a morbid anecdote to help you choose your wedding vendors

June 5, 2013

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As a professional wedding and event florist, on a regular basis I meet with potential wedding clients. Part of our initial meetings involve obtaining a list of their wedding day vendors that may be relevant to their floral setup, including my favorite – the photographer (and/or videographer). When I am chatting with a client, and they tell me who their photographer is and they follow it with a comment about how cheap it was… ‘Jo Schmo Photography had great prices, so I went with them!’, I cringe. The cringe is followed by a deer-in-headlights look on my face if I secretly don’t approve of their photographer choice, followed then by a fake smile (because everyone knows I have no filter and it’s very difficult to bite my tongue). If you’re thinking this is very judgemental or nasty of me, just give me a minute and you’ll understand why.

Because I have worked with so many local photographers, I have an idea for professionalism, quality of work, equipment quality, assistant photographers, artistic or unique flair, costs, and how those factors vary amongst each one. Because I have worked with so many wedding photographers in the past few years, I understand why they charge what they do. In my observation of photographers here locally, as with most goods and services, you get what you pay for. I have had brides crying to me after their wedding because they were so upset about the photographer choice they made in order to save a buck. Complaints from lost files, terrible image capturing (shadows, etc.), no-shows/late photographers, six month waits, the list goes on of all the issues I’ve seen with Jo Schmo type photographers.

Just a few short weeks ago we had a wedding for a very fun and unique client, and set to be one of my personal favorites in terms of theme, a Tim Burton inspired wedding celebration. Yes, cue the heavenly sounds! This wedding was mostly an effort amongst family and friends that offered their services – there was no professional wedding planner, caterer, or baker, and the event was not held at a wedding venue — simply at their home. All these elements combined saved them a large chunk of money. They did, however, hire ‘professionals’ for certain aspects they chose were most important to them: the photographer and the florist. Then, the unimaginable happened. A week and a half after the wedding, the newly married bride lost her husband to a very unexpected and untimely passing. Prior to the funeral I went to the bride’s home to meet with her mother. The photographer, The Photography Smiths, (one of my local favorites) had provided a large, beautiful print of the bride and groom together to be placed at his memorial service, as she knew they only had phone/camera images of the groom. The image was just beautiful – a perfect flash, perfect capturing of the light, beautiful couple right in the middle of a natural embrace and smile, beautiful composition/layout of the subject in the frame… everything was perfect about the picture if put up for photography critique (in my basic understanding of photography – excuse me if the terms are uneducated). The images that the photographer captured for their engagement shoot and their wedding were the very last images of the bride and groom together.

But, what if she had chosen Jo Schmo photography? What if Jo Schmo lost some of the images, what if the images were out of focus or not of the best quality? What if she had limited her photography budget to splurge elsewhere? (I know this may bring up the point of ‘well, we take pictures all the time of each other’ … understood, but how often do you hire someone to take ‘professional’/great quality images of you as a couple?). Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of getting the best bang for your buck, cutting cost where possible, etc. — everyone has a budget — but if you splurge on anything, it should be your photographer – not your dress, not your florist, not your venue (yes, my vendor friends are hating me right now). Will you really be that concerned about what you wore, or the venue/setting of the photos, or that you rode in a stretch hummer that day when and if your husband passes (at any point in your lives)? Let’s be honest, you won’t. You will stare longingly at the image, at every inch of his body and his idiosyncrasies — his face, his eyes, hoping to see the detail that you would see as if face to face – the fleck of brown in his blue eyes, the shape of his hands, the way he holds you as you have your first wedding kiss. You would want the images to be clear, variety of shots, capturing the light properly — all things a professional and EXPERIENCED wedding photographer will know how to do, and do well. This also applies to videography — personally I wanted a video to capture the sounds, the speeches… here it would be in the instance of hearing his voice again, watching him move/his mannerisms…

This may be a very sad and morbid way of analyzing how to choose your vendors (mainly the photographer and/or videographer), but my point is to simply share with those planning a wedding (especially my own clients) — please don’t take money away from your photography/videography budget to increase your floral budget. I would sleep better at night knowing you will have beautiful images or video to treasure forever.

I was not prompted to write this by a photographer or videographer :-) — I was simply inspired and felt the need to share. I will not share names of the parties involved unless they would like their identities shared or would like to comment below.

  1. Well said Amanda! I’m so sorry for the bride and her family’s loss. I can’t imagine :(. I know you guys did an amazing job for their wedding and I hope those happy memories help her get through the rough days.

  2. Dianna says:

    What a caring thing to post.

  3. Abby Grace says:

    I can’t even imagine what that bride is going through right now, but I’m so thankful that she has images to treasure and to remember him by. Thanks for writing this, Amanda!

  4. Jen Whitt says:

    As a floral designer myself, I completely agree!!! Flowers fade, but beautiful images are forever! I speak from experience too. I had a family member, hobby photographer, offer to take photos of my wedding as my wedding “gift”. We were in a tight budget and I accepted the offer. Photos were awful and when we got them back there was only 1 shot of the newly married couple (us!!!) dancing. I guess it was ominous, we’ve since divorced and no pictures to prove we had a wedding! True story! If I ever take the plunge again, my entire budget will go to the photographer. :)

  5. sage says:

    Wow. My heart breaks for your bride. I am so happy they chose to have a great photographer. That certainly puts thing in perspective.

  6. Kat says:

    Beautifully said Amanda. I’m so sorry for the brides loss. I really can’t imagine…

  7. Annamarie says:

    This was beautiful and so well said! I’m leaving a comment not because I’m a photographer, but because I’m super sentimental and value my own wedding images so much!! My heart aches for this bride who lost who her husband :(. But I’m so thankful she has beautiful images to remember him by.

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