Actual wedding production costs

EarlC's picture
Last seen: 3 years 7 months ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am

What wedding production costs...

There are certainly other, different and alternate incidentals but I break down the average cost to produce an average wedding to this = $1,709.

And that is not figuring on two operators at the event for 8 hours, only 1; also only 30 total hours editing, not a possible 40 to 50 or more in some cases.

Anybody else care to add, share or take away from these figures?

Person hours 8 x $50 per hour = $400
Road time hrs 2 x $25 per hour = $50
Gas/car exp = $16 avg
Food = $20 avg
tape stock = $18
Editing 20 to 40 hours @ $35 per hour = $1,050 for 30 hours
Insurances = $20 avg per event, based on a $1K annual premium?
Electricity = $5 (no logic applied, arbitrary number)
Equip depreciation/wear = $25 per gig avg
DVD, ink, paper, cases = $5 per unit
Postage = $10
Web costs = $20 per gig avg est cost
Advertising = $20 per gig avg est cost
Space, office, room use = $50 per event/gig est

At $1,709 I'd have to make $50 per hour based on an estimated 38 hours
per wedding/gig to break even. Based on $75 per hour for 38 hours, I'd
be bringing in $2,850 - a potentially feasible/reasonable price point.

I'm not averaging this on weddings, and not too many others are either.
Essentially, we're all losing money on weddings that call for an
investment of 40 plus hours and are bringing in less than $3K.

This makes wedding video production truly a labor of love, no pun intended.


birdcat's picture
Last seen: 5 years 2 months ago
Joined: 10/21/2005 - 10:09am

I was just at a pro video assn meeting last night (first time for me with this one) and one guy was saying his standard price for weddings starts at $1700 (he did one last month for $5300 however). The group's moderator pointed out that in this economy, you take what you can get to keep the camera rolling - even as little as $500. I guess that makes sense but boy that comes out to very little $$$ for such an investment in time....

The only wedding I ever did was for a friend and I filmed for over 12 hours (spent the whole day with them as they prepared plus the ceremony & reception) plus well over 120 hours of editing (it had to be perfect as it was my gift). They loved it but I don't know if I could do this for a living - I am way too much of a perfectionist and I don't know if I could get what I wanted in only 30 hours (although there are some who have a model/template/formula they use that allows for a one day edit).

Bruce Paul 7Squared Productions http://www.7squared.com


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 3 years 7 months ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am

J.D. I currently continue to shoot the vast majority of my work using standard definition on a pair of Canon XL1 and a Canon GL2. For all my productions, even when I am shooting direct to hard drive and using tape for backup, I have used Sony Premium MiniDV. When I have gone with another brand, back in the early days of my MiniDV acquisition, I ran into head clog problems and stuff. So, after getting the heads replaced in BOTH XL1 cameras twice and the complete drive path assemply replaced in one of them once, I NEVER allow myself to be tempted to change tape type or brand again. I will recycle a one-time or twice used Sony before taking the chance. Once bitten, and all that...

If I were to go with a unit that uses the HD rated tape I would simply factor in the tape stock costs. For nearly all my commercial jobs tape stock fees is a line item and payable over and above other charges. I treat it like sales tax, it is a cost carried the client over and above my service and production fees.

I have still not been sold off the HMC150 Panasonic SDHC cameras as a early/late fall 2009 acqusition (will need a pair) so tape soon, for me, will not be an issue.

Gads, I highjacked my own thread :-)

Back on topic: What I wanted to do with this thread essentially was bring to mind that many things in the line of our work, especially in wedding production, are treated as inconsequential and not factored into the equation when we want to actually get a 99-percent accurate picture of what it takes to produce an average wedding. I didn't go into detail with the many things that we purchase and use in conjunction with our wedding production, or lump it into a misc category, but I probably should have because I suspect actual production costs is closer to $2K than even I care to accept.

