I Now have Just One Wedding Film Package

Hi friends, I trust that you’re well today!

So, I’m sitting here sipping my coffee in the office and I’m happy to announce that I’m changing my pricing structure up just a bit. Starting today, I’m going to offer both my a la carte services where you can pick on thing, like the ceremony video itself or bundle things together to create your own package AND I’m going to offer just one wedding film package instead of several.

My $1,105 Wedding Film Package

So, this is going to include the feature film, the ceremony video, my wooden USB memory drive keepsake, drone footage for the feature film, licensed music, 1080 HD video, my warranty and my guarantee.

It will also include my FREE gift from my friends up at Coach in New York City that I’ve teamed up with.

Beyond that there is nothing additional to purchase unless you want too. For example, you might want to get live streaming, the reception highlights or add in additional cameras at the ceremony.

So why have I decided to offer just one simple package?

Well, it just makes things easier for couples and honestly about 85% of my clients usually purchase something like the new package anyway.

I Still Offer A la Carte Services

In addition to the new discounted package, I still offer a la carte services too. Want just the feature film, sure. Maybe you just want the ceremony video and a USB, no problem. Or maybe you want to mix and match all the services to create your own wedding film package, again that’s no problem.

With my a la carte services, I put you in FULL control of what it is that you want and what you truly don’t need.

Years ago, I learned a great lesson in packages, while they’re great for most people, they’re not for everyone! So, I allow you to create what you want, on your budget, on your terms.

Visit my wedding film experience page and check out what I have to offer for both the package and the a la carte menu too.

Why am I so Affordable Compared to Others?

The answer for me is simple. I was operating full-time until the end of 2015. In 2018, I got back into it on a part-time basis.

I only take on a limited number of clients each year, I’m not relying on your money to make my livelihood, so I no longer charger $3,000 for a wedding film experience.

Today, it’s not about the money, it’s about having fun filming. Sure, I still make some side money to buy new gear, take a vacation once a year too, but for me, filming is simply enjoyable and I offer a great service at what I feel is a fair price to clients.

After all, I understand that weddings are expense.

Consider me the exception to the rule that you have to be expensive in order to be good.

Wedding Secrets to Saving Money

Hello friends, you know it may be a surprise to you that the wedding industry here in the Roanoke Valley is a $51.3 million a year business according to the National Wedding Report that annually published by WPA each year.

Well it’s true, in fact the average cost of a wedding spent in our region is about $25,300 (compared to $27,300 last years figures) here and couples alike will spend lots of money from everything like the venue to wedding filmmakers like me.

Well, it’s also no secret that there are many ways to save money on vendors like myself and if you’re a regular on my blog, then I’ve explained to you the importance of the things that I’ve taught you to do in order to save money. On average, couples getting married using my techniques can save about $3,000- $5,000 depending on which steps they take.

The best part, it’s just common sense thinking and a smart approach to it too.

Well, today I’m going to share with you those money saving secrets that can help and even provide you two new ones that I’ve never told anyone until now. So, let’s start so I can send you off on your way to start saving money and help relief some stress off your plate in the process!

The Biggest Weapon in Your Money Saving Toolbox, the Wedding Planner

Believe it or not, hiring a wedding planner is by far the best thing you can do for your wedding and there are two reasons why, first they can save you more money than you invest in them typically plus they take a huge amount of stress off your plate.

Think of them as like a coach that guides you through the waters of the wedding industry. These are people that have a wealth of knowledge within the business, they know who to turn to for your needs, where to save the best amount of money and they also have a wedding secret that people don’t talk about, they are your negotiator for your wedding too.

Yup, in fact, having a wedding planner reach out to vendors that you like or want will often get you a better deal financially or give you some added freebies if you hire them.

Here’s my best advice I can give anyone getting married (and it sort of sucks because I’m not a planner):

Hire a wedding planner for your wedding and not just the day-of-your wedding coordination either. Invest in them so they in turn can invest in your wedding day. There are great wedding planners out there, so find one with experience and hire them to meet on a regular basis (a monthly meeting minimum) to help make plans, negotiate with vendors like me and you’ll really thank me for that piece of knowledge too.

Off-Season Discounts

Another weapon in your tool chest is off-season discounts for areas like Roanoke that have them. (Not all markets have an ‘off-season’ per say.)

By booking your vendors during the off season, even if your wedding is not during the off season, can help save you anywhere from 5-20% in some cases.

Take me for example, I offer a 25% discount if you’re getting married November through March typically, but you have to ask for it or know about it.

The main reason why vendors offer an off-season discount is because they still need to work and getting a deposit during the off season is a big source of income if they’re not doing a large amount of work. Most vendors in off-season markets typically offer a discount or upgrade of some sort and wedding planners often times know this. In fact, some wedding planners will connect with vendors like me to offer special discounts to their couples.

The Two Untold Wedding Secrets You Should Know

So, you know about the wedding planner and off-season discount bits but there are two other secrets that I’ve never told before, until now that will help YOU save money.

Look for Vendors in a Neighboring Marketplace

This is a very common but mostly overlooked item, your wedding budget. See, when you first with down to get things started with your wedding, you most likely will create an overall budget, at least, I hope that you have.

Well, one thing to consider is your average prices of wedding vendors in a certain marketplace, such as Roanoke, Richmond or Charlottesville. Each region has different price ranges based on the marketplace and that in turn can help you out greatly.

Here’s what I mean.

