I have been a wedding photographer for 13 years. I have busy seasons and slow seasons. To offset the slow times, I sub contract out to other photographers and more recently to wedding groups. What is a wedding group (supplier)? Wedding groups are different than a wedding planner. A wedding planner knows local vendors and connects you directly to the vendors. I describe a wedding group as the Wal*Mart of the wedding industry. They are a one stop shop for a majority of the vendors you'll need for your wedding. There are a lot of benefits to using a supplier. It cuts down on the time it takes to thoroughly search and vet local vendors. If you are planning a destination wedding, you are really out of your element in looking for vendors that service that area, so a one stop shop can save so much time and stress.
When you sign up with a wedding group, they will figure out your style and match you with vendors accordingly. You'll get the chance to pick from a few hand-selected vendors that fit your style. You'll have a staff to contact constantly throughout the planning process. Everything you need is in one place. So all in all they aren't a bad thing, just a different experience than using a planner or booking a vendor directly.
So, why am I writing this? Because I want people to understand the difference BEFORE booking.
From my end of the experience, I get paid a set amount to take photos and deliver the unedited or lightly processed photos to the company. I do not get to choose my second shooter and I do not always have control over how the images are edited (it depends on the company). You, generally, will not have access to me until a few weeks before the wedding. Sometimes I do a consultation when you are considering booking me, sometimes I do an engagement session with you before hand. It all depends on the company, so I encourage you to ASK QUESTIONS before booking with a supplier.
Things to ask:
1. Will I be able to have contact with my photographer (or other vendor) the entire time before my wedding?
2. Will I be able to meet my photographer before the wedding?
3. Who selects my second photographer? (if applicable-and I HIGHLY recommend having a second shooter)
4. Who edits my photos after the wedding?
5. Are the digital downloads included in my package? (Most wedding photographers include your digital downloads)
Realize, when you are looking at a photographer's sample gallery, these photos have been edited to their highest standards. If you want to see what actually gets delivered to a client, ask to see a wedding gallery from beginning to end. This is something you should do whether you are asking a vendor or a supplier. The sample gallery on my supplier profiles are images edited by me, not by them. It is your right to know what quality products you are getting before you book with any vendor or supplier.
Here is a sample for you to compare:
The above image is straight out of the camera with absolutely no edits
The image above is what the vendor gave the bride
(I did crop out the logo because I don't want to shame any particular company. Their entire gallery wasn't badly edited. Just a few images that really upset me)
The image above is the way I edited the image for my website and blog
There are pros and cons with everything out there, just remember that it's okay to ask questions, and no questions are stupid! I want you to be able to make the best informed decision when dealing with vendors, so if you ever have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] or shoot me a text!