How Much Should You Spend On A Wedding Photographer?

Someone asked me the other day what is a reasonable amount to spend on wedding photography.

If you ask Event Planners, many will say that most couples spend around 10-12% of their total wedding budget on photography.

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What I recommend is – Forget percentages and figures. Spend money where you place value. Ask yourself – how important are wedding photos to me?

If you want to remember your wedding day as a turnt up PARTAY, spend your money on alcohol and the best DJ/live band. If how you look is important, spend your money on the best hair and make-up team. If beautiful photos are important to you, spend you money on a photographer you like, and on lighting.

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If you like a photographer but it is stretching your budget, where are areas you can save? Do you care to be talking about the kind of food you served 5 years after the wedding? If it’s simply important that your guests have good food but you don’t care how it gets to them, would you consider buffet or food stations versus a sit-down dinner? Will you want to be passing your wedding gown to your future children, or will it just sit in a box, eventually to be sold? Alternative – rent a dress.

These are a couple ideas. Think about what you’ll care about 5, 10, 20 years down the road.

I once had a couple book me for their simple wedding. I was maybe 50% of their entire wedding budget, but pictures were the most important thing to them so they were willing to hire me even though it was outside their budget. To save money elsewhere, she took make-up and floral classes, and did make-up and flowers herself with the help of her friends (everything looked amazing!). She asked me what else she should consider to get great photos. I told her to plan the ceremony and portrait time just before sunset. In the end she was happy because she got what she wanted – photos she loved.

I’ve also had clients book me where I was maybe 3% of their budget. They didn’t choose me based on price (if they could afford to feed 300 guests mountains of Uni and Foie Gras, they probably could have afforded a more expensive wedding photographer). They hired me because they liked the photos in my portfolio, my work experience, and the content I write on my blog.

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One time I impulsively dropped $600 on a coat I didn’t need (pictured above). There are a million other things I could have done with that $600, but I loved the coat and it made me happy. I call it my Indiana Jones coat. To date it’s one of my favorite things in my closet, and I wear it all the damn time.

The photographer you like may be $2400 or $20,000. If wedding pictures are important to you and you really like someone particular (and of course, financially you could make it happen), you will not regret hiring them.

Christine Chang
Christine Chang is a Destination Wedding & Lifestyle Photographer based in Los Angeles.
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Showing 6 comments
  • Lena
    Reply

    Love this post. The % chat is nonsense. What is it worth to you? Good one!

  • Stefani
    Reply

    This is an excellent article! Thanks for sharing!

  • James
    Reply

    great post! That coat is awesome too!

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