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Your Photography Budget

Set your budget with this guide to wedding photography costs and rates.

How Much Does Wedding Photography Cost?

When determining your wedding photography budget, keep in mind that you get what you pay for. You should expect to spend at least $1,000 on having a professional wedding photographer document your wedding (not including the actual prints and other extras). Rates, of course, will vary depending on skill level, experience, and geographic region (metro areas are usually considerably higher). The size of your wedding can also affect the photography cost, as additional guests may increase the amount of time that the photographer must spend at your event. For instance: For an event of less than 100 guests, a wedding photographer will typically dedicate four to six hours of time. For a larger wedding of 300 or more guests, a photographer may have to spend eight to ten hours on the job.

How to Compare Photographer Rates

Most wedding photographers will give general pricing information over the phone or on their Web sites, so you can use an initial online search or phone call as your first step toward finding a photographer that suits your budget. In comparing photography costs, remember that different photographers offer different packages, so initial rates can be misleading. Some rates only include the photographer’s time, while prints and albums are extra. Other photography packages may include proofs, a set number of prints, and an album. Determine what services and options you want first, then compare photographers’ rates for providing those specific options to determine which professional works within your wedding photography budget.

Ways to Save on Wedding Photography

If you simply must have a certain photographer who commands higher rates, consider these ways to save on your photography budget:

  • Buy a more basic wedding photography package with less prints and albums.
  • Negotiate and switch out an engagement portrait for an additional parent’s album.

Get even more ways to save on wedding photography.

Photography Contract Points

When reviewing your contract with a potential photographer, make sure that it is specifically clear in what it covers. Consider these questions:

  • Do you need to make a deposit? 
  • What is the cancelation policy? Will you get anything back? 
  • Is any travel time considered an extra or included in the bill?
  • Are you entitled to final prints only, or can you obtain all of the proofs?