Wedding Photographer Cost – How Much Should You Pay?
Published date: 4th September 2020 | Author: Hollie Bond
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No idea how much it costs to hire a professional wedding photographer to capture all the intimate and exciting moments of your wedding day? Our guide covers everything you need to know about wedding photography packages and prices in the UK.
Once you’ve decided on your overall wedding budget and discussed the areas you want to prioritise as a couple, it’s time to think about all the individual elements and how much to put towards them. We’ve got a handy guide that’ll take you through how to breakdown your budget and which elements need the most percentage wise here. Professional photography, however, is an area that you can’t really scrimp on.
Wedding photographers do vary a lot in price depending on how much experience they have and the style of photography they offer, but as a minimum you can expect to be paying an average cost of at least £1000 to have a pro capture your day. If the idea of spending hundreds or thousands on wedding photography seems crazy, just remember that once the big day is over, you’ll only be left with your memories and picture evidence of the best day of your lives and suddenly you’ll realise why beautiful photos command such a price, because in the end to you and your family they are pretty much priceless.
How Much Does a Wedding Photographer Cost In The UK?
According to a recent survey by the Wedding Photography Industry, the average cost of wedding photography in the UK in 2019 was £1,590 for a full day package. When you consider that you’re paying for the wedding photographer to be there on the day and work all day, for them to use their professional (and very expensive) equipment to capture your wedding and for their editing time afterwards (which normally takes on average 14 hours), then it’s not too eye-watering.
Of course, the price depends on a few other factors as well, such as where you’re located (prices in the capital and South East can be much more expensive) and if you’re getting married in a very remote area you’ll have to factor in travel costs for the photographer. If you’re planning on asking a UK wedding photographer to capture your destination wedding, you’ll also have to pay their air fare and accommodation.
Other factors that influence the wedding photographer cost, are the time of year you’re getting married (out of season, like November or February when wedding photographers aren’t in demand may be cheaper), the day you’re getting married on (mid-week weddings should be cheaper than the ever popular Fridays or Saturdays) and if you take advantage of any late cancellations that a photographer may have had. This last one can be a gamble though as to secure a good wedding photographer you usually want to be booking one in as early as possible in the planning process. However, if you’re planning a last-minute wedding or having a super-quick engagement, you could make a great saving if you call around and ask wedding photographers if they have last-minute deals.
How Much Should You Spend On a Wedding Photographer?
This is naturally up to you and depends on your overall wedding budget. Like anything in the wedding world you can spend thousands if you really want to for a famous or well-known and experienced wedding photographer! If you’re working to a tight budget of £3,000, then you’ll obviously not be spending £1590 (the average wedding photographer cost) on photography.
You do need to accept that professionals have a minimum threshold price and won’t take too kindly to being negotiated with. Remember they have a very special skill set and have invested in high quality equipment, including editing software, so even though they may seem expensive, they are definitely worth the cost.
Take a look at your overall wedding budget and allow for at least 5% – 10% of this to go towards wedding photography. So, for example, if you have £20,000 to spend on your wedding day, around £1000 – £2000 of that money should go on photography. Once you have this ballpark figure you can start to search for professional wedding photographers in your area who have packages that are around your budget.
If you like the look of a wedding photographer and their listed packages are too expensive, you can always ask if they would do shorter hours or just provide the photos rather than include album editing in the package for example. Don’t be completely put off by the prices on a website. If a package is near what you want to spend but just slightly over, it’s always worth speaking to the photographer to see if they can remove anything from it or do a special package to suit your needs. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
When it comes to wedding photography, you really do get what you pay for, so don’t be tempted to cut back the 5% – 10% just so you can have that designer pair of wedding shoes or Champagne rather than Prosecco for the toasts. Make sure you spend time and money getting this aspect of the wedding planning just right, as once the wedding day is over you can’t go back and have the wedding photos taken again. Not to put too much pressure on… but you only get one chance to get this right, so you need to feel confident and happy with your choice of wedding photographer.
