If you’re deep in the throes of wedding vendor research—especially wedding photographer research—you might be wondering: What’s the average spend on wedding photography?
You’ve heard prices in the hundreds, and prices in the tens of thousands. Some photographers have their pricing readily available, and others require an inquiry before they share it. Some pricing depends on where you get married, when you get married, the weather (kidding) and what seems like a million other factors.
If it all sounds familiar, we’ve got two pieces of advice: First, deep breath. You got this. And second, read on. We’ll cover everything you need to know about the average cost of wedding photography and deciding how much you should (and want to) spend on your own.
Engaged couples prioritize wedding photography when they budget for and hire vendors—they want their special day to be captured in photographs, and they want to hire someone they trust to do it well.
But three-quarters of couples who hired a wedding photographer say it was price that ended up being the most important factor in their final choice, according to a survey by The Knot. Their average spend on wedding photography was $2600, making it the fourth-most expensive vendor they paid for.
The complete price range of wedding photography, however, is wide—it can range from a few hundred dollars to a six-figure expense. Naturally, many couples wonder how much they should budget personally for their photographer. They ask questions like:
Keep reading to deep dive on all of the above.
Location impacts wedding photography in a number of ways, the first of which is standard cost of living. Depending on where you live, average spend on wedding photography will vary. This one is unavoidable. Wedding photography in cities like New York City or LA, for example, will be more expensive than in a rural area in the Midwest—but so will everything else.
I recommend researching vendors in your area to get a sense of what their packages cost. Be sure to compare vendors for a full sense of the high and low ends. You can also use social media groups to talk to other couples in your area about average pricing.
Your venue can also impact pricing. Your photographer may have to adjust their price depending on the size of your venue, lighting needs, or specific venue policies—although this is rarer.
Finally, travel costs for your photographer may impact their price if you choose a venue far from their usual area of service.
Every wedding photographer organizes their packages differently in hopes of providing an option that’s best suited for your unique needs. Here are some of the many factors to consider when looking at the price of a wedding photographer’s wedding packages:
Of all of the elements that go into building a package, perhaps the most critical is the hours of coverage, as this may vary greatly depending on when your glam is complete earlier in the day, when your ceremony begins, and when your reception begins and ends.
You may be surprised that 8 hours goes by quick. Sometimes, the events of your day accidentally extend a bit beyond that.
The number of hours you hire your photographer to be present for will impact the overall price you pay. Not all photographers handle this the same way—for some, you may just pay a full-day rate with a maximum number of hours, and for others you may pay a per-hour rate.
Before you hire your photographer, decide what you want them to cover. For example: Do you want them present in the morning as you get ready with your bridal party? Do you want them to cover the entire reception? Are there parts of the day you’re willing to capture on your own vs. having a professional do it?
Reducing your hours of coverage is one way to cut back on your photography costs if you have a tight budget, or if you have your heart set on a photography you need to fit in your price range.
At Perennial, we offer full day coverage. We figure since we’re already reserving the whole day for your wedding, we might as well offer you the peace of mind that there’s no need to rush around and fit everything in before we go. We stay to tell the full story of your day, all the way into dancing.
Our parents may have hired strictly traditional wedding photographers (and hey—we love a traditionally-shot wedding), but today there are tons more styles available that couples want to try out, like editorial, photojournalistic, vintage, and dark and moody (to name a few).
The style you choose will totally dictate the feel of your wedding photos, as you’ll find throughout the portfolios of wedding photographers on Instagram and on their websites.
Some photographers prioritize portraits of the couple smiling, looking directly at the camera, or more artistic, editorial shots that look like they belong in a magazine. Other photographers prioritize candid, in-the-moment shots, and capture the necessary portraits of family and wedding party.
But different photography styles also require different equipment, experience, and levels of expertise. Some of the less common styles may come with a bigger price tag because they’re a commodity.
Photo credit: Perennial Photography
The date or season you choose to get married could impact price—especially if you choose to get married on a holiday (like New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day) or a time of year that’s popular for weddings (Hello, October!).
This is something you’ll have to balance—do you want to pay more (for photographers, but also overall) to get married during a popular time? If you’ve always dreamed of fall foliage or holiday cheer as the backdrop to your special day, your answer might be yes.
For other couples, changing the date to score better pricing for wedding photography (or venue, or florist, etc. etc.) might not be a big deal.
Experience, expertise, and reputation all impact the demand for specific photographers—and you could end up paying more if you have your heart set on someone specific.
Here’s the thing, though: Photography is personal. And your wedding day is so, so special.
More than anything, you want to hire a wedding photographer you feel comfortable with and connected to naturally. Someone you can totally be yourself around, will make you feel and look your best, and that you trust 100% to capture your day the way you’ve always envisioned.
If you ask us, spending the extra money on a photographer when you absolutely know they’re the right one for you is 100% worth it. When you can totally let go and enjoy your wedding day, and when those photos arrive in your inbox and put tears in your eyes, you’ll be happy you did.
If you haven’t guessed already, when it comes to how much you should spend on your wedding photographer, the answer is it depends—on where you live, when you’re tying the knot, who you want to hire, what kind of photography you love, how many hours you need coverage, and of course your own budget and priorities.
In short, you’ve got to establish what’s within reason for you from a price perspective, and what is most important to you. Wedding industry rule of thumb usually says that spending about 10% of your total wedding budget on photography is normal, but that’s just an average. There might be other aspects of your day you want to prioritize more, or photography might be your #1 and you’re deciding to splurge.
After having the honor of photographing so many couples on their big day, our biggest takeaway for you is to remember that many of the things you’ll pay for for your wedding only last for a day. But your wedding photos? They’ll last a lifetime—and we promise, you’ll never regret being able to go back and relive your special day for years to come.
At Perennial, we’re committed to capturing your wedding day authentically, and telling your unique love story through photos. Want to learn more? We’ll answer your burning questions and make sure that we are the right fit for one another.
Book a call with us today!