I could scroll through Facebook for hours. Not because I’m interested in the shameless comment thread between my second cousin, Debbie (smokes too much), and her soon-to-be ex, Steve (stereotypical barbed wire tattoos), after she posted a screenshot of his, frankly, embarrassing texts to a 23-year-old gym receptionist called Misha (fake boobs to detract from a lazy eye). No, I’m far too busy for that. And definitely too busy to learn everyone’s names. Instead, I’m pouring through the latest posts in wedding groups, of which there are many.
Sometimes the groups will entertain me with painful wedding stories, like the seemingly innocent-looking flower girl who slipped some mozzarella into her dairy-intolerant stepsister’s salad, causing a stream of stringy vomit and a slippery dance floor during the Macarena.
Most of the time, however, these groups are a popular place to request, read and write recommendations and reviews, from venues to vicars - and, yes, wedding photographers are included in that.
There are usually lots of requests for ‘good but cheap’ suppliers who will do an amazing job for less than the price of a Freddo. Commenters will bitch about the price of wedding photography, comparing it to their little sister’s 18th birthday party, where the photographer charged £200 for the entire job. Well, I have something to say about that, of course. If I shoot an 18th birthday party, I’m not going to inspect the venue beforehand or spend hours corresponding with you about ideas. I’ll get my gear together just before the arrival, drive to the venue and shoot you and your family and friends having a fun, happy time. Note that I said ‘happy’ and not ‘the happiest time of your lives’, because an 18th birthday is not a wedding. They’re not even in the same league. In fact, they’re so far out of each other’s leagues that one’s playing in the World Cup final at Wembley and the other’s sucking at toilet golf in some little green dude’s craphouse on the ugly side of Uranus.
After the bitching comes scam-watch. “Don’t get scammed” or “SCAMMER ALERT!”, they read. It’s like one of those noughties adverts about internet fraud, although there are no Nigerian kings asking for your hand in marriage here - just a group of grooms and brides-to-be looking out for one another. Or so they think.
I read on and found that one groom had his late father’s watch stolen by a ‘dirt cheap’ tour guide on his stag-do in Crete; a bride ordered from a ‘very reasonably priced’ florist and received a dead mouse in her bouquet; and a new mother-in-law was shocked to find that the photographer who sold her ‘an amazing deal’ at a wedding show two years ago never showed up.
One thing I have to advise is: if it looks to good to be true, it probably is. So, sadly for them, all of these people have likely fallen victim to a classic scenario: the desperate beginner. When photographers are just starting out and they’re trying to promote themselves, some will offer a deal that they just can’t deliver on. It might be a package which comprises a pre-shoot, full wedding day coverage, canvas, photo album and - who knows - a cabana boy who’ll show you a good time. Savvy brides and grooms will book the desperate beginner a year or two in advance, thinking they’ve hit the jackpot; but when the big day comes around, the photographer doesn’t show up because he or she has worked two-dozen weddings in that time and actually can’t afford to commit to those initial bookings. You could take them to court, but then they could just declare themselves bankrupt and start another wedding photography business under another name.
I guess you should’ve known better. You should’ve known that wedding photography prices vary for a reason. You probably won’t get the same level of service from a £200 photographer as you will from someone ten times more expensive, if any.
Now, you’re left without professional wedding photos, depressed about seeing a dead mouse, trawling eBay for a lookalike Rolex, and writing about it all on Facebook. However, I won’t say that I told you so; I’ll just continue drinking my rich Ugandan speciality coffee and amusing myself with your stories.