How much is a wedding photographer?

Have you found yourself asking, “Why do wedding photographers charge so much?” or, are you wondering, “How much does a wedding photographer cost?“. It’s not easy to answer these questions but the following article might just shed some light on the subject.

I originally wrote this article in 2013! But in 2019, it remains an oft-asked question and with Brexit looming large and tough economic times ahead, it is becoming an increasingly common concern for couples looking to get married. In 2013 the average wedding was estimated to cost just over £20,000. But according to one study the average cost of a wedding has gone up £10,000 since 2013 to in excess of £30000. Reading around, it seems that while supplier costs have risen, much of this extra cost is going into things like marquee hire, catering and venue dressing! According to another similar study, by wedding directory Hitched, the average cost of a wedding in 2019 is £32000. This is slightly less expensive than in 2018 but still up by £5000 more than in 2017!  Out of a list of 10 of the biggest spends, wedding photography is, on average, the seventh biggest spend, while hiring a Wedding Venue and going on honeymoon come in at the top of the list!

When it comes to Wedding Photography, prices are likely to be inflated by weddings in places like London but nonetheless, weddings are a large undertaking with the potential to be expensive.  There are all sorts of costs to consider including the venue, rings, catering, the dress, the flowers, the cake etc. When it comes to photography, the study, mentioned above, suggests that the average price paid for wedding photography in 2019 is £1,155, slightly down on the 2018 figure of £1,166.  So, why pay so much for wedding photography, you may ask, after all it’s only a few hours work, is that really worth paying upwards of £1,000 for?

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Yes, wedding photography can be expensive and there is always someone willing to take your images and offer them all to you on a disc to print for a few pounds at your local pharmacist.  But there are plenty of horror stories about cheap wedding photography and a quick Google revealed one wedding photographer touting themselves as akin to a budget Irish airline – “cheap and cheerful”!  That’s fine but a quick search for said airline reveals less than stellar feedback about its customer service and plenty of negative headlines!  Being a good wedding photographer involves a great deal of investment, both time and money. If you’re considering a cheap wedding photographer, you should first ask yourself, “What corners is the ‘budget-airline’ wedding photographer cutting to keep their prices so low – insurance, equipment, training?”

So, what exactly are you paying for?  My work does not end when your wedding does and it usually starts long before!  I commit time to meeting with you before your wedding, either over a coffee or, by Skype. This way, we can discuss what you want from your photography. This is a good way to get to know each other before your wedding day. Another great way to get to know each other is by having pre-wedding photography, this can help put you at ease about being photographed and can, for some people, make things more relaxed when it comes to being photographed on their big day.

There is of course the wedding day itself, where depending on your requirements, I can spend anywhere between 6-12+ hours.  As well as the time spent with you taking images, there is, of course, the work going on behind the scenes, such as my preparation time, undertaking a recce of your venue, editing images, designing albums…the list goes on.  I won’t bore you with an exact breakdown but as you can probably tell, there’s a lot more hours involved than you might, at first, imagine.

In addition to this, there are of course the costs involved in maintaining a wedding photography business – taxes, insurance, advertising, and training.  On top of these costs, top quality, professional camera bodies, lenses, computers, software, digital storage mediums etc. can set you back in excess of  £30,000.  And, of course, this equipment needs replacing more often than you might think.  Then there are the costs involved in using a professional photographic lab, album suppliers and framers.  It is important to me that the images I produce, as well as being a document of your wedding day, stir your emotions and look fantastic hanging on your wall.  The quality of high-street printers is variable and so I only use craftsmen that work to the very highest standards but of course, this costs me more than popping down to Boots.

Norfolk Wedding Photographer Rob Dodsworth Homepage

In a survey for their wedding issue in 2013, New York magazine asked 100 brides “What They Would Have Done Differently” if they were able to go back in time and plan their wedding again.  21% of those polled responded by saying that they wished they had spent more money on their wedding photography, while only 12% wished they had spent less.Wedding info graphic

A similar study that asked 2,000 people married in or, after 2010 the same question found that “of the top five spending regrets, people would have put more money into the honeymoon fund, how much they spent on rings, and would have ponied up more for a stellar photographer. The lesson? People felt it’s important to not skimp on the things that last long after the celebration itself.” In almost all online articles and magazine features, one of the biggest regrets people have about their wedding is hiring a cheap photographer. This quote from a 2019 survey on wedding regrets sums it up:

“I regret not paying *more* money on a photographer whom I loved and reflected my tastes. Instead, I settled for an okay photographer for a good price and for good photos but she didn’t do a great job really capturing our essence.”

So how much is too much? Yes, wedding photography might seem expensive, at first but what value do you place on being able to look back at your wedding photos, to truly enjoy and relive those memories, with friends and family and perhaps, in the years to come, with your own little people?

I have been a wedding photographer for more than 10 years. My prices have gone up year on year as my experience and the value I offer has grown. I’m far from the cheapest photographer out there and I work in a hugely competitive market but I am fortunate to work with amazing couples, couples who trust me to capture their big day, couples who value good wedding photography.

All that being said, wedding photography is, by and large, a luxury. You don’t absolutely need it. And if there isn’t room in your budget, there are alternatives to a professional wedding photographer. You might have a friend or, a family member who is good at photography or, you might consider a student or an amateur photographer. I’d be lying if I said I took amazing pictures right off the bat. Every wedding photogapher started somewhere and I’m really graetful to the people who trusted me at the start, with very little experience of wedding photography, to capture thier day. Those weddings might not be amongst my best work but it was my stepping stone to doing what I love and being able to make a living from it. If you do go the route of hiring a student or, amatuer, photographer for your wedding, my best advice would be to, at the very least, take a look at their portfolio and ask some questions about how they would handle photographing a wedding day. This way both of you know what you’re getting into and will know what to expect. And if you think they won’t accept payment for their time and effort, do try to get them as substatial a gift as you can. Rewarding them with a thoughtful gesture will mean the world! Also, don’t presume they’ll want to do it. Ask them in a way that gives them room to say no. If it’s one of your invited guests, they may just want to enjoy your wedding.

Long after your flowers have wilted, your cake has been eaten, your guests have departed and your venue swept clean, it will be your wedding photographs that help you to look back and remember the tears, the joy and the excitement of your wedding day!  Ultimately, it is your wedding day and you must do what is right for you and your budget.  There’s no doubt that wedding photography can seem expensive at first but bear in mind that wedding photography is not an ordinary purchase but an investment.  If you are looking to make savings, try to cut back in other areas if you can help it.  Also, bear in mind that your photographer is likely to be able to help you in some way.  While I offer an all-in package that includes my time from bridal preparations, right up until your first dance (and often beyond), if you don’t have the resources to hire me on this basis, then please don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss your needs and to see what I might be able to do for you.

I hope you have found this article helpful, if you want to talk further about my photography and discuss your wedding plans, then please, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

UPDATED: December 2019

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