Those lovely folk at BBC Radio Cambridgeshire invited me to speak on the breakfast show last week, as new figures show couples are apparently opting for more registry office weddings so they can marry cheaply and then just have a big party. Their roaming reporter out on the street found this was the case and also that people didn’t want to marry in 2013.
Well, somewhat awkwardly I couldn’t confirm these findings as we have not really had these trends in our Cambridgeshire wedding photography bookings! We’ve been busier than ever in 2013 and have had a great mix of church weddings, registry office weddings and civil weddings at venues.
The discussion has got me thinking about the words used to describe certain choices though, and on the programme they were exploring the idea of ‘cheap’ weddings and how cheap you can do things. When it comes to weddings there are two words I really dislike: ‘cheap’ and ‘expensive.’ This is because they have connotations which just don’t reflect what you can and can’t achieve or how personal the day will be to you for example.
Let’s look at ‘cheap.’ Cheap doesn’t necessarily mean DIY and DIY doesn’t necessarily mean cheap. Everything is relative to the couple. You can definitely have a fantastic wedding on a low budget, the key is making sure you prioritise in the right places. Ask yourself what is going to last a lifetime; what needs to be of quality to make sure you have a great day or if it lasts your marriage? Getting Nan to make a version of her amazing Christmas cake into a wedding cake for you can save in the budget, but maybe give that wedding photographer charging £295 for all day coverage a miss. These types of savings were talked about by wedding planner Anna Lee-Munroe who was also interviewed earlier in the programme. Anna also made the point where people are having less guests, and there is definitely a viable option to have less for the meal (where the bulk of the cost comes) and then more evening guests for the party.
You only have to look at Pinterest to see the DIY look is a huge wedding trend right now, and I have seen some real weddings in wedding magazines of late that had the whole craft/vintage trend going on, and they definitely were not cheap to create! Personally I think individual touches made by yourself, family and friends are a really lovely addition to any wedding, and can stop your wedding looking like you just stuck pins in to a wedding magazine and said ‘I’ll have that, that and that.’
I also dislike the word ‘expensive.’ I don’t like it because people tend to use it with no real connection to what they may be paying for. Fees are about context. Yes a £3000 wedding dress may be described as expensive because it is something that is only worn once, but, if you really take a look at the craftsmanship that goes into those dresses (and I have seen a lot of dresses of all different price ranges) then the price tag I believe is justified. Same goes for photography, and I have to talk about it as it’s what we know. Our pricing is based on how hard and for how long we work on your images. There are things we add in that other photographers may not. We shoot for longer on average for example. Our albums are bigger than average. Our travel is included in a 50 mile radius (when many others do 25.) Above all, and this is a controversial one with other photographers, we process every single image, rather than what just goes in your album. I’ve been told we shouldn’t but we want to. And this takes time. Above all, you are buying a huge amount of passion, expertise and a genuine love to give you amazing wedding photos.
I once had an email conversation with a bride who told me we were top of her photographer choices but we were ‘too expensive.’ I couldn’t get my head round this. Surely we were top of her list for a reason, because she saw the extra quality and passion we put into our work, but no, she insisted we were expensive, and I felt like she was accusing us of being greedy. I think this is a common train of thought about the wedding industry. Yes of course there is a ‘wedding premium’ for some services (I for one have never understood a DJ’s pricing being different from a birthday party to a wedding reception,) but for a full time wedding photographer, we have to make the job pay our bills and it is in line with how much time and effort we spend on the job. I can completely appreciate being out of someone’s budget, which is fine, but expensive suggests you are charging too much for the quality, which is almost insulting…
The most important thing here is that you have the wedding you want; not what mum and dad want, your sister or what Brides magazine tells you the new trend is. Sit down together and ask yourselves what you love and what the day needs to achieve. As long as you get married with the people you want around you, and then have the type of celebration you want, this is what matters. Medieval fancy dress? Go for it! Vintage afternoon tea party in the village hall? Go start on the bunting. Lavish London hotel affair? Start saving… 😉
You know I always love to hear your thoughts and experiences so do comment below 🙂
You can hear me on the breakfast show by listening to this link
You can also look back at my previous BBC Cambs interview on brides giving wedding speeches