My average price for a wedding film is about $1,600 with lots of belles and whistles. In the Charlottesville market I’m VERY affordable as counterparts just a couple hours up the road are more in the $3,000+ range for a basic video, so it makes a lot of sense to hire me, even with a few hundred bucks in travel fees (fuel and hotel) than it is to hire someone local.

$1,800 vs $3,000 is a pretty large spread and what I offer and what others in the Charlottesville wedding market offer are pretty much the same thing. Similar gear (Panasonic GH5 and G85’s here), I have 20 years’ experience and I travel.  You’re saving $1,200 by having me drive into Charlottesville and film your wedding.

Roanoke for example is typically a lot less in vendor costs because it’s much more rural than Charlottesville for example, so wedding vendor pricing is usually a LOT less. The same model applies to just about every region of the US too, you just must literally think outside the box (or region in this case).

I’ve seen couples take that extra savings and put to it things that they wanted but couldn’t afford, apply it to the honeymoon or simply save it. It doesn’t hurt that I’m also in high demand because of my low price point and great quality, but that’s for anther blogpost.

Bundling Vendors Together

This little trick is something that you can do in order to help save a few extra dollars. When you’re hiring a wedding vendor and before you sign up, ask them if they offer any discounts if they work with preferred vendors. Many wedding companies will have a list of vendors they love working with and sometimes you can find that list on the website they have. Now, sometimes these vendors will have a small enticement in order to work together and it goes something like this.

“Book your wedding video with me and if you also book XXXXXX Wedding photographer, I will discount your wedding film 5%.”

Simply ask them about any small discounts if you bundle vendors together. Some do, some don’t but here’s the thing, as a vendor I have professionals that I LOVE working with and I will slightly discount my services if you book us together.

This is something that I’ve done for many years with various wedding planners, venues and wedding photographers too. It’s a way to help get them to promote my services in exchange for knocking off a few hundred bucks. Honestly, it’s a win-win for the vendors and for couples getting married.

I’d say that about 15% of vendors offer something like this so it never hurts to ask about discounts on bundling.

Saving Money on Your Wedding is Easier Than You Think

In order to save money on your wedding you simply need to do some digging around and figure out how the wedding industry works. Those that work in it typically know how to play the sales games and navigate politics too.

If you simply follow these steps you can save thousands on your overall wedding and still get the wedding that you want too. 

Why There are Too Many Wedding Photographers

Hi friends, thanks once again for checking out the wedding video blog here.

Today, I’m talking about my cousins and no, not my literally cousins, the wedding media cousins to our video, wedding photographers. Over the years being a filmmaker, I’ve seen a HUGE increase in people getting into wedding photography compared to about 10 years ago and it’s not just in the Roanoke region either, it’s a trend nationwide.

Today, I’ll share with you why that is, what to look for when hiring a wedding photographer and I’ll explain why so many get burnt out after just a few years in the business.

The ‘Fun’ Illusion of being a Photographer

Listen, being a wedding filmmaker is a LOT of fun at times and the same goes for my counterparts too. There are many wedding photographers out there that have a lot of fun when they’re at a wedding, enjoying the craft of photography and people notice that. One of the factors for someone to get into the business is to have fun and the other, make money.

But truth be told, it’s mostly an illusion to those outside the industry as a whole. Sure, many wedding vendors put on a smile and enjoy what they do, but what you’re not seeing is the hard work that goes on behind closed doors.

The marketing, advertising, branding, business logic, then all the operations of a business, like paying taxes, licensing for being a business, keeping the books, keeping up with gear, meeting with couples, there is an entire list of things that you simply don’t see, after all, it’s a business first.

And that’s one of the downfalls of a new wedding photographer, they don’t see it as a business and that’s the biggest mistake they tend to make.

The Money Factor

Many that get into the wedding industry only make it a handful of years because of one thing, they can’t make money doing what they are doing.

There is a huge amount of money to sink into professional camera gear, often many thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars just to get started. Then you must take into account the number of weddings you will take on, what to charge, then deduct all the expenses of running the business and let me tell you there IS plenty!

Let me give you an example.

Say that you’re a wedding photographer and you have $4,000 in gear, a camera, couple of lenses, light and maybe a decent laptop to edit.

You’re new so you can’t charge $4,000 like some do in the area but you are good enough with your images that charging $1,500 seems pretty reasonable and let’s say you take on 25 weddings. That’s $37,500.

You take away the $4,000 that you took out on a credit card to get started, so that leaves you with $33,500. From there, lets dig into the number really fast, shall we?

Here is a quick breakdown of some expenses you’ll have each year:

·         Adobe Creative Cloud $600

·         Camera Bag $100

·         Website and Hosting $300

·         Monthly Marketing $400/mo (Facebook ads, business cards, wedding show, magazine ad) ($4,800)

·         Wedding Vendor Insurance $600

·         Local Network Dues $100

·         Cost for replacement lenses $1,000

·         Business license $45

·         Local / State Taxes (VA 6%) $2,250

·         Rent for Building $350 month $4,200

·         Utilities (power, internet, etc.) $2,400

Your expenses are going to run you about $16,395.

So, you’re left with $17,105. Then you have clothes, fuel and other things too but let’s not include those. That’s leaving you with $1,425 a month, $356 a week or $8.90 per hour.

Yes, $9 an hour.

My point is this, many people that get into the wedding business don’t think about it actually being a business, they simply see the fun at being at weddings, it sounds like great money to be made and an easy gig.

Well truth be told it’s not and many wedding vendors are actually just getting by. Sure, there is always a person or two that doesn’t fit this model, but typically speaking most people that get into the wedding business leave after 5 years because they realize they’re not making money.

