I have heard many a tale from fellow colleagues naming some high end wedding venues that have a strange stance on photographers wishing to blog or publish on line the wedding photography from their venue. Where is the problem with an artist wanting to show off his / her work? Surely it acts as an advert for the photographer along with the venue. You would think that any venue no matter how grand or small would not turn down ‘free’ publicity in this day & age. But they do…
A few months ago I received a call, from a local Dorset Wedding Venue, who started their conversation with congratulating me on my recent blog post naming their venue as the counties leading venue of choice.
Their next sentence had a change in direction asking that I remove the image of their venue from my blog or change the wording of my post. Apparently I had insinuated that I was a preferred supplier – I had indeed used a meta tag of “****** *** Wedding Photographer” on my post but had not indicated that I was a‘preferred’ official, recommended or anything else similar.
I naturally held rank and refused to remove the image as it was mine and my copyright. As for the wording, I didn’t want to budge and seized upon why he was so determined to protect this ‘approved’ vendor status. Ahhhh, the penny dropped, ‘preferred’ supplier – “I have heard of such things…that’s where you get a back hander” I said. To which the venue manager exploded, fiercely rebuffing my words and denying any improper payments taking place.
It certainly hit a nerve but I promptly apologised with my choice of wording, saying for want of a better word, the system and reality are one and the same. Wedding suppliers pay a percentage of their booking fee as a commission to the venue in return for being listed in their documentation. Some venues even refuse to let ‘non preferred ‘suppliers operate within the venue, which really does take things too far.
Now this isn’t a gripe from a disgruntled wedding photographer, trying to get his foot in the door with yet another prime wedding venue. I am not after me, me, me – I honestly see the whole system of ‘preferred’ suppliers as corrupt and exploitative of the clients – the Brides & Grooms!
The couples hiring these wedding venues are already paying a premium for using the building for its facilities and possible picturesque backdrop. So why should the ‘preferred’ suppliers now have to charge the couple and extra 10% or more to cover the ‘tax’, ‘fee’, ‘back hander’ payment to the venue ?
I am sure that If you had to add up all the key suppliers from cars, accommodation, florists, cakes supplier, entertainment, disco, hair & beauty, marquees, videographers and photographers – If they all hand over their ‘cut’ to the venue, the combined bill for the day has automatically risen by on average £1500 to £2000.
This is not only immoral but absurd and something that I will have no part in. This type of exploitation only exists as once again the venues customer service starts & stops with it opening its doors and closing them on the wedding day. I argue that the people that make the wedding a success are the suppliers operating within the venue upon the day, and they almost always go the extra distance in making sure everything is perfect!
The venue’s that operate a ‘preferred’ supplier list pray upon other suppliers insecurities with wanting to have associations with big name venues.
My perspective is clear, I am a wedding photographer uninterested in joining any kind of ‘preferred’ venue list, especially if it involved having to up my prices to my clients, for this I make no apologies.
I urge all Brides & Grooms to be to take a look further that the venues ‘preferred’ supplier list – this does not necessarily contain the best available, and they may not be ‘what you are looking for’. Your wedding day and its many aspects deserve time and thought in talking, meeting and selecting the various suppliers.
A great deal of pleasure can be derived in researching and selecting your creative suppliers that can be found easily with the click of a mouse. You should select your photographer according to other attributes such as their photographic style, their proven track record and most essentially how they ‘fit’ with you and your needs. Your ‘preferred’ wedding photographer should not be chosen according to the size of the referral fee paid to your wedding venue!!
Author – Bournemouth Wedding Photographer Linus Moran
Have you come across this? What do you think about ‘preferred suppliers’?