for our bridal services, than for a regular customer.
The reasons are laid out very nicely by the article writer, bravo!
Today show sucks
Thank you Morgan.
Yes! Thank you for speaking up for us 🙂
While I do think this is a great article, I never would have heard about the show if I hadn’t seen this. I wouldn’t have known what they talked about and I wouldn’t have thought about the price differences. I worry that this may be the case for many others and the friends of everyone who is sharing this post. Now I will be doing my own investigation whenever it is my turn to hire a photographer and checking and double-checking to be sure I am not being scammed.
I wonder if they charge more for a celebrity appearance now that they’re on the Today Show? Why should they? They’re the same person as before!
LOVE this. I am a hair & makeup artist, and my rates for brides are 3x what they are for a typical, everyday client. There is SO much more involved with being a vendor for a wedding than people realize!
Thank you so much for saying something maybe next time this guy needs to follow around a pro photographer for a day when they have to shoot a wedding. He migh then get why photographers charged more.
Very well said. I am a retired wedding professional, 15 years as a wedding DJ and the last 5 years as a wedding officiant/minister. I didn’t charge any more to DJ weddings than I did for birthday parties simply because I didn’t do birthday parties. DJing weddings is a specialty much like brain surgery is a specialty. Any high school kid with an Ipod and some speakers can DJ a birthday party. A true wedding DJ spends thousands of dollars on equipment and back up equipmemt that sounds amazing then spends that again in a couple of years when the equipment is out of date and needs to be replaced.
On top of that, DJing a wedding takes a huge amount of time preparing for the wedding and making sure that you have all the correct music by the correct artists and that once at the wedding everything goes perfectly. The stress is incredible!
This bit by the Today Show just shows that they are a bunch of pretty faces in front of the camera without a brain cell between them. Maybe they should redo the segment using REAL wedding professionals.
Thank you for this! I am an event florist, and an officiant. We plan for months ahead of time, the details of everything have to be just right, colors, design, last minute changes because they forgot to include someone in their planning, placement of centerpieces and touch ups on site, the clean up from designing and reorganizing, delivery, pick up, cleaning and storing vases/containers and props. Officiating includes helping write vows, being encouraging and supportive and pulling people out of frenzies and brain fog moments, then making sure every word flows perfectly in front of the audience and video cameras. Then I have to make sure I get witnesses to sign the marriage license (before or after the ceremony) and I make a copy and send the original to the recorders office via priority mail to have a tracking number for proof of delivery. Their moment is our months, so thank you for setting the record straight.
Omg, yes!!!!! That is all. Just yes!!!!
YESSSSSS!!!!! Thank you for writing this! From time to time I get people inquiring about a small party and once we e-mail back and forth I find out that it’s actually a wedding. Come on people. I bring A LOT more equipment and a second shooter to a wedding. For a party, it’s just me and minimal equipment. I wish that people actually understood why we charge what we charge. Sheesh!