Sure, you can make good money, but you have to charge you’re worth, usually much more than $1,500. If you’re part-time like me, then it’s not as bad because you have income to help your livelihood, but the struggle is that most people that start part-time want to go full time because they think they can make it and do well financially at it.  

The $500 Wedding Photographer

Just about every market in the US has them, the low budget, $500 wedding photographer. It’s usually a person with a cheap starter kit that comes with a low end DSLR and a couple of basic lenses, they offer an all-day package with a lot of images for little to nothing.

Sure, that might be a great deal, but usually there are some caveats that you should consider first. There is a reason they’re cheap, it’s usually because of a lack of experience or they’re just wanting to make some money.

Those newbies are actually hurting themselves as well the local wedding industry when they come in and undercut others, they lower the overall cost of their services and make it harder for others to gain more money, some do it on purpose to keep the market low, others unknowingly do it to just to get business.

Some key things to know about a cheap wedding photographer:

·         They typically use consumer gear instead of professional or prosumer level gear

·         They have little experience, tend to make more mistakes

·         They will not be as professional as someone well-seasoned

·         Usually, they will not take as many images as you might expect

·         They will have bad low-light images generally

The Saturation is Real

I can tell you that here in the Richmond to Roanoke part of Virginia, there are far MORE wedding photographers than any other wedding vendor and that includes wedding venues too! In fact, a quick search on WeddingWire will show you that in our region there are about 486 venues while there are 567 photographers.

Part of the issue is that technology has become much cheaper in recent years. Take video for example, in 2010, a Panasonic AG-HPX370 cost me about $11,000+ and you needed at least two of them to have a decent ceremony video. Well in 2012 Canon released an affordable DSLR that did video and it was $3,000. 3 is a LOT less than 11, not to mention the size was super small, the quality was more amazing than an over the should camera and it could do a LOT more too.

Well, the same has happened in the wedding photography industry, pricing has become much cheaper and more affordable than years ago.

For about $4-5,000, one can get a great quality full frame DSLR setup with just about everything you need to get started and places such as Best Buy offer the starter photography kits for about $500, the Canon Rebel T7 with a couple of cheap lenses comes to mind.

As prices drop and technology increases, it simply makes it more affordable for people to “get into the business” if you will. What you’ve seen is a huge increase of people getting into the business because of the affordability of the gear, that doesn’t always translate into being good at what they do or have the experience in wedding photography.

Now, don’t think for a minute that everyone that starts out is bad at what they do, in fact, many are good and are gaining both the technical skills and the wedding skills to be able to offer awesome services.

The simple truth is there are far more wedding photographers than just about any other wedding vendor out there and that wasn’t always the case. Those that are long timers in the business have seen this coming for a few years now and many that offer photography are trying to get into other avenues of the industry, such as wedding video. The problem however is that those that dabble in video realize that it’s an even harder market to get into and become successful at too. (for another blog, another day)

My Thoughts

There are many people to choose when it comes to wedding photography. I recommend that you pick someone with these minimum skills/gear:

·         Someone with at least 2 years wedding experience under their belt

·         Someone that offers a fair rate and the services you want, such as X amount of images, hours etc.

·         Professional or Prosumer level gear (Research their gear)

o   DSLR

o   Lighting

o   Related gear

·         Someone with at least 5 or more positive reviews found online

These are just my two cents worth when it comes to minimum guidelines here just so you know.  

 

 

 

 

Are Wedding Crasher's Real like the Movie?

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Hi friends, thanks again for checking out the blog! Before we start, I just want to say thanks for everyone supporting me and my business, it’s the middle of August and I’m nearly booked for 2020 already, hard to believe!

Anywho, today I’m about wedding crashers, we’ve just about all seen the movie, where Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson go to wedding after wedding pretending to be a guest in order to drink, party and hook up with ladies. Well today, I’m going to talk about wedding crashers and let you know, yes they are real and I’m going to help you be ware of what to look for at your own wedding in spotting a “wedding crasher”.

So back in 2002, I remember I was filming a wedding at the Hotel Roanoke, a Jewish couple was getting married in one of the new ballrooms and the couple’s family was spending a LOT of money at the wedding and reception.

Well, during the reception the groom’s mom noticed some people she’d never seen before and she went to the bride’s mom to ask and see if she knew them. It was a couple in their 30’s but they looked out of place, they weren’t really dressed up and they were hanging out at the bar up front with Elvis, no not the singer, the employee that was serving drinks.

What was strange about the couple is that they were hanging out and not talking with anyone other than themselves and they kept eyeing the gift table nearby. Well, long story short, the mom had hotel security come by and ask them to leave which they did.

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Things could have been worse had they stayed and taken one or some of the gifts.

Fast forward to 2019 and these things still happens.

In Comal County, Texas, there is a couple of women that apparently have been crashing weddings for several months, taking gifts from the table then making an exit, only to take the gifts back to the store for credit. From the Facebook post, the couple has been doing this for a while and all across that part of Texas too.

The reality is that “wedding crashers” happen. In fact, according to the Wedding Venue Professionals Association, it’s believed that 1 out of every 14 weddings will have a wedding crasher, about one in every 157,142 weddings in the US.

Wedding crashers don’t always come for gifts, sometimes it’s the food, sometimes its to pick up women, sometimes both, but in either case, there are a few tell-tell signs to look for at the wedding and I want to go over a few with you that can help you along the way.

The Fake Persona

The first thing to realize is that a wedding crasher is going to be a complete fake, fake personality, fake persona, fake name, fake backstory and the like. That being said, with the help of family members and friends, you should be able to spot a fake at your wedding fairly easy.

