Wedding

How Much do Wedding Photographers Cost? Data + Guide

Last Updated: Aug 13, 2018

When it comes to wedding photography and videography there are two universally accepted truths — it is expensive and completely worth it. Memories are irreplaceable, consider a top notch photographer an investment in those memories.

The average couple in the US spends 11.5% of their wedding budget on photography and  videography. Couples pay top dollar for stunning shots, the average cost being around $2,000. Great photos don’t have to put a strain on your budget. We’ve collected money saving tips and all of the information you need to pick the right photographer for your wedding.

How much is wedding photography?

two grooms sharing a laugh at their reception

We surveyed 1,000 married women to see what they paid and our findings were in line with the national average of $2,000. The majority (78 percent) spent $1,000–$3,000 for their photography package, the remaining 6 percent spent above the $3,000 mark while 16% made it in under $1,000.

How much you spend depends on your budget. There are a lot of factors that go into figuring out the right price to pay. Some of the main factors are how many hours you want their services for, what you want included in your photo package and the location of your wedding relative to where the photographer is based.

How can I save on wedding photography?

wedding party and guests holding up sparklers for the wedding couple

While quality photography can cost you a decent portion of your budget, there are ways to save on your photography package.

Basic Tips

  • Book the photographer early — the earlier the better but nine months is standard.
  • Hire local — travel fees can really add up and hidden costs like gas or even overnight lodging could be your responsibility to cover.
  • Hire a recent photography school graduate or a new professional.
  • Refer a friend you know is getting married. Some photographers offer referral discounts, but is contingent on your friend booking them as well.
  • Similarly, mention your referral if you were referred by a friend as they may a code for new customers as well.
  • Off season weddings (November–March) save all around, including on photography and videography.
  • Don’t be afraid to respectfully state your case and negotiate, potentially taking a smaller package or less time.

Before Booking

  • Hire the photographer for less time, like cutting out the pre-ceremony shots.  Talk to the photographer about what shots you want and what you could leave out.
  • Sometimes less is more when it comes to proofs, consider going with a package that offers less proofs to choose from.
  • Ask your photographer if they have any photographers in training that they would want to bring. It will result in more photos for your money.
  • Schedule your videography and photography according to your wedding schedule. Know what you want captured by each so that you make sure to avoid overtime charges.

Post-wedding

  • Create your own wedding photo album instead of having your photographer make one.
  • Review your photo proofs online rather than using a printed proof book.
  • Skip rush editing fees and wait longer.
  • Choose an album that fits your budget. Standard hardcover books, premium photo books and professional flush mount albums all come with different price tags and options to customize.
  • Print your own prints and opt for only digital links from your photographer.
  • If you would rather pay the photographer to create these for you then:
    • Skip leather and other expensive materials.
    • Skip fancy add-ons like gold leaf borders or rhinestones.
    • Choose a majority of small print sizes to increase the number of photos in your book.
  • It never hurts to ask if the photographer offers any complimentary add-ons like a free brag book.

When do I book a wedding photographer?

wedding couple dancing with confetti around them

According to the International Society of Wedding Photographers, nine months in advance is the optimal time to book. This of course depends on how long you’re engaged. Competition for a photographer will be steep if you picked a wedding date in a peak season (May–October) or on a popular day of the week like Saturday. If you have a favorite photographer already picked out then the sooner the better!

What’s in a photography package?

bride and groom kissing in a field while holding sparklers like little fireworks

Time

Time is the basis of how much the photographer will charge you. Before you meet or consult with a photographer make sure you have an idea of how much time you will want them for. Most photographers’ packages include 6–8 hours of photography, which is enough to cover a pre-ceremony, ceremony and reception.

Editing

Editing photos is the majority of the cost for wedding photos. Everything from perfecting the lighting to pesky Photoshop changes ensures you’ll love the end result. Communicate with your photographer to see if total number of final edited photos could cut down on time and money.