On another forum a guy pointed out that he (admittedly) underpays college students or other desperate individuals, carries NO insurance (seriously taking chances here, especially when hiring out or outsourcing work - not to mention the potential for Uncle Sam considering these people employees rather than contract labor - whole nother issue...) and that he believes a person doing all the work himself (acqusition AND editing) is out more than hiring people on the cheap to shoot and/or edit. I can't seriously wrap my head around that concept. But, regardless, it remains a COST and cannot be left out of the equation.

Another guy pointed out that regardless of the "costs" I didn't include "market" in my assessment, but I responded that "what the market will bear, spend or what it's perceived value is) isn't elemental to factoring THE COST of doing a wedding production. Basing pricing on "what the market will bear" is something a LOT of us do, myself included, but that doesn't mean we're doing it right where expenses, income and profit come together. Market attitude isn't a factor in calculating hard costs of production.

Consequently, many of us do simply set pricing that we feel is competitive, do MORE work than it pays for, and go on about our happy ways with no regard to the fact that if we were to depend on doing this day in and day out for a living we would soon run out of money, go out of business and start looking for the employment line again. Those of us, and I started there as well, who have regular employment can subsidize our wedding (or other) production side-line business to a degree, but sooner or later, if we're not making a concerted and focused effort to at least break even or make a profit, we're going to overwhelm our financial resources no matter the money we have coming in.

I'm going to get stupid here, but really think about this: If you ONLY pour water OUT of the jar and never replinish the levels it will eventually go empty; likewise, if you pour out more than you replace, ditto; AND, if you add water from other jars without renewing the sources for ANY of them, they will all eventually run dry. Same with expending MORE than you bring in to produce wedding, or any other, videos.


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 3 years 7 months ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am

I'm not positive I am understanding what you're trying to say headtrip. And I am NOT trying to ridicule you or poke fun.

Essentially, based on a certain cost per hour for provision of services, yes you can find ways to trim an hour here, shave a minute there and wind up with a reduction of the 30-hour average. Those who are taking 40 hours, or more, often are aware of this and making efforts to get their skills and formulas to the point where they can target 30 hours.

Those taking 30 are targeting 20, so on and so forth...

IF we accept that, generally speaking an average wedding production costs $1,709, and that based on the hours calculated to achieve a finished product we would need to make $50 per each of those hours in order to "break even" then doing the job in LESS than the total hours in my formula only results in doing better than breaking even if we sustain the income that $50 per hour generates. If our rates decline as we reduce the hours, this is self-defeating.

I can appreciate that further breaking down the 30 hours can enlighten us as to what is taking too much time, and where to focus an attempt on reduction of production time, but other than identifying those elements, just the general knowledge that if I am ONLY making $50 an hour, AND putting in 8 or more hours in shooting, and another 30 or so in production then I am just going to break even helps keep me focused on sustaining or increasing my pricing structure while at the same time finding ways to streamline my operation and reduce the time expended to do the job.

The whole matter can be headache inducing and cause anxiety attacks :-)


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 3 years 7 months ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am

Now THAT I understood :-) and it holds true.


haring's picture
Last seen: 1 year 3 weeks ago
Joined: 01/06/2016 - 8:29am

The only problem is that they want to have the "expensive services" even if they pay for the downgraded services. Even if you explain to them clearly. It happened to me....


Anonymous (not verified)

It is definitely sad that videographers are the last to be chosen and first to be booted out for budget cuts given the amount of work needed to produce a wedding film...


Jennifer O'Rourke's picture
Last seen: 3 years 8 months ago
Joined: 03/07/2008 - 10:44pm

In response to Aikidoken's comment... this proves the point, once again, that the average layperson doesn't get it at all, about what we do. My work is mediocre compared to "Real" wedding videographers, most weddings I've done were done as favors, and as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. I've seen some outstanding wedding videos and tip my virtual hat to the hard working wedding guys out there.

