How Much Do Wedding Photographers Cost and how much should I budget for wedding photography?
One of the first questions that comes up when couples start planning their wedding is “How much should I spend for wedding photography?” or “How much do wedding photographers charge?” . There is no one simple answer to these questions, but here I hope to provide some information and tips that may help in your planning process when it comes time to figure out your wedding photography budget.
Tip 1: Factoring in your personal wedding budget
Its customary for ones entire wedding budget to be considered when setting the budget for photography. Traditionally about 10%-15% of your entire wedding budget should be dedicated to your wedding photography. This figure is just a guideline, not a concrete rule of thumb. By using this figure as a starting point, you can then gauge the weight of importance of your photos in comparison to other aspects of your wedding.
Tip 2: Consider what skill level is important to you
Photographers base their fees mainly on their level of experience and size and quality of their portfolio. There are many photographers on the market today, many of which are offering fantastically low prices. Wedding photography is a very complex endeavor, and although uncle Joe, a photography student or a part time house mom may have a great camera and can shoot pretty landscape photos, this does not mean they are versed in the ins and outs of shooting a wedding. Timing is everything when capturing a wedding, and hiring a professional that is familiar with the flow of weddings and can think on the fly when mishaps or challenging lighting occurs, is imperative! Consider what is important to you when deciding how “professional” of a photographer you desire, but do be mindful of that timeless saying “you get what you pay for”.
Tip 3: What your getting as a final product
We have discussed how the skill level can vary from one photographer to the next, but equally important is the variance of what you receive after the wedding. There are many services that photographers offer and before you start shopping, perhaps you may want to create a list of what is important to you. Some offerings include:
– High Resolution Photos (Some photographers will only offer the files with a watermarked logo on them, make sure to clarify).
– Prints, Canvas Wraps or Metal Art Prints (If you are wanting to order these from your photographer ask about additional costs).
– Coffee Table Wedding Albums or Wedding Books (The quality of these books vary GREATLY, ask for details about materials used and how many pages & photos are included).
– Web Gallery (Is it password protected and how long will the gallery be hosted).
– Video Slide Show of images (How long will the video be and how many photos will be included).
Tip 4: Time and location matter
A large factor in wedding photography pricing for most photographers is the time and location of your event. If your wedding is planned for peak wedding season this could mean you will pay a premium price for your photographer (and possibly many other wedding services). To save, consider a time of year that’s not peak season. Another alternative is to hold your wedding on a weekday. Make sure to ask your photographer if they could discount the price for an off season weekday wedding, most will be more than willing to discuss discounted prices for an off season weekday wedding opposed to a Saturday in August. Additionally, the location of your wedding may also be a factor. Destination weddings are beautiful but also often carry a hefty price tag. Many photographers charge a travel fee that can include airfare, milage charges and/or hotel and meal expenses. Make sure if you are planning a destination wedding to get all of the details in advance to see if there are any additional travel costs.
So how much should I pay for a wedding photographer?
The answer is different for every bride and groom. You will find most professional wedding photographers with some experience typically charge anywhere from $2,500 – $8,500 with the average package being about 3-6k. Packages with Albums and prints may be significantly higher. To start I suggest you use the 10%-15% of your wedding budget rule, make a list of whats important to you as an end product and start shopping and see what you find; then, if needed, adjust your budget from there.
One word of advice..a wedding day may come and go but your photos will last a lifetime!!! Happy planning!