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I found budgeting to be the hardest part of planning my wedding. Not sticking to amounts, or keeping costs under control, but just figuring out what my wedding budget should be. I found a lot of articles and pie charts telling me what percentage of my budget should be reserved for each element (dress, ceremony, food, etc). But I had a hard time getting anyone, even wedding vendors, to give me actual approximate costs. The cost of a wedding photographer was one of the most difficult items to nail down.
Now that my wedding is long over and I've been working with weddings for a long time, I understand why it's so hard to find out how much a wedding photographer costs. I'll explain it to you, but because I know it's hard to read through a lot of text when all you really want is to look at nice wedding photos, I thought I'd illustrate the article with photos from one of our favorite wedding photographers: JoPhotos.
The fact that Jo captured so many great shots, incorporated photo booth elements and rather than being thrown off by the rain, used it to create great photos just proves the importance of hiring a great wedding photographer.
The general budgeting estimate given for wedding photographers is that wedding photography should be 10-15% of your overall budget.
There are a lot of factors that go in to how much a wedding photographer charges including location. I recently asked a random group of friends, some recently married, some married years ago for their estimate of how much a wedding photographer costs and received answers ranging from $1,000 to $4,000. None of these guesses was far off. According to Snapknot, the average cost of a wedding photographer is $2,814. But depending on location, that cost can vary greatly. The average cost of a photographer in San Francisco is over $3,900. The Average cost of a photagrapher in Salt Lake City is $2,215.
Many people have a visceral reaction against a price that seems to mean a photographer is charging between $275-$487 an hour. Keep in mind though that wedding photographers work more hours than you see. They meet with you before and after the wedding, and they spend a lot of hours editing your wedding photographs. Photographers also pay for assistant shooters, equipment, and like every other business they pay for their work space, insurance, marketing, etc.
One reason prices vary is that photographers offer different packages. One photographer may offer you a package that includes an engagement session, digital negatives, a second shooter on your wedding day, and an album. It's hard to compare his or her price to a photographer who is just offering the wedding day services. Of course, some photographers just cost more because they are more experienced, in high demand, and can afford to charge more. Just like with any business, with wedding photography you do get what you pay for.
So how do you choose a wedding photographer?
We recommend that you start here, with our list of wedding photographers. Find a few (3-5) that you like that are within your approximate price range and start asking questions. Think about what's really important to you in a wedding photographer, do you want a finished album? Do you want more than one shooter at your wedding? If a photographer offers all the bells and whistles, do you need them all?
Make sure you understand what's included in each photographers' package and that you really want everything in that package. Of course, you'll also want to get referrals and recommendations from past clients.
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