Deciding on your budget for a wedding photographer can be a minefield, especially when you’re trying to work out if you want an album of photos, a USB stick of images or if a pre-wedding shoot is very “you”.
We’ve broken down the different wedding photography prices to help you work out what to splash the cash on and where you can make savings.
Many photographers offer a digital package as standard which includes a pre-wedding consultation, eight to 10 hours of shooting on your wedding day, a memory stick of all your photos, and a password protected gallery online.
This is generally the least expensive option, with the photographers we spoke to charging from £895 to £1700. However, prices can vary considerably depending on a range of factors, including location, experience and equipment – in London, for example, £2500+ is not uncommon.
On top of the standard digital package, photographers generally offer upgrades. For example, photographer Angela Ward Brown has The Album Package, including everything in The Digital Package, as well as a bespoke 25-page fine art album.
Photographer David Walker provides a similar offer, named Premium, which is his most popular package, priced at £1445. “Premium includes everything as per the standard package with the addition of a beautiful A3 lay flat story book album,” David explains.
Of course, all photographers are different and will offer different upgrades from their standard package, so be sure to get the low down on these before finding a wedding photographer and making your decision. In addition, not all photographers use packages – some prefer to discuss your requirements before coming up with a bespoke price.
There are a selection of extras that couples can bolt on to their package, ranging from prints, to framed photos and albums.
Album design is an art form that's worth investing in. "Album prices vary greatly, depending on the style, number of pages and cover," says photographer Fiona Kelly. "An average spend is probably in the £550-750 range."
Second shooters can incur an extra cost too, so it's worth considering if you need one or not. The advantage of a second shooter is that you'll get more coverage of your big day - while one is snapping you sipping champagne while you get your hair done, the other can capture your groom and his pals suiting up; you'll need to weigh up the cost implications with how much you want photos from all aspects of the day.
Another thing to consider is whether you want to go old school and have your photographer shoot in film. Film photography is fantastic for capturing the nuances of light, shadows and colours and makes for gorgeous images, but is more expensive than shooting digitally. Think about whether it is worth the extra cost, or if you'll be happy with digital images.
Many couples opt to have a pre-wedding or engagement shoot with their photographer; if you're wondering why you should do an engagement shoot, David has some good reasons; “It’s a great opportunity to spend some relaxed time in front of the lens without the eyes of a full wedding party upon you,” David comments. “It gives you an opportunity to get to know your photographer a bit better before your wedding day and understand how they work.”
David charges £100 for a pre-wedding shoot, while Angela either includes it as part of a bespoke photography package or charges £295 for engagement shoots local to her, which also includes some prints.
“Engagement shoots feel like a big expense, and it’s understandable if it’s not in your budget, but they can be invaluable to help you relax on the day, and just have some gorgeous informal images," Angela says.
If you’re keen to show off your pre-wedding shoot photos, why not incorporate them into your big day, with a guest-signing frame, as David suggests.
“With this you would select your favourite image from the shoot, have it made into a large print and framed with a deep mount, at a price of £90. This is then on display during the wedding reception and guests can sign and leave short messages on the border,” he explains.
As with all aspects of your wedding, it’s important to be aware of hidden costs, so you’d be wise to have an open chat with your photographer before booking them.
“Most photographers should be really clear with you what their package contains, so I would advise you go through your pricing brochure, quotes and contracts really carefully and ask questions if you need to,” Angela suggests.
“It’s easy to be drawn to a photographer by what seems like a good price only to find out later on that the price quickly escalates to get what you really want.,’ adds David. “This can really leave a bitter taste in your mouth, especially if you don’t realise until you have committed and signed contracts.”
If your photographer isn't local to your venue, you may need to organise accommodation or cover their travel costs, as some photographers charge by mile if your wedding is outside of their catchment area.
"Travel costs are usually included within the local area, but be sure to check this before booking," says Angela. "Every photographer will charge differently; personally, I am happy to cover costs for shooting within 90 minutes of my home city of Winchester, but distances in excess of this might incur a fuel surcharge or an overnight stay."
“It’s always a good idea to ask your favoured photographer if they need accommodation,” she continues. “It isn’t wise for us to drive home for hours after an exhausting day, or risk being late for a wedding if we have to negotiate lots of traffic the morning of your big day.”
Another hidden cost to look out for is additional hours of coverage, as David shares: “Many photographers work to a strict time limit and any additional coverage over that time is charged by the hour. There is nothing wrong with this approach, all photographers have their own pricing model. As long as it is clear and you know all the facts in advance there won’t be any disappointment, speak to your photographer before you book if you are unsure.”
Food and drink
The matter of whether you need to provide your photographer with food is a common puzzle for brides, as David reveals: “I would say don’t be shy about bringing the issue of food up with any photographer you go to meet.”
“Many photographers ask for food as part of their contractual terms, and its something you may wish to budget for as a result,” advises Angela. “I personally don’t demand it, because every wedding is different and has different pressures on couples, but I am always grateful when my couples provide me with it. From your perspective, giving your hardworking photographer a hot meal (and, crucially, some down time in which to eat it and to recharge) is a wise move - they will be much more refreshed and energised for the rest of your wedding,” she continues.
David is in agreement about not requiring the full course wedding breakfast, commenting: “I am very capable of packing up a lunch the night before. Having said that photographing weddings is a long day, so if a couple were to offer it then I would graciously accept.”
If your budget just can’t stretch to feeing another mouth, have a chat with your venue, as some accommodate photographers’ needs, offering smaller staff meals at a reduced cost.
One more thing...
Keep in mind when all of your payments are due; lots of balancing payments are due at the same time (28-60 days before the wedding) so you need to be sure you have budgeted properly.
"If you feel like you would love an album but can’t afford it right now, ask your photographer if you can come back and do it at a later date,' suggests Angela. "It might cost you a smidgen more in the long run, but your first anniversary is a ‘paper anniversary’ so that is a great time to get the album you long for, when you may have more cash to splurge.
While your mind might be boggling at the dent your photographer's fee will leave in your budget, it's well worth splashing out. Sure, it may seem the money is better spent on a stunning pair of Sophia Webster shoes, but your photographs will be an ever-lasting memory of your big day and you'll never look back wishing you'd scrimped on the cost.
A great photographer knows how to work with the lighting, location and weather (yes, even rain!) to bring out the best of the day. They also work their magic to edit their snaps, selecting the most perfect shots and digitally enhancing where needed, all resulting in photographs you will treasure for a lifetime.