Anyone who has paid attention to news about Canada’s economy knows that the Canadian Dollar has been on a steady decline since summer of 2014. That trend took a steep dive in January with the fall of oil prices. While a weak loonie may spell frustration to Canadian consumers in general, it is welcome news to certain sectors of the economy, particularly hospitality and tourist, exporting, manufacturing, and film production. In the case of the latter, a low loonie, coupled with generous tax subsidies, makes outsourcing American productions to Canada a very favourable proposition. This gave me an idea: American couples that are engaged to be married should consider hiring a Canadian wedding photographer.
At the time of this writing, the Canadian dollar is trading at 0.821 USD. [January 20, 2016, Update: 0.6835 USD] American couples who are in the market to hire a comparatively skilled and priced wedding photographer, can hire a Canadian wedding photographer and save 32 cents on the dollar. This currency discount is, of course, before any negotiations, which has the potential to lower further the price of service.
Things to consider before hiring a Canadian wedding photographer
A few things should be considered before hiring a Canadian wedding photographer for an American wedding. The first point concerns proximity. While most Canadians live within a couple of hours drive of the American border, the reverse is certainly not true of most Americans. This advice is meant for American couples that are holding their weddings either in Canada or somewhere within driving distance of the border, such as Seattle, Detroit, Buffalo, Rochester, and others. The second consideration is travel expenses. Although driving distance may not necessarily incur many (if any) additional expenses, overnight accommodations for your photographer will. Depending on your overall budget, this can either make or break this cost-cutting approach. When accounting for the cost of getting their photographer to the US, couples with higher wedding photography budgets will see greater overall savings by hiring a Canadian wedding photographer, whereas those with lower budgets may see their potential savings vanish after taking travel and accommodation expenses into account.
This seems like a hiring strategy that rewards clients with budgets that can afford premium wedding photographers, which gives rise to the inevitable question: why should couples who can afford a top wedding photographer bother with the hassle of hiring a Canadian? It should go without saying that being able to afford a premium service at full price does not mean you will not appreciate a chance to save money if given the opportunity. To quote a fictionalized Bill Gates from a 1990s episode of The Simpsons, “I didn’t get rich by writing a lot of checks”. Even those who can afford to pay full price enjoy saving money (or smashing your internet startup)!
It is important to think about why some couples can afford to commission a premium wedding photographer while others cannot. (Hint: they are not all wealthy). With honest and careful consideration of which wedding services deserve to be prioritized ahead of others, couples can distribute the funds of a limited budget to favour the services they cherish most. Considering that the median price of an American wedding in 2012 was $18,086 (notice my use of median as opposed to average; you should read more about the median vs. mean price of weddings), most couples can afford the wedding photographer of their dreams.
Pros and cons of hiring a Canadian wedding photographer
Hiring a Canadian wedding photographer will achieve one of two cost-related benefits. A couple will either a) save money by hiring a similarly skilled photographer, or b) hire a better, more experienced photographer for the price of a comparatively skilled local. Despite the buying power of the US Dollar and the potential for significant savings, some couples may be reluctant to take advantage of this. For instance, many people (myself included) prefer to patronize local businesses with roots in the community. This supports the local or regional economy instead of outsourcing labour. While it is certainly a noble reason to prefer local vendors, it has its limits. Based on personal experience, upon reaching a certain threshold of real financial savings, buying internationally is too tempting to resist. There is no imperative to be a financial martyr; you cannot single-handedly rescue local businesses at your expense.
Another reason for preferring local vendors is the measure of real or perceived security it provides against dodgy or unreliable businesses and poor customer service. For instance, if a wedding photographer is taking longer than agreed upon to deliver the wedding photos or album, and they are not replying to emails and phone calls, paying them a visit in person may resolve the problem. They would also be subject to local or state laws, which a Canadian photographer can avoid. I would venture to say that such concerns should be minimized, especially when hiring a premium photographer with a brand to uphold. The internet sees few boundaries, so while a foreign photographer may be difficult to deal with if the relationship deteriorates, a photographer who has spent years developing a good reputation will do what they can before a client relationship turns sour. It is a better strategy to spend some money bringing about a positive outcome rather than face public criticism.
A final consideration is that many people rely on personal recommendations to make significant purchases. Such advice commands a lot of influence for decisions such as choosing to hire a service provider whose work varies from job to job. By that, I mean that while the quality of the execution is constant, there are nuanced differences in the service provided based on many factors that cannot be recreated identically across any two identical attempts. Personal recommendations are in fact so influential for such service providers that there is an international networking organization based around the whole concept. Since their social circle is likely concentrated in the same geographic region, American couples in the process of searching for a wedding photographer are more liable to receive personal recommendations for local photographers than they are for Canadian photographers. It may be difficult to compete against the rapport created by a friend’s sincere advice to go with Photographer A versus Photographer C, but it is not impossible. A photographer’s merit, founded on the quality and consistency of their body of work and supported by positive reviews from previous clients, can handily surpass a glowing personal recommendation. Pick your photographers wisely!
Summing it up: why you should hire a Canadian wedding photographer
All things considered, American couples that hire a Canadian wedding photographer can see real financial savings by exploiting the US dollar’s high value against the Canadian dollar. This strategy favours couples with higher starting budgets by allowing them to either save money or hire a photographer with greater experience for a similar rate. Such photographers have a carefully crafted brand and public image to uphold and would not risk sullying it by not taking precautions to provide you with the best service possible. So save several Benjamins (or McKinleys, or even Clevelands) and hire a Canadian wedding photographer.