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A Cost Guide to Wedding Photographers

Wedding photographers are often the first vendors that couples book after securing their spot. We suggest beginning your hunt for a photographer about 11 months before your wedding date.

Wedding photographer costs can vary based on various factors, including your wedding’s venue (photographers in big cities tend to be more expensive than in other areas), the kind of facilities and packages you choose, and the skill and level of knowledge of your preferred photographer. Wedding photography rates in the United States typically vary between $1,150 and $3,000, with the average wedding photographer costing about $2,000.

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The Wedding Photographer’s Inclusions

When investigating wedding photographers, make sure to read the details about their prices and packages closely—these can vary significantly from photographer to photographer and significantly impact wedding photography pricing. Among the goods and resources to watch for are:


Time: Wedding photographer rates usually provide six hours of coverage and an infinite number of photos. You will pay for extra hours. Is your photographer needed to drive a long way to your event? If he or she is commuting to your reception, you will have to pay a per-mile fee, or you may have to pay for airfare and reservations if it is a resort wedding.

Staff/Second Shooters: Would the photographer be accompanied by a second sniper or assistants? If you plan to hold a big wedding, then you have to be prepared to pay extra.

Editing: The photographer can spend a significant amount of time editing and retouching your wedding pictures to ensure they look perfectly stunning.

Photos: The expense of your wedding photographer should include the original images. You may receive digital files in several ways, including via an online gallery and a USB drive.

Print lock: Several wedding photography bundles contain a “print release,” which ensures you can use the images for personal use only. You would most likely not get a complete “copyright release,” which means you may not own the images and cannot sell them, and that the photographer can use them for marketing purposes.

Prints: Certain wedding photographers offer picture prints or a print credit—money you can use to purchase prints in their wedding photography prices. Although you are not required to buy your prints from your photographer, they would most definitely turn out better if you do.

Albums: The photographer can include a wedding album in his or her kit. You have the option of designing and purchasing your album through your photographer or another app. Many wedding photographers offer an album in their pricing. However, certain photographers charge a separate fee for it, which may add hundreds of dollars to your number. Other services allow you to make your wedding picture book, but it can be more convenient to work with your photographer.

Different shoots: Some photographers have an engagement shoot as part of their set. 62% of couples do a pre-wedding engagement shoot. Bridal images, trash the dress sessions, and coverage of the wedding dinner are all likely to be extra-cost shoots.

Other, less apparent aspects of a wedding photographer’s operation, such as supplies, staff, business costs, publicity, liability insurance, and more, can be included in their kit pricing.

The Wedding Photographer’s Styles

As you begin studying wedding photographers by looking at their work and reading online feedback, identify the wedding photography style you want. There are some wedding photography models to choose from, such as:

Photojournalism is a wedding photography style that focuses on telling a story. Instead of staged photographs, the photographer can record candid, dramatic scenes.

Traditional wedding photography is a more formal, classic photography style that incorporates several posing shots. 

Dramatic designs and stylized images characterize fine art. It’s a more contemporary style that results in photographs that are capable of framing.

Fashion is the wedding photography theme for you if you want photos that reflect on your attire and look like they belong in a magazine. Consider imaginative backdrops and one-of-a-kind poses.

Vintage photography uses filters and other tools to give your wedding pictures an old-fashioned look.

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The Wedding Photographer’s Second Shooter

When it comes to the age-old “one vs. two wedding photographers” question, the “right” solution varies from photographer to photographer, and it frequently depends on the scale of the wedding. If you are having a small and private wedding, having only one photographer present might be sufficient. If you’re planning a big wedding with many people, you’ll probably need a primary photographer, a second photographer, and maybe assistants to help with lighting and coordination. A second shooter is included in 34% of wedding photographers’ starting prices, but it is a separate fee for many.

Having a second photographer on hand will help you capture various views and angles during the day and make the wedding-day timeline run smoothly. With two photographers on-site, you and your future partner will be photographed getting dressed at the same time. To decide the exemplary staffing scenario, discuss your wedding and desires with your photographer.

The Wedding Photographer’s Travel Costs

If your wedding photographer is located near your wedding venue, you would most likely not have to incur extra travel expenses. However, since the photographer will be driving a long way (often more than 60 miles), you will almost certainly face extra travel expenses, perhaps as much as $2 per mile or more. 

If your photographer is going to your wedding location, you would almost certainly have to pay for his or her airfare, hotels, and an extra travel fee. Again, wedding photography rates vary from pro to pro, so make sure to contact your preferred photographer for pricing information before booking.

The Wedding Photographer’s Meals

You will need to have hot meals for your wedding vendors that will be present at your actual wedding (your photographer, videographer, DJ, wedding planner, and so on). Well, this is an unexpected cost, but it is critical—vendors who are well-fed and comfortable would be better prepared to deliver their A-game for the big day! Your wedding caterer is probably used to delivering these vendor dinners, so make sure to arrange it with them.

The Engagement Photoshoot

Doing an engagement photoshoot is well worth it because it allows you and your wife to get more relaxed in front of the camera and with your photographer before your wedding day. Engagement portrait sessions are often included at the expense of wedding photographers. 

Some photographers, however, list these shoots individually, and engagement shoot rates will vary from $150 to more than $600 for a session. These fees usually include a shoot at a venue of your choosing, as well as an online gallery and USB of photographs. Few photographers encourage you to change outfits several times during your shoot, but this may incur additional fees for others.

Engagement pictures are usually taken about three months before a couple’s wedding day. You can consult with your photographer to decide the right time for your specific requirements. Any couples will change their schedules to accommodate a warm-weather wedding shoot, but they will not rule out a winter photo session. Winter engagement shoots are among our favorites because they are so private, cozy, and romantic!

The Takeaway

Editing is one of the factors that contribute to the high cost of wedding photography. The time varies depending on the photographer, but for an 8-hour wedding, it will usually take 3-4 hours to cull the photographs. The actual editing process takes much longer, which is a much more significant factor in which wedding photography is expensive. You also might want to ask your wedding planner for wedding photographer recommendations.

Call me Jen Hensey, a writer and blogger of LifeStyleConvo & UrbanHouses, who worked as a full-time content creator. A writer by day and a reader by night.


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