Proofs

Proofs are low resolution and watermarked versions of the edited photos. Depending on your photography package, you will then choose which photos you want for prints, albums or downloads.

Digital downloads

Digital downloads are an important part of selecting a package. Some photographers will give you an access code to a whole vault of photos. Others will have you select the photos that you want to download and then send the corresponding links.

Prints

As mentioned before, some photographers include a certain number of prints in the package. Some photographers allow you to forgo paying in advance and purchase the prints after the wedding. If you prepay, extra prints and albums are available for purchase after the wedding.

Second Photographer or Assistant

An assistant and/or second photographer makes the main photographer’s job easier. This results in a higher volume of shots and higher quality photos. If you are throwing a large wedding, a second photographer may be necessary in order to have adequate coverage of your wedding.

Photographer’s travel expenses

If your photographer is from out of town, then they are most likely going to charge travel and accomodation fees. Most photographers won’t charge a travel fee if they are traveling within a predetermined radius where they live or work. If they are driving out of their designated radius, make sure you get their exact per mile charge.

Wedding videography

Videography is usually available in packages that group photography and videography together. Some couples decide to leave off a wedding video, but regret it after the fact. If you are on the fence about having a videographer, it is much better to be safe than sorry.

Wedding albums

Wedding albums are usually offered by the photographer. The package that you select will either include one, none or multiple albums. If you have the time, want to save money or have a strong idea of how you want your album laid out, consider creating your own.

Engagement photos

Some packages include engagement photos to send with invitations or engagement announcements. This is a great way to work with your photographer and see their style before the wedding. We recommend taking your photos at least 3–4 months before your wedding date.

Personal use release

Most photographers will retain their commercial copyright, meaning that you can’t sell their work. Make sure that there is a personal use release so that you can reproduce your photos for yourself, friends and family.  If the contract does not include a personal use release, requesting one may mean an increased cost.

Photographer’s meals

The photographer’s meals are not included in their packages. So don’t forget to factor them into your headcount, as well as any assistants they bring with them. Usually photographers can either eat the same food your guests are having or you can order a separate meal.

Photographer’s tip

The photographer’s tip is not included in the cost of their package. If you want to tip your photographer then you should tip based on the level of service you receive. The average tip range for a wedding photographer is $50 to $200.

Questions to ask your photographer

wedding couple smiling at each other under the bride's veil

To make sure that everything goes smoothly on your wedding day, there are some key questions that you should ask your photographer before you book them. To ensure you don’t miss any details, be sure to ask your wedding photographer the right questions.

  • What is included in this wedding photography package?
  • May I please see a contract?
  • What is your photography style?
  • Have you shot a wedding at my venue before?
  • Have you shot a wedding at a (venue type) before?
  • Will I have full rights to my wedding photos?
  • When will my photos be ready and how will I access them?
  • Do you have any time restrictions on the day of my wedding?
  • What happens if for some reason you are unable to make it to my wedding?

Other ideas to capture your wedding

wedding photo booth props — white hearts, team bride, team groom, roses

We think that when it comes to your wedding there is no such thing as too many photos. If your budget is limited, here are some ways to capture your wedding without paying more for a photographer.

  • Display a personalized hashtag and ask your guests to tag their photos with it. Click on your hashtag after the wedding and see all of your guests’ posts, photos and comments.
  • Some photography companies will include a photo booth in certain packages or booking deals. Shop around!
  • Make your own photo booth props to reduce costs.
  • If you have a friend or family member that is gifted with the camera, talk to them about shooting your wedding or a portion of the day (like getting ready photos).
  • Register for a photography and videography fund. Give guests the option to fund your media in place of the typical wedding registry.
  • Have wedding guests upload all of their shots to a wedding photo app. They make it easy to download extra photos, create digital albums and share them all with guests.

Many elements of your wedding will fade from your memory, but photos will last forever. Great photography is crucial in remembering your big day so book the photographer that you really want. Just remember these tips to ensure that you get the best price! If you need help finding a photographer we have gathered the top photographers in your city.