Wedding Photographer Cost Guide
Wedding photographer prices can vary depending on many factors including your wedding’s location (photographers in big cities tend to cost more than in other areas), the type of services and packages you’re looking for, and your chosen photographer’s experience and level of expertise. In general, wedding photographer prices in the U.S. tend to range between $1,200 and $3,000, with the average wedding photographer cost hovering around $2,000. Your wedding photographer will likely comprise about 12 percent of your overall wedding budget.
When researching wedding photographers, be sure to read the information about their pricing and packages carefully—these tend to differ widely from photographer to photographer and can greatly affect wedding photography pricing. A few items and services to look for include: • Time: Wedding photographer prices typically include between six hours and an unlimited amount of coverage. The more time you’d like your photographer to cover your event, the more you’ll have to pay. Additional hours will cost extra. • Travel: Does your photographer have to travel a long distance to your event? You may have to pay a per-mile charge if he or she is driving to your wedding, or you might have to pay for airfare and accommodations for a destination wedding. • Second Shooters/Staffing: Will your photographer have a second shooter or assistants present? If so, expect to shell out more. • Editing: A large part of your photographer’s time will be spent editing and retouching your wedding photos to make sure they look absolutely amazing. • Images: Your wedding photographer’s cost should include the actual images. Digital files can be provided to you in a variety of ways including in an online gallery and/or via a USB drive. • Print release: Many wedding photography packages include a “print release,” which means that you can use the photos for your own personal use. However, be aware that you will likely not have a full “copyright release,” so you don’t own the photos and can’t sell them, and that your photographer can use your photos for marketing purposes. • Prints: Some photographers include photo prints (or a print credit—money you can put toward purchasing prints) in their wedding photography rates. While you don’t have to purchase your prints through your photographer, they’ll likely come out better if you do. • Albums: Your photographer may offer a wedding album as part of his or her package. You can choose whether you’d like to design and purchase your album through your photographer or do it through another service. • Additional shoots: Some photographers include an engagement shoot in their package (62 percent of couples do a pre-wedding engagement shoot). Other shoots that will likely cost extra include bridal portraits, trash the dress sessions, or coverage of your rehearsal dinner.
While tips aren’t included in a photographer’s package, they are certainly something you should factor into your wedding photography budget. If your photographer owns his or her business, you don’t need to tip, but if he or she works for a larger company, a $100 to $200 tip is a nice gesture. You should also write an online review for your photographer as an added thank-you.
Wedding photographers are usually among the first vendors couples book after they secure their venue. We recommend starting the search for your photographer about 11 months before your big day.
As you start researching wedding photographers by checking out their work and reading their online reviews, be sure to pinpoint the wedding photography style you like best. There are a few wedding photography styles to choose from, including: • Photojournalism: This wedding photography style is all about telling a story. The photographer will capture candid, emotional moments as opposed to posed portraits. • Traditional: A more formal, classic photography style, traditional wedding photography includes lots of posed shots. • Fine Art: This style is all about dramatic compositions and stylized images. It’s a more modern approach that creates frame-worthy images. • Fashion: If you want images that focus on your attire and look like they belong in a magazine, this is the wedding photography style for you. Think creative backdrops and unique poses. • Vintage: This photography style uses filters and other techniques to give your wedding photos an old-school feel.
When it comes to the great “one versus two wedding photographers” debate, the “right” answer tends to vary from photographer to photographer, and often depends on the size of your wedding. If you’re having a very intimate and small wedding, having just one photographer present may suffice. However, if you’re hosting a larger wedding with lots of guests, you will likely need a main photographer as well as a second photographer, and perhaps assistants to help with lighting and coordination. 35 percent of wedding photographers include a second shooter in their starting rates, but for many, it's a separate charge. Having a second shooter can be beneficial in capturing different perspectives and angles throughout the day—and can make your wedding-day timeline run even more smoothly. With two photographers on hand, both your and your future spouse’s getting-ready processes can be photographed at the same time. It’s best to discuss your specific wedding and needs with your photographer to determine the best staffing situation.
Many photographers do include an album in their wedding photography rates. However, some photographers offer it as a separate line item, which can add several hundred dollars to your total. There are indeed other services that allow you to create your own wedding photo album, but it can sometimes be more seamless to go through your own photographer.