Updated July 24, 2018

Study: Average Cost of a Wedding Photographer

Read more about Love

The average wedding photographer costs $2,783. It varies based on his hours of coverage and the package you choose. We capture the costs below.

You'll want to budget accordingly for your wedding photographer. Your wedding photos provide a lifetime of memories. Hiring the wrong photographer can truly ruin these precious memories.

Did you know: Wedding photographer prices in the U.S. can be anywhere between $1,000 - $8,000, with the average couple spending $2,783. The cost depends on the photographer's experience, number of photographers, hours of coverage, and what's included in the package. Usually, packages cover 8 hours.

Read below to see just what you should expect for your big day.

Paying for a Wedding Photographer

  1. What is the average cost of a wedding photographer?
    Couples want to remember every second of their special day. Those memories cost an average of $2,783. Just how much you spend depends on your package. You can control certain things like:

    • The number of hours the photographer is with you on your day
    • The number of photographers who are present
    • The type of album you choose for your pictures
    • The number of pictures in your package

    Some photographers offer their services a la carte. Others create one big package. They include the photography services and prints all in one.

    Do you tip the photographer at a wedding?
    If your photographer owns his/her own small business, you do not need to tip as they get the full fee for the service. If they're part of a bigger company, a tip of $100 (or more) will be appreciated. If there's an assistant, you can tip $50 or $75.

  2. How much of the average wedding budget covers wedding photography?
    Wedding photography is the 3rd most expensive cost in the average couple's wedding. The only things that cost more are the engagement ring and the venue. Many couples spend 10% of their wedding budget on their photograph package.

  3. What do wedding photographers include in their package?
    Shopping for a wedding photographer is almost as hard as shopping for a car. There are so many options! You probably won't find two photographers with the same package. Generally, you can expect the following in a standard package

    • 6-10 hours of a photographer with you throughout the day
    • 1-2 photographers
    • Digital proofs with retouching
    • Rights to reprint your pictures

  4. How many hours do you need a wedding photographer?
    Every couple will have a different answer here. First, think about what you need. Do you want shots of everyone getting ready? Do you want shots of everyone dancing? These two things add the most time. Everything else occurs between the ceremony and the start of the reception. You can cut the time down to a few hours if you limit your shots.

    If your budget is larger, you can hire the photographer for as much as 8-10 hours.

    Discuss your shot list with your photographer first. Then you can decide how much time you need.

    How much does a professional photographer charge per hour?
    Usually, wedding photographers charge by the package instead of by the hour. But some photographers will also offer hourly rates. This could be a good option if you only want to capture some main moments. Rates can range anywhere between $150 - $500+ per hour. Make sure you understand what comes with it and if it includes post-production work.

  5. What "extras" aren't included in wedding photography packages?
    If you want anything above the standard offerings, you'll likely pay a la carte. The most common things couples look for include:

    • Engagement photo session
    • Canvas print of their favorite wedding picture
    • Specialty albums
    • Specialty prints
    • Specific type of photo shoot

  6. How far in advance should you book a wedding photographer?
    Photographers are usually the second thing couples book. The first is the venue. In general, try booking your photographer at least 8 months in advance. But, if your wedding is during a popular time, you may even want to go as far as 12 months early. The last thing you want to hear is "Sorry, I'm booked."

Choosing the Right Photographer

  1. Should you have 1 or 2 photographers?
    Having two wedding photographers is a personal decision. But there are many practical reasons you might want to consider it:

    • Ensuring you have pictures of the bride and groom getting ready in separate places
    • Obtaining two different views of the ceremony, one traditional and one more candid
    • Capturing more creative opportunities
    • Capturing more intense details rather than focusing strictly on the traditional photos
    • Providing backup because you never know what can happen

  2. How can you cut down the time that you need the second shooter?
    You might not need a second photographer the entire 8 hours of your wedding day. Instead, choose the important times you want that "backup." Stagger the "getting ready time" so one photographer can be at both places. Hire the second photographer for a specific period. Maybe you want candid photos of the ceremony alone. Some couples want more pictures of the reception.

    Choose what's important to you. Then you can cut down on the hours you need that second photographer.

  3. What does the photographer do after the wedding?
    The photographer's job just begins when the wedding is finished. Yes, he spent the day with you taking pictures. But now he has to develop, edit, and perfect those pictures. He probably took thousands of pictures at your wedding. You won't see every single picture though. One perfect picture may have 20 others that look just like it. It's the hours the photographer puts in afterwards that matter. He finds the perfect picture out of those 20 shots.

  4. What photography styles are available?
    If you've looked at your parent's wedding photos, you've likely seen traditional photos. These still exist today. But photographers have many more talents today that may appeal to you.

    • Artistic: Photographers can make art out of your photos. It may mean you aren't looking at the camera. You may even be out of focus in the picture. The final product, however, is often a beautiful work of art.

    • Dramatic: Photographers who can play with lighting and create dramatic scenes offer incredible wedding photos. Make sure to look at previous photos the photographer created. This way you can tell if it's something that appeals to you.

    • Candid: Sometimes seeing a photo of someone laughing or in mid-jump is just what you want. You can't see every moment that occurs at your wedding. The photos can help you live those moments, though.

