If this is the first question that you ask when speaking to a wedding vendor, you are in the majority. There's nothing wrong with this question, as it is obviously important to find out the price of the service you are inquiring about. But is this the most important question to ask?
The answer is no. Now understandably, everybody operates with a certain budget in mind, this columnist is not recommending that you put yourself into debt planning your wedding! You should be prioritizing your budget based on what is important to you.
It is not uncommon to start off with the question: "How much?" The majority of the time, people ask this question because they simply don't know what other questions to ask. There's nothing wrong with not knowing, and a good vendor will be one who offers to educate you on the product or service they are offering, not try to "sell" you. If you go into a store to buy a refrigerator, or a car, or a computer, "how much?" is the first question that most of us would ask. We all know that the cheapest car on the lot is the cheapest car on the lot with good reason: there may be engine trouble, a ton of miles, or it may have less features and options than some of the other, more expensive cars on the lot. The cheapest computer may not have the options that are important to you.
Using the car analogy, the best thing to do is to buy the car that best fits your needs, and yes, that is reasonably priced. If you simply walk onto the lot and want the cheapest car, chances are you are going to run into several problems. Relating this concept to your wedding day, you need to understand what you are buying, as the "cheapest" vendor is probably that way for a reason. If you shop around to different vendors and all you do is compare the price, you will find that you are not comparing "apples to apples." Take for example your limo service. You may call up and say, "how much for a limo?" not knowing that you have several options to choose from. The new model may be more expensive, but may have a restroom and TV installed in it...Maybe this is important to you, and worth the few extra dollars? Or, one vendor can list the hourly rate at $45 and another at $60, but upon investigating further you might find that the $45/hour limo is a 5 year old model, and the air conditioning doesn't work, even though the two limos are identical models.
Another example is with your Videographer. Video Company A offers a "2nd Videographer" for $200 while Video Company B offers a "2nd Videographer" for $500. Based on price, the choice is simple, who wouldn't go with the $200 guy? But upon researching more, you may find that Company A is going to send out a 16 year old "trainee" who will carry the bags for the 1st Videographer, while Company B, though more money, is sending out a trained award-winning professional. Your video will have much more added value with a 2nd experienced person, rather than the cheaper option, which will add little value.
The smartest approach is to always find the best "value", which is a far cry from the best "price." Try to find a vendor who is willing to spend the extra time with you, educating you on their product, and offering tips as to what to look for. You want to trust in all of your wedding vendors, not get tricked into buying something based on emotion or his/her sales pitch. Ask questions, take time to research, and try to look for people that you can trust. If two companies offering similar services are far apart on price, try to determine why. A good vendor will have a reason, and know exactly why they are charging what they charge.
Remember to base your budget on your own research, not what a magazine or website tells you it should be based on national polls. Use this input as a guide, but in the end the best way to make your wedding your own, is to make decisions based on "value" and your own priorities, not simply price.
Post your comments, or contact Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.cvideosolutions.com
Tom Santilli has been in the Detroit wedding industry since 2002, and in that time has established himself as one of the top in his field. His company, Complete Video Solutions , was named as the #1 Best Wedding Videographer in Detroit by local brides and Channel 4 FIVE consecutive years and is currently inducted into TheKnot.com's "Vendor Hall of Fame." He also has won several awards for his wedding production, and is a member of WEVA (Wedding & Event Videographers Association.) As the Detroit Wedding Examiner, he has helped hundreds of brides with their weddings, with a local knowledge not found anywhere else. Being in the industry for so long, he is an expert in all areas of wedding planning, not just videography. He welcomes your questions, article suggestions, or feedback, and he can be reached