As you plan your wedding, you’ll have to enlist a large team of experts to help make your dream day a reality. Each professional will tend to a different task, from making delicious food to crafting gorgeous floral arrangements to capturing breathtaking photos. While hiring a photographer doesn’t make up the majority of most wedding expenses, it does cost a fair amount. In this guide on how to find and budget for a wedding photographer, we’ll cover the following:
- Tips for finding a photographer
- Questions to ask the photographer
- The average price of wedding photographers
- How to budget for your photographer
Understanding all these factors will help you find the right photographer to capture the special moments at your wedding. Dive into the details of each topic to ease your search for the perfect photographer!
Tips for Finding a Photographer
Planning a wedding is not a quick process; it requires a careful eye as you evaluate all your vendor options. To find a talented photographer, consider doing the following:
- Ask around for referrals
- Attend wedding expos
- Read through client reviews
- Evaluate online portfolios
- Know the photographer style and personality you want
You can use a few or all these tips as you compare photographer skills and prices. Remember, you don’t need to sign any contracts at the very beginning of your search. First, focus on tracking down photographers, then you can work on narrowing down your options to select the right business for your wedding.
Ask Around for Referrals
If a friend or relative recently tied the knot and you love their wedding photos, simply ask who they hired. A personal referral is wonderful because you know you can trust the review, and you will get more details than online reviews can provide. Ask your friend or family member about the photographer’s professionalism and communication. You’ll need to talk with your photographer in the days before and after the wedding, and knowing they’re reliable is beneficial.
Attend Wedding Expos
There are many reasons to attend wedding expos—these big events have countless vendors you can hire, and they provide plenty of inspo for your big day! To attend an event, search for expos in your area and go with your partner, a friend, a family member, or solo. If you come across photographers or other vendors that seem like a perfect fit for your big day, ask for their business cards so you can look through their reviews and websites once you get home.
Read Through Client Reviews
It’s important to read client reviews, whether you find photographers through personal referrals, expos, or online. Look at each photographer’s website, Google Reviews, and Yelp for the clearest idea of the professional’s quality. A photographer may have incredible work, but they might not be the best choice if most people note poor communication and excessively long wait times for photos.
Evaluate Online Portfolios
As you read reviews and investigate your options, you should also check out each individual’s online portfolio. Most photographers put their best work online to showcase what they can do for your big day. Some professionals even add descriptions to the photos to briefly explain the project or location to give you a clearer idea of their capabilities.
Know the Photographer Style and Personality You Want
Photography is a talent, and every artist uses different methods to capture the best photos. Your chosen photographer’s style should align with yours to ensure you love every photo they take. Evaluating online portfolios is the best way to determine whether you like someone’s style. Likewise, consider the other traits you want your photographer to have, such as being personable and easy-going, and spend some time talking to them to decide if they fit your requirements.
Questions To Ask the Photographer
Once you’ve picked out two or three top options, schedule a consultation with each person so you can hire the best photographer for the job. Here are some questions you should ask during your appointment:
- Are you available for our wedding date?
- Have you worked at our chosen venue?
- What packages do you offer?
- Are you insured?
Learning more about these factors gives you a better idea of whether a photographer has the skills to work at your wedding. You can also get a feel for their overall vibe when you meet. Are they easy to talk to? Do they seem interested in hearing about the vision for your big day? You want a photographer who’s passionate about weddings and will capture posed moments as well as adoring candid shots.
Are You Available for Our Wedding Date?
This question is the most important, and most photographers ask about the date before they even schedule a consultation. While you may not be ready to hire anyone yet, you do need to tell them the time and date of your big day so you know whether they’re even available. Discussing these details is especially important if you tie the knot during the busy season—weddings are most popular in early summer and fall.
Have You Worked at Our Chosen Venue?
Once you know a photographer is available for your wedding day, inquire if they’ve ever covered an event at your chosen venue. If they have, ask if you can see photos of their past work. Keep in mind that you don’t have to avoid photographers who’ve never taken pictures at your venue, especially if they’re perfect in all other aspects. See if you can work with the photographer and venue manager to organize a walk-through. This will help your photographer become familiar with the space and formulate ideas for the shots they’ll take based on settings and lighting.
What Packages Do You Offer?
When you meet with a photographer, ask about the types of packages they offer. Doing this can help you potentially save money, and it gives you a clearer idea of the services you’ll pay for. Wedding packages typically include a round of pre-wedding photos in addition to ceremony, reception, and in-between photos, as well as editing of all special day photographs.
