Wedding Prices and Contracts?

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    • #43378

      NOTE: I looked through the forums first and held no results for my questions

      So ultimately I’m curious about what I should’ve charged for my last wedding (first wedding) video as well as what I should charge for my next one and some info on what contracts I should check out.

      My last one was a fixed rate at 500. My clients were thrilled with my work and payment was recieved without a contract. It was a 14 hour day with probably 25 hours of edit time which included a DVD and BLU-RAY encore project, menus, music and dvd cover art. Gear was rented and a second shooter was hired in at a fixed day rate which broke even and editing was pretty much free.

      GEAR: (in case you need to know this?)

      Panasonic HMC-150 x2

      Audio technica shotguns x2

      canon t3i x2

      24-70 2.8 L x2

      manfrotto tripod kits x2

      Alot of memory and batteries

      My next shoot is much simpler. Ceremony, speaches, cake cutting…highlights mostly. Probably an 8 hour day, 10 hours of editing tops but gear will need to be rented again. Not as much but some. Should that be included in quote? Am I running the risk of them seeking someone else out for this reason?

      As for contracts I haven’t begun to look into those so any info would be great.


    • #182043

      Although it has been YEARS since I started out my video production company 15 or more, in fact I still can remember that first year, Tyler, and the thought that “weddings ARE doable” and that I’d first have to do a freebie or two, then a “cheapie” or two, followed by a couple of low-ballers, then REALLY get into the zone of reasonable pay for the number of hours YOU already know that goes into shooting and editing weddings. THIS, regardless of how much we charge or actually receive.

      Truth be told, and I’m not the ONLY ONE harboring this truth or reality, regardless of how it plays from renting to owning equipment, time and other expenses and all the countless factors that go into a wedding video production from the time of acquiring it (earlier actually, if you do ANYTHING … and you virtually have to do something … to market your business or services) if an independent professional video services provider doesn’t get at least $2,500 per wedding, that person is NOT making any money, much less wages or a profit.

      The lump sums sound great at any price, a nice supplementary income or even good to consider getting even $1,000 for one wedding a week. HEY, $4K a month! Not BAD for a home-based business. It can even work if a person has low or no business related expenses. But ALL of us in the video business AS A BUSINESS have expenses. There IS NO “no expenses” business. Money, time, effort, energy, whatever, SOMETHING gets invested even if it’s only “sweat equity.”

      THAT being said … breaking even is a good initial goal when considering you need demo material, to establish word-of-mouth and other referrals, to get the “word out” but and this is a BIG BUT (no pun intended) if you work on PRICE along, whether you like or intend to or not, it’s going to be hard to break out of the lowball or cheap cycle as ALL of your clients are coming from referrals from the clients who got good quality work from you, delivered in a reasonable amount of time, for MUCH LESS than the rates that can sustain a business, your wages or provide a return on investment.

      The REALITY is a LOT of us out there go for competing on price to “get your foot in the door” and never come up out of that mentality. None of us is making money at anything less than $2,000 even for a “meat and potatoes” wedding shot documentary style with a minimum of editing. Look at the hours you invested for that NECESSARY first wedding. Congratulations, most of us did our first two or three for NOTHING. You’re ahead of the game 😉

      ALL out-of-pocket costs should be totaled (not estimates but REAL out of pocket from gas to rentals to insurance to taxes to materials or anything else). THEN you should add SOMETHING as a wage or income. AND THEN it would be nice to get a little more to set aside for equipment maintenance and acquisition, training, and other improvement-based expenses involved with your wedding video production operation.

      All-told, unless you DO recoup your costs, RENTAL is expensive. If, however, you DO cover ALL out of pocket expenses, then some. You’re on the right track.

      You want to take EVERYTHING it costs you to start, build and stay in business over a one-year period (actually, multiply that by 5 years if you’re serious) and divide that one-year cost base by 12 months to see what you need to cover your business operations and make a living on a monthly basis, then the weekly and subsequently the hourly rate you need to charge to sustain that level of income.

      On the other hand, you WILL NOT likely sustain the hourly base rate you NEED to be successful or operate because you will not be working ONLY 40 hours a week or even HAVE 40 billable hours a week. SO, you need to add a percentage to the top of your baseline hourly rate to soften or cushion the difference between your hourly baseline rate and the reality of business. Again the reality states that you WILL NOT be working 40 billable hours a week, every week, every month, every year. Stuff happens, and time is NOT infinite!

      My desirable hourly average rate is $70 and that is a flexible rate, but it’s applied to either hourly work or when someone wants me for a flat fee. I simply multiply my hourly rate by the estimated number of hours it’s likely to take me to deliver.

      Hope this helps. Get your work quality, experience, demos and all the other supportive sales and marketing elements up to the level you need, and establish your branding as a “GO TO” professional who is reasonable if not affordable and very, very good at what he does. Then as quickly as possible make your hours invested in ANY wedding production balance with your ACTUALS and then some.

      I think your target basic wedding package should be $2,500 … sooner rather than later. Until then, however, WHATEVER it takes! Hope this info helps.

