Everything You Need to Know About Wedding Photography Budgeting

Flowers, attire, food, videography, photography, and so much more. Can you just see the dollar signs now? Weddings are expensive, that’s an undeniable fact. However, that’s where a wedding budget comes in hand. Budgeting is one of the most important early steps in wedding planning. Although it’s only as useful if the numbers are realistic and accurate, which is why it is so important you have some background information. Today we are giving you that insight into budgeting for wedding photography because wedding photographers are one of the most hired vendors for any wedding.

Photography is the one area a majority of couples decide to dedicate some of their funds to — likely because of the tangible memories that come from having a wedding photographer capture the big day. And this is by no means a one-size fits all vendor category. Indeed, prices vary based on style, location and services. However, generally speaking we have information thanks to a Texas couple that specialize in wedding photography with their business Two Pair Photography, that might make a difference when calculating your wedding budget.


Let’s Talk Numbers

Average Cost

Chad & Tressie Zellner of Two Pair Photography tell us that while they travel nationwide, and are destination wedding photographers, in their part of the country, the average cost for wedding photography is about $4,500 to $5,000. Taking Two Pair Photography as an example, that price gets you eight hours of wedding day coverage; and they toss in the engagement session and a commemorative wedding album “because [they] think its important to have something tangible. [They] don't want the photos to live on a USB forever.”


Photography Services

Now there are plenty of services that could be included in the price by the wedding photographer you select, or they can be offered at an additional cost. These photography services we are referencing typically are: additional hour coverage on the wedding day, making an additional photographer available as a second shooter, and offering drone photography or a photobooth. Sometimes even a photographer might offer to do the videography (although this is rare) or take bridal portrait photos, engagement session photos, or boudoir photos. The Zellners note that other special moments that can be captured and offered are the rehearsal dinner and anniversary, which in their area can be added on for about $700. They also may make available digital files, online proof viewing, wedding albums, or canvas and print options.

At Two Pair Photography, the Zellners explain that they “include digital high-res files with printing rights. All images are edited. [And couples] can add a USB but they already get a digital download. Albums cost extra only if [couples] purchase additional ones à la carte.” And to add a second photographer to get all the angles, they tell us that the average additional cost in their region is $400.


Negotiating Costs

Now to address the big question—can you negotiate prices with your photographer? The answer is: it depends. Every photographer all over will have a different response to this. There is no industry standard and certainly no consensus based on geography. Some photographers will say they won’t negotiate because their work is valuable—period. However, the Zellners say that for them, they are willing to negotiate to an extent, especially if the couple truly appreciates their work and are operating with limited funds.


Payment Schedules

It’s not uncommon to find that many wedding photographers will offer the option for payment schedules. This may start with a retainer upon booking and the balance due at least a month before the wedding day, as the Zellners explain they do. Others may not expect payment until the wedding day, and typically then a planner or coordinator will assist with ensuring a family member handles prompt payment.


Price and Quality

Remember the old adage that you get what you pay for? Yes, price often dictates quality, but for photographers who love what they do and become emotionally invested in you as a couple, as much as you are financially invested in them as a photographer, that doesn’t have to be the case. As the Zellners put it, they “want everyone to receive kick-a[$$] photos no matter how much they pay.“ So as you establish your budget and curate your team of vendors, remember to first and foremost stick to your budget and find vendors who you love and love you. Above all, you don’t have to compromise on quality for affordability.


Hero photo courtesy of Vanessa Joy Photography


Meet the Expert

Two Pair Photography