Wedding photographer cost guide

Statistics say that over a half (52%) of the US population was married last year and each year about 2.4 million people get married. This provides a huge marker of wedding-related services from wedding photography and ceremony planners to florists and wedding DJs. In order to have a perfect wedding and remember these happy moments, it’s important to have a professional wedding photographer at your event. In order not to be thrown off balance when making preparation for the wedding, you have to be well-informed.

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A wedding photographer is an expert who takes photos at your wedding in order to help you get the memory of this special day. Besides taking photos, photographers also offer photo retouching, photo albums, large prints, and additional photo services of your choice. On average, couples spend about 10-15% of a total wedding budget on wedding photographer services; currently, this equals around $2,800 for the US. The average cost is $250-$360 per hour of photographer’s time, while additional services cost will vary. Experienced and master wedding photographers in high demand usually cost about $250-$430 more (which is $600-$1,200 per hour).

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Services included into wedding photography packages

Besides the actual presence and the process of taking pictures, wedding photographers also provide a number of additional services. Most often, they describe available packages on their web pages.

Are edited images included in the package?

Yes, in almost 100% of cases retouched images are included in the wedding photography package. The number of edited photos may vary from a couple of dozens to the complete portfolio. As a rule, photographers offer up to 60 images with complete retouching and all the rest with the basic color editing, for instance. If you want more images to be completely retouched, it will cost you about $5-$10 per one image.

Will I get all images from my wedding?

Not all photographers will give you all raw images from the wedding. In this business, you will get 400-600 of slightly corrected images and a fixed number of perfectly retouched ones. However, many photographers today offer the creation of an online gallery with the paid code for it (this service costs around $100). This issue heavily depends on the working style of a particular photographer, so don’t forget to discuss it beforehand.

What is included in the wedding photography package?

Very often wedding photographers cover only the ceremony and a couple of party hours (for instance, toasts or first dance). Yet, additional hours and even days for engagement, hen/stag’s night, morning preparation, or the morning after the wedding can be included on demand. As this timing is not part of a standard package, you can either order it separately (but in this case you will have to pay full price for wedding photography services as described above) or include it into your package (and in this way get a great discount for the whole service).

Do I get wedding album as a part of the package?

Wedding albums are generally considered as a separate service by most wedding photographers. The classic offer is an album with 20 spreads each containing up to 8 images. The average cost of a wedding album is $1,300-$1,850. This will include the chosen photos, their retouching, the actual album and the layout design.

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Cost-related questions about wedding photographers

How long does a wedding photographer work at the event?

Time of your photographer’s work depends on your package: the smallest being 4 hours, the longest up to several days. The minimum is recommended for small weddings that have less than 30 people present at the party; 6-8 hours is the most common timing for larger weddings (in this case the ceremony and your party are partially covered, sometimes preparation can also be fitted in); 10 and more hours are best for large parties that have several locations, many guests, and a rich entertainment show for the guests.

Do I need to hire a second photographer?

Second photographers are essential if you would like to get a complete coverage of any minor detail at your event. For example, one will follow you and your spouse-to-be to catch every minor emotion of yours while the second photographer will focus on your guests and their leisure time. The cost you see at the top of the page is for a single photographer. A second photographer as a part of the team will usually cost you about 40-60% more from the original price (such as $850 per hour for one photographer and about $1,190-$1,360 for two photographers). In case you go for two absolutely different photographers, then the final bill will be twice bigger.

Do I pay for travel and accommodation expenses of a wedding photographer?

Travel expenses are usually covered by photographers themselves if your venue is within the city borders or close to them. However, if you’re hiring wedding photographers for several days, then you will need to pay for their hotel room and food.

Tips to hire a wedding photographer

In the process of wedding planning, once you know the venue and the date of your wedding, it’s essential that you book a wedding photographer, especially if your wedding is in summer or September because this is the peak period in this business.

  • Prepare for the interviews: decide on the style of a photographer you want at your wedding by looking at wedding albums and shots. Once you learn what style you want your photos to have, it will be easier to find the right master.
  • Interview several photographers and evaluate not only their final product, namely photos, but also their personality.
  • Compare the packages in a smart way. Don’t just look at the price, rather consider what services are included. For example, you can find a photographer for $2,600, but the package won’t include the album and the preparation shooting while another expert will include these services in a package for $3,300. Always look at the price and the contents together.
  • Discuss the copyright issues. Most photographers give you the power to use your wedding photos as you wish, however, there is still a small percentage that can prohibit you reprinting the images or using them in your own way. Always sign a copyright agreement to avoid legal problems after the wedding.

How to save on a wedding photographer

Don’t be a Scrooge McDuck when it comes to wedding photographer because you get what you pay for. Yet, don’t spend more than you need to. Here are a few ideas on how to save on wedding photography.

  • Stick to the package. Once you choose your wedding photography package, don’t change it. Choose it, discuss any additional services you need and don’t add anything else after signing a contract.
  • Negotiate the package. Not always do newlyweds need a full package with the preparation photos or dance party photos. In case you don’t like these photos, try to negotiate a better price for fewer working hours.
  • Include everything from the very beginning. Packaging wedding photography is much more affordable and profitable than paying for separate services. So get the fullest package that corresponds to your priorities right from the start.
  • Go local. Hiring a local photographer can significantly cut your expenses for their accommodation and travel.
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