The style of photography can also play a part in the price, so have a look at the most common creative styles (see our guide here) and decide which one is for you and whether you are prepared to pay for it. It’s not so much the style that costs, but the experience of the photographer creating the effect. It takes a lot of experience and training to master some of these creative styles and have the knowledge to make them work at weddings, so you’ll be paying for the talent of the wedding photographer if you’re particularly taken by any of these specific looks.
Decide What You Want From Your Wedding Photography
Before you start the search for your perfect wedding photographer, it’s important to know exactly what service you want from them. Sit down with your partner and discuss how imperative it is for the photographer to be there to capture every moment from getting ready until the last dance. Or perhaps you just want them to photograph the ceremony and speeches?
If you want getting ready shots, are you happy for the photographer to just capture one side of the couple getting ready (usually the bride and bridesmaids are pictured having their hair and make-up done) or do you want a second shooter to capture the morning of the wedding in two locations? Are you happy to put your own album together after the wedding or do you want a beautifully edited and professional wedding album to treasure for ever? All of these decisions will make a real impact on the overall price of your wedding photography, so it’s important to know exactly what you want before you speak to any professionals.
Wedding Photography Prices And Packages
There’s no flat fee for wedding photography and every individual photographer will have a range of packages and prices to suit different couples’ budgets. However, if you’re paying between £1,250 and £3,000 you can be sure that you’re getting the service of a professional, who has experience and all the relevant equipment and insurance in place.
Basic wedding photography packages will include a set number of hours and fewer photos, while the most expensive wedding photography packages will include a full day service, often with a second shooter, a lot more images and a full wedding album editing and delivery service after the event. Some high-end photographers even include a photo showing session, where couples get a special screening of their photos over a glass of bubbly. For a full day of wedding photography you should expect to receive around 300 – 500 beautifully edited images.
Don’t be tempted to go for quantity over quality. If you choose a cheaper wedding photographer whose work you don’t really like just so you can afford the more extensive package you’ll end up being disappointed and with lots of photos that you don’t like. Instead choose the basic package of the photographer whose style you love, as then you’ll have a small but much-loved collection of wedding photographs that you’ll treasure forever.
Make sure to ask for the exact details of what is included in your chosen photography package. Usually it should include a download link or USB to access your digital photos after the event, while some will include the editing and creation of a full wedding album. Some photographers even include an engagement shoot in the package price. This is a shoot before your wedding day, which can take place anywhere you choose and allows you to get to know the photographer and feel at ease with them.
It also gives you the chance to learn to relax in front of the camera and to experiment with different poses and backgrounds, so you can decide with the photographer what you like best and feel most comfortable with on your wedding day. The photos captured during this shoot usually cost extra to buy on an individual photo basis, although the photographer may include one or two of your favourites in the price.
How To Keep Wedding Photography Costs Down
If you’re really struggling with the idea of parting with over a grand or two for your wedding photos, then there are some things you can look out for to keep the cost down. As we’ve mentioned, the price of wedding photographers depend on location, with the north of England and Wales and Scotland being significantly cheaper than somewhere like London or the Home Counties. Obviously you can’t just choose Northumberland for you wedding if you’re based in Kent though, so this isn’t always under your control.
You do have a choice of the season you get married, the day of the week, the length of time you want the photographer and which of the wedding photography packages you choose, all of which can help keep costs down. Another factor that can keep the wedding photographer cost down is by choosing to go digital only. This means after the wedding you’ll simply get a USB or download link to your wedding photos to print off yourselves and turn into your own album. As with everything in life, DIY albums and printing costs a lot less than having the pro photographer do it for you.
