Wedding Photographer Prices & How to Budget

wedding photography tips

Your wedding is one of the most important moments of your life. Capturing the memories to look back on should be a top priority. However, figuring out wedding photographer prices, and how much to budget can be a nightmare! We understand the frustration and we are here to help. Every coupe is uniquely different in their needs and budget, as so are photographers in their experience levels and rates. If you are looking to cut through all the clutter, and find the best way to find a wedding photographer that can meet your needs and budget, read on.

The Reality on Wedding Photographer Prices

If you find that wedding photographer prices are all over the map and you have no idea how much to budget, you’re not alone. Many couples have no idea how much to budget for a wedding photographer, and have unrealistic expectations of how much hiring one actually costs. Some couples budget so little, and often come up really disappointed so you really need to have a clear understanding of how this all works.  If you find yourself asking why is wedding photography is so expensive, please read this blog post on Understanding Why Wedding Photography Costs So Much.

The thing is, you need to have a budget in mind before you start shopping for a wedding photographer, otherwise it’s a waste of time for you, and the photographers you contact. Typically, 10-15% of the overall wedding budget goes towards wedding photography. The 2014 average spent on wedding photography according to the knot survey of 16,000 couples and reported in this PetaPixel post is $2,556 for a wedding photographer and $1,794 for wedding videography. Keep in mind, however, that with reposts like these, they should report the average using the median (not mean), because using the “mean” distorts the findings to look like people are spending a lot more than they really are. So keep thing in mind when shopping wedding photographer prices.

Wedding photographer prices can also be less or more depending on the level of expertise the photographer has and where the photographer is located. New York wedding photographers, as well as most metropolitan area wedding photographers, generally charge more because of their region’s asking price. For sure you can find a less experienced photographer for a lot less, but do you really want to take the chance of your wedding images looking like snapshots with little or no composition or worse, bad lighting. It’s frustrating but you really need to educate yourself so read on.

Average Cost of Wedding Photographer Prices and What Experience Levels to Expect

This chart acts as a basic guideline to follow and will give you a realistic look at what you can expect (in most cases) for the wedding photography budget you set for a typical 6-8 hour wedding.

0-$500 – Student or hobbyist
$500-$1,000 – Looking to expand portfolio
$1,000- $2,000 – Semi professional/freelance photographer
$2,000- $5,000 – Experienced wedding photographer (with second shooter)
$5,000 + – Top Pro wedding photographer (usually includes a staff assistants) 

Set Your Wedding Photographer Budget First

Couples need to agree upfront on how important wedding photography is to them and budget accordingly. When considering that these photos will be the only permanent record of your day, you need to think very carefully about your decision on how much to budget. When planning your wedding photography budget, keep in mind that you will most likely get what you pay for.  A wedding photography budget set at $500 has a much greater chance of a no show, than a photographer that is getting paid what their time is really worth. 

Once you have a budget in mind, you can start searching for the perfect photographer by posting a job on the My Bridal Pix Photography Job Board. It’s an excellent way to compare photographer experience levels, and value for the money you are about to spend. The job board allows you to upload your images, wedding location, dates, specific needs and your budget. Photographers who are approved members of the My Bridal Pix Photographer Network, will receive a notification of your bid, and contact you via the secure message board if they think they are a good fit for your posted job. We suggest using the built in “private” message board until you are comfortable releasing your contact information to a prospective photographer. Follow this link to register and post a job

Here is an example of a My Bridal Pix Network photographer profile. In no time at all you will start to receive bids from interested photographers willing to meet your needs and budget. Sort through the ones you like and “heart them” to keep track. If they have a style you like and you think they’re a good fit, send them a message via the message board to make an initial contact.  This is a free service we provide to our customers.

How to Catch a Photographers Attention

When posting a job, keep in mind that photographers are looking for interesting weddings. Having the chance to shoot a unique wedding might entice a photographer to work with you, as it is has the potential to boost their portfolio. Include all the details when posting a job, and even include a image or two of the venue for the photographer to see. Perhaps you’re planning a quaint wedding with lots of delicate details, or a wedding located in a place with breathtaking vistas. Or maybe you have a fantastic destination wedding planned…it’s no secret that wedding photographers love to travel. Mid week weddings are also a good to mention if you are having one. Details like these can grab a photographer’s attention and get them excited about the job. Plus, they might be willing to cut you a deal if the wedding is sure to spice up their portfolio. Everyone wins!

How to Stretch Your Wedding Photography Budget

If you find yourself in a really tight budget situation, it’s time to get creative. Here are some suggestions that will help you hire the best photographer your money can buy.

  • Ask a few select guests or close relative to give as a gift or contribute towards the total fee.
  • Cut back on cost of favors or flowers, even the cost of your dress. What good is a $3,500 wedding dress if you want to showcase it in a $500 wedding photography budget?
  • Shop a la carte and stay away from photographer packages. You can make your own wedding album and put the money you would spend on prints and having a wedding album created toward the cost of a more experienced photographer.

You will never be unhappy investing in good photography. These are your memories and you only have one chance to get it right. Ulike portrait photography, there are no re-do’s if you are unhappy. Set your budget, hire the best photographer for you, and breathe a sigh of relief that your precious memories are taken care of in the hand of an experienced wedding photographer.

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