How Much Will Your Wedding Photographer Cost in 2018?

According to real time quote dataprovided by professional wedding photographers on Decidio within the last 12 months, couples can expect to pay an average of $2,283 for wedding photography services in 2018, which is roughly 7.3% of their total wedding budget on a photographer.This service ranks number 4 in terms of cost behind buying an engagement ring and ahead of hiring a wedding band. You can also click here to see a complete breakdown of wedding costs nationwide.

As this is undoubtedly a major investment for most couples, hiring the right professional to shoot your wedding will be one of the more important decisions you can make. Continue reading to find out what couples around the country are actually paying to hire their wedding photographer, what is involved in pricing, and most importantly we’ll give you some proven ways you can save money when you’re ready to hire your own dream photographer to shoot your wedding!

2018 City and State Averages

Depending on what city and state you live will be one of the most important determinants of how much you can expect to pay for your wedding photography. Pricing will also depend on the experience level of your photographer, whether you need them during wedding season, what kind of packages they offer, and other factors. In major cities or more affluent areas around the country, you can expect this amount to be upwards of $4000 or more, and the most in demand photographers nationwide can expect to command prices starting at $7,000 and up. Shown below are the average costs for wedding photography services nationwide over the last year. How does your area compare?*NOTE: The amounts appearing below are updated throughout the year.

The Average Cost of Wedding Photographers by State

StatesAverage Cost
District of Columbia$2,640
New Hampshire$2,487
New Jersey$2,969
New Mexico$1,851
New York$2,678
North Carolina$1,988
North Dakota$1,829
Rhode Island$2,574
South Carolina$2,061
South Dakota$1,725
West Virginia$1,822

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What is Included?

There are several major factors that will be included in every wedding photography package which should be included in the contract and negotiated if need be. These will include the following:

  • Number of Hours: Wedding photography packages will usually include around eight hours of coverage of your ceremony and reception. You will usually be able to negotiate more or less hours along with a corresponding increase or decrease in pricing.

  • Engagement Sessions: These may or may not be included in your package, depending on the photographer. Ask if an engagement session can be included in the price or at least be included at a discount. If not, the additional hours can increase the price of coverage by up to $1000, depending on how much time will be involved.

  • Additional Photographers: Many times a photographer will have an assistant or second shooter available to cover events from a different angle or perspective. They will also be able to cover different aspects of the big day that occur simultaneously. The second photographer can be included in your wedding package or be added at an additional charge per hour. Keep in mind that the additional photographer does not have to work the same amount of hours as your primary photographer.

  • Wedding Albums: Whether you want a wedding album to be included in your package can add between one and three thousand dollars to the bottom line, depending on the experience of the photographer you are hiring. This cost reflects the many hours needed to review, curate, and organize the many hundreds of photos taken during your wedding and put together the story of your wedding in the most beautiful and artistic way possible.

    If you want a wedding album but cannot afford what your photographer charges, you have several options. First try to negotiate a discounted rate with your photographer, who will try to work with you depending on what you spent on your original package. If that is still too much, you can also save by hiring an outside service to create your wedding album. Prices charged by these services depend on how many pages you want your album to have and will generally start at $300 but can quickly increase to over a thousand dollars for larger albums. Lastly, you can opt to invest the time in curating all the raw photos and assembling your photo album yourself.

  • Additional Expenses: If your selected photographer if from outside your area, they will likely require for all their travel expenses such as airfare, meals, and hotel accommodations to be covered. Even if they are local, you should expect to feed them while they are working. Also expect that any applicable city and state sales taxes will be added to the final cost. Be sure that every miscellaneous fee and expense is detailed in your contract so you don’t have any surprises!

Key Points to remember:

  • In 2018, the average cost to hire a wedding photographer will be $2,283 and will account for 7.3% of a couple’s total wedding budget.

  • What you will ultimately pay will depend on several factors, such as where you are located, the experience of your selected photographer, whether the service will be needed in or out of wedding season, what is included in your wedding package, and more.

  • Packages generally include 8 hours of coverage, on average. If you need more or less time than what is included you can negotiate a higher or lower rate.

  • Your total cost will also increase based on what is required to properly shoot your event. Be sure that you have an itemized list of all fees and services provided in your contract to prevent misunderstandings.

  • Wedding albums may be pricy but you’ll be able to relive the big day for years afterward. You will be able to save money by getting a third party to do it or you can also invest the time in putting it together yourself.