First, they’re going to hang around people that are not their own age. For example, seeing a younger guy getting his dance on with grandma might be a clue, as many older people are going to have foggy memories at times, they will use this to get information from them to reuse themselves later in the evening. The more they learn about who they are hanging with the more they can reuse that information later in the evening if someone askes them questions about who they are.

That brings me to my second point, many times a wedding crasher will change the story from person to person whom they’re hanging with.

Maybe the first person was told they were the brides second cousin from New York, while the next person they talk to they may say something like of I’m the bride’s college friend and we used to do (some event or club) together. A tell-tell sign is them always having to tell who they are to everyone and no one seems to remember them.

If you have assigned seating at the reception, ask them where they’re sitting at, if they can’t then it’s a good indicator, they might not be who they say they are. Many weddings will have assigned tables with a list of people for those tables, so use that as a key indicator if they should be there or not. Another thing to think about, a wedding crasher will not really sit out, they’ll be dancing the night away and trying to find some ladies they can take home after the wedding reception.

Usually if you have a part of the reception where everyone is going back to their seats, like the speeches, you can usually find a crasher at the bathroom, bar or perhaps on a smoke break, but never at chair because they don’t have one.

A key factor that might signal they’re a wedding crasher too is that no one remembers them at the ceremony. Asking great questions about the ceremony to a wedding crasher and watching their facial response is a good thing to do, for example you could ask about something at the ceremony that never happened, like “wow, I can’t believe the flower girl dumped all her flowers out right next to grandma’s chair….” If they go with the fake story, you might have found a crasher.

Finally, there are plenty of websites out there that explain how to be a crasher and what to look for, I even found a Reddit page on what to do and places to go around the nation for weddings, such as various large hotels and venues.

My piece of advice is this, have someone on the family, maybe a friend that can help be on the lookout for people that seem like they don’t belong and have them do some digging around. Now, I’ve seen people that were not wedding crashers, but they were just very low key, that’s usually a common mistake as crashers want to party, not hang out on the sidelines.

Well, there is some advice that I hope you will at least think about when having your reception.

Thanks again for stopping by the blog and please be sure to check out my award-winning wedding films and videos that I offer at amazing prices as well.

 

This is the WORST Wedding Advice Anyone Could Give You

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Hi everyone, thanks again for coming back to the weekly blog here. Over the years as a wedding filmmaker, I’ve seen some awesome, breathtaking weddings and I’ve also seen and heard some horrible advice that simply should have never been given to couples.

Today, I want to share with you some of that advice in hopes that you’ll take it and NEVER do it!

Cheap Food

I remember filming a wedding in 2001 where the bride’s mom was covering the wedding dinner but what the couple didn’t realize is that it was a hotdog and hamburger dinner. This was a wedding venue in Vinton and everything else was great, beautiful dress, great location, awesome flowers, the couple forked out money on a wedding videographer, me, but mom was a cheapskate.

She spent all of $600 on the entire dinner with chips and dip, buns and sodas. It was completely out of place and many of the guests thought it was some sort of trick, but nope, a true backyard BBQ for about 90 people.

Whatever you do, don’t cheap out on the dinner. From my own research, plan on spending about 23% of your entire wedding budget on food, including alcohol and beverages too.  Your catering will be very much close to your venue budget if you get married here in Southwestern Virginia.

Bad Seating Advice

I did a wedding at the Vinton War Memorial back in 2013 and one of the things I noticed was the confusion on where the wedding guests were being seated at. Apparently, someone that oversaw the seating chart (a family member is all I know) thought they would spread everyone out so you could meet new people.

While that sounds great in theory, the reality is that your high school best friend isn’t going to want to sit next to your spouse’s cousin they’re never going to meet again.

Unfortunately, the person in charge split up kids from moms and dads, married couples and people that brought their significant others too. The seating arrangement was just a huge mess.

Complete DIY Will Save You Money

Having a DIY bride can be a great thing, but some things are cheaper if you hire someone. In 2015, I filed a wedding at The Inn at Virginia Tech and the couple had bought an entire load of silk flowers for the wedding thinking that it would be cheaper than hiring a florist with real ones.

Truth be told, while silk flowers last longer, its usually cheaper to hire a florist than it is to buy the silk counterparts and make everything yourselves.

The other issue is that you must store them and try to resell them. You may get lucky getting rid of them, but you’ll lose money on reselling them on a Facebook Group page.

In fact, wedding florist tend to be about 16-22% cheaper than buying the same types of flowers in a silk version. Listen, you’re getting married, spend a little bit extra on things that can help save you money and when it comes to DIY, take on some things like your décor but leave other things like catering and flowers to the professionals. You won’t have the stress; storage issues and you can focus on other things too.

DIY isn’t always cheaper as some people think.

Wedding Trends Are Great

Many wedding trends come and go and I’ve seen a few of them first hand in my 20 year career. First, let me just say that if it’s a ‘trend’ most likely you’ll regret it after a couple years.

Just a few years ago there was a trend where the bride and bridesmaids would flash their panties to the camera, yeah that lasted about a year and people started realizing that it wasn’t smart or appropriate at the wedding day.

Revolting bridesmaids’ dresses, wedding cake in the face, cheesy themed weddings like zombies or Game of Thrones, sending out those “Your not invited cards” to people you don’t like, what’s know as the Roast Toast and oversized fake eyelashes were all trends that I’ve seen come and go in the last 20ish years.

