Weddings Are Not Cheap for a Reason

Hi everyone, thanks again for checking out the website and blog. As a professional wedding videographer for about 20 years, I’ve literally seen and heard it all in the wedding business, TRUST me.

One of the number one things that I overhear couples complain about is the overall price of weddings and them being expensive. Well, today, I want to help set that record straight and let you know why they can be costly and what makes them costly here in the Roanoke area and the rest of Virginia.

It’s a Business

First, before you get into any nitty-gritty details, weddings vendors are a business just like a gas station, a hair salon, going to the movies, buying your food at a grocery store or any other business that is out there.

Now before you start thinking that we’re just rolling around in the money, many of us are just getting by season-to-season and let me explain a bit more in detail.

Although I’m now part-time, there was a time where I was running wedding videography full-time and I had a lot of overhead. Running a wedding video company is not cheap by any means and having a studio, a couple of part-time employee’s, massive overhead in the gear, expensive wedding shows and advertising, it all adds up very quickly into the six figures.

Let’s Start with Some Basics

Yes, a $2,000 wedding video might be expensive (that’s very cheap in our part of the state by the way), it would take any given wedding professional 20 weddings just to make $40,000 which is a good salary to have in SWVA.

So you’re saying to yourself, so what you’re making bank!

The Hidden Costs of Running a Wedding Business

Sure, but then you have an office/studio and that’s $600 a month or $7,200 a year, so that leaves you with $32,800.

Then, you have the gear. You need decent gear and you need to be able to recoup the costs plus save for replacing it every few years too.

I’m mostly a Panasonic shop and the gear isn’t cheap but lets for a moment run on the cheap just to get some numbers if you’re a basic videographer.

You’ll need a couple of mid-range to high end cameras, so you buy a Panasonic GH5, let’s say you find it used, that’s $1,500. You also need a b camera for the ceremony so lets purchase a used Panasonic G85 for $600. Then there are lenses that you’ll need but lets stick with the bare-bones here, we’ll get a couple of cheap Lumix lens for $1,000.

Oh, tripods and a monopod, you’ll need those too, professional fluid heads, if we buy some Manfrotto systems used on Bay, you’re looking at say another $600.

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Then you’ll need a cheap wireless mic, so lets say we’ll grab a Tascam DR-10, that’s $200. Plus batteries for all your gear, another $200. Oh, a professional bag at $100 and you’ll need at least one LED light for anther $100.

Just in the cheap setup, you’re already spending $4,300 for gear, that’s not the best of it and that’s not going to include gimbals, sliders, drones, additional lenses and cameras and all those fancy things people except when making a pro level production.

Now you’re down to $28,500.

Oh, then there is you’re power bill at the office and internet an cell phone. Let’s say a low end figure for those is $2,900 for all three, you’re left with $25,600.

Then, most professional vendors will have insurance to help cover themselves or their gear in case someone gets hurt or they try to sue you, that’s easily another $600.

Plus, you’ll do a wedding show at the Berglund Center that will easily cost you $1,000 for the booth and power, not including all the stuff you’ll need to put into it like a TV so people can watch you’re samples, so say a 50” HDTV will run you $300 used. (And you hope someone books you to cover the costs of the show)

Now you’ve got $23,700. Still think we’re rolling in money?

Oh, you’ll need a high end PC just to be able to edit everything, but let’s be modest here and say you bought a mid-range Macbook at $1,600. Then you need backup drives, SD cards for the cameras and whatever media you need to buy to deliver the wedding films in, so another $300. (Also, I’m not including the software to edit like Adobe Creative Cloud, LUT’s or color correction costs or the licensed music you have purchase which is easily $700 on the cheap end)

$21,800, wait, I thought wedding vendors were rolling around in money?

Say each wedding that you work is going to be 10 hours long, that’s 200 hours. Then, you have the edit time which is usually double that, so add another 400 hours for editing and post-production.

Then, say your administrative time each week during the wedding season is 30 hours a week and since wedding season is from March to October in SWVA, we’ll only use 32 weeks at 30 hours in the office doing other stuff is 960.

200 hours of filming, 400 hours of editing and 960 hours of advertising, emailing, doing taxes, marketing, blogging, networking and the like, that’s going to leave you with $13.94 per hour.

Yup, less than $15 an hour, the amount people want to make at McDonald’s, as a professional wedding vendor, that’s how much you’ll wind up making in a year.

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Now that you have all you’re hard costs down, you still have to factor in things like credit card fees, Facebook advertising, $100 for a local wedding network membership, buying coffee for clients when you meet and the like too but we won’t count all that with this demonstration.

While it may seem like wedding vendors are just racking in the cash, truth be told most are not.

In fact, many wedding vendors you see today will either quit the business after a couple of years (3-5 is average), take on other non-wedding business or get other jobs to help offset the wedding business they’re doing for your wedding.

I myself work a full-time job and only take on 15 weddings a year, max. I don’t have the added stress of operating full-time anymore and in many ways it’s a huge relief. I’m less stressed and I can focus on the love of filming rather than making money to live.

I’m back in the wedding video business because I love filming and I love filming weddings, but I’m also getting older and can’t physically do 60 weddings a year like I did in years past. This time, I’ve already vested out the funding to film weddings, so the money I bring in helps save for retirement, cover some in gear replacement and to just have some fun money too.

The next time you think you’re getting raked over the coals by hiring a wedding vendor, be it a wedding photographer, florist, a wedding venue or a wedding videographer, just remember that many are just squeaking by at making a living.

While the national average for a wedding is about $33,000 according to The Knot, here in our area that same average is about $27,000.

Now, not every wedding vendor is like that, but many are. Some have made great careers doing what they love but many get burnt out operating for a few years because they’re not making money. Many focus on the love of doing what they do and often forget that it’s a business and they need to run it like such.

TRUST me when I say that having a wedding in SWVA is MUCH cheaper that other parts of Virginia, let alone the rest of the United States.