  • Choosing which options you want carefully and by negotiating like a boss is guaranteed to save you hundreds to thousands of dollars!

Tips on Saving Money on Your Wedding Photography

You now know what other couples have paid for wedding photographers in your area and what factors may influence the price. Now learn some simple ways to save on your costs that every couple should know, while respecting the time and talent of your selected professional.

  • Try to avoid hiring any wedding photographer that keeps pushing for upgrades or are hesitant in committing to what your cost will be. Once you know the kind of coverage you need pick the appropriate package and stay with it. Professional photographers will work with you to stay within budget and will be upfront with all charges.

  • Take your time in researching local photographers as well as requesting and comparing quotes from any who seem to fit with your vision, personality, and budget.

  • Discuss your itinerary and shot list with your photographer to determine how many hours you’ll need them to be present. You could save hundreds of dollars by not getting the seven-hour package.

  • Hire a music student from your local college or university to perform at your ceremony and save up to 50% of what a professional would cost.

  • If you skip the proof book and review your proofs online, you’ll save that extra cost. Remember that you can always order a proof book later if you really want it.

  • As most of your guests will be busy talking and mingling during the cocktail hour, they won’t even know if you skip the live music during that time.

  • Go local! If you hire a wedding photographer that lives out of town, you will most likely have to pay for all their travel costs such as their airfare, meals, hotels, and more. You’ll be surprised how much these travel expenses will add to the bottom line.

  • If you have a photographer you love but can’t afford, ask them if they have an associate who can shoot your wedding for a lower cost.

  • Get a personal use release from your photographer whenever possible. This will allow you to order reprints or copies in the future (from a cheaper source) to post online and share with friends and family. Be sure to insist that this release is included in your contract and avoid hiring any service that is reluctant to do so.

  • Ask for packages that don’t include an excessive number of albums, thank-you cards, proof books and more. The final fees will be far less.

  • Adding a second photographer will very likely add to the final cost, so ask your photographer how comfortable they feel with working alone, and how much of a discount they will give for not having the second shooter present. It is a good idea to also ask if they can show you pictures from previous weddings where they’ve worked alone to verify the quality of the shots.

  • Save thousands by leaving out one or several extra or premium items like including a wedding album, having an additional photographer present, and adding hours for an engagement session.

  • Research to see if a package deal or a la carte approach would be more affordable. This is particularly worthwhile if you don’t really need everything being offered in the package deal.

  • If you book both your photography and videography from the same company, they will likely apply a discount and may even throw in a photo booth at no charge!

  • If you’re on a tight budget but just have to have a certain wedding photographer, inquire if they will shoot your wedding for less hours at a discount.

  • Being flexible on what day to shoot in order to accommodate your photographer’s schedule may help lower the cost by as much as twenty percent.For example, having your wedding on a month between November and February, or on a day that is not Friday or Saturday will save you big bucks on every wedding service you may need.

  • Always mention who referred you, as it will likely result in a discount being offered! If you are not a friend of a previous client, then mention Decidio and that you will leave a stellar review of their services.

  • Wedding photo albums are quite costly. Save hundreds of dollars by skipping the leather binding and hard pages and instead going for an album with soft binding and flexible, glossy type pages at a lower price.

  • Order thank-you card photos later on, unless you know that they’re included for free in the photo package. It will cost you far less to order wallet-sized photos from discount photo-ordering sites online.

  • Ask for low-resolution images on disk. Professional photographers mark up the prices of high-resolution images for print quality, so ask for a disk of “low-res” photos to share with friends or loved ones on your Facebook page or other social media.

  • Pay for your photographer with a credit card that offers a generous cash back or other rewards program. Paying for your wedding that way will allow you to enjoy some nice treats afterward!

  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate! If you find a photographer you love but they are out of your budget, ask what they might be able to offer that’s more in your price range. Also, if you’re getting married on an off-day such as a weekday or Sunday (Saturday is obviously the most busy day), inquire if they offer any discounts.

Always remember that it’s just as important to find a photographer that matches your style and personality and understands your needs as it is finding one that can do the job within your budget. While interviewing prospective vendors be sure that you check their portfolio, ask for references and recommendations from past wedding couples and negotiate everything that will be included in the contract. If you are comfortable with their personality, artistic vision, references, and pricing, then you know that you have found the right photographer for your wedding!

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