How much does a wedding photographer cost?
It became clear to me a few years ago that most brides and grooms-to be don’t know how much they will have to pay for their wedding photography. And why should they? It’s not as if couples get married regularly…
The short answer is, of course, it depends! Like most things in life there are photographers out there catering for every budget. Seriously, you can pay as little (although there are limits, as we’ll see later) or as much as you like.
A simple Google search for your area will find photography packages anywhere from £500-600 at the lower end all the way up to (and beyond) £3,500 - which will tend to have the word ‘luxury’ somewhere in the description! If you put your mid to it you can certainly spend £5,000 on a luxury wedding photographer! That covers quite a range, doesn’t it?
So how much should you pay?
That’s a tough question and depends on a number of factors. Many Wedding Planners will tell you that you should be prepared to pay somewhere between 5% and 10% of your total wedding budget on your photography. That means if your overall budget for the wedding is say £20,000 you should be setting aside £1,000 - £2,000. For a £30,000 budget (which was close to the UK average in 2021 - including the rings and honeymoon) you would be spending £1,500 - £3,000 on your photographer.
According to Hitched , Your Perfect Wedding Photographer and Bridebook , the average cost for wedding photography in 2021 was around the £1,200 - £1,500 mark. In my experience, this sounds about right.
What factors should I take into account?
There are a number of things you’ll need to take into account in working out how much you should be paying?
Experience - the one with the most may not always be the right one you you
This is as true for a photographer as for any other supplier. The more experience they have, the more dependable they should be - and that will flow through to their price tag. However, that doesn’t mean they’ll always be the right choice for you. They may have 25 years’ experience, but they may not have moved with the times and kept up with current trends.
If a photographer is quoting you only £500 for the whole day, you should be a little cautious. They may not have the experience your’re looking for. Perhaps they are new to wedding photography or doing it as a weekend sideline. Even if your photographer is part time, they be excellent and give you everything you need. I started out this way and had many very happy clients before I turned full time.
Location - regions, venues and overseas weddings
To some extent, prices will vary by region, so a photographer working in Central London may well be more expensive than one based in the Yorkshire Dales. Also, photographers on the preferred vendor list for high-end venues will tend to be on the ‘reassuringly’ expensive side…
Naturally, if your’re booking your wedding abroad and plan to book a UK photographer, their fee will take into account multiple days, travel, meals and accommodation. These are referred to by photographers as ‘destination’ weddings.
Day length - part or full days
Many photographers will offer two or three packages at different price points, covering part days (e.g. ceremony or reception only) or the full day. Even the full day package may be time limited. I’ve seen a number of tariffs recently quoting a price for an 8 hour day, so if you’re looking for longer coverage (and many of you will be) you could end up paying a lot more than you had planned.
Number of photographers
While many photographers tend to work alone, there are often circumstances where a second (or even third) shooter is preferable - or even necessary. This is quite typical for high-end weddings.
Add-ons - excess hours, travel / accommodation and albums
This is where you'll really need to do your homework...
Expanding on what constitutes a full day, some photographers will charge an hourly rate beyond their standard 8 hours. I’ve seen hourly rates in excess of £200, so be careful.
Typically, travel costs are included in the headline rate - but it’s worth checking if the photographer is travelling some distance to attend your wedding.
If you’ve discussed an early start or late finish, you should check if accommodation costs and additional meals are included in the original quote.
The one additional cost which is often not included in the headline rate relates to an album or photo book. Often photographers will provide a package that includes an album or photo book, but this may only include a certain number of pages - so, again, it’s worth clarifying.
Some photographers will offer Drone coverage (a great addition of aerial venue shots and large groups) or video snippets (e.g. of your vows and speeches) at a small additional cost. If you want to add fuller video coverage, this will tend to cost considerably more, as a dedicated Videographer (or two!) will be needed.
Value for money
In conclusion, you'll need to weigh up what constitutes value for money and how much your're prepared to pay. Remember that while you'll always have your memories, the photographs (and video) you have taken on the day are the things that you'll be able to show you children (and grandchildren) in the years to come.
All the pricing information I've provided here is for guidance only. Don't come away thinking that you have to spend £3,000 to have a 'real' photographer. That's not the case at all. I've always tried to keep my packages at an affordable level because I love what I do - and don't need the charge the earth!