Posts tagged Wedding Planning
Ask A Pro: How Much Does a Wedding Photographer Cost in LA?

One of the most frequent questions I hear from couples, friends, and wedding industry professionals is “How much should I spend on a wedding photographer?”. Of course that’s a complicated question for just about anything. Just like if you were buying a car or a house or a phone, the answer depends on a few factors:

  • What are you looking to get?

  • How much does quality matter to you?

  • Are you willing to take risks?

  • Is the experience itself important?

And, maybe surprisingly, another key question:

  • Where do you live?

So I’m going to address all these questions, and then—I promise—give you a real number answer you can work with.

So let’s address that last factor first…

Why Where You Get Married Affects the Cost

If you’ve ever lived in a city, you may have looked at rent in the middle of farm country and thought: maybe I should pack up and get some chickens and move there! Because the difference in costs in unreal!

So how does this affect your wedding costs: unfortunately, the same way. Taxes, insurance rates, office expenses, business licenses, utilities, and advertising all can cost more in bigger cities. Not only is the cost of doing business greater, but there can be more competition and more demand, which can both affect a vendor’s costs.

For example, here are some big cities’ rates:

Depending on where you look, you may see higher or lower rates than these, but these were the ones I could find that appeared the most accurate.

So why not get married in the middle of nowhere? Well, big cities have a lot going for them: scenic locations, built-in infrastructure, accessible airports and transportation, available local hotels, more variety of vendor options. Cities also tend to have more convenient, ‘mid point’ locations for guests traveling to the wedding.

Why Different Photographers Have Different Prices

Okay, so you live in a big city and you’ve come to terms with that and are ready to start shopping around for photographers. But why is there still such a range?

Well…again, just like cars or cell phones, there are a lot of reasons why one may cost more than the other.

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The big factors in price tend to be…

EXPERIENCE

How long has the photographer been in business? Do they have a proven track record and portfolio? A more experienced photographer is usually a safer bet, will have more client reviews, and will tend to have a consistent style in their images. You can also expect an experienced photographer to be better at handling groups, sticking to schedules, and dealing with unexpected emergencies.

PRODUCTS

Are you looking for albums? Prints? These things will tend to cost more than a few digital files because they require up-front, physical costs.

SERVICES

Will you need two photographers? Do you want photo editing included? Will you need 6 hours or 8 hours? All of these things involve more time and expense on the photographer’s end. If you want your skin to look flawless or have to have getting ready photos, those will factor in to how much your package will be.

ARTISTRY

Some photographers specialize in a particular style or creative look. If a photographer is bringing their artistic vision to their photography, that will usually be reflected in a higher price. Less expensive photographers may have more of a ‘point and shoot’ approach, but creative photography tends to come with a price that fits the creative effort.

QUALITY

Higher prices tend to also reflect a higher level of quality all around. You’ll see this not just in photographic quality, but also in the quality of customer experience. More professional photographers tend to have a heavy emphasis on better communication, positive client experience, and a more polished approach from start to finish. You’ll also tend to see properly insured businesses and clear-cut written contracts at this level, which minimizes your risk.

↑ Prices = ↑ Value?

It’s important to note that while higher prices tend to reflect higher quality and lower prices tend to reflect lower quality, there will always be exceptions to the rule. Some expensive photographers produce sub-par photos and some cheap photographers can produce excellent work. Always look into reviews and a photographer’s portfolio, and meet with them if you can, before making any booking decisions. But just like you might question a $90 cell phone or a $1000 new car, it’s always best to assume if a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.

So How Much Should I Pay?

Okay, so here is my take (based on experience and my knowledge of the local market) for local LA prices. (Again…these will vary depending on where you live.)

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If you’re aiming for a typical photography package for an LA area wedding, you can expect to spend around $3500. For a wedding with under 100 guests, on an off-peak date, or under 6 hours, you can expect to spend less. For a wedding over 150 guests, on a holiday or holiday weekend, or over 10 hours, you can expect to spend more.

Luxury photographers in LA can charge $5,000 to $10,000, and even more. While their services may come with some incredible artistry and lots of added perks, you should know that these are luxury prices and you should expect a matching experience.

In Los Angeles I would be skeptical of any photographer charging under $2000 for a full wedding day. They should be willing to explain why their prices are too low.

The most important thing to remember: I believe in educating yourself on industry standards, because knowledge helps you make a good decision. But how you get along with a photographer and how much you like their work should be key factors in choosing one photographer over another. It’s important to set a realistic budget but once you’re looking at photographers in your range, make that final decision based on style and personality. Choose a photographer you feel comfortable with, whose photos you enjoy most, and you’ll thank yourself later.


PS. If you like my style and want to know my pricing, you can get my pricing guide by filling out this quick request form.

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HAVE A QUESTION THAT YOU’D LIKE ME TO ANSWER ON THE BLOG? EMAIL ME AT JADEELORAPHOTO+QA@GMAIL.COM .

6 Important Things Everyone Forgets When Picking Their Wedding Venue
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Looking for a wedding venue is a lot like looking for an apartment: a little bit fun, a little bit stressful, and mostly exhausting. But when it comes to touring a wedding venue, there are several things that couples tend to forget about until it’s too late. Avoid regrets and go over these key details before you commit to your venue…

1. Power & Outlets

Yes, this venue is gorgeous—but can it handle the power needs of an event? Some venues may require you to rent a generator (or several) to avoid blowing any fuses with lighting, music, heaters/air conditioning, and other power demands a wedding brings. And if they do have on-site power, make sure you know where all the plugs are. Historical buildings often have far less power outlets than modern spaces, so make sure you have what you need for getting ready (especially if you’re plugging in hot hair tools) and the rest of the day. You may need an extension cord if you have a specific plan for where you’ll be needing things like lighting and audio equipment.

