The Sunday-Star Times Sunday Magazine had a cracking article in it by Fairfax reporter, Marika Hill. Titled "The Bride Unleashed", Marika draws a line in the sand and asks:
"Why are weddings white-washed with traditions, hype, expectations - and, all too often debt?"
Marika then goes on to dissect the various costs associated with a wedding while providing some suggestions on how you can keep the costs down. Though Marika's tone is cutting, on the whole I agree with what she is saying except for one point - photography.
Yeah, yeah, I know what you are thinking - I'm a wedding photographer, of course I'd say that. True, but hear me out.
First up, let's look at Marika's take on 'The Photographer'. Here is what she has to say:
"It is not uncommon for the bride and groom to disappear for a few hours during the reception to craft "spontaneous" poses against red barns, while she holds a parasol and lifts the skirt ever so slightly to reveal the shoes. (Note: parasol can be exchanged for balloons for similar effect of 'happy couple'). So you are effectively paying anywhere from $1000 to more than $5000 to spend a few hours of your wedding day capturing memories in a field. That is two hours of memories you will miss at your actual wedding."
Marika then goes on to to say:
"The other alternative is to ask an amateur-photographer friend to take a nice photo. If one photo was good enough for my grandparents, it's good enough for me.".
Well Marika, as a professional wedding photographer I'd like to offer some counter points just for the sake of a balanced perspective:
1. There are a number of photographers - like my good self - who offer wedding coverage with or without a short (45-minute) portrait session with the bride and groom post ceremony. You don't have to choose a wedding photographer who is going to drag you out into a field for a "few hours". Instead, choose one who really does offer documentary wedding photography.
2. Be aware that when you ask a friend or a keen amateur-photographer to take "a nice photo" you are at risk of getting very little in the way of usable imagery post wedding. Good wedding photography is a lot more than just taking a photo. Good documentary wedding photographers know their equipment inside and out, they know how to document a visual story, they know what they should and shouldn't take photos of and most importantly of all, they have experience actually taking photos at weddings.
3. Once your wedding day is over, the only thing you'll have is your new husband / wife, the memories and your photos. The sentimental value of photos - especially family photos - actually increases with time. The only person who wouldn't believe this is someone who doesn't have any family photos on display in their home.
So when it comes to trimming your wedding day costs, be informed.
If you decide that wedding invitations, wedding day food etc.. is more important than having a photographer to document your day, that's okay. Just don't forget that a good wedding photographer will provide you with a real product after your wedding - your wedding day photographs. Photos have this wonderful ability to take you back to a moment in time that can never happen again.
And when you really think about it, that makes photos and wedding day photos in particular, something pretty special.