Sure, it might seem fun at the time, but trust me as time goes onward, it’s something you think twice about after a couple of years.

More Guests = More Gifts

Some people have been told the more wedding guests, the more money and wedding gifts you’ll get in return. While that might be true to some extent, the truth is that having wedding guests at the wedding and reception costs, a lot MORE than a wedding gift most times.

Think of it this way, say you spend just half the national average on a wedding, that’s about $14,000 and adjusted for our region of Virginia. If you have 100 people, you’re spending roughly $137 for each person to be there and enjoy everything that you put into it the dress you bought to the wedding photographer you hired to the food, flowers, cake and wedding venue too.

Plus, for every guest you have, there is an increase in everything, the food, the centerpieces if you must add tables, linens, beverages and deserts and the like too.

Guests are by far the BIGGEST expense at your wedding, not the venue, typically that’s second. Normally it’s the catering that often times will outcast everything else, it’s just the nature of the beast.

Wedding Loans

Some people will tell you to take out a wedding loan in order to pay for everything up front. Honestly, don’t. Sure, there are select circumstances where it makes sense to get an unsecured loan from a place like Propser.com, but it typically comes with a price, a large interest rate.

Honestly, if you need to do it the right way, just save each month for a couple of years or less. While a wedding loan might seem like a great idea, paying 15% or more on the money is a bad idea. I’ve seen so many couples put deposits on a credit card just to lock in dates for wedding vendors but then take years to pay them off.   

My advice to couples is to save money then pay deposits.

My advice to vendors is to offer in-house financing over time. This is something to consider as many millennial’s in 2019 are seeking various options to pay for their wedding vendors. You’ll still get your money before the wedding, it’s just easier to swallow a bunch of smaller pills than a couple of large ones.

 

What to Look for in a Wedding Show and What NOT to Do

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You’re getting married and you’re well on your way to planning that perfect wedding. There are TONS of wedding vendors out there and they all want your business, after all it’s a livelihood for many out there. Wedding shows can be a great source of inspiration on client side of things and a money pit for vendors.

Well, today, I want to share my personal experiences at local wedding shows, explain why I don’t do them and provide you the one thing that you should NEVER do at a wedding show too! It’s a mistake that can cost you BIG bucks if you’re not looking!

Vendors

If you’re a wedding vendor, then you’re looking for clients to book for the wedding season. A wedding show sounds like a wonderful idea and in some cases, they are. Over the course of my 20 years as a filmmaker, I’ve had some great success in the smaller, more intimate wedding shows and very little success at the larger ones. Sounds strange I know, you’d think I’d have better luck at the larger shows, but truth be told, you typically don’t.

The reason is that the larger shows have so many couples coming through, you don’t have time to build a relationship with most of them and the larger wedding shows know that. Most larger shows are regionally put on by networking groups, wedding magazines or wedding groups that have a sole purpose in mind, profit.  It may be in the form of getting more members, push out more magazines to increase ad sales or to promote the wedding groups, but it’s mostly a money pit.

You’re going to spend $500-$1,000 on a 10x10 booth with nothing in it. Then, you have to fill it with whatever décor you want, plus you’ll be at your booth all day, meeting people, hopefully handing out information and having something to collect data too.

A show may have 25-50 vendors from the local area, then they charge for clients to come into the doors. Many organizations behind the wedding shows can bring in BIG bucks, from $50,000-$100,000+ per show. Beyond that, it’s up to you to sell yourself with your wedding products or services.

The downfall is that large shows don’t allow enough time to truly build a relationship with the clients, at most you may have 5 minutes to chat with someone about their date. If you want to do wedding shows, you’re going to have great success at the much smaller shows that are more intimate and have limited vendors.

The reason is simple, time. With a small show of 15 vendors, you’re going to have much MORE time to meet with couples about their wedding and provide them more information about what you do and what services you provide them. Additionally, it’s going to be much cheaper, ranging from $30-$300 usually. 

My advice is to skip the larger shows unless you just want to throw your money out the window.

Couples

As a couple coming into a wedding show, large or small, you’re coming to the wedding show for one reason, inspiration for your wedding! You may have hopes in finding the one vendor that you’ve been wanting to touch base with or maybe you just want to come, get some swag and see what’s out there.

That’s great! But let me tell you somethings that you want to keep in the back of your mind. These shows should be just for inspiration, whatever you do, DON’T book with a vendor just because they are at a wedding show.

Now why would I tell you that, after all you’re a wedding vendor Josh.

True, but when you see a vendor at a local show, what you’re not seeing is all the others that are also in that select part of the wedding industry. Many times, you’re only seeing a small percentage of vendors that represent that vendor category.

What you SHOULD be doing however, are a couple of things.

First, get that vendors information, get their website, their contact info and see if they have any brochures or information that you can take with you. Also, take a picture or two of their booths, that way it’ll help you remember them.

Once you have the info, research them. Go online, find reviews and research them in general for any red flags. Maybe they’re not as good as they appear to be, or they have issues with the Better Business Bureau or local wedding group. Just because they’re at a wedding show doesn’t mean they’re the best of the best.

Then and only then, reach out to them to schedule an appointment to meet in person and then book with them.

I’ve seen couples book wedding photographers at wedding shows that I’ve done in the past only for them to find out they’re really not that great to begin with and I remember one couple in 2007 that regretted hiring the wedding photographer because they found out the photographer was new to the industry and had only done two weddings for free. Some of the images they were showing at the wedding show were not their own work, very misleading.

