How much should we pay for our wedding photography?
I get it. You’re planing your wedding and feeling overwhelmed with the growing price tag of your dreams. As the estimates roll in you may be asking yourself “How much should we pay for our wedding photography”? It’s a good question, and also one that isn’t so easy to answer.
The cost of photography is an important part of the wedding budget, and it’s something that many couples don’t consider until they are in the thick of planning. You may have a friend of the family who will do it for free because they want the experience. You may be able to find a brand new photographer wanting experience who is willing to shoot your wedding for $1,000 and hand you a flash card full of unedited files. High-end photographers who specialize in the luxury market in larger cities can range up to $20K. So there is a BIG range.
Photography is an art form though and therefore not well-suited for shopping by price. Photography is personal and it’s preferable to choose your artist based on their talent, creativity, and personal rapport with you. Consider the following:
Imagine you’re looking for a romantic partner, so you register on a dating web site to try to find the ideal person. This site, however, is unusual in that there are no photographs and no information about any of the people on there. The only clue you have about anyone is how much he or she would expect you to spend on their birthday present. How would that affect your choice? Wouldn’t you be more interested in finding out about their personality, character, age and looks than something that could only be described as a price?
I really hope you answered “yes.”
Three factors that influence wedding photography prices
Location — Prices for wedding photography vary dramatically from city to city. You can look up average prices for wedding photography where you live. In the Indianapolis and Cincinnati metro area, for instance, the average price of wedding photography hovers right around $2,000-$5,000. You might find that prices where you live are double what couples pay in other cities. No matter where you live, though, you’ll discover that professional quality wedding photography is going to be a significant investment.
The pricing and package structure — As Phoenix-based photographer Melissa Jill explains, “You can’t really compare apples to apples in wedding photography, because there is no “standard package” that all photographers offer. For example, some photographers charge an extra fee for having a second photographer, while others include that in their pricing. Some include an album in every package, and others do not. Every photographer structures their pricing and packages differently. Make sure that you don’t assume anything based on a price list on a website. Find out what that price includes. If you are comparing photographers, compare the same set of products and services side by side. Ask the questions that need to be asked in order to approximate an apples-to-apples comparison.”
Skill and experience — The phrase “You get what you pay for” typically rings true when it comes to wedding photographers. Remember, just because you see a handful of photos on a photographer’s site that you love, that doesn’t mean you will see that level of quality throughout a full wedding gallery. As the quality, consistency, and artistry of a photographer’s work increases, their pricing does as well.
One more important thing to consider…
The other thing you’ll pay more for is experienced service. There is so much more to being a wedding photographer than a good eye, steady hand, and a quick index finger. Your wedding photographer is the ONLY vendor who is with you for the entire day. (Yes, please read that sentence again!) And that person becomes part of your “team”. I can’t recall how many times my camera bag has held tissues, lipstick or some other personal item for a bride. Your photographer should sincerely want the best for you that day. Your photographer should be meeting with you before the wedding to learn about how you envision your wedding day, talk through every detail of the day and find out what’s important to the two of you. After the wedding, your photographer should be there to guide you in image selection, album building, memory preservation and more.
So really, how much should we pay?
It depends. But hopefully this explanation can help you gain some context in your search as you determine how much you should pay for your wedding photography.
Your wedding day will be fleeting. F L E E T I N G! You will be caught up in a whirlwind of people and excitement. Your relationship, your dress and your wedding photos will be the only things that remain when that whirlwind is over–and maybe a piece of cake stuck in the back of your freezer. When choosing a wedding photographer, please consider carefully and don’t let the question of cost be the only determining factor. Even if I’m not your final choice for whatever reason, please make sure whomever you choose for your wedding photography is someone that you can connect with, someone you can be yourself with, and someone whose images resonate with you.
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