    • #182044

      I am sure that Earl gave you all the info you need. And he is right on pricing. Here in my area to make a fair price when I did weddings I charged (remember I charged but did not get) $1,200.00. For this area I was doing good to get $750.00. Since anyone can walk into a store and buy a DVD for $5.00 they have no idea what goes into production. So when you ask for $1,200 or $2,500 their eyes bug out and their jaw drops. Then comes the question/statement! Walmart sells DVD for $5.00, yes but not your wedding. So pricing a wedding…that all depends on what you feel safe to price it at.

      Second point I would like to make, can you afford to be sued? I quit producing weddings, why? Well when you record that wedding you are recording the music and the reception music as well, you are then selling the DVD with the recorded music, you have repackaged and resold copyrighted music. I know it IS as dumb as it sounds. But wedding videographers are being sued and are loosing right now because of capturing copyrighted music. I did a wedding not too long ago, my last in fact, and the photographer was an old friend and she was still in school, she told me that her teacher viewed videographers as a threat and that in order for the photography business to be saved turn in videographers for copyright infringement. She told me that they were instructed on how to follow through. That was my last wedding. The only way around this issue is to get the rights to EACH and EVERY use of every song or remove the songs and toss on something you own. But be careful, each song violation is a fine of $100,000.00 and/or 10 years in jail.

      So how much do you charge to shoot a wedding? Enough to bail yourself out of trouble?

    • #182045


      Earl and Gregory nailed all the points. Bottom line is; as you’re starting out it’s an unfortunate, but oftimes necessary tactic in this biz to do the odd freebie or low-ball gig. If you’re a one-man-band with a workable kit, transport and editing gear, you can work that route. When you’re renting gear and bringing on hands to work the gig, you have to charge for your expected and real costs. You as the ‘producer’ can work out your own compensation, but nobody wants to work for free (at least more than once!)

      Production planning, Production time and Post-production costs time and man-hours which equals… money. What your clients are paying for is not the ‘DVD’. They are paying the costs of making that DVD. In essence, they are hiring a movie company to plan, film and produce the ‘movie’ of their wedding. That’s what they are paying for and that costs much more than a mere $500 bucks.

      Obviously, you don’t want to price yourself out of what your market will bear and you won’t have the ‘brand name’ built up to command prices at the profit level you wish. With that being the case, you’ll have to scale back what you provide. Even if you just set up a camera and let it run the entire wedding for a one-camera shot, you still had to transport the camera and all the support gear, set it up and choose the best angle to get that shot. ‘Uncle Bob’ and his ‘Best Buy’ special didn’t have that capability which is why they hired you.

      So figure out what it costs just to shoot the wedding. Your shot list will be a big help in deciding cost. If they want a $500 wedding, fine then have fewer shots and a shorter video. The real cost of movie or video production is Time. The time it takes to plan it, shoot it and edit it. The longer the video, the more it costs to make including incidentals (i.e. visual effects, motion graphics, music research and musical score production.)

      Yeah, you can show potential clients the ‘premiere package’ but you have to let them know it’s going to cost more. And don’t ‘bargain.’ If the couple can’t afford extras, then just cut them out. A barebones wedding vid can be just as special to the couple as a full on wedding film.

      Whatever you end up offering them, you’ll need to be able to cover your operating costs on the gig, pay your crew (yourself included) and make enough of a profit to pay some monthly operating expenses (printers need paper, cameras need tape or flash media.) Otherwise, your clients get the bargain and you get the shaft….

    • #182046

      I advertise 1400.00 I usually end up giving a discount of a few hundred to convince the client.

    • #182047

      The advice you’ve gotten above is excellent, to which I’ll add these thoughts: some people can’t afford to have wedding videos done by a professional, just like I can’t afford to own a Rolls Royce. I settle for a Honda and they settle for Uncle Charlie. The guy at the Rolls store doesn’t discount for me and unless you’re doing video for a hobby you can’t discount to $500 your wedding package.

      From what you describe in your post your last wedding took 39 hours of work, for which you got paid $12.80 per hour gross. Out of that you paid for rented gear and the services of a second shooter. In other words, you really didn’t net anything! And you haven’t accounted for any of your other costs, including the amortization of all your gear.

      I had a friend whose mission, admirable but misguided, was to provide wedding videos to everyone. He, like you, charged $500 a wedding and prided himself on the fact that he produced 60 wedding a year. In other words, he tried to make wedding videos available to everyone. He died of a heart attack at the age of 55, and that’s a heck of a way to go out of business.

      I have met a videographer who produces 10-12 wedding videos a year at between $8,000 and $10,000 per wedding. He lives in a market area where that’s possible.

      Of the two, I’d rather be the latter than the former.

      Figure your costs — as others have said, your hard costs. Then add in a decent hourly wage for yourself and add in something for the business, so you can establish a fund for equipment replacement and growth. Add an additional 10% for contingency and you’re (realistically) in business. I suspect that that figure will come a lot closer to $1500 than to $500.

      Good luck, and keep us posted on how you make out.