Now, 99% of wedding vendors are not going to mislead you or give you products or services that are bad, but you should know that they do exist to some extent, so please be careful. Take a couple from Florida that hired a company to do their wedding images and video, the company took more than $3,000 from the couple and delivered half the images and video.

Why You Shouldn’t Book at A Wedding Show

There are a couple of reasons on both sides for the fence. For us vendors, booking at a show is great but there is a HUGE problem with that, it’s the other brides that are walking through the event. As a vendor, you’re missing out on connecting with other couples out there and that could mean one, two or more additional bookings at a later date.

As a client, you’re also missing out. When you’re booking with a vendor, it’s taking away time from meeting all the others that are in the wedding show and also it prevents you from doing your research on the vendors that you’re meeting to begin with.

I remember when I was doing a wedding show back in 2014, I had a bride come through my booth and was interested in a wedding video. Well, she went down to one of my competitors at the time booked with them on the spot because of a package deal that they were running at the wedding show.

I didn’t think anything of it and a couple of weeks I got an email from the bride which I still have today.

“Hi Joshua,

My name is Karen XXXXXXXX and we met at the XXXXXXXXX Wedding show a couple of weeks ago. Well, I think I made a mistake because I booked with XXXXXXX XXXXXXXX XXXXX and I felt like I got conned. They had a ‘special package’ they were running at the show, but I later found out that’s their normal price. I remember you saying that if I ever had any questions about the industry to reach out.

I’ve asked XXXXXXXXXX if I could get out of the contract and get my deposit back, I was wondering if you knew of anything that I could do to help get out of it? I feel very mislead and didn’t realize that I was paying full price for their services.

Thanks

Karen”

Well, needless to say I couldn’t help since she signed a contract with them and honestly, I’m not really sure what happened either, it’s not my business.

Here’s my point, take your time with vendors at a wedding show. The wedding industry is an expensive industry and make sure that you understand things with a vendor before you get into a contract with them too.

The Takeaway

  1. The BEST way to book with a wedding vendor is in person and not at a wedding show.

  2. Use a wedding show as inspiration that you can use for your own wedding and connect with the vendors after the fact.

  3. If you want the best results, try a smaller, more intimate wedding show, both as a vendor and as a couple.

  4. Research, research, research. That’s the BEST Key to figure out if a wedding vendor is a great fit for you and your wedding.

Plan Early and SAVE More Money

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Welcome back friends and to everyone that’s new, welcome to my wedding film blog! Today, I want to share with you some great information when you’re starting to plan out the wedding and it has to do with booking everything early, there are some great benefits when it come to doing that and I want to explain why in my post today.

It Locks YOU in and Keeps Other Couples Out

Believe it or not, when you enter the world of wedding planning, you’re actually competing against other couples in the area. As I’ve stated before on the blog, approximately 2,200,000 couples get married each year in the United States and of that, about 55,000 are in Virginia. When we break things down even further, Southwestern Virginia has roughly 16,000 couples of the 55k that are getting married, about 29% of the state.

With so many couples out there, chances are many couples are going to have your wedding date. In fact, with 52 weekends a year, that averages to about 288 couples a given weekend and consider the roller coaster of a wedding season we have, that swells to 412 couples during the summer month.

Weddings by Region

Either way, having a few hundred other couples with your wedding date creates an issue and that’s with wedding vendors. Some vendors, such as wedding photographers are easy to choose from because it’s over saturated in our market place (and many around us too) but take officiant’s, florists, catering, dress makers, filmmakers, DJ’s and even venues, there is a limited number of vendors that operate in a given area.

Locking in your wedding date as early as possible prevents one of those other couples from taking your wedding date with the vendors that you really want to hire. As a wedding videographer myself, I run into this several times a year, especially with popular dates, in 2019 it’s September 21st, 2019. That date has been asked for so many times this year, it’s crazy.

My advice, once you have a budget, a venue with a wedding date, strike fast with everything else. Once you have the date and location, you can line everything else up and I highly suggest that you do within a month’s time if you want to have as many options as possible for your wedding vendors.

If you don’t, you will start to limit your options as time gets closer to your wedding date and that’s the last thing you want, to pick from the leftovers if you will.

The BEST Time to Plan Your Wedding

Believe it or not, the best time to plan for your wedding is during any off-season but not all areas have one. For example, here in SWVA, we have an off-season that’s October through late March but places like Orlando have warm temps all year, so there really isn’t an off-season there.

If you happen to live in an off-season area, I suggest that you take advantage of booking vendors like myself during this time.

Why?

Because off-seasons tend to be dry for vendors and they rely on income. More times than none, they will offer an enticement, usually a discount, to help get deposits and booking for the next year or two.

Many companies will discount services 5-25% depending on the vendor type and how much they want to discount. While saving 10% for example might not seem like much on a small vendor that costs $500, when you look at the grand scheme of things, that’s a big number when you start thinking $15,000 or $20,000 for a wedding.

That Last Minute Decision Will Cost You

If you wait until the last minute to book a vendor, such as a wedding videographer for example, expect to pay full cost. I’ve seen so many couples come in last minute, normally a couple of months from their own wedding seeking a wedding video. Well, don’t expect any discounts here, that’s because vendors know that your looking for a video and something cheap price wise.

The issue though, more times than none, is that you’re looking to spend a little bit of money while most of the companies in the region are starting out at $1,500. The other major issue, most of us are going to be booked two months out, so you’re going to have a hard time finding someone with great experience and provides good films at a great price point too.

What you’re left with is the low hanging wedding vendors and it’s not just videographers, it’s anyone that you’re seeking last minute within the industry.