Depending on who you hire and the package you choose, you may have enough in the budget to hire a second photographer or a videographer. When talking with your photographer, find out how long they’ll work at your wedding based on the package you plan to choose. Additionally, find out what the standard package involves regarding specific areas such as editing. Making corrections to color or light is time-consuming, so detailed edits often come at a higher price.
Everyday Bride Tip
Ask your photographer if they offer a print release, which allows you to personally use the photos though you do not own them. A print release will also enable you to use other businesses for printing your photos. Although, print releases often come with an upcharge.
Are You Insured?
A reputable wedding photographer always has insurance to protect their work and equipment. Some locations require all vendors to have liability insurance so that they—the venue—are not held accountable for damaged gear.
Don’t hire photographers who work uninsured, even if they have lower prices. Professional cameras cost thousands of dollars and if a catastrophe occurs, you don’t want to get stuck with the mess or the bill.
The Average Price of Wedding Photographers
Most photographers don’t list specific prices on their websites since the final cost will depend on many factors, such as venue, indoor versus outdoor lighting, time of wedding, etc. When you meet with a photographer, supply them with the information they need to formulate a quote based their package rates.
Generally, photographers cost between $1,000 and $10,000, which makes up about 10 to 15 percent of the average wedding budget. Why are wedding photographers so expensive? Taking professional photos isn’t as simple as pointing a camera and clicking a button. These talented individuals utilize costly gear to capture the best pictures. Plus, they carefully survey each setting to get the best shots. They must do all this quickly in order to capture candid shots, and they have to work fast for posed photos if they want to get in a wide variety.
How To Budget for Your Photographer
Looking at a price range of $1,000 to $10,000 can leave anyone feeling a bit overwhelmed, but ultimately, every couple wants beautiful pictures of their special day. This is an investment in memories you can always look back on and the photos make for beautiful decor you can hang around your home. You can budget for your photographer by:
- Properly allocating all wedding expenses
- Ditching the wedding album
- Not booking the full day
As you strive to save money on your wedding photos, remember not to sacrifice professionalism or artistry for a better price.
Experienced photographers charge more because they know the worth of their services, and the best professionals go above and beyond. Unusually low prices are rarely a great deal for the wedding, as they often come with poor service or unsatisfactory pictures. It’s always best to put quality first to ensure you get your money’s worth.
Allocate All Wedding Expenses
Talk with your partner about all the expenses you’ll cover for the wedding and write each one down in order of importance. Ultimately, the way you organize each item is a matter of opinion. While the venue may be the top priority for some couples, others may care more about the entertainment. From there, you can decide which areas you could take funds from and reallocate to the photography budget.
Everyday Bride Tip
One way to save money is by cutting back on what you pay for flowers. One of the many things to expect when planning your flower budget is the impact of seasonality. By only choosing flowers that are in season at the time of your wedding, you’ll spend less in this area, which means more you can spend on an amazing photographer.
Ditch the Wedding Album
Although a print release may come with an upcharge, it’s potentially less expensive than having the photographer create a physical album. Many couples love the idea of having a book packed with pictures of their special day. However, having the photographer do this often raises the prices a fair amount.
If you have permission to print the photos, you can create an album yourself. Plus, you can shop for wedding photo albums that are on sale to save even more money.
Don’t Book the Full Day
Another way to save money on your wedding photographer is to only book them for part of the day. Inquire about the minimum number of hours they’d need to work and compare it to the price you’d pay for that versus an entire day. Usually, having the photographer only capture photos of the ceremony, reception, and posed shots costs less than booking them for the entire day. However, this also means sacrificing professional photos of moments like getting ready the morning of the big day.
A Closing Note
When it comes to finding and budgeting for your wedding photographer, remember to start early so you take your time selecting the best fit. You’ll want to meet with each photographer of interest before signing any contracts so you gain a clear understanding of their work and prices. Once you choose a photographer and know how much you’ll pay, it’ll be easier to accurately budget for all wedding expenses.
Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life, and with all the commotion, you may miss a few details. As you say your vows, for instance, you could miss the loving gazes of your guests. Likewise, you won’t be able to see everyone having a blast on the dance floor during the reception. The right photographer will capture these moments and more so you can soak up every second of your wedding, both during the day of and long after the evening ends.