Buying Tips for Price Shopping Brides- 5 Ways to Avoid the Regret Later

Bride and Her MaidsOver the years, I have photographed a lot of weddings. And recently I ran across an article that indicated that when brides were shopping for the various vendors, that 80% indicated that price was NOT their number one consideration in making a purchasing decision.

However, I run into couples everyday that seem to think that price should be the #1 consideration and shop accordingly.

Putting that into perspective for a second, I understand why they would, but I often ask if they are missing the most important part of their decision and that is, are they getting the best value for the money they are spending. Hopefully, these tips will help a price conscience couple make a great selection in their vendors, and especially their photographer.

1. Is your photographer/vendor properly Licensed with the State/Municipality they operate in?

All to often, many of the “part time” photographers have no business license. They have not done all the things necessary to have a legitimate business by filing the proper registration forms, paid the fees, and obtained the proper permits to operate a legitimate business. I often wonder if trusting someone to the most important day of your life with someone that isn’t dealing fairly would leave you with any recourse if they pack up and leave tomorrow after taking your deposit? Don’t be afraid to ask to see theirs. Any legitimate business is more than willing to show you theirs. Those without one, can’t.

2. Are they a “part time” photographer/vendor who “shoots/works weddings to make extra money”?

Imagine for a minute you need a delicate surgery and are looking for a surgeon. Yes, you want the best price, but you also want the best surgeon too. Would you trust a “part time surgeon” who only does procedures on the weekends to do your surgery or would you want someone who does this daily? Which surgeon represents the best value in your mind?

So putting your most important day in the hands of someone that doesn’t actually do this “full time” as a profession might not be delivering what you want. Would you want that for your wedding day?

3. Have you actually talked to more than one photographer/vendor or are you taking the lowest price and going with it?

One mistake I often see is that the price conscience couple takes the first “low price” they get and hire them. Case in point. My wife’s sister loves Coach brand anything. Recently she “found” a great deal on Coach purses- or so she thought. Her $129 price conscience purchase for a $300 Coach purse basically fell apart in 6 months. Now real Coach anything won’t do that, but that fake one she bought did. There was a little tag inside that was almost hidden that said “Made in China”. Her “low price” turned out to not be the great VALUE she thought it was after all. She should have done her homework first.

Make a phone call at the very least to 4 or 5 prospective vendors and take the time to talk to them. See what value they offer with their price and then actually schedule a face to face meeting with the ones you like from your phone conversation. The price you pay for “Mr/Ms. Cheap” might not be what you really want and that little extra you might pay could be the difference in a great experience vs. a sad one when it’s too late to do anything about it. You might also find you are getting a whole lot more of what you want in that slightly higher price that is still within your budget. You will never know by buying based totally on price alone. And you will never know if you don’t talk to several.

4. Contracts, contracts, contracts.

If your vendor(s) are properly licensed, and truly a professional at what they do, they are going to insist on a Contract. Without one, you have no recourse should they not show up or things go terribly wrong. If they are willing to take your money and offer no contract, you might be getting that proverbial “pig in a poke”. In that case, the really good “price” you got was basically money you lost for something you wanted.

I recently photographed a wedding in St. Augustine and the bride had ordered her flowers from a florist locally. They never showed up on the wedding day, and their shop was closed by noon. There was no contract involved, so basically, she was “out” the money she handed them. Resorting to flowers from the local super market was her only option. These types of “wedding day nightmares” are avoided by having a Contract in hand.

5. Best Value or Best Price?

I see advertisements for “cheap” wedding everything. Recently I ran across one that offered “wedding photography” for $399. Now, for most price shoppers, they might be tempted to jump all over this, until they find out what is really offered. I actually called this one and found out it was for 2 hours of wedding day photography, no edits or adjustments on the photographs, and a CD with 100 images.  This photographer didn’t have a Business license, was a total “part time” photographer and couldn’t meet me at 1 pm, had no online ordering for prints, and didn’t offer any album or print packages either. The only “archiving” you got was your CD.

Now, there is also another wedding photographer that I know well and is 100% legitimate. They have a Business license and have been photographing weddings full time for 6 years. Their lowest priced package is at $795 and offers 5 hours of wedding day coverage, 250-300 images fully color corrected and edited, and your images on CD. They also give you an online gallery for print ordering, offer a full range of print products including albums- should you want one later on- and archive your photographs for years on multiple hard drives.

So which photographer is offering you the best VALUE for your money? I’ll let you decide.

These are just a few suggestions that every bride should be using to insure that her wedding day comes off totally without any surprises or mistakes. A real professional vendor is going to take the time to get to know what you want and provide that service exactly as you desire. You don’t always have many options when buying based totally on “price”, but find you can get great value from people who offer lots more at a slightly higher price than the others. Those couples who DO take a little extra time to find the great VALUE, are usually the ones who love every moment of their wedding day. And it’s always the ones who try to “cut corners” by buying based totally on price who have the regrets later.

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