Posts tagged Wedding Vendors
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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10 Signs You Shouldn't Hire That Wedding Vendor
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Odds are you've never hired a wedding vendor before, and internet horror stories can certainly tell you that it does not always go well. How do you hire the right people that will make your day awesome? I've got you covered. Here are ten warning signs that wedding industry pros know to watch out for...

 

1. Their Portfolio is Inconsistent

Skilled, established wedding vendors should have a portfolio that reflects their style and ability. If their portfolio features some great work and some less-than-stellar work, you probably will be able to expect the same inconsistency if they work at your wedding. You should also be wary of very contradictory styles. If a photographer has bright pastel images one minute and in the next switches to vintage black and white, you won't be able to know what to expect from them. (And in some cases, this can be a sign of a stolen or misleading portfolio.) You should like at least 70% of a vendor's work, anything less means they're probably not for you.

2. They Take a Long Time to Respond to Emails

Vendors want your business. Any professional wedding vendor will respond to you within 48 hours at most. The occasional slow email may be unavoidable (vendors are people too, after all), but if they consistently take several days with every response, they are not valuing you. When you're stressed out the week before your wedding, you'll regret having hired someone who leaves you hanging for days.

3. They Don't Have a Contract

Contracts are meant to protect both you as a client and the vendor. Having everything written down in advance helps everyone be clear on what they're committing to and what happens in case something goes wrong. If you're paying a vendor but have no contract, there's no guarantee as to where that money goes or what happens if they cancel. There are honest wedding vendors who just don't tend to use contracts, but they should be willing to provide you with everything in writing if you request it. If you can't get some kind of record of your agreement, you should walk away.

4. You Can't Find Any Customer Reviews

Unless your vendor is new to the industry, a quick google search should turn up some customer reviews. If you can't find a Yelp page, Facebook reviews, a WeddingWire page, or something like that, this might be a red flag. There are genuine reasons a business might not be a member of review sites, but you should be able to find something. Testimonials on their own website can be useful, but since they're custom curated by the vendor you'll want to find some other referrals.

5. They're a Really Great Deal

If you've been quoted $1000 for the same cake everywhere else, and suddenly you've been quoted $500, there's a reason behind that—and they should be able to give you a good explanation. If the vendor is just starting out and gaining experience, a much lower price might make sense, but out-of-nowhere low prices can be a sign that something is up. It may mean the vendor is compromising on quality or service, or it could even mean they're untrustworthy. If someone's price is unusual, be skeptical and use your best judgement.

6. You Don't "Click"

When you meet in person with your vendor, you should walk away feeling excited about your wedding. If you feel odd, uncomfortable, or awkward, they're probably not the vendor for you.

7. They Don't Have Insurance

Insurance protects you, your venue, and everyone else from anything going wrong. Professional businesses need their own insurance if they have anyone on-site at your wedding, and many venues even require all vendors be insured. If a vendor doesn't invest in insurance, you know they're already okay with cutting corners.

8. They Gossip

If a vendor is gossiping about other vendors or putting down other couples they've worked with, you should run in the other direction. Wedding vendors should behave professionally and, while they can definitely let you know which vendors to avoid, they should be doing it in an appropriate and respectful way. The best wedding vendors build strong and positive industry relationships that you can benefit from as a client. And if they're complaining about other couples or making fun of them, you can never be sure they're not doing the same to you.

9. You Can't Get A Price List

Pricing is tough for small businesses, so some vendors may be hesitant to give you an exact number, but if you ask for a price, they should be able to give it to you. For some businesses this will be a price list or catalog and for others this will be a detailed invoice. Prices should be predictable and consistent, and they should be able to tell you if and when prices will increase.

10. They're Always Late

Being late happens to everyone, but when vendor meetings always start with 30 minutes of toe-tapping waiting for them to arrive, it's a problem. They aren't respecting your time and they'll likely be unpredictable and late on your wedding day.


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