Your photographer has one of the most important jobs at your wedding: to capture the joys of your big day so you can enjoy them for years to come. In fact, according to a 2017 Zola survey of over 750 engaged and newlywed couples, both groups ranked wedding photographer as the second most important element of their wedding. So, if you’re going to skip any standard wedding procedures to save on the cost of your wedding, don’t let it be hiring a photographer. The prices for wedding photographers can vary substantially—it really depends on what you want. Let’s break down how much a wedding photographer costs.
The average cost of a wedding photographer is between $1500 and $3000. It’s a wide range, but you can expect to spend about 10-12% of your budget on wedding photography and/or videography. Wedding photographer rates vary depending on factors such as location, wedding length, the photographer’s experience level, and the types of services you want.
Of course, those are just average costs. You can easily spend less—or much, much more—on your wedding photography. Like we mentioned, a lot of factors determine your final spend. For example, if you hire a newer photographer in an area of the country with a lower cost of living, you’re going to pay less than if you hired an experienced photographer at a wedding venue in New York or San Francisco.
Not all wedding photography packages are created equal. Now that you know the basic numbers, you’re probably determined to get the most for your money. It’s important to really understand all the different pricing options and packages available to you. What’s included, what’s not included, and how much it all costs can vary widely from photographer to photographer.
Some of the most important areas to consider when evaluating wedding photography packages include:
Engagement photos are great for more than just announcing your upcoming nuptials (and getting some high-quality snaps of you and your SO). An engagement photo shoot is a great way to get to know your photographer and get comfortable in front of the camera ahead of your wedding.
Many wedding photographers include an engagement photo shoot as part of their wedding photography packages—but not all. Before you commit to a photographer, ask if an engagement session is included. If it’s not included—and it’s something you want to do—it’s important to factor the additional cost into the overall price before making a decision. Engagement shoots can cost anywhere from $200 to $600 (and up) on their own.
Every wedding photographer has their own style—and you want to make sure that style aligns with your own (and aligns with your budget!). Some of the most popular wedding photography styles include:
The wedding photography style you choose is, of course, up to you. Just keep in mind that some styles such as fine art or editorial may require more planning, shooting, and editing on the photographer’s side, which will result in a higher price tag.
One photographer or two photographers or even more photographers—that is the question. There are a few reasons to go with a single photographer—the first being, of course, that it’s more affordable. If you’re having a small wedding, one photographer might be all you need.
More than one photographer definitely has its perks, too. A second (or third) shooter can capture important moments (like the vow exchange or first look) from multiple angles. More photographers also have the option to divide and conquer. While one is snapping photos of the wedding party, the other can be taking photos of your wedding venue or other detail shots.
Many photographers will include a second shooter in their pricing packages—or, if they don’t, they’ll offer the option to add a secondary photographer. The cost of a second photographer can vary widely - again, a NYC wedding photographer is going to be pricier than a photographer in a more rural area - but typically falls between the $25 and $50 per hour range.
If you want a video of your wedding day, you’ll need to hire a separate wedding videographer—and you may really want to. In that same Zola survey, over one-third (35%) of newlywed couples wished they hired a videographer. Capturing your wedding on video is a dynamic way to relive your special day.
The cost of wedding videography can vary even more widely than wedding photography—anywhere from $500 to $5000+. On average, couples will spend about $2000 on their wedding video, but keep in mind that a number of factors (video length, number of videographers, and time on-site) can push that number up or down.
The package price will cover the bulk of your wedding photography services—but that price isn’t the only cost you’ll need to think about. Here are a few additional costs to consider (and work into your budget) when choosing a wedding photographer:
In the end, how much you pay for your wedding photographer will depend on a host of factors. But no matter how much of your budget you spend on wedding photos, the end result is memories that last a lifetime—and, in our opinion, that’s priceless.