A Priceless Experience: Understanding the Cost of Wedding Photography

You’ve calculated how much you want to spend on your wedding photographer. You’ve also done your research and you’ve determined the average cost of a wedding photographer…and then you’ve done some math, dividing the cost by 8 hours, coming to the baffling conclusion — why is wedding photography so expensive?!




Let me start by mentioning that finding the right photographer is a little less black and white than perhaps, selecting a venue or a caterer for your wedding (does the food taste good, does it work within my budget? Done!).

Although you might be tempted to compare one photographer to the next based on cost alone, consider setting the calculator aside for a moment. 

Getting to know a photographer’s style, personality, and values are important when making your decision. You’ll be spending a good portion of your wedding day together so feeling comfortable around them and enjoying their company is key. Regardless of your approach though, you should feel good knowing exactly what it is you’re paying for.

So, I’m highlighting five categories to help you better understand wedding photography pricing. I’ll also talk through some of the most important questions you should consider while researching photographers.

Let’s dive in!


Aside from shooting your wedding day, what else does a wedding photographer do?


1. Pre Wedding Day Prep

My job begins promptly two hours before your ceremony begins, right? Not exactly. Most photographers agree that capturing the photos is only about 20% of the process.

Here’s how I spend some of my time when I’m not photographing your big day:

To help ensure a relaxing day for all of us, I spend time making sure I have a thorough timeline for the wedding day. I’ll work with you and your wedding planner to detail this well in advance of your wedding date, so you’ll know what to expect at every stage.

Also, I’ll make sure I have a comprehensive list of your family member’s names so that we can be sure that in the excitement of the day, no one is left out of the family photos. This is done with a super-simple online form that I’ll send you about a month before the wedding.



Then, I’ll take time to scout the venue you’ve chosen and any nearby locations that might make for a good photo opportunity. If you’re having a destination wedding, I’ll plan to arrive at least one day prior, so I can get to know the venue, find the best photo spots, and also give myself a buffer for any unexpected travel delays.




Checking out the venue ahead of time helps me find the best photo opportunities and it allows me to streamline the process on the day of your party. This way, you’re not taking photos every.single.second of your wedding day, and you can spend time on what’s most important — celebrating!

On the day of your wedding, I’ll plan to arrive early so I can get mentally prepared for the day. I’ll have made sure that my camera gear is clean and organized, and that I’m prepared for any scenario that might come our way! I always pack plenty of snacks — and yes, I’m happy to share! 


2. Post Wedding Day Production

Now that we’ve captured a ton of really great photos, I promptly import all of the digital images (often 2,000+) to my computer and back them up on hard drives and online to keep them safe. I ship the film off to my film lab in Salem, Oregon and I typically receive digital scans of these photos within 2-3 weeks. 

Within two weeks after the wedding, I’ll send you a preview gallery of some of my favorites to hold you over while you wait for the rest. Once I’ve gathered all of the photos, I’ll begin the editing process by filtering out those that are redundant, have blinking eyes, etc.




Over the next eight weeks, I’ll thoughtfully edit your photos and I’ll organize the photos in a way that tells a story of the day beautifully. I firmly believe that you can’t rush a meaningful moment. And you shouldn’t force the editing of it either! So, I spend time making sure the coloring and tones of your photos are consistent, cohesive, and flattering.

Finally, I upload all of your images to an online gallery for you to begin reminiscing and reliving those once-in-a-lifetime moments. 



3. Business Expenses

Since these are built into the overall cost of your wedding photography package, it can be helpful to know some of the costs associated with owning and operating a photography business. 

  • insurance

  • continued education (workshops and educational courses)

  • camera equipment cost, upkeep, and cleaning

  • editing software subscriptions and file backup services

  • film & film processing fees

  • administrative expenses (accounting software, credit card processing fees, phone, internet)  

  • online gallery subscriptions 

This is certainly not a comprehensive list, but I hope it gives you some insight into what it takes to offer an exceptional overall experience and ultimately, photos that offer a lifetime’s worth of memories.





4. Services & Packages

A selection of several wedding packages are the most common form of pricing for photographers. But what’s included in these packages tends to vary significantly from one photographer to the next. So, you’ll want to be sure to carefully read between the lines to understand all of the ins and outs of their services.  



I still get so excited for each and every love story I get to be a part of. So, naturally, I can’t wait to learn all about yours! l like to get to know you and find out what’s important to you. What are your priorities for your wedding? When you think about your wedding photos, what are you envisioning?

After our initial phone call, I take time to create a personalized and thorough proposal including three custom packages, based solely on your needs and your day, along with a sample wedding day timeline to help it all make sense.

While there are many ways to cut back on costs with the venue, flowers, attire, and favors, it’s not so easy to do this with photography without compromising the final product. I try to base my packages on exactly what you’re looking for and what is truly important to you, making it a truly personal and customized experience from start to finish.




5. Experience 

We’ve all heard horror stories from couples who hired a friend-of-a-friend, on a budget, whose photos were full of awkward, cheesy poses, or the photos were all out of focus or really dark. Or in the worst case scenario, the couple never even received their photos! Talk about a nightmare.

When it comes to photography, it’s hard to put a price on experience. And as you’ve likely discovered, this is one of the biggest determining factors when it comes to cost.

You’re paying for invaluable skills and knowledge that a photographer has gained throughout their career. And ultimately, the quality of work they produce.




What are the most important questions to consider when choosing a wedding photographer?

  •  What is the general cost? You want to make sure they’re within your financial realm, just don’t get too caught up in the detailed pricing early on — that’s overwhelming! Most photographers, including myself, offer payment plans that can help the total cost feel less daunting.

  • Are they an experienced wedding photographer? Even some of the best photographers can find weddings very challenging. I’ve been photographing weddings for over 9 years now and I know weddings like the back of my hand. You can feel confident that I’ll not only know what meaningful moments to look for, but I’ll capture them in the most naturally beautiful way. 

  • Do you like the idea of spending a whole day with them? Personality is so important. You’re going to be spending a lot of time together so from beginning to end, the process should be a pleasant experience rather than an added stress. And, the more comfortable you are with the photographer, the better the photos will turn out. By the time your wedding day arrives, I hope you’ll think of me like a trusted friend!

  • Is your photographer making sure your needs are the primary focus? Rather than an opportunity to grow their portfolio or further their career — it’s your wedding day after all. The day (and the photos) should be focused on you and your loved ones!



Want to know more about what goes into the cost of wedding photography? Send me a note and I’ll be happy talk about this with you!





A Priceless Experience: Understanding the Cost of Wedding Photography

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