As a painter myself, Ill try to offer some advise to keep the cost down. price is fully dependant on how good you want it. some people want a quickie. some people want a "factory" which is like a quickie with all paint imperfections sanded and buffed. and some people want a "show" job. most people want the show finish, but dont realize the labor that goes into it. on the other hand, most people dont realize that a quickie repaint can last forever, and have awesome shine and be more than enough for some people. so the cost is in the actual labor and it only takes an hour to paint the car. so prep really is everything. I suggest you talk to the shop, decide how nice you really want it to look, and do the R+I's yourself. the downsode with you putting things back together is youll probably scratch the new paint here and there either transporting parts or assembling them. if the paint shop scratches it, they can fix it before you arrive. youll never even know.
A lot of people try to tell you to sand it yourself. My opinion on that is dont. two reasons for that. paint times per panel usually reflect prep anyway, you dont pay extra for it. the main reason is that you can never do the kind of job that they can. yes you can sand it, but youll put dips and waves in the panel that will show in the final product. you will take a nice flat panel and make it worse.
a painter will give the panel the harshest scratch he can without seeing the scratches in the paint. every single time some schmuk brings me a car he sanded himself, claiming it was all set"just shoot it". it comes out nasty. sanding swirls and big long scratches show up both in the metallics and in the clear when the paint shrinks.
as for primer, I throw up in my mouth a lil bit everytime someone says they "primed" their car to get ready for paint. Dont do it, you dont need it, and you WILL do it wrong
hope some of that made sence
94 V8 on 17" custom paint, R.I.P
97 Mark VIII LSC yeah
08 Ford Edge, white for now