2. Contingency Plans

For the most part, no one is aiming for rain on their wedding day, but everyone should consider a venue’s “rain plan” before booking. Some venues move outdoor weddings inside, others set up tents, others don’t have a backup at all. Make sure you know what the plan is and consider that you may be using it. In Southern California, you may also want to consider wildfire dangers. Is your venue surrounded by forest or in a known fire-prone area? What do they do if the venue is unavailable or damaged? Do they have partner venues they can work with in emergencies? Will your deposit be refunded? Of course you don’t want these things to happen, but if they do you’ll feel a lot better if you know the plan.

3. Cleanup

When you imagine your wedding day, you probably aren’t thinking about cleaning up afterwards. But someone has to do it! Be sure to ask who is responsible for cleanup (it’s usually you) and when you’re required to have the venue clean. Some venues have to be cleaned immediately following the party whereas others allow you to clean up the next morning. Ask your wedding planner to help you come up with a cleanup plan (ideally one involving a cleaning staff and not you). Make sure you also get trash guidelines from your venue, because some spaces hold you responsible for any trash left on-site (even in trash bins).

4. Hidden Rules

Are you envisioning a romantic, candle-lit first dance? Is your dog going to be your ring bearer? Don’t forget to check ahead about your venue’s rules and restrictions. Many venues prohibit candles or open flames of any kind. Sparklers are also commonly not allowed. Some venues also limit confetti throwing, animals, or food trucks on the property. Most LA venues also have music volume restrictions after 10pm (which is dictated by county law rather than the venue itself).

5. Accessibility

If you’re able-bodied, you probably haven’t given much thought to accessibility, but if you have disabled guests you’ll definitely want to make sure you can accommodate them. If you’re expecting elderly guests, guests in wheelchairs, or guests who otherwise struggle with physical mobility, make sure to keep this in mind during venue hunting.

Is the whole property wheelchair accessible? Historical buildings tend to be far less accessible than modern ones. Keep an eye out for step-up entryways, tight corridors, and non-accessible restrooms.

Even people who don’t use wheelchairs may have mobility issues that make it difficult for them to traverse hills, uneven terrain, stairs, or long distances. How far will guests need to travel between parking and the ceremony space? How much of it is uphill? Ask the venue manager if they have designated accessible parking or a drop-off space.

6. Taxes & Fees

Depending on where you live, your venue rate may be subject to local taxes. Make sure to ask if those taxes are included in the quoted price or if they are additional (and get the full quote for how much that will be). Some venues may require gratuities for staff that are rarely included in the rate, so be sure to ask about any included gratuities and account for them in your budget. Venues may also expect you to cover clean-up costs and trash removal through them. Extra fees may apply if you want to have them move furniture or set up a dance floor. Get any additional costs cleared up from the start.

PSST! Here’s a bonus for you—my complete wedding venue checklist! Make your venue hunt so much easier and take it with you on your tour!


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The First 5 Things To Book When Planning a Wedding
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You’re ready to start wedding planning: Awesome! But now what?

Wedding planning can be a complicated web of to-dos, so here’s a basic list of where to get started and in what order.

1. Wedding Planner

Whether you’re looking for a full-service planner or a ‘day of coordinator’, you’re going to want to hire them first. Planners are key in providing recommendations and consulting on big decisions, and often can help you save money on the other vendors you hire. Most people start off planning thinking “I can do this myself” only to eventually realize (after a lot of unneeded stress and extra costs) that they really do need a planner. Make the smart call and hire the planner before anything else. You’ll get to truly take advantage of all the value a professional brings to the table.

2. Venue

For many couples the venue will be their biggest expense, so knowing what you’re spending is key to building an accurate budget. Details about the space will ultimately dictate other expenses, like whether or not you’ll need to account for furniture rentals, transportation, lighting, or portable restrooms. Venue availability will help narrow down your exact date, which most other vendors will require for booking. It also sets the tone for theme and décor decisions. Plus, since rental rates will likely increase over time, you’ll lock in the best rate by booking early.

3. Photographer

At this point, your next stop is the photographer. (Yay! Time to call me!) In-demand photographers can book up quickly, so if photography is important to you, you’ll want to book earlier over later. An added perk: If you’re planning on doing engagement photos, you can have them ready when you make your save the dates or set up your wedding website.

4. Caterer

Catering is usually the second biggest chunk of the wedding budget (next to venue), so it’s a good idea to start talking to caterers next. Knowing your budget for food is helpful because there are often unexpected costs in this category (ie.: kitchen and serving equipment, servers, generators, trash disposal, staff tips) Catering will help fill in some important logistics gaps (like whether or not you need a kitchen brought in to your venue).

5. Florist

It’s a good idea to consult your florist as you start envisioning theme, colors, and décor. Some flowers may be out of season or over budget, so if your vision centers on a particular look, you’ll want to know before you really commit. Knowing your floral plan will help you decide how to fill in the rest of the décor.

 
5 Steps for Hiring Your Wedding Vendors