Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Wedding Photography

It's not that often that you are going to spend time and money looking for a professional photographer. Wedding photos are not cheap, and often there is a very complicated pricing scheme attached. Right off the bat, you can expect spending at least $2,000 for a decent photographer for the day of the wedding alone. It will cost more for engagement photos or photos for rehearsal dinner. I have gotten quotes anywhere ranging from $2,000 to $7,500, with lots of different packages to choose from.

What does this all mean? Well, it actually means that you have quite a bit of bargaining power in the whole discussion and negotiation process.

My approach: I narrowed down photographers based on their price range and individual style, and then negotiated for what I really want -- digital negatives. I prefer digital photography for several reason -- they tend to be more cost efficient (the price is based on time instead of the number of photos). Digital photographers also tend to give you the option of having your photos made available for online viewing. A lot of photographers offer this service through Pictage, but the cost for printing photos on Pictage can be 10 times as much as regular digital photo sites. For that reason alone, Pictage is not a good service for sharing with friends and family. Not only do I want to save money for myself, I also don't have friends and relatives pay $10 per 4x6 print!

I was very happy with my decision to pass on the albums and focus on getting digital negatives. If you gave digital negatives on a CD or DVD, you are able to share my photos online with all my family, friends, and wedding guests very cheaply and easily. There are many sites that you can use to upload and share digital photographs, some are free and some for fee. The ones I liked:

Shutterfly (free)
Shutterfly is a major competitor in the space of digital photos. I have listed them above Kodakgallery for one reason -- they have a collections feature. The Collections, also a free feature, allows you to choose pictures or Photo Books to share, and invite people to see them. You can share a single album, Photo Book, or create a Collection to share multiple albums at your own web address. There is unlimites storage and a good selection of projects you can create from personalized photo cards to photo albums to make as gifts.

KodakGallery provides free unlimited online photo storage to you for 12 months from the date you first upload an image to your account. The collection solution on the aforementioned Shutterfly is called Gallery Premier on Kodakgallery, and it is a paid service (not free). Kodakgallery stores your photos online for you as long as you're an active member of the Gallery. "Active" means that you make at least one purchase from the Gallery at least once every 12 months.

Smugmug (annual fee, starts at $39.95)
I ended up going with Smugmug because I am a webbie who loves digital photos. I wanted to have a place where people can easily access my gallery (which I can set as private or public). Smugmug offers with the annual fee the following:
  • Unlimited storage!
  • No ads
  • Crop the bad parts
  • Enhance the good parts
  • Personalize with themes
  • Password-protect galleries
  • Retrieve your high-res photos
  • Easy organization
  • Ability to post photos in blogs & forums
  • Add photos from camera phones
  • Have your own URL
  • Track unlimited traffic to your photos
  • Be notified of comments
  • Create private ShareGroups
  • Create and join communities
  • Make life easy with Web 2.0: Tags, RSS feeds, APIs, and Ajax
  • See photos on Google Maps
  • Photo tags
  • View by timeline
Also important to note is that Pictage takes longer to print their photos than these other services. My sister-in-law got her prints in days. Pictage takes 2-3 weeks.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Looking back on my wedding, here are the things that worked for me

Now that my wedding and honeymoon is over, a new year has started, I can take an inventory on all the things that went into my wedding that worked. I had an awesome wedding, and since a lot of things did work out, it is good to appreciate.

I am a web producer by trade so I am particularly pleased about the new developments on the internet. With so much to juggle in one's daily life, I can hardly imagine the wedding planning the old fashioned way. How all this is done before the invention of telephones boggles my mind, and I can hardly imagine holding down a full-time job and getting everything done without modern technology. Certainly, I engaged in the mix of the old tech and new tech in some ways, but there are major areas where the web has helped me in my wedding planning.

The wedding industry is a confusing experience even for the more worldly of us. The wedding industry does things its own way, and often with a steep marginal mark-up for everything from dresses, cakes, and flowers. Here's a few web resources that helped me:

  • Yelp
    While I did do things the regular way by looking at those large directories and thick wedding magazines, I found Yelp, a site which combines ratings and social networking, incredibly helpful for tips on local vendors. I found my makeup artist through a recommendation on Yelp.

  • TheKnot.com
  • I very much liked the practical functionalities on this site, though I admit there are some trade-offs that makes it a little easier to use than WeddingChannel.com. For the engaged couple, you can create a website with details, create guest list, organize guest list (export to Excel if needed), and create newsletters. TheKnot.com has a lot of content that you can mark and keep in your "notebook" for future reference.

  • Zappos.com
    While I love shoe-shopping, I really just plain do not have the time to spend shopping that much. The wedding dress shopping process is pretty arduous -- I have never had to buy a dress like this before, with so much wait time and multiple terations! Luckily, I can shop for shoes right from the comfort of my own home. Zappos.com has the nicest shoe shopping engine I have see thus far, and the site allows you to create a "favorites" list to keep all the styles you like for future reference. You can be alerted of availability via email if a certain shoe doesn't come in your size. I got free shipping and Zappos.com allows you to return shoes within 365 days. I was able to easily pick out shoes for my Chinese cheongsam as well as wedding dress from Zappos.com. Even with the back-and-forth I had with trying out shoes for fun, I got my shoes in plenty of time for dress fittings.

  • SimpleSeating.com
    I was able to create seating charts very easily with SimpleSeating.com while it was in beta. It's a nice free solution that really made communicating with out-of-town in-laws very simple and easy.This allowed me to create seating charts and email them to family members for feedback.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Crazy wedding madness

A funny site on wedding dress ridiculousness.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

How much does a wedding cost in your city?

On average, U.S. couples will spend $26,800.00 for their wedding. This does not include cost for a honeymoon, engagement ring, bridal consultant or wedding planner. Add that in and cost could reach $35,530.00. You should note that wedding cost can very widely and this is just an estimated average of what couples will likely spend based on this site's research at The Wedding Report.

The Prenuptial Agreement Dilemma

This article gives a wonderful outline of what a prenuptial can do.