Professional Wedding Photography Prices, Cost & Contracts

September 10th, 2018 Wedding IDEAS, INSPIRATION AND INSIDER TIPS

Professional wedding photography is often a #1 priority. It’s easy to see why when flipping through a bridal magazine. So many swoon-worthy pictures: first look, first kiss, a romantic embrace with a stunning view, the happy bride in her beautiful dress, a loved one’s tears of joy.

With all of the time and money spent on a wedding, don’t miss a single sure you choose a photographer who works best for you.

Wedding Photography Prices & Packages 

According to The Knot 2017 Real Weddings Study, the average wedding photographer cost in the U.S. is $2,630. Does that sound cheap, expensive, or about right? Well, that may depend on where you live. If you live in Manhattan, that may sound cheap--the average cost of a wedding there is $76,944 (The Knot, 2017). But $2,630 may seem crazy expensive if you live in Utah where the average cost of a wedding is $18,516 (The Knot, 2017). Generally speaking, if you live in an expensive area, wedding photography prices will be higher than in other cities or states.

If budget is really tight, consider these ideas to keep your wedding photography prices down:

Book Less Time  

In an ideal world, you could hire two photographers and two videographers for at least eight hours! But that might not be possible. Therefore, consider trimming time from your “getting ready” photos. Also consider having the photographer(s) stay just until the cake cutting at the reception. You’ll save money without missing the biggest moments of your special day.  

Ask About Discounts

Are you having a wedding off-season? On a weekday? An elopement or small ceremony? The pros won’t offer a discount for a big wedding, on a Saturday night, in peak wedding season--their services are in high demand. However, they might negotiate if your wedding is off-season, or on a weekday, when they wouldn’t ordinarily have other job offers. You won’t know what’s possible until you ask.

Skip the Album  

In this DIY era, it’s easy to find affordable wedding photo albums at stores like Michaels or Hobby Lobby, or digital services like Shutterfly, Artifact Uprising, or PikPerfect. You can ask your photographer for this optional item later. Don’t feel emotionally pressured to buy an album at the time of booking, especially if it’s an extra $500 or more. A wedding album is something you can invest in later.

George Street Photo & Video, a wedding photography and videography company with 40 U.S. locations, offers this important cost-saving tip:

Book Photography & Videography Together Booking both of these services from one company saves you money because you’ll typically receive a price break on a package deal. Plus, you’ll get a team that seamlessly works together on your wedding day and won’t trip over each other to get the perfect shot.

If you’re still having sticker shock over prices, you may be surprised to learn what goes into a wedding photographer cost.

Wedding Photographer Cost

What exactly are you paying for? Understandably, you may think thousands of dollars for a person to take wedding photos seems pricey. There’s more to it.

First of all, the pros use very expensive camera equipment--sometimes two cameras--each of which cost thousands of dollars. Then there’s editing software. Second, their time goes beyond the hours of actual photography. They may scope out your wedding location ahead of time. Agreed, that’s not a lot of time. However, editing can take anywhere from 8-24 working hours. Add that time to the wedding shoot, travel, client communication, and any other tasks associated with your wedding photos and their cost seems more reasonable. Location may be one factor in the cost of a wedding photographer; however, as in many consulting businesses the experts with a lot of experience can also charge more than beginners.

Wedding Photography Contract

Read your wedding photography contract...carefully. There are essential questions you need spelled out in writing beyond the details of your wedding day photo shoot, such as:  

  1. What’s included (all or best photos, edited or raw, how delivered)?

  2. What happens if the photographer is sick the day of?

  3. When will proofs be available to view?

  4. When will all final photos be delivered?

  5. What are your copyright/printing rights?  

  6. What are the payment terms?

  7. What’s the cancellation/refund policy?  

It’s really important you understand, and are on board with, your wedding photography contract. Of these, copyright/printing rights is probably the most important clause. George Street Photo & Video points out in their FAQs that couples have printing rights to their photos. “Digital negatives are included with all of our packages. These high-resolution files are yours to keep and can be used to make your own prints, give as gifts to family and friends, or upload to your favorite website.”

More than likely, you’ll want to share or print your wedding photos! Be sure you understand what you can (or can’t) do with your wedding photos before you sign on the contract’s dotted line.

Wedding Photographers Near Me

Ready to explore professional wedding photography vendors? If you’re wondering, “How do I find wedding photographers near me?” here are a few great places to start your research: The Knot, WeddingWire and Yelp.

Read customer reviews. Study photo galleries. Once you find a few vendors you’re interested in, contact them about their availability for your wedding date and their wedding photography prices and packages. Be sure to chat by phone because the right photographer will “click” with you...and will capture those magical moments you’ve been dreaming about.

For bridal photo ideas, check out Moonlight Bridal’s Real Brides gallery.

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