    • #182048
    • #182049

       John, I had problems with blank posts and someone on this site suggested that if I was using windows 7 and the latest version of internet explorer he had a solution. His solution was to click on send post and when the window pops up asking if you want to leave the page, click no stay on page then click send post again this time as the window asking about leaving the page pops up you click on leave the page. I hope this helps.

    • #182050

      Scrap Internet Explorer and use Firefox NO problems to overcome.

    • #182051

      Avoiding BLANK post windows is actually as easy as writing what you want to say in the available window instead of copying and pasting. Well, at least for those of you who type as you think, then essentially clean up the problems with the “edit” option.

      The problem with “edit” in this window is that some characters will grow extra symbols and characters if/when you do, then you have to go back and correct them as well.

      Nothing, however, is MORE pleasant that a nice clean (not empty) post that also has none of the coding that often accompanies a copy and paste message. I occasionally go in and clean some of this stuff up but yes it IS totally a pain, for either of us, so why not simply do it here in the first place. Right?

    • #182052

      A few comments.

      1. When your work is good enough that your clients seek you out by references from friends etc, then what you charge isn’t usually an issue.

      2. A lot of the issues with photographers is the fact that videographers are using DSLR cameras and the photographer sees the videographer as a “photographer” threat, not necessarily knowing that you are taking video. This especially applies to those who nudge in for space to take video of the photographer’s setups. I have always gone out of my way introduce myself to and cooperate with the photographer even to the extent of holding reflectors etc and this goes a long way to ensuring that both achieve our objectives. My wedding videos tell a story of the day including scenes of the Photographer taking photos. Often I give the Photographer a DVD copy of the finished video in exchange for my pick of his photos to use on the Video sleeve.

      3. At the moment it is best to give up on Explorer when posting to this forum. My problems started when I upgraded to Windows 7 64 bit. I have a copy of Google Chrome which works just fine. Explorer works fine on ohter web sites so I think Videomaker needs to address the problem.


    • #182053

       Thanks to all for the posting advice. I am running Win 7 64 bit. Vid-e-o-man solutions seems to work. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and let VM know about the issue.

    • #182054

      Thanks for all the advice guys! Ultimately tho I wasn’t able to work with my recent wedding client. They were looking for a cut-and-dry video, no edits, for 200 and I simply didnt even have the gear to deliver that yet.

      Would you all say 200 is a reasonable price for that?

      I think she was expecting that price range too because the client was referred to me from a professor and she figured students wouldn’t ask as much for it.

    • #182055

       Tyler, if you are going to be sitting around doing nothing that day and can shoot the event with just an existing camera/tripod, picking up a few extra $ is worth it, but get the money up front and a simple contract that says straight shoot, no edits and delivered on 1 dvd and 1 data file (also, spell out the format, SD HD etc). It does not sound like this client would even consider a more professional product, so I don’t see a threat to the full time videographers.

    • #182056

      Don’t get me wrong I totally agree but I just don’t have the gear for it right now in my career.

    • #182057

       Tyler, don’t get discouraged, I am confident that with basic gear your can find ways to make creative video and even charge money for your services. If you have not all ready, check out this episode of FilmRiot featuring how to make quality movies with an iPhone. I don’t have one myself, but the techniques can be applied to other small cameras.

      Also, check out this other iPhone movie and it’s making of video.

      Shooting weddings may be tough with light gear, but there are other sources of revenue out there if you just look. 



    • #182058

      RE: IE9 Leave this page alert

      I’ve turned off the autosave plugin in TinyMCE (the WYSIWYG HTML editor for posts.) It was not working correctly in IE9.

      After doing a few test posts and edits in IE9, it looks fine now.

    • #182059

      Thanks Andy, If this is not blank, then it worked for me!

    • #182060

      Tyler, all of these responses have been technically correct, but very long winded. What you have to do is sit down and decide what your time and effort is really worth to you, not just with weddings, but any video job. You find out exactly what the couple wants and you make a reasonable quote based on what your time is worth, and your time is worth way more than the equipment you use. That’s really what they are paying for. Your time and your expertise.

      As for getting sued for copyright, that’s not even remotely something you need to worry about. Copyright infringement really hinges on two main things. You making money off of selling the reproduced music, or public exhibition of that music. That’s why you never sell them the DVD. You charge them for your services, then you offer them a free DVD for personal use only if they would like one. Remember to specify all of this in the contract. There are so many ways to get around this stuff. You think the DJ gets sued for making money off of playing the music? Not a chance.

    • #182061

      Great point Justin. Something that has already been said but I want to diccuss is that in filmmaking gigs you start out small then work your out my first gig I got $100. You have to work your way up.

    • #182062

      Just a friendly reminder-If you want to avoid copyright issues, consult a copyright lawyer. I doubt any of us here have the true grasp of what is involved, and there is a lot of mixed information. Two of my colleagues were sued in the 6 figure range because their wedding highlights went viral (using copyright music). Now they purchase royalty-free music, but that will add anywhere from $10-100 per song.

      DJ’s have can face similar lawsuits (read more here:

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