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Wedding Photographer Costs: What You Should Budget

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After the guests are gone, and the cake has been eaten, what you’re left with after your wedding are glorious memories and your precious photos. Since these will be something you will treasure long after your wedding day, photography is where you don’t want to skimp. 

As you prepare a budget for your wedding, it’s important to know what goes into wedding photographer costs and how much you might pay. Here is a breakdown of all the wedding photography ins and outs to help you select the very best for your wedding.

Related: How to Plan a Wedding: Step by Step Tips & Budget Advice

What Determines Pricing?

When first looking at the range of wedding photographer prices, you can feel a bit of sticker shock. There are several factors that influence what you will pay for wedding photography. 


One of the main things that will determine how much a photographer charges will be the years of experience. A photographer who is just starting will most likely charge a bit less than one who has been in the business for a long time. This is one of the most special days of your life, so you will want to make sure you get the best wedding photographer available.


While photographer rates are generally the same throughout the country, some located in places like large cities will have higher rates. If your wedding takes place in New York City or Chicago, the rates may be a bit higher. 

-Additional Staff

Most wedding photographers will have at least one assistant to help capture the day. These helpers may be a part of the photography team already or an apprentice learning the craft. Their hourly rate will depend on their level of experience and how long they’ve been working with your photographer.

Related: How to Plan Your Dreamy Vintage Wedding


How many guests you have will also determine your wedding photography cost. For a smaller wedding, your photographer may be able to handle shooting everything with minimal staff and equipment. If your wedding is large, the photographer simply cannot manage adequately capturing your day solo. 

Wedding Photographer Costs

The average cost of a wedding these days is around $20,000. You should count on photography taking up at least about 10-15% of your total wedding budget. If you plan on having lots of extras or have a large wedding planned, expect to pay a bit more. 


Most photographers offer wedding packages that include hours of photography and other things like prints or albums. Here is where you will want to meticulously look over every detail. Making a note of everything that is included and everything that is NOT included will save you a great deal of heartache later on. 

-Price Ranges

The cost of a wedding photographer ranges from about $1,200 to $3,000 in the United States. The average cost is generally around $2,000. Some wedding photography can cost a lot more, depending on how fancy you want the photographs. 

In extreme cases, wedding photography can cost between $6,000 to $10,000. How much you spend will depend on the experience of your photographer, how many prints or albums you want, and how many hours of photography you will need. 

What’s Included?

Most photographers offer packages that will include things like hours of photography and prints. To determine what to budget for a wedding photographer, it’s important to know what is included and what isn’t. 

-Wedding Day Photography

Your photographer will be there for your wedding day, but you’ll need to check the package prices for exactly how many hours of photography are included in the price. Most packages will include somewhere between 4 to 6 hours of photography with an additional charge for any extra hours they need to stay. 

-Extra Staff

No matter how good a photographer is, it’s simply impossible to be in multiple places at once. Many photographers will bring in a “second shooter” to help get those one-of-a-kind shots. A second photographer is handy for capturing a moment from two points of view, taking photos of guest reactions, and snapping candid pics throughout the day.

An extra set of hands is also helpful for managing lighting equipment for formal bridal party photos. 

Related: Three Thoughts To Help Keep Cold Feet At Bay On Your Wedding Day

-Beyond the Wedding Day

Other than the actual wedding day, there are other occasions surrounding your union that you’ll want to capture. Having a formal engagement photo session to commemorate this monumental event has become quite popular in recent years. For some photographers, the engagement photo session will be included in your photography package. 

Many photographers will also offer to shoot your rehearsal dinner for an extra fee. When deciding your budget for photography, consider all the events outside of your wedding day that you’ll want to be captured on camera. 

-Travel Expenses

This is your special day, so it’s important that your photographer arrives in plenty of time to cover every moment. You’ll also want to make sure they are well-rested for the big day. 

Some photographers require you to take care of travel expenses such as hotel accommodations. Many times this is included in the package price. If your photographer is covering the rehearsal dinner, you may need to provide accommodations for multiple nights. 

Some will also set the distance they are willing to travel for a wedding but may be willing to travel further for an additional fee. Be sure to check the package for any details that could end up costing more than you have expected to pay.

You’ll also need to be prepared to feed your photographer and any assistants they bring along, so be sure to count them in your total headcount for catering. 


In the digital age, we are used to having our photos in a format that can be shared online. For your wedding photos, however, you’ll definitely want some prints you can hang on your wall and share with loved ones. Most wedding photography packages will include at least some prints of your favorite shots. 

Take a look at the packages offered to make sure you’re getting what you want. Extra prints usually cost more, and that can add up. 

How to Hire a Wedding Photographer?

Time is of the essence when booking your wedding photographer. Most quality photographers will fill their calendars way in advance, so it’s important to secure one early in your planning process. 

To find the best photographers in your area, ask the folks at your wedding venue or other vendors. They will have worked with lots of photographers and can direct you to the best ones. 

When meeting with potential photographers, don’t be afraid to ask for references or to see their previous work to make sure it fits with your style. 

Happy Planning

This is an exciting time in your life. Choosing the right wedding photographer is a crucial part of the planning process. Now that you know everything that goes into wedding photographer costs, you can select one with confidence. 

Once you’ve started your new life together as a married couple, be sure to check out the rest of our website for helpful articles on relationships, family, fashion, and more!

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