  5. How can you save money on a wedding photographer?
    There are small ways to save on wedding photography without sacrificing too much. Here are a few of our favorite ways:

    • Plan your wedding during off-peak months (November and March are great choices)
    • Plan your wedding on off-peak days (Fridays are great for this)
    • Hire a photographer and videographer from the same company
    • Create your own wedding album

The Wedding Photos and Album

  1. What are some must-have photos?
    Every couple has a different idea of their perfect wedding pictures. But here are some unique photos you might want:

    • Pictures of the inside and outside of the church and venue (before people arrive)
    • Bride getting ready
    • Bride's gown before she puts it on
    • Bride's mom helping her dress for the last time
    • Shots of the wedding bands
    • Groom getting ready
    • Couple hugging friends and family after the ceremony
    • Friends and family dancing
    • Couple leaving the reception

  2. How many proofs does a typical couple receive?
    Wedding photographers often take thousands of pictures at a wedding. But you won't receive thousands. It may take 20 pictures just to capture the one look they wanted. We discovered that the average photographer delivers between 300 and 400 wedding photos.

    Of course, this can change based on your photographer. If you want a specific amount of shots, ask this question before hiring a photographer.

  3. How long does it take to get wedding proofs after your wedding?
    On average, you'll wait at least a month to see your wedding proofs. Every photographer works on a different timeline, though. This is an important question to ask any photographer you consider using.

  4. How will you receive your wedding proofs after the wedding?
    This is another important question to ask your photographer. Also, read the fine print in the contract. Most photographers today provide a digital online gallery. This allows you to easily share the proofs with friends and family.

    Some photographers, however, still use printed photos or provide you with a CD.

  5. How many photos does a typical wedding album hold?
    The average wedding album will hold between 60 and 160 wedding photos. The actual amount depends on the size of the album. The layout also plays a role, though.

  6. What are the different album cover options?
    If there's one thing you splurge on for wedding photography, make it the wedding album. It's something you'll treasure for the rest of your life. You'll want to pick a cover that will stand the test of time. But you also want one you'll proudly display even 30 years down the road. Here are the most common options:

    • Leather
    • Premium leather
    • Distressed leather
    • Linen

  7. What is a first look photograph?
    It's no longer considered bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the ceremony. You can set up what they call a "first look photo." The photographer sets this meeting up ahead of time. While the groom looks at the photographer, the bride walks up and gets his attention. As the groom turns around, the photographer is there to catch the reactions on film.

  8. What photos should you include in the wedding album?
    Your wedding album is extremely personal. But there are some commonalities between the pictures various couples choose. Here are a few of our favorite tips:

    • Focus on your favorite photos, not the ones others tell you your album must have.
    • Pick a variety of photos from the ceremony as well as the reception.
    • Make sure each layout on a page tells a story, rather than throwing pictures on a page.
    • Pick at least a few photos from the most important parts of the day (vows, first dance).

  9. What do you do with the extra wedding photos not in the album?
    Don't be afraid to have some of your proofs made into portraits for your wall! They are pictures you'll treasure for the rest of your life. The pictures that didn't make it into the album still deserve a special spot in your life.

  10. What does it mean to retouch and color balance photos?
    Have you ever drooled over a gorgeous picture of a woman in a magazine? Chances are the picture was retouched and color balanced. In other words, it looked perfect.

    Your photographer can do the same for your wedding photos. He'll make sure everything looks perfect in the pictures you receive. This may not be in the proofs, but will be in the actual photos you purchase.

Hiring a Wedding Videographer

  1. What is the average cost of wedding videographer?
    Many couples want to capture the live moments of their wedding. On average, this service costs $1,995.

    It seems like a lot of money, but it provides a lifetime of memories. You'll see things you weren't able to see while you said your vows. Your mother's tears, the flower girl's sweet reactions, and the cheer of the crowd are just a few special moments you'll relive.

  2. Why should you hire a videographer and photographer who work together?
    You want your photographer and videographer to capture every special moment. But, if they get in each other's way, it can turn into a nightmare. Choosing professionals who have a good relationship can sidestep this issue.

Make choosing your wedding photographer a top priority. Next to the venue and dress, you'll be glad you budgeted accordingly for this service. Working closely with your photographer can help you create the memories you really want.

Sources and References:

Write to Kim P at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Read Next:


Stay informed with free money-saving tips, deals, and reviews from CreditDonkey.
Diamond Prices: What You Need to Know

Diamond Prices

Get the maximum bling for your buck. Know what aspects of a diamond you need to focus on and which ones you don't to get the best value on your engagement ring.

About CreditDonkey
CreditDonkey is a diamond jeweler comparison website. We publish data-driven analysis to help you save money & make savvy decisions.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

†Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the offers that appear on this site are from companies from which CreditDonkey receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CreditDonkey does not include all companies or all offers that may be available in the marketplace.

*See the card issuer's online application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However, all information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button you can review the terms and conditions on the card issuer's website.

CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.

About Us | Reviews | Deals | Tips | Privacy | Do Not Sell My Info | Terms | Contact Us
(888) 483-4925 | 680 East Colorado Blvd, 2nd Floor | Pasadena, CA 91101
© 2024 CreditDonkey Inc. All Rights Reserved.