I have a question that I haven't been able to answer: when do you deliver the finished product? Do you promise to have it done by the time they return from the honeymoon? Or by a certain number or weeks...? or...? And what if they want it re-worked? What if you miss something, what do you promise? Being the wedding videographer is as much pressure as being the wedding planner!

Managing Editor jorourke@videomaker.com VM Customer Support: 1-800-284-3226


birdcat's picture
Last seen: 5 years 2 months ago
Joined: 10/21/2005 - 10:09am

I hear ya chick.

I considered going into the wedding video biz a few years ago, then I saw the work of Glen Elliot (http://www.glenelliott.com). Knowing that my product will always be inferior to his kinda keeps it real...

Bruce Paul 7Squared Productions http://www.7squared.com


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 3 years 7 months ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am

I target 2 weeks, I often experience client delays (for whatever the reason) in delivering photos, preferred songs, whatever, taking my average to 4-6 weeks. I promise 90 days and have not taken THAT long in a long, long time.

While I am not a high dollar, ultra-artistic or visually expressive wedding video producer, and do not attempt to reach THAT client base or try to stay in business as an exclusive wedding video producer, I also do not feel intimidated by the talents of people like Elliot, Dave Robbins, Bret Culp, or even Randy Stubbs in San Diego, Calif. They have developed, earned and claim rightful ownership to an elite category of such productions while I only include wedding video production among my diversified operation that focuses on ALL celebrations of life, corporate, small business and SIV. I also enjoy the diversity, and am afraid I would burn out rather quickly if I did, say, 40 to 50 weddings a year.

So the bridal budget range I attract is suitable for me, my creative standards and make short turnaround a possiblity that the ultra elite cannot hope to achieve. They, however, do establish a reputation and a branding that holds up to long and extensive, not to mention expensive, creative wedding productions.

An interesting thing I have noticed, and noted in various posts and on my blog site, is that the earlier I turn a wedding production around, the greater the increase in referrals - either from the clients themselves, or people with whom they have shared their production "while emotion, curiosity and interest" remains high, or people who saw my company in action at the event and heard one way or another that I turned around a quality product with good visuals and understandable audio in four weeks or less.

I think long delivery times put too much water under the bridge and people get busy with their lives. Disappointment sets in, and with the advent of virtually instant photo delivery videographers no longer have the argument that even if they take six months, or longer, to deliver they got the video delivered long before the photographer. That went out with Kodachrome.

In today's society people are into instant gratification. Waiting, even for the wine and cheeses, is something they're not often willing to do. The sooner you deliver a quality product, the longer they will remember you in a positive light. The longer and later, they will continue to remember you, but to others and not in a way that brings about more business.


Cville's picture
Last seen: 3 years 2 months ago
Joined: 03/28/2009 - 7:58pm

As you all are speaking of quick delivery I thought I would mention a wedding I attended early this spring. There was a 3 person video crew. They must have done some quick editing between the wedding and the reception and showed about a 3-5 minute highligt video at the reception.

 

 

We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.
- Walt Disney
 

www.ynotvideo.us


Anonymous (not verified)

Hi Cville,

We are one of the two companies(out of20+)in our city (Winnipeg, Canada)that does what we describe as a Same Day MTV Edit. Here is a sample

http://www.vimeo.com/5432198

Its definitely not for the faint of heart butits fun and exciting to do..imagine getting paid good money for 250-500 people to watch your wedding film..now that is priceless !! Our business have picked up considerably because of this ..

@Digitalhq

A WeddingFilmis still not accepted by a lot of couples as a must have for their wedding...I think its mainly because ofwhatclient's haveseen previously or the type of experience someone close to them had..kindaruins it for everyone when someone offers to charge $350 to film the wholeweddingday, just your basic cut and paste editingand worse; deliver the final product a year or so later...the most common comment we've received from clients is " i usually fast forward and will only watch once so why pay money when my uncle/cousin/friend can do that with their own camera?"

We deliver the final package 8-12 weeks. The film is usually about 45 mins - 1 hr long ..