To really save hundreds on the cost of wedding photography, you’ll need to be extremely savvy and try and find someone who is new to the industry or perhaps a photographer in another field (like journalism or fashion). Newly qualified wedding photographers or those without a large portfolio of weddings to show what they can do will naturally be a lot cheaper. Do ask to see examples of their other work and show them the style of photography you’d ideally love, to see if they can emulate it and feel confident working on your wedding. After all, every good wedding photographer has to start somewhere with their first wedding, so it can be a really smart move to give them the chance and you’ll pay a lot less money for it!
Of course, you may need to be a bit organised if you’re not choosing an experienced wedding photographer. Pros with years of industry experience will know instinctively which shots are the most important to capture and where to stand to get the best angle, while being completely unobtrusive. They also know which details to photograph and how long to spend on each aspect of the wedding.
A newbie might miss important shots that you had your heart set on, like the moment your dad sees you in your dress, or when your mum sheds a secret tear as you say “I do”. If you are worried about your photographer’s level of experience, make sure to draw up a shot list for him or her of all the most important pictures to you (see our photography shot list for inspiration here). It’s also worth asking them to accompany you to your venue before the big day so you can show them backdrops and areas of the venue that you would like them to focus on when it comes to couple shots and formal group photos.
The Hidden Costs Of Wedding Photography
Once you’ve found your photographer or have a shortlist of photographers you’re happy with it’s key to have a really open and honest conversation with them. If anything is unclear on their website make sure to ask them in person for clarity. If a package seems too good to be true, for example a full day service totalling 600 wedding photos for £750 then you need to be aware of hidden costs. Does the package stipulate whether these 600 photos are included or will they be watermarked and will you be expected to pay a pretty penny for each individual photo?
Will you be hit with a massive bill for travel costs, including expenses like any food or car parking costs incurred? Once you have agreed on a price, you need to ask the photographer to itemise exactly what is covers and to ask whether they expect there to be any other costs incurred on top of what they have quoted.
Destination Wedding Photography Costs
Choosing a UK wedding photographer and asking them to come out to another country to capture your day is obviously going to cost more. The benefits of having a UK photographer though is that there will be no language barrier and you’ll be able to meet them and perhaps have an engagement shoot before the big day. The cost for the wedding photographer’s services are likely to remain the same as they would in the UK, but with a destination wedding you’ll also have to pick up their expenses like flights, transfers, hotel rooms, food etc.
You’ll also have to pay for their time. If you’re flying somewhere that takes a day to reach, you’ll need to pay for the photographer’s time spent travelling, as back in the UK they may have been able to spend that day photographing another wedding. Many UK photographers specifically market themselves as destination wedding photographers so will have some excellent packages and be full of knowledge about how it all works, so it is worth searching for these specific and experienced photographers.
How Do You Pay Wedding Photographers?
A couple of thousand pounds is a lot of money to part with in one fell swoop so you’ll be pleased to hear that much like a lot of the larger wedding costs, a wedding photographer usually expects to be paid in two instalments. Usually this consists of a deposit to officially book in the date of your wedding with your chosen wedding photographer – this could be anything from 10 – 50% depending on the individual photographer – and then the second lump sum is expected a week or so before the big day or even after it, when the wedding photos have been edited.
Final Things To Consider When Budgeting For Your Wedding Photography
So you’ve chosen a wedding photographer whose work is exquisite and is located near your venue, but when you meet them in person for an initial meeting you feel uncomfortable in their presence and just can’t imagine them at your day. If you have any misgivings about the photographer, you need to keep looking as it’s really important that both you and your partner feel comfortable with them. You’ll spend a lot of the day with them and they will ask you to pose in different positions and photograph some of your most romantic moments. If you’re uncomfortable with them, this will translate into your photos. Plus, you want every single person at your big day to be people you love spending time with and feel relaxed with.
When you’re wincing as you part with a lot of hard-earned cash for a wedding photographer, remember you’ll probably only wear the dress once, the cake will get eaten, the flowers will wilt and the dance floor will have to empty at midnight. But, the photographs will capture every single detail and magical moment of your day and so in the end, are the most important thing you’ll invest in when it comes to your wedding.