The Average Wedding Photographer Cost in the US Demystified

wedding photographer cost

A wedding is only a one-day event, but it’s the wedding photos that make the wedding day a lifetime of joy-filled memories.

But you need a good wedding photographer to achieve that. However, to also budget effectively for your wedding, it’s important to make sure you don’t overspend on your wedding photographer.

But how much do an average wedding photographer charge? Well, that’s exactly what we will be discussing in this topic, along with some other relevant things you will find useful when choosing the right wedding photographer.

How much does an average wedding photographer cost?

The cost of a wedding photographer depends on a few main factors. They typically include the location of your wedding (photographers in big cities charge a lot more than the ones in smaller cities), the range of your requirement, and the experience and expertise of the photographer.

The location is easily the biggest factor influencing the wedding photographer prices, though. For instance, the average cost of a wedding photographer tends to be upwards of $3,000 in the New York City, while in West Virginia it’s just around $1,800.

It varies widely in other cities too, with the average wedding photographer cost being around the $3,000 mark in San Francisco and Los Angeles and between $1,900 and $2,000 in New Mexico and Utah.

The average cost in cities like the New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles tends to be about 50% higher than the national average cost in the US.

You must also take into account the fact that if you go with a photographer based in a different city than where you will be having your wedding, they would usually charge you considerably more to account for the travel expenses and the extra time they spend traveling to your wedding location.

All said and done, the general range of the wedding photographer prices in the US is $1,150 to $3,800. Of course, you would find many wedding photographers in some of the bigger cities like the New York City and San Francisco charging a lot more than the upper end of this range, but this is a general range covering all the cities in the country.

That said, the specific average wedding photographer cost in the US turns out to be around the $2,500 mark. Sure, you can get one for much cheaper if you don’t care much about the experience of the photographer or only want to hire one for a couple hours.

As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t spend more than 15% of your total wedding budget on your wedding photographer.

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What style of wedding photography do you prefer?
What style of wedding photography do you prefer?
What style of wedding photography do you prefer?

What to Look for When Choosing a Wedding Photographer’s Package?

Many wedding photographers offer different packages depending on the needs and preferences of their customers. You must be careful when choosing your package so that you can be sure of everything you will be getting for what you’re paying, as this is going to directly affect your overall photography experience and even the quality of your photos.

With that said, here are a few important things to look for.

Time

The most basic packages of wedding photographers typically cover 6 hours. Of course, you can ask them to cover your wedding for as many hours as you want, but then you will have to pay extra for the additional hours.

Location

As mentioned above, your wedding photographer would charge more if they have to travel to a location different than where they live. Most times, you would have to pay for their airfare, accommodation, and also an increased price for their services as they would be spending more time overall than when covering a wedding in their city.

Assistant Photographer

Some photographers – usually the more experienced ones – have an assistant photographer. Many might offer this as an optional add-on to their service.

While having an assistant photographer will improve the overall quality and variety of your photos, it will definitely add quite a bit to the overall photography costs too.

Editing

The editing is often just as important as taking the shots itself, so wedding photographers spend a lot of time editing the photos they capture for you. Make sure your photographer would do this too.

Convenient Image Transfer

You must make sure that your photographer would give you the images in the digital format you prefer.

Print Release

Many photographers design some of their packages with a “print release,” meaning that while you can use your photos for your personal purpose, you can’t sell them or own the full copyright to them. In addition, it gives the photographer the right to use your photos for their marketing.

Other Factors

Similarly, some of the other things you would want to consider when choosing your photography package include a print copy of your photos, designing your album, if you would like to have additional shoots for events like your engagement, a pre-wedding or pre-engagement shoot, bridal portraits and so on.

Tips to Help You Save on Your Wedding Photography Costs

If you’re on a tight budget, it’s a good idea to follow some tips that help you save on the photography costs or at least avoid additional costs. Let us quickly go through them below.

  • Make sure you’re very clear about what you will be getting for the package you’re going with, as some photographers do try to up sell you later. Good photographers don’t do this, so it may also help you avoid a bad photographer.
  • If you’re on a real tight budget you can ask your photographer if they would charge you less if you just ask them to shoot the most important parts of the weddings and lower the number of hours they cover.
  • Leaving out additional items from your package such as engagement shoot, wedding album, photo prints and more can help you save thousands of dollars.
  • It’s fine to negotiate, especially if you would like to go a good photographer but they are out of your budget.
  • If your photographer only offers a package that includes an assistant photographer, you can ask them if they can offer a lower price and shoot the wedding alone.
  • Avoid photographers that live in a different town, as that can increase the costs for you quite a bit.
  • A less experienced photographer can produce great photos too if they are skilled enough, but they would charge you a lot less than their more experienced counterparts. So it can be a good idea to check the portfolio carefully and go with a less experienced but skilled photographer.

A Final Word

It’s also important to keep in mind that the price isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing your wedding photographer. They must also be a good fit for your requirements and offer everything you need in your package, given you have reasonable expectations based on your budget.

Be sure to check their portfolio and also ask for recommendations, referrals, or their preferred vendors that they work with before. Many wedding photographers have had work with these amazing vendors such as videographer, florist, venue, DJ etc…

Furthermore, you should also write an online review as an added thank-you. It will also mean a lot to the photographers and will help future couples when making their decision.

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51 Comments

  1. It’s not just the quality and artistic look of the photos that may suffer. There are many behind-the-scenes things you need to consider.

  2. Also to consider – Costs include equipment, insurance (public liability + equipment), education, advertising/marketing, software, website hosting, file storage, travel, and in some cases, the various costs associated with studio space and staff too.

  3. A lot of people don’t really have much idea on how to research the industry before finalizing a photographer for their wedding. Those can afford it tend to hire the best in the industry regardless of their cost.

  4. Forget the wedding photographe cost! Think about your photos will be the only way to tangibly preserve your precious memories of that day.

  5. Of all the things you buy for your wedding, besides the ring and dress, it’s the only purchase that remains; it backs up your memories!

  6. Your wedding photographs are an important investment, and will bring back memories of your wedding day for decades to come, so go for the best quality you can afford.

  7. One thing that surely stands out as a means of helping to solidify a decision about whom to hire, is professionalism.

  8. Tips are not included in a wedding photographer’s package—but it’s definitely something you want to factor into your budget.

  9. Talented, proven wedding photographers typically charges higher rates, with word-of-mouth recommendations from newlywed couples driving new ones to their business.

  10. Excellent advice, The decision to choose “the right wedding photographer” becomes increasingly more difficult for people who have a shoestring budget.

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