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 3 years 7 months ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am

imagep, you have a few misconceptions about the realities of video production costs and business, as well as what actual costs of goods are. But there's no need to get into a discussion here regarding your approach VS another's approach, VS the right or wrong approach. Beyond my observations below, I cannot see the positive side of getting into a debate over the subject.

REAL costs of goods, services, labor or whatever are the sum of all things affecting that cost, not JUST what you went down to the dime store, or warehouse and spent to acquire a bundle of something wrapped in paper. If such things as time, gas, insurance, stamps, pencils, ink, paper, etc. are not taken into account, then the bottom line is not an accurate representation of what is going out VS what come in.

Some might be satisfied with a $25 per hour rate for provision of professional video production services. I and many others in the industry are not, nor should we be.


birdcat's picture
Last seen: 5 years 2 months ago
Joined: 10/21/2005 - 10:09am

Imagep -

Earl is spot on - I could not keep my family afloat for $25/hour. If I were to be in business full time as a wedding videographer, I would need to clear at least $100k/year gross per person to cover salary, benefits, insurance, cost of equipment (purchase and upkeep), consumables (blank DVD's, tapes and/or cards, cases, etc...), cost of doing business (rent, phone, business cards, advertising, postage, office supplies, etc...).

And that would require a minimum of taping three weddings per month @ $3000 each with turnaround in the 7-10 day timeframe.

Personally, I don't see how most wedding/event videographers can stay in business if this is their only source of income.

Also, videographers/producers are artists - You could buy canvas, paint and brushes for under $100 but what would you have at the end of the day? I look at the likes of Glen Elliot (http://www.glenelliott.com) and could easily equate his work to that of any outstanding (and profitable) contemporary artist.

But about the delays - you are correct - I have heard horror stories of couples waiting months for their products - There are many in the wedding/event video business who give a black eye to all those who turn around a final in less than a week - It all depends on skill, ethics and priorities.

Bruce Paul 7Squared Productions http://www.7squared.com


Anonymous (not verified)

imageP,

What Birdcat and EarlC are indicating in terms of compensation is the norm in the wedding video business..seriously,$25/houris a joke. An average Photographer charges between $75-$200 an hour so maybe take up your cause with them :)

If you are unhappy about how we get compensated ,that's toobad foryou..In the end, the majority of couples understand the work that needs tobe put in to delivera high quality wedding video; so theyalways ask us to take the time required (certainly not 48 hours) to do our job without rushing the work. I sense your apprehension about how we make money..i tell you its not bad ..not bad at all.. just like what Borat said "Ish bery nice!" hahahaha!!


Anonymous (not verified)

that's where the problem lies, you cannot look at wedding videography in terms of an hourly rate..it is moreproject based ..depending on the your currentproject (given that you have some ideas about how to shoot,edit and turn in the final copy ) In the beginning we were so happy just to receive $1000 per full wedding(12 hrs to shoot and 60-80 hours post productionworks out to $11/hour) until we realize that we will not be able to do this long term at this rate... or if there are no significant rewards coming our way..that is just good old fashion (common) business sense..

Let us know when you reach that point...

Cheers,


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 3 years 7 months ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am

Spoiled! SPOILED? The realities will eventually hit you. The problem with many people playing at conducting an exclusively weddings video production business do not, or cannot understand or comprehend the actual and true costs of doing business.

I go out of town, and NEVER on vacation, only to work a gig. I diversified because the realities of what can be made from, what is made from, the perceived value of wedding video production by consumers, the hours it takes to produce is way more severe than practically anything else you can pursue as an independent professional video services provider.

Spoiled are people who work for companies that offer benefits, vacations, expenses, perhaps even some joke of an insurance and retirement plan. You want to discovered NOT being spoiled - go into business for yourself! Hope you're a fast learner - about the business realities, not the FUN of doing wedding video production exclusively. It CAN be lucrative, but it requires more than simply a way with cameras and a creative mind, you have to know how to run a business as well, and that requires knowing your TRUE costs, setting your rates to cover them, AND see if there's the possibility of making a PROFIT after all the other is factored in.

