“Being someone’s first love may be great, but to be their last is beyond perfect.” - Unknown

An increasing number of couples are paying for their weddings without any help from their families.

So how much does wedding photography cost?

A wedding photographer needs to remain discreet while capturing all the best moments throughout the day. Most couples will hire a professional photographer to ensure that they have high-quality photos of these moments.

Be it an album, slides, or digital copies of the big day, how much can you expect to pay for wedding photography?

Establish Your Budget

Choosing your wedding photographer is one of the first things you’ll need to do when planning your wedding. There’s an art to getting great wedding photos so you’ll want the right person for the job. Of course, this all comes at a price and most couples don’t know where to begin when budgeting for photos.

How do you set a budget for a wedding?
Think carefully about how much you're willing to spend on photography. (Source: 1588877)

Prices can range from between £500 to £3,000 depending on what you opt for. There are as many different rates as there are photographers and services.

The first thing you need to do is agree on how much you’re willing to spend on your photographer. You can always be flexible with your budget but the important thing is to rule out photographers who are well beyond what you can afford or are willing to pay. Don’t forget that the photographer is only one of the many things you’ll need to pay for.

Once you’ve got an idea of the price of your photographer, you can start searching for different professionals. You might also be interested in getting a wedding video, a photoshoot before the wedding, etc. In these cases, expect to pay more.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to how much you can pay. It completely depends on what you’re after. Some couples prefer having candid photos of just the ceremony whereas others would like photography from throughout the whole day. Similarly, prices can vary according to the services you opt for and the final product you choose.

Think carefully about what you want and what you want to pay for.

Find out more about choosing the best locations for wedding photos.

What the Rates Include

You might be surprised to find out just how much work goes into getting wedding photographs. A wedding photographer does so much more than capturing a few photos of the bride and groom and their guests. There’s a whole lot of planning a preparation that goes into it.
When you hire a wedding photographer, you’re paying for:

  • Their equipment
  • The preparation
  • The photos taken on the day
  • Retouching and editing photos
  • The final product (photo album, slides, digital copies, etc.)
What does wedding photography include?
If you're not interested in an actual album, you can always just get digital copies of the photos, which tends to be cheaper. (Source: sferrario1968)

Wedding photographers put in several hours and days before and after the day of the wedding. Many couples forget about all the work they put in and are then shocked when they see how much photography can cost. However, once you see how hard they work, you’ll understand why you’re paying so much.

A single wedding day can be a whole week of work for a wedding photographer and all this work and effort needs to be paid for.

In their rates, wedding photographers need to factor in the time spent working with the couple before the wedding, scouting out the venue, setting up cameras, taking photographs, and additional shoots, if necessary.

Once the marriage is over, the photographer will sort through thousands of photographs from the day, edit them, and put them into an album.

This is what you’re paying for when you hire a wedding photographer.

Why Are the Rates so Varied?

Even though you now know how much work they do, you may be wondering why the rates aren’t more consistent.

So why do some photographers only ask for £500 whereas others charge several thousand? How do you explain this?

Each photographer sets their rates. Some photographers may work for a company whilst others will be self-employed. Their outgoings may be vastly different. Some will need to factor in expenses such as travel and equipment when deciding upon their rates.

Destination weddings can be more costly if photographing the wedding involves a lot of travelling to get there.

Small businesses will be hurt more by damage to expensive equipment and may charge more to offset the risk.

Some photographers may have a studio for private shoots. In this case, their bills will include rent, electricity, and studio equipment. These outgoings are recuperated through their rates.

Generally speaking, the equipment they use will greatly affect how much they charge. A photographer using several high-quality cameras will charge more. Additionally, if the project requires special lenses, expect to pay a premium. In some cases, the photographer will have several cameras in case something goes wrong.

Additionally, they’ll have accessories like tripods, extra memory cards, a flashgun, and plenty of gear to ensure they get the best wedding photos.

Finally, you need to take their reputation and experience into account. If you want the best, you’re going to have to pay for them so an experienced photographer will tend to charge more than a novice. You just need to work out who you want taking the photos at the wedding.

Don’t forget that the photographer also needs to get to your wedding and if it’s far away from where they’re based, they may factor this into their rates. Of course, there are as many different wedding photography packages as there are weddings and wedding venues.

Similarly, the best wedding photographers will charge a premium for their services. After all, the best wedding photography will be in high demand and it'll usually go to the highest bidder. That said, not every professional wedding photographer costs a fortune to hire.

That said, the wedding photography business is big money and the perfect wedding photography package can be costly.

Find out more about how to get the perfect wedding photos.

The Cost of Digital and Analogue Photography

The rates will vary depending on whether or not you’re happy for your photographer to take digital photos or if you’d prefer them to work with film.

Should you get digital or analogue wedding photography?
Generally, analogue photography is more complicated and more costly than digital photography and the results won't necessarily be better. (Source: Alexas_Fotos)

Photographers who work exclusively with digital cameras will rarely charge under £1,000 for a wedding. That said, you can find novice and talented wedding photographers who are happy to charge less as they need experience. A novice photographer might be just as talented as some of the more experienced one. Of course, as they’re unproven, you are taking a risk.

If you’re on a tight budget, you can save money by just having photos of the ceremony and getting the guests to do all the rest. You can pick and choose when you want your professional photographer to be taking photos.

The budget will also vary according to the final product you choose:

  • Slides
  • Digital copies
  • Printed photo albums
  • Large copies
  • Videos
  • Etc.

In the case of analogue photography, you can start to see these prices double. After all, there’s the cost of the film and developing the photos. In most cases, analogue wedding photo services aren't worth it unless you're an avid fan of analogue photography.

Comparing Prices for Wedding Photography

It’s difficult to compare the prices of different wedding photographers. Try to make the right decision, though. It’s easier to compare similar offerings.

You can’t compare apples and oranges.

How much should wedding photography cost?
Compare the prices of several different photographers to better understand what you're getting for your money. (Source: pixel2013)

Each photographer will have different ways of billing you. Some may itemise their offering whereas others may operate in terms of hours worked.

It’s also difficult to compare the photographs so try and compare similar photographers. Put different photographers into categories and compare their rates.

It might be complicated, but there are so many factors you have to consider it’s the only way to work it out.

In the end, your decision might go down to the photographer that you get along with the most or whose portfolio you like. The best wedding photographer is the one that you're happy with and will provide you with a wedding album that you'll regularly get out to look back over the photos of the happiest day of your life.

Keep in mind that the cost of professional wedding photography can quickly ramp up so think carefully about whether or not you need every service being offered like engagement photos for your invitations, headshots or portraits taken in a photography studio, or pre-wedding photography.

Similarly, you might want to send the photographer to the wedding venue before the date to get photos of the architecture, etc.

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Jess