The Complete Guide to Wedding Photography Prices - Wedding Packages or Specific Quotes
Updated: Nov 1
We asked the experts to break down the costs affiliated with their services.
By Lilly Blomquist at Brides.com
Fact Checked By Cherisse Harris
After months and months of mapping out your seating chart and choosing the perfect linens, the day you tie the knot goes by in the blink of an eye. While you gather with your loved ones to celebrate your marriage, your wedding photographer is the one capturing every candid moment, breathtaking detail, and surreal emotion, allowing the memories of your special day to live on forever. Once you’ve exchanged vows and cut the cake, the photos are the one element from your event that will remain, which is what makes photography one of the most important components of a wedding.
Since your wedding photos have the ability to transport you back in time to that incredible day, hiring a talented photographer is definitely an investment. The average cost of a wedding photographer depends on a variety of factors, such as the location and the vendor’s experience level, but photography and videography typically account for about 15 percent of a couple’s overall budget.
MEET THE EXPERTS
Jenny Fu is a wedding photographer in New York with over a decade of experience and the owner of Jenny Fu Studio.
KT Merry is a global luxury destination wedding and editorial photographer and the founder of her eponymous business.
Kate Ryan is the owner of Gold Leaf Event Design & Production, a luxury destination event planning and design firm with offices in Aspen, Colorado and New York City. She’s been planning weddings (and working with photographers!) for 13 years.
Tom Keene is the owner and primary photographer of LAdigitalPhoto, which is located in Pasadena, California. Tom brings his talent and passion of 20 years to every event.
If you’re wondering how much a wedding photographer really costs, we asked the experts to break down the finances. Read on for the complete guide to wedding photography prices.
Wedding Photography Prices: What Numbers to Expect
Wedding photography prices range from $1,000 to $50,000 and higher in the United States. Although there’s a great degree of variation in the total cost, the average is around $2,500 to $4,000, according to Los Angeles-based photographer Brandon Bibbins.
What Affects Wedding Photography Prices?
A wide range of factors affect the overall bill. We asked the experts to share some of the biggest contributors that often influence wedding photography prices.
Region is one element that can increase or decrease the total price. For instance, New York City photographer Jenny Fu of Jenny Fu Studio explains that wedding photography costs around $8,000 to $10,000 in Manhattan. “Photographers in cities, like New York City, often charge more to cover living costs and their business,” she explains. If you’re tying the knot outside of a costly city, like in the Midwest, prices are typically lower.
The Photographer's Expertise
In addition to the region, the experience level of the photographer plays a large role in determining overall package prices. According to Fu, hiring someone with years of experience under their belt means you can trust that your photographer will be able to capture the best shots in any lighting and weather condition and skillfully catch fleeting moments, like your parents’ reactions when you walk down the aisle. Since Fu has over a decade of experience shooting weddings, her packages range from $15,000 to $25,000.
KT Merry is a destination wedding photographer who also has a decade of experience in the industry. Not to mention, she’s a luxury photographer and has a roster of celebrity clients, which all affect the amount she charges. With her expertise and clientele, her services begin at $50,000, but she adjusts the cost to suit her clients’ needs and preferences.
More experienced photographers have usually mastered the art of editing and often own state-of-the-art equipment, so planner Kate Ryan of Gold Leaf Event Design & Production adds that these two elements also affect the price range.
The Amount of Time the Vendor Works
Some photographers charge their clients based on the amount of time that they take photos at the wedding. For instance, photographer Tom Keene of LAdigitalPhoto in Southern California provides an average rate of $1,500 for six hours of coverage and around $2,000 for eight hours. The rule of thumb is as follows: The longer your vendor works your event, the more money you’ll need to pay them.
The Demand of the Photographer
Since Saturdays are the most popular time of the week to say “I do,” wedding photography will cost a lot more money if you’re throwing a weekend function versus one on a weekday. Because photographers are in high demand over the weekend, the price of their services will reflect that. On the other hand, weekday weddings are the less common choice, so competition isn’t as high to book the vendor, meaning costs are lower. While Fu charges at least $15,000 for her minimum package, a weekday elopement is around $5,000 to $10,000.
What’s Included in the Wedding Photography Price?
Wedding photographers usually offer robust photography packages, and those services are essentially what you’re paying for. Fu creates custom photo proposals based on her clients’ unique needs, so her packages—and their respective prices—vary. She explains that the minimum, which is typically $15,000, usually entails eight hours of photography coverage, two shooters, digital images, and a bespoke linen box with 15 fine art matted prints. Those who want more of Fu’s services get all of the above, plus 10 to 12 hours of coverage, multiple photographers, an heirloom wedding album, an engagement session, and rehearsal dinner coverage. The cost of these additional services is up to $25,000. No matter the package that the couple selects, she also delivers 600 to 800 fully edited images.
Merry also creates custom proposal packages depending on her clients’ vision and wants. Regardless of the type of package, she offers every one of her couples an experienced team of shooters—including her husband, Chad—digital images, and printed proofs in a custom box. If one of her clients desires additional coverage, Merry charges any extra time at a flat hourly rate. She also gives couples the option of adding a custom album at a later point.
Since Keene charges by the hour, from one to 12 hours, and offers more of an à la cart option. That being said, each of his clients receives fully edited, full capture-resolution photos less than 10 days after the wedding. For coverage that extends eight hours or more, Keene will also provide an engagement session free. Some optional offerings for couples are a flush mount leather bound wedding photo album and a second shooter, as well as videography, photo booth and other services like guest sign in albums made from your engagement session. You can expect to receive approximately 200-300 images per hour, fully edited.
How can you find the right wedding photographer for your price range? To choose the right person for the job, Fu advises researching photographers within your budget and then exploring their portfolios, making note of which styles resonate with you. Merry suggests booking the best photographer in your price range and then deciding whether or not you want to splurge on the extras. “If they need to wait for some of the bells and whistles until after the wedding, they can always add it down the line,” Merry says. “It’s pretty much impossible to go back and make the photographs better after the fact.”
Can you negotiate your wedding photography price? Since wedding photography prices are often set in stone, many photographers usually discourage negotiations. These vendors typically offer an array of packages set at different price points, so a negotiation isn’t needed. Plus, packages factor in fees, like editing software, gear, licenses, insurance, and other business-related items that photographers can’t compromise on. That being said, having an open conversation about your budget is an important part of the initial consultation, according to Fu. If you need to scale back on coverage or additional costs to fit your price point, Merry says she may adjust deliverables to make that possible.
Is there a payment schedule for wedding photography? Payment schedules vary among photographers, but most choose a two- or three-payment system. The first payment is the deposit, which is due with the signed contract. In a two-payment system, the second payment is the remaining balance, which is due 30 days before the wedding, according to Fu and Merry. In a three-payment system, the last payment is split into two separate payments, so clients pay one installment before the wedding and one when the final images are ready to go.
Should you tip your wedding photographer? Tipping your photographer isn’t a requirement and photographers don’t expect a tip. However, giving your vendor extra cash is a considerate gesture that goes a long way with your vendor. “We work hard to go above and beyond, and any recognition of that is always really impactful,” Merry shares. If you’re thinking about tipping your photographer, $50 to $150 is a good range.
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Items above in italic were added or changed by Tom Keene after the fact to provide better clarity. The original article appeared on Brides.com on October 20, 2023