This is a simple supply and demand scenario, a common business practice within the business world, after all, weddings and the wedding industry is really a business. I highly recommend that you book 9-12 months if not more for the wedding. The longer the wedding is out, the better your chances of getting the BEST vendors in the region along with much better pricing too.

The Takeaway

Here are the keynotes to take away from today’s blog:

·         You’re competing against many other couples for your wedding vendors. A given Saturday, there are 300-400 couples with the same date looking for the same services you are in our region of SWVA

·         Best time to book everything is the wedding off season and that’s to get the best rates possible on most vendors. There are some that offer discounts which can help you save more money

·         Don’t wait until the last minute to book a vendor, if you do, expect to pay full price on their services.

·         Also, the longer you wait to book a vendor, the harder it will be to find someone to do the services and do them well. Good wedding vendors tend to fill up their year 9-12 months out or more.  


Great Wedding Information in Graphs

Hi friends, I trust that you’re well. Today on the blog, I decided to share some great information with you but in graph form.

For those that don’t know much about me, when I’m not filming weddings or working at Roanoke College during the day as a database and web developer, I do research, LOTS of it in fact.

For the last decade in my 20 year career as a wedding filmmaker, I’ve been collecting large amounts of data on thousands of couples that get married in Virginia.

So here are some interesting facts and tips about the local wedding industry that I’ve collected so far this year, enjoy!

Wedding Dress Code in SWVA

Maid of Honor Relation

What is the most important aspect to research before making contact with a wedding supplier

Wedding Cake Flavor in SWVA

Wedding Photographer Pricing

Brides vs. Photographers were asked about their pricing

How long did it take to plan your wedding?

Did you pay for alcohol at your wedding?

SWVA Couples asked

Why did you hire your wedding photographer?

How many people will be in your bridal party? (inc. Bride and Groom)

Have a side at the wedding ceremony?

Who Paid for the Wedding?

How Much Did the Wedding Cost?

Couples from all of Virginia were asked

Average Couple Spent in Virginia in 2018

57,319 married in 2018 in Virginia - The Wedding Report

How Much Beer and Wine Should You Order for the Wedding Reception?

Hi friends, welcome back to the Wedding Film Blog. Today, I’m talking beer, wine and how much you need to purchase for the wedding reception. There are a couple of ways to figure everything out and I’m going to share with you some great knowledge I picked up along the way as a wedding videographer.

The Wedding Guests

First, you need to figure out how many wedding guests drink, not everyone does and those that do, some drink a lot, some, maybe a beer or two. It’s actually a pretty easy thing to figure out, after all these are your friends and family that are coming to the wedding and reception.

Let’s use the standard example of 100 people. Usually, about 10% will be children so that leaves us with about 90 guests, then take about 12% for the elderly, they might have a drink but more times than none, they don’t. That’s going to leave you with about 80 people.

Of those, you’ll simply need to figure out if they drink at all and how much. It’s pretty easy, you’re going to know the person and usually if they bring a spouse or plus one, they’ll be similar to the guest that you know.

If all else fails, you can always use the 30% rule. If you have any guests that drink, plan on buying beer and wine for at least 30% of the wedding party if you’re not sure. Plan on each having at least two glasses or wine or three beers.

Online Calculators

If you still don’t have any idea of how much booze you need to purchase, there are a handful of online calculators that you can find as well.

A couple that I recommend that you try the following:

·         Evite Drink Calculator

·         Big Red Liquors Drink Calculator

·         Liquor Depot Drink Calculator

These are all slightly different when it comes to the numbers, but it should provide you a estimate of the amount of wine and beer that you’ll need to purchase.

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Return Policy

If you do plan on buying wine or beer, try to buy them directly from the manufacturing businesses themselves. Many wineries in the area will work with you on getting wine for the wedding, they’ll usually offer a discount of some type plus many have a return policy on unopened bottles that you don’t use at the wedding.

There are also several craft breweries in the Roanoke region that will do the same thing, all you have to do is ask them.

Grocery stores are not going to extend this policy unless you speak with the manager, so if you do try to hit you your local Food Lion, Kroger or Walmart Neighborhood Market, speak with the manager and get the policy in writing too.

Things to Think About

Before we dive into the different bar options and how to calculate the amount of alcohol you’ll need, there are a few things you should take into consideration. The time and day of the week of your wedding will influence the amount of alcohol people will want to drink.

For example, attendees at a Friday night wedding will most likely drink much more than attendees at a Sunday daytime wedding. The personalities and tendencies of your guests should also be considered. If you know that your family can and will drink a lot of wine but will shy away from hard liquor, you should plan to have less hard liquor (if any at all) and more wine to compensate.

The type of wedding environment you’re hoping to have is also a major influencer in the amount and types of alcohol you supply. If you’re planning to have a classy, formal affair you’ll probably shy away from having an open bar so that people don’t get overly rowdy. If you want to have a big party that’s more casual, offering an open bar or many types of alcohol would be more appropriate.

Of course, your budget is one of the biggest factors in your decision-making process so if you’re not planning to allocate a large part of your wedding budget to alcohol, you most likely won’t choose to go with an open bar.

The License

Don’t forget to purchase a banquet license if you’re planning to have booze at your wedding reception. When you book the venue, that doesn’t include a permit that you need to purchase from the Virginia ABC.

That includes beer, wine and liquor of any kind. You can get the license now through an online application process and a small fee too, starting at about $40+. You can find that at Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority Website.

