03.What we found
A venue can gobble up the biggest slice of your wedding budget. Our shadow shop indicates you’ll be charged more if you’re having a wedding – with one Melbourne venue wanting to charge almost double. Overall, the reception venues had a one-size-fits-all approach - with little tailoring to suit individual needs, and generally costing a lot more.
“You do see a lot of people getting pushed into doing the same things; often the wedding options are packaged up and there’s not much opportunity to deviate from what’s on offer,” says Terri Psiakis, author of wedding survival guide Tying the Knot Without Doing Your Block. “People also seem to feel pressured into having what their friends had. As a result, you can go to five different weddings from one circle of friends and they’re all the same. It’s difficult to remember whose wedding was whose.”
Beware the additional fee some venues impose to have your wedding ceremony onsite. Some charge an additional flat fee, while others charge per guest. One CHOICE staff member was recently quoted an additional $25 per head for her 70 guests if she wanted to have her ceremony onsite at one venue. When she queried what this extra $1750 covered, she was told it was for 20 chairs, a table, a piece of carpet and an archway.
The photographer can spend hours with the couple before the ceremony and during the nuptials, travelling offsite for more formal shots of the bridal party, and capturing the revelry of the reception. Photographers are usually responsible for any post-production work and developing a wedding album.
In order to keep requests identical, the bride shadow shopper told photographers she only wanted photos taken at the reception, as a relative would be capturing the ceremony. Both scenarios required a photographer to take photos at the venue for four hours, with a mix of posed and informal shots to be delivered on a CD.
Our shadow shoppers collected some extreme discrepancies from the 10 photographers approached.
- Only three photographers offered the same rate; and only two had a small difference with most quotes calculated by the hour.
- Four businesses quoted a much higher price for the wedding. One photographer wanted to charge a massive $2200 more for the wedding - insisting there was only an all-day rate for weddings, despite our shopper emphasising she didn’t want or need this. When our birthday girl called, the same business was quite happy to provide an hourly rate at a reasonable price.
- In the other cases, photographers quoted up to 150% more for the wedding, again only offering expensive all-day rates.
As with venues, wedding photography packages were offered with little flexibility and in most cases priced at a minimum of four to five hours. On several occasions, our bride said she didn’t feel the staff really listened to her specific requirements. Once again, the one-size-fits-all approach applies once the W-word is mentioned.