Why weddings cost more than birthday parties Mr. Rossen | Salem, OR wedding photographer

August 24, 2016  •  3 Comments

"It's your ...day and you've dreamed about it your whole life....." Now, would you think I was talking about your wedding day or a birthday party? If you're inclined to think wedding then you're right. I don't know anyone who has ever dreamed of their birthday party and one birthday party in particular for their whole life.
A wedding and birthday party are like comparing apples to oranges.
Truth: Apples and oranges are both fruits.
Truth: Apples and oranges are about the same size. That's about where their similarities end.
Truth: Apples and oranges taste nothing alike.
Truth: Apples and oranges have different growth rates. An orange tree can produce fruit after about 3 yrs a standard apple tree sometimes 6-10 yrs before producing fruit.
Truth: They are completely different colors. To picky toddlers that can mean the difference between eating it or not eating it.
Truth: Apples can be eaten with the peel on. I don't know anyone who eats the peel of an orange and likes it unless using it as zest.
Anyways...you get the hint.
Weddings vs birthday parties or similar events:
Are they both events? Yes. Do they both have the same amount of work and prep going into them? Absolutely not. As an individual who has been married I can understand the angst that may come with planning a wedding and the costs associated. I can also understand there may be some confusion as to why a wedding may incur higher costs than a birthday party when looking in from the outside it seems to be the same amount of time and service involved.
Do note that as a professional I'm not here to "rip" anyone off by giving different pricing for what may seem like the same service. I can tell you the two are completely different. I've decided to write a comparison blog in light of the recent article that the Today Show did with Mr. Rossen Reports because I've found Mr. Rossen didn't do his due justice in reporting.

I'm going to compare the workload of a birthday party vs a wedding. It'll be the same hours of photography day of services, at the same venue (so no extra travel costs), and for the same number of people. You'll see what individuals would get for each and how it truly is different.

Birthday party: 150 people | 5 hrs | X venue (indoor only party)
$300 per hour fee = $1500

Receives: All edited digital images on a USB,  Online gallery to share with party guests, Option to purchase prints & products

Time involved:

  • 30-45 min consultation to go over party details
    During this consultation I discovered that this birthday party will be an indoor only event at this venue.
  • 5 hrs of photography time
  • 30 minutes uploading time of images
  • 1 hr culling time for choosing portraits to edit
  • 3 hrs editing with basic edits (color adjusts, etc)
  • Delivery of images on a USB within 1 week (Going to USPS & mailing out .5 hrs)

    Total time involved: Approximately 10.5 hrs

    Wedding: 150 people | 5 hrs | X venue (ceremony outdoors & reception indoors)
    $2399 Package deal

    Receives: 150 printed prints of their choice in a linen image box with all edited digital images on USB, Online gallery to share with family & friends, Option to purchase prints & products, 2nd photographer
    *Note you do not receive the prints or linen image box nor do you receive the 2nd photographer in the birthday coverage*

    Time involved:
  • 1 hr to 1.5 hr pre consultation and meetup to go over specifics of wedding day
  • Coordinating with other vendors being used at your event: videographer, dj, venue, catering, wedding coordinator, etc.
  • Monthly check-ins via phone or email regarding upcoming wedding
    Sending emails, receiving replies, responding to replies
  • 1 hr to 1.5 hr final meeting before wedding
  • 1 hr wedding timeline assistance (optional but recommended)
  • 5 hours of photographic time
  • 45 min uploading of images
  • 1.5 hrs of culling time for choosing portraits to edit
  • 6 hrs of editing (basic edits as well as more in depth edits for formals & couple's portraits) + another 3 hrs of editing your second shooter's images
  • Prep time of portraits to be sent to lab for printing
  • Ordering of linen image box
  • .5 hrs Delivery of images within 4-6 weeks (usually 3) This involves going to the post office & sending off package.

    Total time involved: Minimum of 22 hrs

    As anyone can see the difference in hours alone spent behind the scenes between a birthday party and wedding even with the same photographic time differs drastically. There are several other differences as well.

    Other differences:

    Lighting differences and the need to be proficient in all situations should the ceremony or formals be outdoors in separate lighting.

    Many times at weddings a photographer is maintaining the timeline, keeping everyone on schedule, as well as going to multiple areas of the venue to capture getting ready of the groom, getting ready of the bride, details, etc.
    Birthday parties tend to stay in one area, don't have pre-party shots, don't usually have the typical formals that weddings do (corralling people into poses etc), and are more photo journalistic in nature.

    Before you think that professionals are trying to scam you by quoting you a different price for your wedding than an event look into what each service includes. Understand that editing a wedding and making everything look like you've dreamed it to be does take a little longer with editing. More work is involved in the posing of individuals vs capturing a party in a completely candid atmosphere. More prep time and communication back and forth is required to make sure that all of the details for your wedding day go as planned.  And, remember, as Mr. Rossen stated, "it's your wedding day and you've been dreaming of this day your whole life."  That's a whole lot of pressure on the individual to make sure they nail it perfectly.

Mellissa is a Salem, Oregon based wedding, family, and birth photographer. She services all areas of Oregon including: Newberg, McMinnville, Salem, Portland, Corvallis, Albany, Lincoln City, Newport, and beyond. She's also available for destination weddings. Message her today to get your complimentary consultation.



Erin Delgado(non-registered)
Thanks for taking the time to write this! Great comparisons, I also loved the beautiful detail images you used!
Catherine Sewell - Sewell Sweets(non-registered)
Exceptionally put! Good on your for doing your part to explain the behind-the-scenes magic weddings require and thus the cost involved!
Nailed it. I am sharing your post!
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