Budgets are probably the least fun part about planning a wedding, am I right? I have never been a budget girl myself, but when it came to planning our wedding, I sat down and put one together so that we could stay on track and figure out what parts of the wedding were most important to us. If you are just starting to plan a wedding, you might have no clue how much wedding photography costs (trust me, even after years of working in the industry I was *shocked* by how much weddings cost). So lemme try to break down how much you can expect to spend on a wedding photographer.
The thing with wedding photography is that the cost can range immensely! (Lemme guess — you were hoping for a simpler answer … I wish that was the case too). You can find a newbie photographer on Facebook who will charge you $500 for your whole wedding day or you can hire a high-end, luxury wedding photographer whose packages start at $20,000!
When it all comes down to it though, there are four big factors that play into how much wedding photography costs.
SKILL + EXPERIENCE
A photographer who is just starting out is going to be considerably more affordable than a photographer who has been photographing weddings for 10+ years. As the quality and consistency of a photographer increases, so does their pricing. Remember, when the wedding day is over, the one thing you are left with is your wedding photos, so invest wisely in who you trust with your memories. I truly believe you get what you pay for when it comes to wedding photography, and therefore it is an area of your wedding budget that you can’t really skimp on.
So how do you know if you are hiring someone with experience + skill? Ask to view a few complete wedding galleries. Any photographer can curate a beautiful website and Instagram feed of pretty photos, but their full wedding gallery might not look as great as their highlight reel. A seasoned photographer will have more than just a few really good photos, and their galleries will be full of beautiful images. So ask to view full galleries as you consider your options.
MEDIUM (DIGITAL VS FILM)
When you are looking at photographers and their pricing, keep in mind that the medium that they shoot on the wedding day will greatly affect the cost of your package. Film photographers and hybrid photographers (like myself) are generally more expensive than digital-only photographers. Every time a photographer takes a photo on a wedding day with film, it costs him/ her at least $3+ whereas a digital photographer can take unlimited photos on a memory card at no extra cost. This added expense for a film or hybrid photographers greatly affects the package price for a wedding day and is the reason these photographers’ starting prices will be higher than someone who photographs a wedding with digital-only.
The average price of wedding photography varies drastically from city to city. For example, if you are planning a wedding in a small town, wedding photographers will be more affordable than a photographer from a large market like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Miami. Also, keep in mind where your photographer is based and where your wedding is. Many photographers will charge additional travel fees including hotels, flights, meals, etc if they have to travel outside of their area. This can be international destinations or a venue that is an hour away.
PACKAGES + PRICING
It becomes tricky to compare photographers because everyone offers something a little different in their packages. One wedding photographer might include an engagement session complimentary whereas another might include an album. Some might offer all-day coverage and others will charge you for each additional hour of coverage. Make sure you ask for a detailed breakdown of everything they offer so you understand what is included. Just because one photographer’s fee might seem more expensive than another initially, it might not be the case when you consider everything that is included.
Soooo ….. how much does a wedding photographer cost and how much should you budget for? That totally depends on all of the factors above.
According to, couples in Chicago will spend an average of over $3,400 on wedding photography but with most (nearly 70%) spending between $3,500 and $7,000. A good budgeting tip is to plan to spend 10-15% of your wedding budget on wedding photography. If wedding photography is one of the most important parts of your day, you might plan to spend more to get the photographer you really love.
Have you already started to look into wedding photographers, and you have a bit of sticker shock? If so, be sure to check out why wedding photography seems so expensive.
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First time to the blog? Hi, I am Brittany, and I am a fine art film photographer specializing in lifestyle wedding and family photography. I travel worldwide photographing beautiful weddings, engagements, and families, and most of the time you can find me in Chicago, Naples (Southwest Florida), and Las Vegas. My light and airy editing style and candid, joyful photos are what I am best known for. Interested in working together? Contact the studio for more information.