The business is a good one, but don't go into it wearing blinders and rose-colored glasses my friend, you are in for a rude awakening. There's often a huge difference between what a person would LIKE to believe and the reality of it all.


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 3 years 7 months ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am

Imagep - you are not, if I am to understand your postings since joining this form a few days ago, an experienced or professional video services provider. Your take on video production and its requirements and cost of doing business was evident in you initial post seeking information that would help you generate the bucks for your band booster group, and take it away from a professional video services provider.

I cannot believe that you see a way to compare the printing business, of which I am a 30-year veteran (newspaper and magazine) and its associated costs and wages with that of video production at any level. You are being unfair in your presumtions regarding the business and IMHO a bit over the top in taking it upon yourself to tutor someone interested in pursuing video production business on the ins and outs of a area outside your experience, knowledge and expertise.

It is fine to debate issues, and you are most welcome (as far as I am concerned) to comment on these forums, but I do retain the right to rebut some of our philosophy and comments, especially your uninformed misstatements.


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 3 years 7 months ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am

But, Parkansky, there are probably MANY more restraints to being in business for yourself as opposed to working for the other person. Essentially, when you are off the clock, your time is YOUR time, not the company's. More than likely you will find your "company" involvement as an independent business person to be something close to 24/7 in a whole slew of ways.

Probably, the most difficult thing a self-employed, or independent businessperson has to contend with is his/her work ethic. If we do not put in the same rigid (more or less) routines with our own businesses as we did with our previous employers, if we start "sleeping in" or working later into the night, or taking unscheduled days off because we're simply not in the mood to work, if we actually back off a gig because we're ill, tired or missed because we overslept, we in deep poop my friend. The luxury of having specified time for work on a timeclock, where the rest of the week is ours is simply NOT present in independent business operations.

I'm here to tell you that you are flat WRONG about insurance costs as well, not to mention hospitalization and health, life, accident, but fire, theft, liability, etc. as well. You will discover that out-of-pocket premiums for all the insurances you SHOULD have as a business far exceed your imagination - something that can be to the tune of a couple thousand a month and STILL not the best of policies. You really need to reasearch the realities of the costs of doing business and insurance is only ONE tiny facet of it.

If you, and Imagep cannot grasp that time is money, that the time you spend actually working, is eqivalent and the same as if you had to pay someone else to do the work, you are NOT understanding the realities of the costs involved in doing business, or how profit is conceived, or counted on the bottom line.

Again, there's a huge gap between what some people apparently WANT to believe about the true costs and realities of running a business, and what it is. Mistakes will possibly point out some of the differences, but at what costs of the ignorance going in?


Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with Earl..if you cannot fathom the simplestof business concepts like"time is money"how in the world are you gonna survivebeing self employed? ...Being your own boss is not aticket to be a slacker.. if that is yourperceived notion of starting a business.. best of luck!!


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 3 years 7 months ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am

And he STILL doesn't GET IT, Jim! No problem here, Parkansky, like Burger King - have it your way. I've nothing more to debate here.


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 3 years 7 months ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am

It is really important that individuals wanting to comment regarding a thread as active as this one has become read the entire content so as to have a better handle on what they should say, or want to say, regarding the thread in total.

Posting a "can't we all just get along" response is all fine and good, but it would perhaps come off even better if the person posting either didn't admit to having not read all in their entirety, or had a better understanding of the ongoing interactions by having read them all so as to better respond without posting a kneejerk sermon.

Respect works on many levels and is evident, or not, in many ways - subtle and not so subtle nuances that are contained in the separate thread responses give a deeper understanding to the arguments, comments, debates and facts, and should be taken into consideration, yourvideographer, if one's post isn't going to be topic specific.