 


Ways to Actually Make Money to Pay for the Wedding

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Hi friends, thanks again for checking out the wedding blog here. Money is the ultimate factor in what type of wedding your going to have and how basic or elaborate it will be on your wedding day. As a wedding filmmaker with more than 20 years’ experience in the wedding industry, I’ve seen some creative ways couple can actually make some money to help cover the costs that were racked up by the couple in the first place.

Today I want to share with you some of those pretty creative ideas that I’ve seen first hand and hopefully that can help inspire your own wedding a bit in the process!

Loans

Many couples will get wedding loans from places like Propser.com. These are unsecured loans that usually have larger interest rates and depending on how you pay them off, they can be effective. I ONLY recommend getting a wedding loan if you plan to pay it off BEFORE your wedding date.

You’re going to be spending lots of money in deposits and you’ll need money upfront in order to get things lined up. If you can wait a bit longer and just save up a handful of months then put down the deposits, do that if you can.

I don’t usually promote couples to get wedding loans unless it’s short term. The last thing you want is to come back form a honeymoon and have a massive amount of debt over your head.

Sponsored Weddings

So, a sponsored wedding is one where different elements of your wedding such as the wedding cake, dress, catering, and or wedding venue, are donated at no charge, in exchange for advertising and promotion of your sponsor.

If you love sales, and want to save tons of money, this may be a great way to give your wedding budget a boost! 

Here are some ideas I've come across in years past:

Start by looking for a new company just breaking into the wedding biz. Many times they have a limited advertising budget, and they may be eager to receive the free publicity, and the opportunity to reach potential clients.

Even a well-established wedding company loves publicity, especially if you have a large group of guests attending your wedding.

A wedding venue might offer a free event or a discount in exchange for placing their logo on the wedding invitations and/or place cards.

Wedding programs can be used for advertising, as well as the bride and groom’s wedding website.

Promote sponsors using your social networking skills! Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube are a great start. Make a cool wedding flash mob advertising your sponsor, post it and share!

Bartering can also sometimes be an effective tool, offer your services and skills in exchange for their services.

Make sure to get your agreement in writing!

Some people believe it's tacky, but any sponsored wedding that we've seen, was done very tastefully. Decide what your comfort level is and go with it.

You may choose to just accept one or two sponsors; every little bit helps!

Ask Guests to Sponsor a Part of the Wedding instead of a Gift

I’ve been to a wedding where the wedding guests sponsored the wedding day instead of giving cash or gifts to the couple. I remember the couple gave out RSVP cards with a list of parts of the wedding that a couple could sponsor.

Instead of giving a gift or having a registry, the couple made a small list of wedding related things and asked guest to pay a small portion of it.

The couple that I filmed in 2008 had the following list:

Wedding Dress - $800

Wedding Photographer - $1,600

Wedding Film - $1,295

Wedding catering - $3,100

This came out to just under $7,000 and the couple asked guests to “sponsor” one of the line items on the list for about $70. What was great is that this helped cover some of the line items in the wedding day and the couple actually make closer to $8,000 instead, which helped pay part of the venue too.

Having friends, family and loved ones help cover a small portion of the overall expenses was pretty genius and the couple was able to have an awesome wedding for much less than if they paid for it themselves.

Have a Money Tree at the Wedding Reception

A couple of weddings I’ve filmed over the year involves a “money tree” at the reception. Let your guests know that you’d rather have money in lieu of wedding gifts. Placing a dead tree branch with some glued clothes pins will allow people to come up, place money on the “tree”.

From the two weddings that I remember, one money tree had been filled with close to $4,300 according to the wedding planner while the other one had about $1,000 plus many people gave checks to the planner that totaled $8,800 for the couple too!

It’s a great way to help cover your costs.

Payment Plans

If you can find wedding vendors that offer monthly payment plans, consider doing that.

Why you might ask?

Think of it like this. It’s easier to make a payment than it is to fork out a huge chunk of money 9-12 months before the wedding day. I myself have been offering in-house financing plans starting at 0%.

This is how it works, you take the full amount and put down 20% of the balance then you can choose to make payments up to 10 months before the wedding. Paying $100-200 a month on a serv ice is much better than forking out $800 then another $800 the week before the wedding.

While there are not many companies that do this, there are some that do, so ask around.

Get a Side Hustle

I highly recommend that you get some sort of side hustle a year before the wedding in order to help cover the costs of the wedding day, the reception or even the honeymoon.

You can do several things like deliver newspapers, deliver pizza, start a small business or get a moonlight part-time job.

Saving money for the wedding is by far the best way to pay for the wedding.

Negotiate with Your Vendor

Finally, the most powerful weapon that you have with every wedding vendor, is the power of your pocketbook. And that means you have control of what you want from your vendors and in many cases, you can negotiate pricing with them.

If you want to save money on your wedding, hire a wedding planner and have them negotiate on your behalf. Things like having your wedding during the off-season, on a nontraditional day (Like a Thursday) can actually save you BIG bucks and that helps your bottom line.

Wedding vendors are more likely to work with pricing if you have a planner than they are if you just asked yourself.

I offer discounts for the off-season for example, 25% off my services if you get married November- March.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of ways to help cover the cost of your wedding day and there are many more suggestions if you just search for them online. The ones mentioned in my blog today are ones that I’ve seen first hand and have worked pretty well. I encourage you to explore some of these avenues and take your time planning the wedding, don’t rush it.

I have plenty of other great articles about the wedding industry and of course, I offer great, affordable, award-winning wedding videos and films, so check out what I have to offer.

Thanks and come back again soon to the website!