After seeing a number of wedding vendors speak out online and on social media about a current affairs story on the recent story on the wedding industries "urban myth" of the bridal tax, where in as soon as you mention "wedding" the prices escalate. I thought I'd write something from a businesses perspective even though the beauty industry was excluded from the story, there is a huge fluctuation between pricing in the freelance bridal beauty business. Although I personally, do not charge more for a bridal party, I with 100% certainty can say there is a huge difference between an every day event client and a bride's big day.
ACA commented that the for a photographer for a wedding they were quoted $4400 for four hours coverage, compared to a 21st birthday party's price of $1950. Weddings are a formal occasion with a lot of shots that need to be covered, and expectations to be filled in order for the bride and groom to have all the shots they request covered, for example; family photos ( i.e bride, mother of the bride & father of the bride together , etc), location shots, detail shots ( cake, shoes, decor/styling), candid moments, group shots ( high school friends, bridal party etc). If they do not succeed in capturing all the shots requested, many brides feel like they've missed out on a once in a life time moments and will feel dissatisfied with the service they've received. Unfortunately this is also common when it comes to hiring a hobbyist wedding photographer, or a non professional/accredited photographer, remember a major warning sign is price; if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Another item to consider particularly with photography is retouching time, each photo you've paid for needs to be retouched, colour corrected and finished to the photographers style / aesthetic. When a photographer has a backlog of images this may mean that they'll spend weeks at a time at the computer primping and finishing you're images before their due date as specified in your contract.
Correspondence and preparation prior to the date is a huge part of a wedding booking, getting to know your clients, their wants for the big day, and how they want to achieve that. Organizing location shots prior to the wedding, discussing who needs to be photographed with who, going through reference and inspiration imagery the list goes on. Often this correspondence is outside standard business hours, on the phone and via email, knowing that our clients deserve the fastest feedback and responses as possible. This is all built into a photographers pricing for weddings.
Whereas a birthday party doesn't have as stricter outline of expectations and obligations to fill, the night is more focused on capturing candid moments and less posed imagery. Yes, there are still compulsory images ( i.e. Mum,Dad, Daughter together), but not in any way to the same degree as a wedding will inevitably entail. Editing time will also be less vigorous as the shots are not as formalized and generally do not require the same amount of time per image. Correspondence for a party is a lot less intensive, it's usually just location, date and time of event, period.
While I don't agree with the bias ACA's story disclosed, it is always worth shopping around for your vendors and choosing them based on what you like, and what is really important to you in your wedding. It's incredibly hard to compare one business to another as every brand is unique and in turn will include different variables depending on experience, product quality, awards, etc. Pick people you're excited to have involved in your big day, rather then the cheapest option.