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 3 years 7 months ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am

I know that salary or payroll is an expense no matter what formula used to boost it up, or keep it down as pertains to the bottom line. What can profit be, on paper or in reality, or to Uncle Sam, if it is declared against a low wage base? I'm pretty much talked out now for real on this subject.


makerofvideos's picture
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: 07/29/2009 - 1:10am

How you folks handle music usage issues in your videos? Do you use any song you want? Do you get clearance? How do you get clearance?


makerofvideos's picture
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: 07/29/2009 - 1:10am

I meant to write, "How DO you folks...)


H. Wolfgang Porter's picture
Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

I read through the thread fully and noticed that imagep and m_paransky echo the thoughts of many potential video production clients. I rarely shoot weddings because of those very ideas 'that videographers charge too much.' Yeah, if a videographer hands a client a poorly produced, poorly shot video with terrible audio and missed shots (like the vows or ring exchanges per se), then I would absolutely agree.

But reputable videographers would not want their reputation ruined by turning out such product. And that's the point. Video production is the means to creating a 'product'. Image, the amounts and fees you mentioned are useable in a classroom setting and paransky, your rank and file logic is great for those who honorably work on the 'assembly line'. However, neither of you take into account the 'process' of making the 'final product' which is the completed film.

If it's a case of 'Uncle Bob' running out with his little handheld 1CCD rig to get some shots of the wedding, then yeah the costs are minimal. No matter what you think, wedding videos are productions that require pre-production phase planning, production phase acquisition and post-production phase creation of the final product. Everything involved with creating the wedding video/DVD costs money. All of those costs have to be weighed in to determine proper pricing.

The $20 DVD at wal-mart didn't cost $20 to make. In the case of 'Waterworld' or 'Titanic' that $20 DVD actually cost over $200m to make. The end product only costs $20 dollars only because there will be enough units sold which can recoup the costs of creation and promotion if not turn a profit.

Wedding videographers don't have the luxury of selling mass units of their final product. More often than not, it's a one-shot deal. All the costs and potential profits are usually recouped by the client paying for the planning, production and editing of their wedding video. In essence, the client has become an Executive Producer. The client has hopefully, hired a professional contractor to do the work and should not only expect professional level work, but expect to pay for it as well.

Unlike unskilled labor, contractors no matter what profession are highly trained and skilled professionals. What the client is paying for is the use of the contractor's knowledge, expertise and equipment for the completion of their project (in this case, a wedding video.) No one questions a doctor, lawyer or architect concerning their skillsets and their fees for their expertise. So why do you believe that anyone inclined to pick up a camera and turn it on is equal to someone who is a trained and experienced video professional? Do you really think Uncle Bob and a wedding video pro should be paid equally or not at all?

Lastly, earlier I made reference to 'rank and file' thinking. $12-13 an hour is a respectable wage for unskilled labor particularly if you receive proper compensation for overtime work. What you do not take into account is as an employee you are actually paid $24-26 an hour because your employer has to match unemployment benefits and payroll taxes. If they are also matching your insurance benefits, then the price is higher.

I can tell you from long experience that it is difficult to attract skilled video professionals for wages less than $20 an hour. If they are required to bring their own equipment, travel or take up temporary lodging as well forget it.

You two are only looking at the base amount of the hourly wage. Personnel costs money, equipment usage costs money, the operation, care and maintenance of working facilities cost money, operational supplies cost money and the list goes on. Just like the end price of the big-budget movie DVD, the wedding video/DVD's cost must cover the expenses to create it, the personnel involved in the creation and a reasonable amount of profit to justify its creation. You cannot run an independent business with a rank and file attitude towards production costs. When calculating pricing, you want to be fair to your clients, your business and to yourself. Neglecting any of those points will put you out of business.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


grinner's picture
Last seen: 3 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 12/29/2007 - 2:56am

Per Earl's price beak down, the easy answer is to just not shoot wedding videos for less than 3k. Done.
These same people happily pay 90 bucks an hour for car repairs. They want to pay you less?
shooooot. They can have uncle Bob shoot it if not wanting a great keepsake.


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